Plans revealed to replace West Bromwich estate’s ‘dilapidated’ and at-risk community centre

Outside Charlemont Community and Youth Centre.
-Credit: (Image: Rhi Storer)


Plans have been revealed to demolish and replace an ageing community centre with a new building. The “dilapidated” Charlemont Community Centre in West Bromwich would be replaced with a new building occupied and run by Sandwell African Caribbean Mental Health Foundation.

The planning application to Sandwell Council says the community centre is “past the end of its economic life” and at risk of shutting down permanently. “The community centre has fallen into disrepair and is now at risk of being lost to the community through disposal by the council,” the application said.

The community centre in Beaconview Road, West Bromwich, dates back to the 1960s when the surrounding Charlemont Farm estate was being built – one of the biggest housing developments in the area at the time. Reports included with the application say the community centre has received “insufficient” investment over the years which has resulted in its current state.

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It would be “difficult and expensive” to bring the building to modern standards, the application said, and would be easier to demolish and build a new community centre. The building’s old heating system was condemned having been riddled with asbestos. The new community centre would be built to keep running costs low.

The application said: “The existing building was built using experimental construction techniques, which included lightweight timber sections to form a timber frame. “A 50-year design life was calculated at the time, which explains the poor state of the current building. The original timber-clad building has been re-clad with non-combustible materials in recent years following arson attempts.

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Whilst the interior of the existing centre has been refurbished and kept up to date, the exterior is in a dilapidated condition and past the end of its economic life. “The existing heating system is also extremely inefficient.”

The community centre has suffered through years of underfunding. A campaign was launched in 2021 to save the building from demolition after it was included in the now-abandoned Black Country Plan – a planning and housebuilding blueprint which was due to set out where 76,000 homes would be built across the region.

The joint plan between the Black Country councils was scrapped at the last minute after Dudley Council pulled out of the agreement in protest over the inclusion of part of the borough’s greenbelt in future housebuilding plans. The already struggling community centre, which is also home to children’s club Dynamic Kids, has faced further, and unnecessary, pressure in recent years from a barrier blocking its pothole-filled car park from the estate’s main roads.