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ANNUAL REPORT ON THE YEAR 2015-16
Current issues with which we are concerned
The Local Plan and the New Developments planned for the City The Canterbury Society has from the start opposed the plan to build 15,000 houses across the district and 4000 houses in on the Mountfield site in south Canterbury. However, if these plans do go ahead we are anxious that the new developments should be built to high standards. Members of the committee therefore appeared before the Local Plan Examination in Public (EIP) in July 2015, criticising the scale and location of the new developments and the implications for transport and for pollution. When the EIP resumes in September 2016 members of the committee will be speaking about the supply of building land, the environment, open spaces and many other issues. At the time of writing we have put in comments on the plans for South Canterbury, and will be presenting our concerns to the Planning Committee when this proposal comes up.
Canterbury Society Design Awards This was a new initiative for the Society and we would like to congratulate all who were nominated, especially the winners. The aim of the Award is to highlight excellence in the built environment and to encourage good design, and members of the public were invited to nominate buildings or developments. The Overall Winner this year was the Westgate Hall. There were also Awards in three different categories:
- Landscape and public realm: the winner was the seat in Millers Field
- Renovation: the Westgate Hall (also overall Winner)
- New buildings: joint winners the terrace of houses in St Peter’s Lane and the University of Kent Library Extension
Conserving our Historic Heritage The tension between conservation and growth is a continuing issue, not only in Canterbury, but in many other historic towns and cities. So we have taken the lead in setting up the Alliance of Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns (ACT), under the umbrella of Civic Voice. In April 2016 its concerns were presented at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Civic Societies. ACT is now working with Historic England, the Heritage Alliance, the Historic Towns Forum and others to highlight the threats to our historic heritage in places like Canterbury.
The War Memorials Project This is a national initiative, led by Civic Voice, with funding from the War Memorials Trust. The aim is to record the condition of local War Memorials and to organise funds to restore any that are neglected. A team of volunteers is now working together to list memorials and to report on their condition.
Campaign for Democracy in the Canterbury District (CDCD) Last year the Society was involved in the successful campaign to change the council from the current Executive system to a Committee system. However, there are some issues still to be resolved, so CDCD continues to be active. We have had helpful discussions with Cllr Simon Cook, the new leader of the council, and are currently planning a meeting on the proposed changes in local government, which may involve setting up unitary authorities in Kent.
Activities over the past year
The Canterbury Society committee works hard to respond to the concerns of our members and to comment on developments taking place in the city. Recently,
- We have commented on planning applications for new developments, including those for the Slatters Hotel site, Kingsmead School, Telephone House, Abbots Dairy site in Military Road, Nat West site in Orchard Street, developments in Dover Street and various illegal and unsightly signs
- We continue to be responsible for the Heritage Open Days. The Society organised some very successful days in 2015 and is now planning ahead, when an eclectic collection of buildings will be open in September 2016
- We have engaged with a number of Consultations, including putting in evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Built Environment and commenting on the Canterbury City Council Corporate Plan and the New Approach to Transport
- We have registered a number of buildings as Assets of Community Value, including the Westgate Hall, Beverley Meadows and Kingsmead Field
- We are taking part in the Higher and Further Education Impact Review, which is examining the positive and negative impact of students on the city
- We are working with Canterbury Connected for Canterbury in Bloom and were delighted when in 2015 the city was awarded Gold in the South East England in Bloom Category
- We have been very concerned about the visual appearance of the city, and are preparing design guides on Shop Fronts and on Replacement Windows. We are currently looking for funding for these guides
Events arranged over the past year
June Discussion on ‘Where Next for Local Democracy?’
June River litter pick in St Radigunds area on national Civic Day
July Visit to Greenwich, with expert guidance by Hubert Pragnell
August Litter pick with Thanington Resource Centre and Parish Council
October Talk by John Thompson on ‘Public Participation in Planning’
October Launch of ACT at the Civic Voice Convention
November Sensory walk round Canterbury led by Dr Carolina Vasilikou
December Social Get-together for Residents’ Groups with CDCD
February Launch of the War Memorials Project
March Talk by Stephen Peckham on ‘Making Canterbury a Healthier Place’
March Design Awards presented to winners by Ptolemy Dean, who also talked about ‘The Importance of Good Design in Cities’
The committee of the Canterbury Society would like to thank all our members and everyone who has supported us over the past year. We are particularly grateful for funding for our work from the KCC Community Engagement Scheme, supported by Cllr Martin Vye, the Canterbury Area Member Panel and the City Council Small Grants Scheme. We are always looking for people who would like to get involved in our activities, so do contact us at: www.canterburysociety.org.uk or 01227 450140.
Finally – thanks to the committee of the Canterbury Society 2015-16
Chair Jan Pahl; Deputy-chair John Walker; Treasurer Tim Less; Secretary Virginia Webb. Members: Nick Blake, Clive Bowley, Val Harris; Diana Holbrook, Geoff Meaden, Hubert Pragnell; Phil Rose; Ema Rush