Proposed redevelopment of the Regal Cinema

Corporate Planning Director,
Lichfield District Council,
Frog Lane,

Dear Sir,

Application No: 14/00940/FULM. 23-27 Tamworth Street, Lichfield

The comments of Lichfield Civic Society regarding this application are as follows:
The Society recommends that planning permission is refused.

Though the proposal has merit in that will retain the frontage of the former Regal cinema on to Tamworth Street and revive a derelict site it does introduce features that defy understanding. These include features that lack architectural cohesion and a number of unexplained oddities. Firstly the introduction of new retail provision needs clarification as there is every indication that there will be continuing weakness in this provision into the future with the seemingly unstoppable increase of new forms of shopping. There is thus a poor expectation that there is any real need for more retail provision in the City Centre.

The residential parts of the development present challenging features that defy description. Overall the two blocks are detached and seem stylistically unrelated. The elevations of flats above the shop present considerable glazing with notable stepped terraces while the other flats and houses are an very odd mixture of conventional brickwork and an extraordinary feature of four vertical rendered 'baffles' that seem to defy function or description. They seem only to be there to make a space for small low walled patios at ground level and small living areas internally. The patios front directly on to the Tanneries and thus are open to very close view by everyone passing along a public way. This factor will render their use challenging at any time but especially during evenings when the nearby pubs and restaurants are in full flow, the Tanneries being a route to the car park. Their presence is difficult to understand.

Internally the space released is awkwardly unrelated to the rest of the relevant rooms. The orientation of the building (south east) will result in the 'baffles' preventing sunlight from entering the rooms for much of the day. As a structure they only serve to reduce the amount of useful space available within the site's footprint and are a wholly over-dominant feature that only serves to be an unexplained oddity out of place in a development of this kind. They are completely impracticable and without logic. The Society recommends that this section of the plan be completely rethought. The fenestration of the front elevation to Cross Keys is heavily overstated with a medley of sizes and types with over-obtrusive wide borders that will rapidly date.

The delivery access to the rear of the shop is wholly impractical, as few if any modern delivery vehicles could possibly use it except by blocking The Tanneries footpath. The alternative will be that delivery will be made from Tamworth Street and cause inevitable prohibited obstruction.

The variety of components to this plan and their jarring diversity is so alien to the character of this part of the Conservation Area that their unsuitability should seem self-evident.

The Society would welcome a much more coherent and integrated development that is contemporary in tone, with modern ideas and materials, but is responsive to the texture of the historic core and will respond to the needs of the Lichfield's citizens.

Yours faithfully,

Alan Thompson,
Hon Secretary,
Planning Applications Advisory Group,
Lichfield Civic Society.
12th January, 2015