LICHFIELD DISTRICT PLAN REVIEW 2020-2036
Response from Lichfield Civic Society to Matter 6
Matter 6: Are the Plan's Provisions or the Protection and Enhancement of its Environmental, Landscape, Biodiversity and Heritage Assets in accordance with National Policy?
Section 6.1: Is policy BE2 (Heritage Assets) complaint with NPPF 133 and 134?
Lichfield Civic Society's proposed modifications to Policy BE2: Heritage Assets
1. The case for a minor modification of Policy BE2: Heritage Assets
BE2 as amended appears to be compliant with NPPF 133 and 134 providing the amendment is not regarded as sufficient to deal with statutory protection. What is missing from Policy BE2 is any direct reference to the overarching legal provisions in section 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Paragraph 132 effectively provides guidance on how those statutory requirements are to be assessed. Policy BE2 as amended in the last paragraph summarises the NPPF policy guidance in paragraph 133 and 134 without any direct reference to the statutory protection of listed buildings, conservation areas and their settings. This leads to an impression being given that harm, including substantial harm, can be accepted if the public benefits outweigh the harm irrespective of whether the statutory test applies.
There can be situations particularly in relation to the statutory protection of designated heritage assets where the harm is as such that an application can and should be refused. Forge Field, Barnwell Manor and South Lakeland cases demonstrate the need for "considerable importance and weight" to be given to preserving heritage assets from harm. The judgement of R on the application of Mrs Gillian Hughes and South Lakeland D.C. and interested parties  EWHC 3979 (Admin) in paragraph 53 indicates "that paragraph 134 is something of a trap for the unwary - if read and applied - in isolation".
There is a need to ensure balance and accuracy in the policy. There are several ways this can be achieved, and the following is a suggested addition to Policy BE2 and also a possible addition to the explanation.
"Special consideration will be given to ensuring full compliance with the statutory safeguards for listed buildings, their settings and to buildings, land and their settings in conservation areas. In cases of harm to such heritage assets or their settings consent may be refused."
Add to the explanation
"There are overarching statutory requirements (Section 66 and 72 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990) that apply to a listed building and its settings and to buildings or land and their settings in conservation areas. When considering whether to grant permission special regard is to be had to the desirability of preserving a listed building, its setting and any special features it possesses. Similar provisions apply in conservation areas to buildings, land and their settings."
2. The case for an addition to Policy BE2: Heritage Assets or to Lichfield Policy 1.
The main thrust of our representations on Matter 6.1 and 9.1 is that insufficient emphasis is given to the protection of heritage and historic assets of the City. This could be addressed by an addition to Policy BE2 or Lichfield Policy 1.
Lichfield Policy 1 forms a good basis for introducing parallel material into Policy BE2. The elevated, unique and special nature of the heritage asset of Lichfield City Centre captured in Lichfield Policy 1 should lead automatically to the inclusion of the importance of protecting/conserving/enhancing this environment in all development decisions within that area. (For instance, this is of a greater priority than other smaller scale heritage assets in the District, and this could/should be reflected in the approach to be followed). To achieve this the following addition to Policy BE2 is suggested:
"The outstanding and nationally significant qualities of the built historic environment including all aspects of these historic assets of Lichfield City will be safeguarded and, in all decisions, will be afforded priority to ensure their protection, conservation and enhancement. Where appropriate collaboration with statutory bodies and the voluntary sector will be undertaken."
Response from Lichfield Civic Society to Matter 9
Matter 9: Are the Plan's provisions for Lichfield city centre, including policy Lichfield 3 and Map 8.1 justified and effective?
Section 9.1: Is the Plan sufficiently focused on protecting and enhancing the character and appearance of the city centre?
Lichfield Civic Society's proposed modifications to Policy Lichfield 3: Lichfield Economy
Modify the first paragraph of Policy Lichfield 3 with the underlined text so that it reads:
Lichfield City Centre will be promoted as a strategic centre by improving its range of shopping, leisure, business, cultural, education, car parking and tourist facilities commensurate with recognising the need for protection and enhancement of the special significance of its historic environment and heritage assets and their setting including views and skylines. This will be supported by realising redevelopment opportunities identified in the City Centre whilst retaining the special architectural and historical character of the City.
Justification for the changes.
Inserting the words 'car parking' reflects that significant redevelopment will involve new car parking provision and that it is highly likely the multi-storey car park at Birmingham Road/Frog Lane, built in the late 1960s, will need to be replaced within the plan period whatever else happens in the City centre. The changes after 'tourism facilities' are to strengthen the text and highlight the need for protection of the historic environment and heritage assets. Similarly, the addition of "including views and skylines" is to protect City views and those of the Cathedral and church spires as set out in Core Policy 14. The substitution of 'supported' in the last sentence is because the policy aims of the paragraph can be achieved by means other than exclusively by redevelopment and using 'realising' instead of 'exploiting' avoids any inferred rapacious intent.
Modify the last paragraph of Policy Lichfield 3 with the text in red so that it reads:
A sequential approach to the location of offices will be applied and where there is clear evidence that there are no suitable office sites within the city centre, locations on the edge of the city centre will be considered before locations elsewhere that are within and accessible to Lichfield City but are not in the Green Belt. All sites should benefit from excellent public transport links to Lichfield City and should not prejudice further office development within other town centres, including those outside the district.
Justification for the changes.
The scale of provision of new office space is unlikely to be fully accommodated within the City centre boundary without damage to its historic centre, its heritage assets and character. If the City centre or locations elsewhere in the City cannot accommodate new office space that should not lead to the use of designated Green Belt. Such changes should be done through the Local Plan review when, inter alia, consideration can be given to allocation of appropriate site(s) for offices.