B. Masterplan Approach
- The analysis of issues and the conclusions reached of their
significance and relevance are generally accepted and supported,
although there are certain matters or statements with which the
Society do not agree. Hence, we consider only some parts of the
strategy are acceptable but other elements we would question.
There is support for the following:
i) the increased weight given in the approach to sustaining and
enhancing the significance of the historic environment and heritage
assets and their setting in the city centre. In the opinion of the
Society the tension between this imperative and growth and
development has in the recent past been unbalanced and led to poor or
ii) the Key Themes are seen as important and largely appropriate.
iii) the conclusion reached on the character of Lichfield, that the
"signature" of the city is a "Speciality" signature, is welcomed.
This seems to the Society to be a very accurate and meaningful
summation of the situation in Lichfield. It should, therefore,
become the basis for the future planning strategy for the city and
city centre in considering any development proposals for the city.
iv) the conclusions relating to Access and Movement are generally
supported, with one exception which relates to pedestrianisation (of
which more later).
v) the six Masterplan Objectives are supported by the Civic Society
with one proviso in relation to Objective 5, "Quality and Accessible
Environment", and this again relates to pedestrianisation.
There is concern in relation to the following:
i) the cumulative scale of future development appears to be out of
character with the realistic capacity of the historic environment and
does not seem to relate closely to the Speciality signature just
assigned to the City. The scale of development proposed has the
potential to lead to over-intensive and inappropriate forms of
development which fail to be of a complementary or supporting
ii) the approach proposed for addressing the problems now with the
existing pedestrianisation scheme are not supported (of which more
- Masterplan Quarters
It is helpful as a broad indication and aspiration of future strategy
to propose "Quarters", but these cannot be taken as absolutes. The
four Quarters proposed in the Masterplan are generally considered to
be appropriately labelled. However, it should additionally be
emphasised that within each Quarter there are important green parks
and open space areas that are to be retained, protected and enhanced,
and, in certain cases, expanded.
C. Development Opportunities
- Birmingham Road Gateway
An appropriate form of development and renewal here would certainly
benefit the city centre and the city as a whole, particularly if
this was carefully linked to surrounding areas of the centre and
was complementary in content and uses.
Improvements to this entrance to the city in the form of good, clear
and attractive access links for pedestrians from the rail station,
bus station and car parks, with enhanced public realm and signage
and a well-designed, mixed use, development are supported. The
particular proposal for a 'pavilion' building / facility to provide
train and bus information, city information for visitors and
tourists, café/refreshments outlet and toilets is welcomed.
A broad mix of housing, niche retailing in small units and leisure
uses is seen as being appropriate in the development. It is noted
that a leisure centre is not proposed in the report, mainly because
of the large scale and likely appearance of the building. This
view is shared by the Civic Society. However, there is some concern
that, unless their design is sensitively handled, the proposed cinema
and hotel buildings could present similar problems.
The proposal to limit the residential development fronting St John
Street to two storeys is, subject to details and some separation
being provided from the highway, supported as this would
safeguard the nearby St John's Hospital. Elsewhere within the
development, up to four storeys appears to be too high to preserve
views across towards the cathedral and not lose the existing
roofscape character of the city centre.
It is considered unfortunate that the majority of the vehicles
accessing the development when complete will be required to use the
Wade Street / Frog Lane loop. This will cause a significant
deterioration in the living conditions of the many existing residents
of the area and it is suggested that alternative proposals are
formulated to address this particular issue. A further alternative
that could be considered to lessen traffic flows affecting this area
would be to remove the entrance/exit to the car park from these
streets in the design of the replacement building, with all access
points provided from Birmingham Road only.
The proposal for a replacement multi-storey car park is recognised as
being inevitable in view of the existing structural problems
affecting it. The proposal is welcomed as this car park is one of
the most important within the city centre. However, the timing of
the phasing of this element will need to be carefully addressed to
avoid a major shortfall in off-street parking provision during the
demolition and construction stages of the replacement facility. This
could affect the timing of all the principal potential development
sites proposed in the Masterplan, as well as impacting on existing
businesses in the city. It is the view of the Civic Society that
both the car park replacement and the new bus station provision,
because of their importance to residents and visitors, need to be
provided during a relatively early phase of the development of the
Birmingham Road Gateway.
The proposals to significantly improve routes for pedestrians both
within and adjoining the development area, are welcomed. The proposed
provision of safe, controlled, crossing facilities across Birmingham
Road from City Station and also at the St John Street junction are
strongly supported. However, there is a view that the proposed
pedestrian route from the transport hub through the development to
the Market Quarter would be more attractive and direct for users if
it was re-aligned to lead in the direction of the Garrick Theatre,
rather than along a dogleg. This alignment should more closely
follow the line of vision towards the Cathedral and St Mary's
- District Council House
Without greater detail this proposal is difficult to assess. The
listed buildings and their setting will need to be protected and
appropriate uses found if they are to be vacated by the District
Council. Office use, or similar, seems most appropriate. The Society
have doubts as to whether the city needs more meeting or internal
venue space so there may be difficulties in finding alternative and
Any development of the Birmingham Road site which precedes
development here would need to safeguard this building and setting
and at the same time not prejudice its future.
- Bird Street Courtyard
This is an extremely sensitive site, with a number of complex issues
that need to be considered:
i) can Minster Pool, the associated open space corridor and the
setting of the Cathedral and Close, be protected visually if
development takes place as close to the Minster Pool area as is
ii) can the loss of over half the car parking spaces here be adequately
iii) is the compromise proposed of a modest scale of development and is
the retention of a much smaller car park viable and realistic? Or, once
development is agreed in principle, will it be intensified in height
and scale etc. to become viable; to the detriment of the historic
The existing pedestrian access points into the car park from Market
Street and from Bird Street are both constrained, unattractive, and
of poor quality. These should be high priority for improvements to the
public realm either with, or without, early development progressing.
The Civic Society would seek, in any development scenario for the
site, the provision of increased public realm space adjoining Minster
Pool Walk and would expect any development to enhance this sensitive
location through all aspects of design.
- University West Car Park
The Civic Society does not support this proposal as it continues a
process of eroding the city's Open Space network which commenced
with a temporary planning permission for car parking on the playing
field. If additional office or educational space is required it
should be provided close to the existing University buildings and
away from the main road frontage. The advantages of such a
re-location would be:
i) to retain a more open and landscaped aspect when viewed from the
adjoining roads and;
ii) the existing car parking provision would be maintained.
In the light of other proposals in the Masterplan, which are likely
to reduce provision on other sites, this is seen as necessary.
A further requirement for this site is seen as the vital need to
enhance the surfacing of the car park to a proper standard, as well
as introducing environmental and landscaping improvements to the
whole area adjacent to any new development and the car park.
- Additional Development Opportunities
There are limited other opportunities for development in the City
centre but one worth considering lies between Dam Street and Cross
Keys, centred on the Quonians Lane area. As this lies in the heart
of the city and its Conservation Area the approach to its
development will need sensitive handling in order to protect and
enhance the heritage asset.
D. Public Realm Priorities
- Birmingham Road Corridor
This is supported by the Civic Society as a very high priority and
needs early delivery in conjunction with the first phases of the
Birmingham Road Gateway. Our only reservation concerning this
project relates the line proposed through the site and included above
(final paragraph of our response, C3 Birmingham Road Gateway).
- Lichfield Transport Hub
This is supported.
- Bird Street Walk
Although the principle of enhancing both the Bird Street and Market
Street paths into Bird Street Car Park is supported, our reservations
are expressed above (fifth paragraph of C5 Bird Street Courtyard).
Action to upgrade these links is extremely desirable.
- Circular Minster Pool Walk
The proposal to complete a circular walk by provision of a pathway
along the northern side of the Pool is supported and will offer
improved circulation opportunities to residents and visitors. It is
not considered that this proposed northern section requires to
provide a cycleway facility.
- Pedestrian Priority Streets
It is the opinion of the Civic Society that intervention is necessary
to address the problems reported in the analysis of unacceptable
conflict in the City Centre streets between pedestrians and traffic.
However, it is considered a more radical solution should be
introduced to solving these problems than is at present being
proposed and should be recommended for the whole area of the
currently "pedestrianised" area of the City Centre. These proposals
should set out with the objective of creating a fully pedestrianised
situation by removing the existing conflict between the users. They
should be applied to the existing streets and to any additional
streets that are considered appropriate.
At present two categories of vehicles are accepted as requiring
access into the pedestrian streets: firstly, those vehicles
requiring access to blue badge parking spaces and; secondly, those
vehicles making deliveries or collections from premises. It is the
view of the Civic Society that these two requirements could be
satisfactorily addressed in an alternative manner to that proposed.
The blue badge spaces, of which there are some 46 located on street
(Tamworth Street, Conduit Street, Market Square and Bore Street)
could be re-located to various nearby locations directly adjoining
and accessible to the main shopping and other facilities. Locations
such as Bird Street Car Park, Redcourt House Car Park, Cross Keys Car
Park; and Wade Street, Frog Lane and Gresley Row are suggested as
possible replacement locations.
The servicing of premises by delivery vehicles could be time-limited,
so that access through the pedestrianised streets was only made
available before, say 10.00 am and after, say, 4.00 pm.
The introduction of these changes could be accompanied by the
installation of entrance controls in the form of automatic bollards
or barriers in Tamworth Street near the former Regal Cinema, and at
the exit point from Bore Street, for use during the period 10.00 am
to 4.00 pm each day. Overall, this change would transform the current
unsatisfactory situation and enable pedestrians to "to take back the
streets"; which is what should be expected in any small, historic
cathedral city location. The safer and enhanced environment created
would be of great benefit to residents and shoppers and encourage
tourists and visitors to come and stay longer.
The introduction of these measures could be undertaken over the
period of the implementation of the proposals contained in the
Masterplan, although greater priority should be given to such much
needed proposals. They could be run in parallel with the many
"Public Realm" improvements proposed within the Masterplan.
- Pedestrian Walkways and Linkages
Improvements to these, as proposed, are supported.
- Clear and Consistent Signage
The introduction of a policy requiring upgraded and clear and
consistent signage throughout the city centre is supported.
This needs to be accompanied by a review of all street furniture and
installations affecting the streets to ensure removal, replacement
or re-siting, in order to enhance the environment.
- Other Public Realm Priorities
E. Masterplan Delivery
- The Delivery Strategy
There are certain issues of concern to the Civic Society related to
the delivery strategy and these are referred to in the following
The reference in 5.2 to the need for a "realistic and focused
approach" to the delivery and implementation of the Masterplan
expresses very clearly the issue for the future. Similarly, 5.3
emphasises that there are "obstacles to be overcome" which have been
spelt out in the body of the document. With "viability" so critical
to delivery the Civic Society hopes very much, in addition to the
issues referred to above, that certain of the most critical proposals
are capable of implementation and successful delivery. The Society
has given an opinion on these in detail. It is hoped that commercial,
"profitable", elements are not progressed without "Public Realm"
projects being implemented in parallel.
In relation to the Birmingham Road Gateway the Civic Society have
concern at the delayed timing of the scheme (5 to 7 years) and to
the late phasing (phases 3 and 4) within that of the replacement
multi-storey car park and bus station. These elements and this site
are of the highest priority in the opinion of the Civic Society
because of its location, its impact on both residents and visitors,
and because it has been in limbo for a long time.
The timings of car parking space displacement to allow some of the
development proposals to proceed needs to be phased to ensure the
proposed replacements are available at the right time to accommodate
the displacement. At present the Civic Society is not certain
this is the case.
In relation to many elements of the proposed Public Realm
improvements the Council, having established the relevant design
policies, should liaise fully with the community as to what they want
in detail in each area and explore ways of involving the community
in implementing these improvements and managing the public realm.
This may be a less expensive approach if volunteers become available