Some of the current issues with which the Canterbury Society is concerned
The Local Plan
Last week we heard that the Local Plan has been approved by the Planning Inspectorate. Members of the Canterbury Society committee have worked hard on the Plan, commenting extensively on the draft and speaking at the Public Enquiry. However, it seems that none of the comments by us and other residents’ groups have been taken into account in the final version. We have heard a lot over the past few years about localism, but it seems as if centralism has triumphed. For example, in the Canterbury Society Vision for the Future of our City, we calculated that 10,600 new houses were needed to meet demand; the Council proposed 15,000 houses, but the Inspector has increased this to 16,000. We are still awaiting the results of the Judicial Review of the Mountfield site application, but it looks as if we will have to live with the impact of the Plan in terms of congestion, air pollution and strain on services.
Air pollution, congestion and changing travel patterns: action on modal shift We have argued that effective action to reduce air pollution and congestion involves many different initiatives, including the idea of a car-free day, as well as persuading people to leave their cars at home and make more trips on foot, by bus or train, on bikes and scooters, in shared cars, and so on, sometimes called ‘Modal Shift’. We are planning a project to get people to turn off car engines at level crossings and have spoken at various council meetings about the need to promote modal shift. We were disappointed when responsibility for this was passed to KCC for consideration. Corinthian, the developers of the Mountfield site, have offered to fund a project officer and admin support for a Working Group on Modal shift. We hope that the City Council will accept this offer and set up the Working Group, which the Canterbury Society would gladly support.
Canterbury West Multi-story car park: action on planning
The City Council is now consulting on proposals for the new multi-story car park in Station Road West. The plans would see the trees felled, a massive multi-story car park built and a line of shops along the street. You can see what is proposed on the City Council website. This is one of the most important entry points to our historic city, providing visitors with their first impression of Canterbury. It should be a fine street, lined with trees and good quality buildings, with space for walkers and cyclists. What is proposed is very far from this and we challenge the architects to do better.
Conserving our Historic Heritage: action at national level
We have taken the lead in setting up the Alliance of Cathedral Cities and Historic Towns (ACT), under the umbrella of Civic Voice. Recently ACT carried out a survey among civic societies across England, which underlined the tension between conservation and growth in many other historic towns and cities. Canterbury is not the only place where too much new building threatens the quality of life. We have discussed the results of the survey with Historic England and have been asked to propose revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework.
Activities over the past year
The Canterbury Society committee works hard to respond to the interests of our members, to comment on developments taking place in the city and to work with other residents’ groups and with partners who share our concerns.
- PLANNING We have commented on planning applications for many new developments, including those for the Mountfield site in South Canterbury and the Pentlands Homes site in Thanington; the St George’s Street improvements; the Arts Building for CCCU; Metrobank in Rose Lane; Kingsmead Serco site; Barretts developments; and the Abbotts Dairy site
- We have engaged with a number of Consultations, including those on changes to the Museum Services, changes in Licensing Regulations, the Council Tax Support Scheme, and KCC Local Transport Plan
- HERITAGE We continue to run the Heritage Open Days. Diana Holbrook organised some very successful days in 2016 and is now planning ahead for September 7th -10th, when an interesting collection of buildings will be open
- We were pleased to welcome Cllr Robert Thomas as our Heritage Champion and we support the Canterbury Heritage and Design Forum, as well as the new Canterbury Heritage Forum
- We worked with Canterbury Connected for Canterbury in Bloom and were delighted when in 2016 the city was awarded Gold in the national RHS Britain in Bloom Awards: congratulations to Bob Jones and his team
- CIVIC GROUPS We work with other residents’ groups on many issues and are involved with the Campaign for Democracy in the Canterbury District (CDCD) and with the coming Community Governance Review, which will seek views on the development of town and parish councils
- We were involved in the Air Quality Monitoring Project organised by Professor Stephen Peckham and we support the Canterbury Clean Air Group
- We work with the Friends of the Riverside to enhance parks along the river and are pleased that the riverside path is making real progress at last
Events arranged over the past year
June Talk by Dr Nikos Karydis on ‘New Design in a Historic City’
June River litter pick in the St Radigunds area on National Civic Day
July Talk on ‘Creating Beauty in my Back Yard’ by the Prince’s Foundation
July Visit to Rochester, hosted by the Rochester Society
October Walk around the city, led by Nick Blake as part of the Festival
October Talk by Hubert Pragnell on ‘Canterbury through Eyes of Artists’
November Discussion of a ‘Possible Council Merger in East Kent’ with CDCD
January Talk by David Ormrod: ‘The Blitz and making of Post-war Canterbury’
March Talk by Paul Bennett on ‘Recent Archaeological Discoveries’
May Talk by Tom Crewe on ‘The Death of Municipal England’
June Hustings for the election in the Westgate Ward
The committee of the Canterbury Society would like to thank all our members and everyone who has supported us over the past year. We welcome new members and are particularly looking for people who would like to get involved in the committee, so do contact us at: www.canterburysociety.org.uk or 01227 450140.
Finally – thanks to the committee of the Canterbury Society 2016-17
Chair Jan Pahl; Deputy-chair John Walker; Treasurer Craig Griffin; Secretary Val Harris. Members: Nick Blake, Clive Bowley, Diana Holbrook, Geoff Meaden, Hubert Pragnell; Phil Rose.