Cotteridge Park Rocks


This map - in print - is one of the end result’s of an 18 month HLF-funded project Cotteridge Park Rocks. Friends of Cotteridge Park received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to enable the park volunteers to find out more about the history and geology of the park, to record oral histories and enhance the park’s historic arboretum.

Large boulders were found when the park was laid out in the early 20th century. Louis Barrow (Chief Engineer at the Cadbury Factory and a geologist) had them excavated and put on display. Even Professor Lapworth (of Lapworth Museum of Geology), visited the park to see them. We know that the rocks are a feature of the drift geology of this region. These ‘glacial erratics’ travelled via a glacier from north Wales up to 400,000 years ago - they were left behind when the ice melted. We’ve discovered they were formed from a volcano about 450 million years ago!

New technology was a large part of documenting the project, Podnosh has created an online map with layers where you can find out more about the stories of the park - with plotted on quotes, photos and trees. As you walk round the park you can use your smart phone to receive these stories/info at site-specific locations. If you do not have access to a smartphone, or online, the printed map is the most accessible and tactile version - you can pick up a printed map at CoCoMAD. It has been printed on FSC-approved paper and with environmentally-friendly inks.

I created a bright + fun brand identity and icon set, and this A5 fold out to A3 printed map which has been modified for Issuu, below.

More about the project, including how you can get involved such as adding your own stories and photos to the map - on the park's website:-


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'The Cracker', Laura Pannack for BLAST Photography Festival (Multistory)


Last month I designed a 40 page magazine called THE CRACKER, a project by photographer Laura Pannack, for Multistory’s BLAST Photography Festival, project managed by Becky Sexton (these are her photos of the magazine - ta!)

The Cracker is a series of portraits of teenagers living in Tipton. As a starting point, Laura was introduced to them by Sandwell Youth Services and then continued to return over a period of one year as she was drawn to this area for its tight knit community. Through her photographs, she aims to explore the friendships, the unique language and tradition of the area and the characters that, “for me, should not be lost or ignored”.

The portraits were published in a magazine for the participants and presented at an outdoor screening at a special event with food and music in collaboration with Sandwell Youth Service.

Blast! is a festival made with and for the people of Sandwell – running from Friday 24 May – Saturday 29 June 2019. Exhibitions, film screenings, events, talks and walks will be presented on the streets, the Metro line, shops and libraries and pubs, on historic buildings and in the community halls and venues of Sandwell. More info on BLAST’s website.

The magazine was available for free for the community on the launch event on Friday 31st May at ‘The Tibby’ in Tipton, and I think you can buy the magazine throughout the duration of the festival (priced at £5) and will be on Multistory’s website (correct me if I’m wrong-!)

Do take a look at more of Laura Pannack’s work via her instagram & website!

Lastly, fellow Stirchley-based designer Louise Byng has illustrated Tipton Tales, a book printed by my friend The Holodeck. Available to buy too! #vivaStirchley #vivaSandwell !


Seven Capital Objection / Comments

I've sent in my comments/objection to the Seven Capital outline plans for a Retail Park in Stirchley.

My email is pretty long (TLDR: No thanks to a McDonalds) and I have ran out of steam / I need to get back to work, but if anyone's interested in reading it in order to help form their own comments/objections - I've dumped it below. In the nicest possible way please don't tell me if there are typos or if I repeat myself (I know I have done this).

I am assuming whoever reads it (Planning def will) knows about the Stirchley Lidl Fiasco which I was involved in a couple of years back (please click to read)

You have until this Thursday 9 May to submit comments on the preliminary planning application by @SevenCapital

Link: (link:… Search ref number: 2018/10370/PA

or you can email comments to:

There are currently two plans by Seven Capital, this one about the Retail Park - the other one is about housing, you can find it on the planning portal.



Below are my comments and in general my objection to the outline proposals (Stirchley Retail Park) by Seven Capital. I believe these outline plans are detrimental to Stirchley’s positive growth and reputation which has been building over the last 7-10 years, which I identify as since establishment of Stirchley Community Market in 2010 (by Stirchley Happenings, Loaf, Stirchley Food Co-Op, Stirchley Town Centre Partnership) and the new businesses that have joined the high street following this. Loaf Community Bakery, Bike Foundry, Caneat, Quietude, many of these can be connected through the warm and open community network that exists here.

Perhaps the planning department would like to come visit Stirchley to see how it’s changed over the years - and meet with local residents/community-groups who are active citizens investing their time and energy (and often their money) in the local area.

At the moment it feels like (with planning in particular) that residents are being reactive not proactive, and it would be great to find a middle ground, especially as the Stirchley Planning Document is out of date. Residents are still sore about the Lidl planning problems a couple of years ago and there is definitely mistrust with the system and several have commented on social media if it is even worth sending in comments/objections.

A lot of people also do not understand how these planning processes work (I include myself here) so there is already a barrier up to open communication between developers, the council planning department and residents. I can appreciate that there are not the resources to meet with every community who would like to talk to you - but this Seven Capital development could be vital in the direction of Stirchley’s future. It’s an exciting time!

Stirchley ‘cheerleaders’ such as myself (I am former Stirchley Community Market manager, Friends of Stirchley Library co-founder, Stirchley Community Cinema co-founder) would like the opportunity to work directly with Seven Capital on plans which would be positive for Stirchley.

I am not experienced in this, but I am full of enthusiasm for Stirchley and I appreciate you taking the time to read my comments, concerns and ideas.

Kind regards



Supermarket battles ongoing for Stirchley

  • If a supermarket plan is approved here - how does that affect the existing plans for Lidl (former Fitness First / PSL Bowling site)  or Aldi (former Magnet site)? Will they still go ahead - and hypothetically, maybe this Seven Capital supermarket ends up being another brand - would Stirchley end up with three new supermarkets? Personally I believe we could do without them - we already have two, the co-op and farmfoods, and lots of smaller shops including a bakery and greengrocers. How will these plans affect these businesses - negatively I am going to assume. Supermarkets can have a devastating impact on high streets. I don’t believe we need any new supermarket - but at a push I could accept one supermarket on the Magnet site - it’s out of the way of the main stretch of high street and this location would mean the supermarket also serves a wider area (including Cotteridge / Lifford Lane area). I can appreciate that I have the privilege of being able to order my food shop online and supplement with allotment produce and various other items from the high street.

  • I think it says a lot that Tesco pulled out

  • I’d like retail opportunities but creating shop units which can be rented out / sold to businesses that already want to invest in the area - such as The Clean Kilo - the UK’s largest ethical supermarket in Digbeth (they are looking for premises).

McDonalds / Drive through outlet

  • There’s a drive through Mcdonalds 1.5 miles away. If someone is driving for a McDonalds - they could drive 5 mins up the road instead and use existing facilities. McDonalds offer takeaway delivery service also. For £3.50 you can literally have chicken nuggets delivered to your door saving the drive / effort.

  • National planning documents prioritises health. A McDonalds or any drive through is not in line with encouraging active lifestyle. It encourages more car use not walking. The infrastructure of the current Pershore Road is not built for this given the little gyratory one-way system that might need altering to make a drive through work.

  • There's a National obesity epidemic - and no fat-shaming here. A McDonald's is not a good, positive, community-spirited or inspiring use of the space. I'm dead against the McDonald's/Drive-thru part of the application more than anything else.

Community Facilities

  • Yes to a gym - we don’t have one in Stirchley because of the Lidl drama a couple of years ago (please google Lidl Stirchley SuperStirchley) we had a Fitness First that was demolished. Lidl didn’t build.

  • I’d like to see artists studios / affordable rentable space much like The Old Print Works in Balsall Heath


  • I feel like this is the wrong location for these proposals. Usually Retail Parks are on the fringes of areas, whereas this site is right in the middle of Stirchley.

  • There are alternative sites available for Aldi - they'd already put in an application on the Magnet site

  • Why not open up the River Rea access to Hazelwell park and the allotments and the Pineapple Estate - connect with projects like the Stirchley Fruit and Nut Village trail, make improvements to the public realm (as outlined in the Stirchley Planning Document). Thinking more green!


  • We want less people driving through Stirchley - we want to encourage people to stay in Stirchley and visit the high street shops instead. Many people would like a shopper’s car park, personally I don’t agree with this. I think other car parks that are already in existence and owned privately could be opened up and be used as pay and display. This would involve liaising with local landowners.


  • Uninspiring plans - this could be in any town across the UK. Not unique to Stirchley (which is a very unique place - we have very few high street brand names (I think they are only Ladbrokes and the Co-op!).

  • Right next to listed British Oak building - doesn’t look like it is in keeping with the look of the village  

I need to get back to work but hopefully you get my jist - I want better for Stirchley!

Thanks, and kind regards

Represent Project - Peoples Heritage Cooperative & The Active Wellbeing Society


New project klaxon! I’ve been commissioned by the People’s Heritage Co-operative and The Active Wellbeing Society to work on an 18 month / three-phase design project for ‘Represent’. I plan on documenting my work on the project as we go.

Represent focuses specifically on the impact and legacy in Birmingham of the 'Representation of the People Act, 1918', which extended the franchise to include most men, and for the first time some women. It had a radical impact on political representation, campaigning and the development of civic life in Birmingham and it was the beginning of an exciting era of ideas and activism. Coupled with the huge upheavals of the First World War and citizens’ responses to this, the post-1918 period of Birmingham's history is rich with important stories which still have resonance today.

The project will engage with members of the Saheli Hub and Edgbaston Community Centre and focus both on women's roles as active citizens and historic housing campaigns, drawing parallels between then and now. The project will culminate in a touring exhibition (which I will be designing the interpretation for).

Through exploring local archives and drawing on their own lived experiences, the groups will 'represent' their archival research for new audiences through the touring exhibition, co-created with local artists, due to tour to leisure centres and other community venues in Summer 2020.

The project is managed by Project Manager Rachel Gillies, supported by a project Advisory Group and monthly meetings of the Committee of the People’s Heritage Co-operative.

Last week (Weds 27th March) I had my first visit to the Wolfson Centre for Archival Research on the fourth floor at the Library of Birmingham - I can’t share the archival images due to copyright restrictions - however the Wolfson centre is open to the public and is free of charge so you can go and explore yourself! You just need to request an appointment in advance and bring along ID. I loved looking through 100 year old printed materials and it has given me a lot of ideas for the direction the identity and preliminary stages of the design.

This week (Thurs 5th April) I visited my friend’s traditional printing workshop The Holodeck in Digbeth, as a starting point for the identity design and also to discuss producing a promotional flyer to tell people about this project / how they can get involved / follow the updates. The Holodeck has a number of vintage printing presses including an Arab press which is the kind of press which would have been used to print the parliamentary posters / printed ephemera we were looking through in the archives last week. Joseph also has an extensive collection of wooden block type sets which have decorative blocks / flourishes - these are stunning pieces of design and I hope to feature them - especially as most of the records that we were looking through are text based and have decorative borders.