Open Forum on Development in Lichfield

As both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman were on holiday, our President, Mary Lister, chaired this meeting which was being held in place of the now re-scheduled presentation by John Colburn, Head of Development Services at Lichfield District Council.

Having explained the situation to those present, Mary Lister reported upon recent Civic Society activities. These included the Award presentations for the extension of the Police Mutual building and the conversion of the former Tuke and Bell offices to dwellings. Both recipients had been "honoured" to be chosen to receive these awards. We were also told that Hintons Property developers, who were responsible for the Tuke and Bell conversion, were also responsible for the dwellings on Greenhill where the preceding archaeological dig had found, among other artifacts, a 'candle trough'. It is hoped that these could be returned from Stafford and be displayed in Lichfield one day.

Mary Lister also reported that a recent meeting had been held with a number of people having a known interest in the Art Gallery above the former Library, including John Sanders in his capacity as President of the Arts Society. Letters had been sent to Staffordshire County Council regarding the possibility of the Gallery reverting to its original purpose. She said that replies to these letters had been encouragingly positive. The future of the "City Picture Collection" is also being persued.

Mary then explained that the primary purpose of this meeting was to raise and discuss matters that members would have wished to raise with the evening's advertised speaker. It was intended that a report would be sent to John Colburn in advance of the meeting now scheduled for 19th July.

This concluded the President's report and the meeting was declared 'open'.

The following is a list of the matters mentioned during the meeting, some of which might be regarded as being inappropriate to pursue at this time.

  • Demolition of the Police Station, the closure of Kennings garage and the reported plan for a Morrison's supermarket to occupy the site. Particular concern was expressed about the traffic increase that this would produce.

  • The 'Crucifix Conduit' water feature. Howard Clayton described its history but felt that the gift of the site to the City by Sir Richard Cooper should also be made known, possibly by a suitable plaque.

  • The Bowling Green island area. It is reported that a number of householders have been approached by "developers" regarding the purchase of their houses, then to be demolished so that the site can be used for smaller units or flats. The future of the site on the corner of Beacon Street and Forge Lane was also raised.

  • The Walsall Road development was mentioned in passing.

  • Car Parking on residential roads near to the City Centre, increased parking fees and the impact of increased demand as a consequence of housing development were the subject of strongly expressed concerns. The creation of perimeter car parks - free to users - and the closure of City centre car parks was an example of the suggested need for radical measures to find a solution to this urgent and growing problem.

  • Cyclists using footpaths were regarded as a growing menace and members suggested that the law was not being enforced by the police. Do Traffic Wardens perhaps have the necessary authority?

  • Skate boarding in the multi-story car park. The provision of a designated facility was approved provided its site was not close to a residential area and would be supervised. The possibility of payment for using the facility was also mentioned.

  • The delay in development at the back of the City Railway Station was said to be due to a lack of access.

  • Development of the amenity site. The delay was said to be due to problems with land ownership.

  • Problems with the pedestrianisation scheme were said to be a lack of supervision and enforcement. It was suggested that cruising by cars used by, or serving, people who are disabled was a legitimate activity, perhaps indicating the need for greater provision. The possibility of extending the 'Shop Mobility' scheme to venues adjacent to dedicated car parking was suggested as a means of excluding all cars from the "pedestrianised" area. It was also noted that Bird Street is frequently used by cars passing through and this was thought to be due to the blue 'one way' sign at the point where Sandford Street joins Bird Street.

  • The future use the former Esso petrol station site on Beacon Street.

  • The 'Skool' sign on the corner of Quonians Lane and Dam Street - has this sign now been approved?

  • The Millenium statue. The ultimate siting was discussed although this was understood to be held up by a lack of finance. There was some support for a suggestion that the Dam Street end of Minster Pool should be considered but others felt that it should be sited where it can be "walked around and viewed from a distance".

  • The Colley's Yard restaurant - what is happening to it?

  • Foot and Mouth signs were being ignored on Pipe Green and in some cases actually removed. There was some confusion about re-opening footpaths in the district.

  • The flower tubs on the 'banana' island at the junction of Bore Street, Bird Street and St Johns Street. What is to be done about them? Can anything be done?

Ivor Mitchell
May 2001