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From the Chairman of Shrewsbury Civic Society Planning Committee.

About the Planning Committee

This committee is given its remit by the Society’s Trustees (the council of Management). It reviews the planning applications that Shropshire Council receives for Shrewsbury and comments where they are particularly positive or negative for the town.

SIZE The committee has 15 members that come from a range of professions connected with planning and the built environment, including 4 architects. It also has a good number who are not from such backgrounds but keen to see our heritage preserved and the town enhanced visually.

RANGE OF VIEWS   Members’ views can be very different about what looks good in the long run and how we can promote the town’s best interests. Consequently, after discussion, any opinions expressed are corporate and generally accepted by the committee members. The range of opinions represented on the committee, suggest a rounded base for decisions, which (hopefully) reflects the Civic Society’s broad membership.

WORK SPREAD This large committee is able to spread work round.  In fact, the committee has now extended its work and the Society has working groups considering issues such as traffic, the Society’s awards scheme, shop front guidance, and the continuing saga of ‘The Stew’. There are several other issues that, given capacity, the committee hopes to consider.  For example, it would be good if the Society could update overall long-term suggested plans for parts of the town (eg for the “West-end/Welsh bridge” area).

MEETINGS The committee meets monthly (usually on the last Monday of the month at 5.45pm at the Bear Steps) and is open for any Civic Society members to visit. It occasionally invites visitors such as developers to explain their proposals. Committee members also visit sites for which there are planning proposals and accept invitations to associated meetings. Sometimes, one or two committee members visit Westminster for Civic Voice All Party Parliamentary Group meetings.

FORUM Another activity is holding open Forum meetings. There are often one or two of these every three months and they are advertised to members and the public.  They try to combine a talk by an expert on a topical or interesting issue, (for example, conservation) with an open session for civic society members and the public to hear about some of the planning applications that the committee has considered.  There are always opportunities for questions and it is a good chance to raise an issue that otherwise may be ignored.

INVITATION We are always seeking to promote the Civic Society’s core aims and promote Shrewsbury’s best interests. If you are interested in any of the above work please contact the Society or the Planning Committee Chairman, via the email: info@shrewsburycivicsociety.co.uk

 

Bits from the Planning Committee     May 2016

NCP Car Park: The car park site at the bottom of Wyle Cop has been changed. Several months ago, a planning application was made to demolish the shabby buildings on the site including the frontage spanning the entrance. The Council and the Civic Society thought that it was important to retain the frontage that maintains a continuous streetscape. This has been done successfully.

Monkmoor Hangers:  Shropshire Council received an application to demolish several buildings here, including the front building occupied currently by Allied Carpets. The plan is to build housing to replace the several companies now using these large buildings. The Council is concerned and the Civic Society has objected. The building played a part in both world wars, their roofs are supported by rare Belfast trusses and the businesses currently provide a number of jobs. The Council has ordered a historical survey to ascertain the buildings’ degree of heritage significance. We await this.

Ashley’s Wine Bar: Because this Shoplatch building is listed and in a Conservation Area, planning permission is needed to extend hours of operation. The Civic Society had objected but permission is now granted for late night operation.

Whitehall stables:  Behind the Tudor Whitehall in Monkmoor Road, lies the hall’s stable block. Its roof, which has very rare Harnage stone tiles has now been repaired.  However, there is also an unusual, large dovecote, which is a listed building. This is covered in ivy and likely to be at risk. We now understand that the council’s conservation officer is discussing a repair programme.

Tannery Site: It is understood that the University is waiting to see the size of September’s student intake before deciding if any additional accommodation will be needed for September 2017. If so, it is likely to build just one of the planned blocks for which permission was so hastily granted. The somewhat superficial conditions attached to the planning permission have yet to be agreed.  The Civic Society greatly regrets this poor quality design for such a key position. This will only be made worse by drawn-out implementation.

The Stew: Those following the story of this building will know that demolition plans were thrown out at an Appeal last year. Since then there has been some internal clearing out and the owner has agreed to carry out some maintenance work with Shropshire Council. However, it is thought that repairs to prevent further water ingress have not been done. The Civic Society believes that the building needs more robust protection.

The All Party Parliamentary Group meeting run by Civic Voice:

Notes from key speakers at the APPG – Civic Voice, Westminster  27.01.2016

Deborah Lamb (Director of Engagement Historic England)(HE)

(NB English Heritage has been split up. ‘English Heritage’ now runs historic buildings, such as Haughmond Abbey, while ‘Historic England’ now advises government on planning matters.)

Quote:  “Civic Societies do the work that Councils don’t do often.”

Issues for Historic England amidst the context of pressures for growth and housing:

  1. There is still a temptation for many to see the planning system as a block to development.
  2. There is a danger of the erosion of local character and this is not dealt with well by the planning system.
  3. How can HE be more relevant – more people/help needed /greater awareness-raising.
  4. Public sector funding is diminishing so more private/voluntary collaborations are needed.
  5. More “infrastructure” and skills are needed for the support of heritage. HE’s advice is needed more but there is less training for such skills.
  6. HE is still making recommendations to Government and is the cutting edge on Heritage matters, developing the concept of heritage and seeking to increase public engagement and be more descriptive about England’s Heritage and how it should be valued.

Griff Rhys Jones made some impassioned points including;

  • his belief in the overall good impact of the planning system,
  • accepted the understanding of the need to “pull the levers”

eg HE Lottery Fund,

  • “talking about history is discussing the future”,
  • the importance of individualising High Streets,
  • the need to avoid “managed” environments                                                                                                               Mike Carter (SCS Planning Committee Chairman)

 

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