Spatial Policy and Delivery
LICHFIELD DISTRICT LOCAL PLAN 2040
Response from Lichfield Civic Society
Question 6: Do you consider that the Local Plan 2040 is consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework?
Please specify the reasons below:
The Local Plan is not consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework, Section 16, Conserving and enhancing the historic environment. Paragraph 189 states that "heritage assets ... should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance". This is not achieved in the Local Plan policy. At present, in its current form, the Policy makes little reference to the significance and importance of the heritage and historic environment of the City Centre, gives it no priority or emphasis and seemingly affords it no greater protection than many more local heritage elements such as small village conservation areas, with limited significance. The elements constituting the unique and significant heritage character which need to be referenced are many, including: the Cathedral and Cathedral Close with its many listed buildings and the medieval, planned street pattern of the core. The grid pattern streets are lined with densely packed two and three storey buildings, frequently listed, many on 12th Century burgage plots and there exists a wide range of age of buildings, from the Medieval through to the Georgian period and beyond. In total some 200 buildings within the City Centre are listed. Additionally, within the same area are a number of archaeological sites of importance. The final element contributing to the heritage character of the City Centre are various important open space and water areas. Four green spaces in the Conservation Area are formally designated as "Historic Parks". These are Beacon Park, Minster Pool and Walk, the Garden of Remembrance and Stowe Pool and Fields.
Question 7: Please set out what modification(s) you consider necessary to address your representations
The Civic Society consider the following should be inserted as a new paragraph 3 of Strategic Policy SP17 by way of modification.
In particular within the District, Lichfield City Centre Conservation Area has a unique and special character in terms of its historic environment, and range, quality and number of heritage assets. It possesses outstanding and nationally significant features, focussed on two prime elements, namely (1) the world famous Cathedral, with Cathedral Close having a high concentration of Grade I listed buildings, and (2) the nearby historic core of the commercial part of the City, with its planned, medieval, grid street pattern and burgage plots, within which stand a large number of statutorily listed and locally listed buildings. These assets, along with the designated Historic Park areas and other important open spaces, collectively need to be protected and enhanced in accordance with national policy to conserve features of significance, each contributing to the unique and special character of the City Centre. Effective conservation of these assets is seen as being fundamental to the future of the City, for as well as being in support of the environment and being sustainable, it will support the growth of the visitor and tourism economy which is to be a prime focus of the City's role in future.
This proposed modification would ensure the appropriate priority and emphasis is given in the Strategic Policy SP 17 to the significance of the "heritage asset" of Lichfield City Centre Conservation Area. Such a change would address the concerns of Lichfield Civic Society regarding the weakness of the Policy as deposited, ensuring it is justified, effective and consistent with the latest NPPF (July 2021).