Plans to erect a 65ft tall 5G pole and several telecom cabinets outside a Grade II listed pub on Broad Street were hit by a pop-up music demo at lunchtime today.
Westside BID manager Mike Olley and Birmingham Jazz Festival founder Jim Simpson both had “bad vibes” about the application – so they joined forces in a bid to have the application disconnected at source.
Local duo The Whiskey Brothers (Richard Heath and Gerry Smith) played an impromptu live music show outside of the famous Brasshouse pub for five minutes to try to stave off the move.
The demo was not publicised in advance to try to ensure social distancing.
And it was kept short and sweet for the same reason.
But there was no disguising Mr Olley’s distaste at the application to install cabinets and a 20m pole directly outside the historic brick and stone pub.
The listed Brasshouse was built in 1781 – meaning it will be 240 next year.
It is thought to be the sixth oldest pub building left in Birmingham, behind The Old Crown in Digbeth which dates back to 1368.
The Brasshouse is a popular haunt for both food and drink on Broad Street and reopened after lockdown on July 4.
Mr Olley said: “There are precious few listed buildings on Broad Street in this area as it is so this application gives me bad vibes.
“Why the applicant can’t find somewhere else to stick this pole and cabinets is beyond me.
“The pub was here first and it would be fine to put this equipment outside a non-listed building but please just not here.”
Jim Simpson said: “The Brasshouse is a fantastic looking building so when we heard that there were going to be four cabinets and a giant pole right outside the front door we had to object in the best way we know how – with music properly played.
“We hope our song strikes a chord with the public and gets the result we all want.”
What is the application?
It has been made by WHP on behalf of EE (UK) Ltd and Hutchison UK Ltd and includes provision for a 20m AGL EE/H3G street pole outside of the Grade II listed Brasshouse public house at 44 Broad Street.
Planning documents refer to MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Ltd) “embarking upon a process to upgrade their existing streetworks monopole installations to make them 5G.”
The MBNL page adds: “With 5G the design of the installations has to change. MBNL are now deploying 2G/3G/4G and 5G antennas in order to provide the best possible mobile experience for all our customers.
“The proposed location at Broad Street, Adj. Brass House Ph, Birmingham, West Midlands, B1 2HJ is an established telecommunication site.
“This submission is purely to upgrade this existing cell with new equipment to facilitate 5G coverage.
“There are no other viable alternative options other than to upgrade the current cell.
“Given the height that is required for this site sharing 5G upgrade there is a lack of available rooftops.
“The area is commercial in nature and this is the only potential location that is set away from properties in what is a constrained cell search.
“Long distance views will benefit from partial screening from the existing street furniture and trees.”
The MBNL document included with the planning application says: “It is estimated that 5G will directly contribute to an additional £7 billion a year to the UK economy in just six years from roll-out.
“Although 5G will undoubtedly bring new opportunities and huge benefits to society, we cannot escape from the requirement that new structures, antennas and ancillary equipment will be needed.
“5G offers download speeds far in excess of what can be achieved today, even by fixed line broadband.
“5G operates across multiple spectrums and therefore requires additional antennas and new equipment cabinets.
“The signals that are broadcast are more prone to the shadowing effect of adjacent buildings or structures, and also the effect of tree canopies reducing the broadcast range and effectiveness of the antennas.
“Consequently, the height of the 5G antennas needs to be sited to avoid such obstacles and this in part dictates the height of the new streetworks monopoles.”
History of The Brasshouse
The pub is at 44 Broad Street next to the pedestrian entrance towards Brindleyplace and was originally Grade II listed on March 29, 1978.
It was originally built as a brass foundry in 1781 and altered circa 1870.
Features of interest include “brick with stucco dressings.”
Close to the proposed site of the 5G pole is “a central door within a stone surround with arched recess of Romanesque type and flanked by granite columns and, either side, a central tipartite window with slender piers and columns carrying an entablature and two windows with voussoir blocks.”
Who is Jim Simpson?
A musician, photographer, record label founder and and publisher in his own right in the 1960s, Jim Simpson is also known as the first manager of Black Sabbath, the city’s world famous heavy metal pioneers who were honoured on June 26 last year with the unveiling of a bench just yards from the proposed site of the pole.
The Broad Street bridge over the canal below was also renamed Black Sabbath Bridge.
Stars Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler were joined by hundreds of fans for the ceremony to celebrate the fact that it was 50 years since they had played their first gig at Station Street pub The Crown, which has remained empty after it was bought and closed by a developer in June, 2014.
The bench is currently not on display in order to protect it during the works to build Phase Two of the Westside tram extension from Centenary Square to 54 Hagley Road by December 2021.
This autumn will be a bittersweet time for Mr Simpson.
It wll be 50 years since Paranoid, the second Black Sabbath album in six months, went to No 1 in 1970 – a feat that would not be replicated until their last LP, 13, topped the charts in 2013.
But the success of Paranoid also marked the beginning of the end for him with Sabbath, the group’s management was taken over by Don Arden, father of frontman Ozzy Osbourne’s future wife, Sharon.
Black Sabbath’s last gig at the climax of The End world tour was at the then NEC Genting Arena on February 4, 2017.
But frontman Ozzy Osbourne is still scheduled to play Birmingham on October 31 at the now rebranded Resorts World Arena during his No More Tours 2 tour to “celebrate five decades of The Prince of Darkeness… Live!” Special guests will be Judas Priest.
In 1985, Mr Simpson launched the Birmingham Jazz Festival which has run annually ever since.
The 36th festival due to have been held from July 17-26 this year, but because of the Covid-19 pandemic has been put back to October. 16-25.
If live performances are not possible then the now renamed Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival will be held in a virtual way online.