Jeremy Williamson, Managing Director Cheltenham Development Task Force, gave another spirited presentation at Parmoor House on 5 November in his annual update. This year he focussed on the specifics of the West Cheltenham Cyber Park. The nature of the cyber sector means that Cheltenham’s net outflow of younger people could well be stemmed, although the cost of housing in Cheltenham is still likely to challenge many would-be residents. Whilst the proposals are exciting and address a number of overdue issues, the success of West Cheltenham Cyber Park will be defined by its ability to integrate ‘old Cheltenham’ with ‘new Cheltenham’, especially the transport system. The town centre and retail centres around it must be updated, rejuvenated and properly integrated to ensure Cheltenham’s longer term prosperity and vitality.
"Theme and Variations" 1969-72, bronze, 3.4m x 7.6m
In a repeat of an application first refused 31 years ago, another attempt is being made to remove arguably the most famous piece of Cheltenham's artistic heritage. Commissioned as a mural sculpture to adorn the newly built head office of Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society opened in 1972, this remarkably assured geometric bronze sculpture was one of Barbara Hepworth's last public works.
A planning application now submitted on behalf of Romac Investments Ltd seeks to remove the sculpture and replace it with a replica. This highly dubious application does not state from what materials the replica would be made - fibreglass? - nor whether the sculpture's owner has consent from the Hepworth Estate to make a copy.
The Civic Society Planning Forum urges the Council's Planning Committee to reject this opportunist act of artistic vandalism.
Holst statue in Imperial Gardens
The Holst Victorian House is a name-change under discussion for the Holst Birthplace Museum at 4 Clarence Road in Pittville. Steve Wood, the Holst Birthplace Trust's Chairman, gave this and other glimpses of the future for the building at his talk at Parmoor House on 1 October. He also outlined some of the challenges they face as a small museum on a busy one-way road out of the town centre.
Finally, he made a plea for a commemorative plaque for Gustav Holst’s brother who became a Hollywood actor. It was noted that Gustav himself does not have a blue plaque!
Kevan Blackadder at Parmoor House
BID works for all
Kevan Blackadder, Director of Cheltenham Business Improvement District, gave a most informative talk on 2 July about its achievements and plans for the future. Highlights include February’s ‘Light up Cheltenham’ and the big wheel (enjoyed by 10,000 people) and a YouTube video to attract more visitors, in conjunction with Marketing Cheltenham see here.
Asked what his top three priorities for the Town Centre Vision being developed right now, with the borough council, he said: “improving finding one’s way into and out of the town; the whole town must benefit from improvements for businesses and visitors, not just the wealthier bits; and keeping the town ‘special and different’ architecturally.
Paterson Memorial Lecture
Wednesday 11 December 2019
A special meeting of the Planning Forum on 19 November was held at the Council offices together with Cllr Paul Baker, David Oakhill, Head of Planning and Mike Redman, Director of Environment.
The meeting was held to discuss potential planning actions to assist Cheltenham's stated aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030.