"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.
Alex Chalk MP on the High Street
Street Audit 2019
This year's Civic Day on 22 June was marked by revisiting last year's detailed audit of things that needed repair or improvements on the High Street. Redundant street signage, removal of graffiti, dangling electricity cables and cracked pavements all came under scrutiny. Volunteers were joined by Andrew Booton, Civic Society Chair, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, Steve Jordan, leader of Cheltenham Borough Council, and Councillor Tim Harman.
This year's audit largely concentrated on the seventy-two issues that Gloucestershire County Council and Cheltenham Borough Council acknowledged were their responsibility. Detailed findings of what issues have and have not been addressed over the last year will be sent to the councils so that outstanding matters can be looked at and attended to. Next, our Street Pride Group wants to look at ways of encouraging landlords and tenants to improve the appearance of their buildings and the High Street generally. Ideas welcome!
Alex Chalk MP, Andrew Booton & James Hodsdon with volunteers
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.
Captain Skillicorne declaims ...
On a slightly damp Tuesday 4 June, Captain Henry Skillicorne, aka Parmoor House Manager Phil Collins, led his band of Regency enthusiasts on a walking tour of his much celebrated spa town. The culmination of their most informative perambulations was a splendid afternoon tea and cakes at the New Club.
Cheltenham Development Task Force
Applications discussed at the
11 September Planning Forum