Fed up with getting nowhere with its previous attempts to draw attention to the poor condition of the public realm in our High Street, the Civic Society’s Successful Streets Group (SSG) is upping the ante this year.
Old lamp-post, now ashtray!
SSG saw little point in updating its two-year-old list of 253 issues of concern such as broken paving, grubby bins, cluttered signage and street furniture only to see few - if any - improvements.
It is adopting a new, more proactive approach to working with both local councils that between them control the streetscape, and the various private companies that can help to improve matters (Ubico, BT, Virgin, etc.).
The group’s three-fold focus in 2020 will be to: highlight the categories of problem items; identify and engage constructively with the person or team in the Council or company who have responsibility for these; and follow up to see tasks carried out or, if not possible, to develop new ways to somehow get the jobs done.
NO TO THE DOUBLE ‘NO’!
SSG points out that a significant number of the issues could be sorted quickly and at minimum cost. But despite this, the councils will too often say ‘No’ to something due to lack of budget. But then they also say ‘No’ to alternative constructive suggestions. In future, SSG wants to hear “Yes, we can”!
See here for the full Successful Streets Group Report
As the scheduled talk on 4 February on roads and pavements, or Boots Corner, couldn’t be held as planned, Andrew Booton, the Chair, made a presentation focussing mainly on the current crisis in the retail sector in Cheltenham. The retail sector is struggling due to factors common to all high streets these days.
Retailers here also have the added burden of high rates and historically high rents levied by landlords. In conjunction with the borough council, the Civic Society has made efforts to speak to landlords about rents with a view to mitigating some of the effects. Progress is slow though. The matter of rates rests with Whitehall and it is hoped that some redress will be made in theforthcoming budget.
Douglas Ogle died peacefully on 3rd December 2019, aged 85. A celebration of Douglas’s life will be held at Pittville Pump Room at 3.00pm Friday 3 April 2020.
Douglas has been a longstanding and active member of the Civic Society, freely giving his time and professional expertise as an architect and gallerist to further the aims of the society. Whether as a member of the Executive Committee, the Civic Awards Panel or the Planning Forum, his insightful contributions were much valued; and for many years he has brought renowned speakers to Cheltenham for the annual Paterson Memorial lecture. It is fitting that his final contribution was to ensure the Grade II listing of Cheltenham's Hepworth sculpture.
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.
Winter party banishes the blues
About forty-five members and prospective members enjoyed a delicious array of canapes, savoury and sweet, on Sunday 12 January at Parmoor House. Vice Chair Peter Sayers welcomed the guests and outlined preliminary plans for talks and visits during the year. Watch for details on the Events page of our web site. Thanks to Richard and Hilda de Carteret for arranging the party and to Pat and Aiden Rose for so ably assisting.
Friday 20 December 2019
After 18 months of protests, fines and debate throughout the town, Boots Corner will be re-opened to all traffic on 28 December after Gloucestershire County Council overruled the Liberal Democrat-run Cheltenham Borough Council today.
The flawed experiment, which contrary to its title, did not actually close Boots Corner but only banned private cars and commercial vehicles, was implemented without proposing alternative routes for displaced traffic, has finally been rejected. It also appears that no prior traffic counts nor air quality surveys were carried out in the areas most likely to be affected by the displaced traffic, thereby rendering any objective assessment impossible.
We all hope to see improvements in the qualities of our towns and cities, and perhaps local councillors could have gained inspiration on how to achieve this by attending the recent Paterson Memorial Lecture given by Charles Landry.
Charles Landry with Civic Society Chair, Andrew Booton
Charles Landry, renowned cultural urbanist and inventor of the Creative City, held the packed audience spellbound at this year's Paterson Memorial Lecture, as he expounded his philosophy on The Creative City in a Nomadic World. At dynamic pace, accompanied by an eclectic, yet perfectly synchronised slideshow, Charles whizzed us through the return of the nomads, the city in motion, the end of ownership and the impact of the digital world, and finally to creative bureaucracy. It was a tour de force of hugely important ideas for the future of our cities, including Cheltenham, and a profound message for us all to absorb and in some small part, implement.
A must read is Charles' new book The Civic City In A Nomadic World available online here.
Cheltenham Civic Society
Annual General Meeting
Wednesday 18 March 2020
7.30pm Parmoor House
An opportunity for members to quiz the trustees about the society's activities
Planning applications considered at the Planning Forum meeting on 28 January 2020 included:-
41 new dwellings at Charlton Kings Business Park
A replacement house at Oak Magna, Stanley Road
A 5 bedroom house at Kyle Lodge, Greenway Lane