ACHIEVEMENTS AND SUCCESSES
As we start 2018, we thought it would be cheering to remind ourselves about the achievements of the Canterbury Society since it was revived in 2009. So we have compiled the following list of successes. Do send in others which may have been forgotten.
This is not a list of everything we have done, but rather of actions which the Society took and which seemed to lead to a positive outcome. Of course, any achievement is always a joint venture, with other people or organisations entitled to share the glory. We cannot claim that we alone did all the good things I am about to list. In some we played a large part and in some a small part. But for all the initiatives listed below we can take some of the credit and feel some pride in that.
- With others we protested about the plans to demolish 24 Roper Road, a handsome Victorian house. The building was saved and has now been renovated.
- Creation and distribution of a Canterbury Society postcard giving information on who to phone about litter and graffiti in the city: this was widely distributed.
- We took the initiative in planting along the derelict Franciscan Path, with plants provided by the council. We had to re-plant again in 2012, and this path is now beautifully looked after by John Ellaby of SMACS and is much enjoyed by many passers-by.
- Old Oast House, Hollow Lane. We objected to the plans to demolish this historic building and replace it with housing. The plans were rejected, went to appeal and were again rejected. The Oast House is still there.
- Planting in the neglected Butterfly Garden in Pound Lane, supported by funds from the John Hayes Award, which were given to the late Kenneth Pinnock. He was chair of the Canterbury Society for many years and his family passed the award onto the Society. We continue to care for this garden, together with the St Peter’s Residents’ Association, and do planting on a regular basis.
- 2010 onwards. Involvement in the planning for the refurbishment of the Westgate Gardens, which led to the successful bid for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
- 2010 and all other years. Litter picks. We started in 2010 with one at UKC with the students, and have carried out litter picks every year and with many different residents’ groups, and well as our own annual river litter pick in July.
- The Baptist Church, St Georges Place. Application to demolish. With the help of Julia Twigg, who was on the committee, and English Heritage, the council was persuaded to reject the application and instead the church carried out the rather nice improvements which are now there.
- Supported the Westgate Hall Trust in working on their business plan for saving the Hall from demolition to make way for a car park. This was successful and the hall opened to the public in 2014.
- Expressed concerns about the plans for a water mill and museum in St Radigunds. These were rejected and the site remains a natural wild area and open to visitors.
- Expressed support for keeping the Roman Museum open in the face of council proposals to shut it. The Museum is still open today.
- CS was invited to send a representative to the Student Community Group. This developed into the Higher/Further Education Review, run by the city council, which produced a major report in 2016 after extensive consultation.
- Obtained grants for £750 and £125 which were used to plant trees, both in the Tannery Meadow and along the river by Sainsburys. Kingsmead School, St Peters’ Methodist School and the Canterbury High School were involved in the planting.
- Supported and took part in the photography project on ‘A Year in the Life of Canterbury, organised by Kent Creative Arts. This eventually produced a book.
- Objected to proposals by the University of Kent for a conference centre, hotel and student accommodation on Chaucer Fields. The proposals were subsequently withdrawn, though there is still a threat to this area.
- We took the lead in a project to commemorate the Siege of Canterbury, which took place in 1011. We obtained a grant of £600 to do this. The project involved convening a group which brought together people from the Council, the Cathedral, the University of Kent and other bodies to organise a range of activities. In 2012 we were awarded the Kentish Gazette Community Culture Award for this initiative.
- Involved with the City Centre Partnership in litter clearing and in Canterbury in Bloom activities. In 2012 the city entered for Britain in Bloom for the first time and was awarded a Silver Award in the Small Cities category of South East in Bloom. In 2017 Canterbury was awarded Gold in the RHS Britain in Bloom competition.
- We expressed concern about the plan to remove the holly hedge outside the Stour Street museum. The hedge was trimmed but is still in place.
- Led by Geoff Meaden, we began work on a Vision for the Future of Canterbury by bringing in Glasshouse to organise a workshop with representatives of residents’ groups. Developing the Vision was a major task for the Society over the year and led to the production of a widely-praised report in 2013. The Vision identified governance as a source of concern.
- We wrote to the council about plans to build on car parks in the city, notably in Ivy Lane, Hawks Lane and St Johns Street. All these are still car parks.
- Wrote to KCC about the need to fill in the missing section of the cycle route from Chartham to Canterbury. This was completed the following year.
- Supported the plan by Canterbury for Clean Air to commission a survey of traffic and pollution in Canterbury by Lyn Sloman. CS organised the meeting at which this report was presented to councillors and others.
- CS prepared a list of all residents’ associations in the city with contact details for key people. This helped in the start of the Association of Canterbury Residents Associations (ACRA).
- Commented on plans for Tower House. An earlier application was for a modernist extension and this was followed by plans for a garden room. We objected to these proposals and in the end the renovations were restricted to improvements inside the house.
- We expressed concern about the dilapidated building next to Crowthers in Northgate. This was subsequently repaired.
- CS protested to the Council about plans to remove a large tree outside the Victoria Hotel. The tree is still there.
- We worked with Porchlight and the St Peter’s Association to plant up the Butterfly Garden again.
- Setting up of the Campaign for Democracy in the Canterbury District (CDCD). CS was involved in this from the start and organised a workshop on the topic of Localism. The successful campaign led to a change in the governance of the Canterbury City Council from the Executive to the Committee system.
- Put forward ideas on the landscaping of the planned re-development of the Westgate Towers area. The scheme which was eventually implemented included some of these ideas.
- We listed various local buildings as ‘Assets of Community Value’. These included Kingsmead Field, the Westgate Hall, Beverley Meadows and the Environment Centre in Broad Oak Road, all of which now have greater protection from development.
- Objected to proposals by Domino Pizza for the old Nat West Bank at the corner of Orchard Street and St Dunstan’s Street. The proposals were refused and the building is still vacant.
- We expressed concern about the poor state of repair of the Eastbridge Hospital and over the years wrote three letters in support of their applications for funds. All these applications were successful and the repairs have now been completed.
- The Canterbury Society Civic Champion Award was launched. In this first year it was awarded to Sian Pettman for her work for Kingsmead Fields.
- Supported the proposal for a Business Improvement District (BID) for the city, led by Bob Jones. This was successful and we were invited to have two non-voting representatives on the BID board, which continues today.
- The success of our Vision for the Future of Canterbury led us to bring out an up-dated summary which was distributed widely and highlighted nationally by Civic Voice.
- This year we took on the organisation of the Heritage Open Days, supported by funds from the Canterbury City Council. Diana Holbrook has been responsible for successful Heritage Open Days every year since then, with the numbers enjoying these visits rising every year.
- The Civic Voice Annual Conference took place in Canterbury, and the Society was involved in organising events, arranging displays, leading walks and welcoming delegates.
- We commented on plans for the Diocesan Payne Smith School and the scheme which went ahead reflected these comments.
- Worked with the Friends of the Riverside to commission three seats to go into public parks. The one in the Millers Field was short listed for a national Design Award by Civic Voice.
- The Canterbury Society took the lead in setting up the Historic Cathedral Cities Alliance (Now the Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns). This is a nation-wide initiative which brings together civic societies concerned about balancing heritage and growth.
- Canterbury Society Civic Champion Award was awarded to Imogen Morizet for her work for the Westgate Hall Trust.
- Worked with Canterbury in Bloom as a partner for the city’s entry: the city was awarded Gold in the SE England in Bloom competition.
- We were presented with an award by the Fair Trade Association for using Fair Trade products at all our meetings.
- The City Council changed its system of governance from the Executive to the Committee system, following pressure from CDCD, CS and others.
- Set up the Canterbury Society Design Award for outstanding buildings in three categories: landscape and public realm, new building and restoration of an existing building.
- Set up the Canterbury Society War Memorials Group which by the end of 2016 had surveyed most of the war memorials in the city and neighbouring villages.
- Criticised the proposals for the Abbotts Dairy site. This application was rejected.
- We organised the Canterbury Society Design Award Event at which awards were presented by Ptolemy Dean to four winners and a number of short listed entries.
- Worked as one of the partners with the BID on the city’s entry to RHS Britain in Bloom: the city was awarded Gold in the national level competition, both in this year and in 2017.
- Walk around the city organised by Nick Blake as part of the Canterbury Festival. This successful initiative was repeated in 2017.
- Draft guides produced to shop fronts and replacement windows. These still need to be designed, edited, printed and circulated. We wait for encouragement from the council.
- City Council appointed a Heritage and Design Champion, which the Canterbury Society has been advocating for some time. We wait to see how effective this will be.
- We commented critically on the plans for the renovation of the St Georges Street area. These plans were subsequently dropped.
- The Canterbury Society was invited to take part in the Litter Roundtable, which has subsequently led on many initiatives related to litter and graffiti. We continue to organise litter picks across the city and our annual river litter pick.
- We criticised proposals for garish signage on the new Metrobank in Rose Lane. The proposals for signage were toned down, though the bank is going ahead.
- The idea of a car free day was proposed by councillors and the Canterbury Society spoke in support at the Canterbury Area Member Panel, suggesting that this might be part of a broader Sustainable Transport initiative.
- Concern about air pollution in the city led to a project led by Professor Stephen Peckham to measure pollution more accurately. The Canterbury Society took part in this project, which revealed higher than expected levels of pollution.
- One source of pollution is the emissions from stationary cars waiting for level crossing gates to open. We designed a leaflet explaining the issue and handed it out to drivers waiting in St Dunstan’s Street and in Sturry.
- As a member of the Friends of the Riverside, we were asked to speak at a council meeting in support of the plan to extend the riverside path across in front of the Westgate. The plan was agreed and the path is now in place.
- Canterbury Society Civic Champion Award was awarded to Rick Norman for his work for the community.
- Members of the committee had meetings with Simon Wright, the CEO of Corinthian Land. He offered to make substantial funding available to support the setting up of a Sustainable Transport Forum, to consider what can be done to ease congestion and air pollution problems following from the developments coming to the city.
- We spoke in support of the Sustainable Transport Forum at the Joint Transportation Board, the Policy and Resources Committee and the full Council meeting. In October the Policy and Resources Committee agreed that the council would set up a Sustainable Transport Forum – though at present the Canterbury Society is not on the list of members of the STF.
- We criticised the draft plans for the new car park in Station Road West. The council decided to send the plans back for re-drafting.
- The Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns, which the Canterbury Society set up in 2015, produced a report on the challenges of balancing heritage and growth in historic places across the country. The report was well-received by Historic England, which has asked the group to go on to make proposals for changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and to carry out new research on strategies for protecting heritage in fast-growing historic places.
- We objected to the plans for the development of 14 Ivy Lane, and spoke at the Planning Committee. The application was rejected.
On-going work supporting the above successes
Throughout all these years we have organised public talks and walks, sent out monthly Newsletters, run our own website and contributed to other websites, organised trips to historic houses, responded to consultations, commented on planning applications, taken part in a wide range of meetings, including our own committee meetings, and of course, run the Canterbury Society. We can say that since 2008 this has been an energetic and successful civic society, with a hard-working and knowledgeable committee.
Jan Pahl December 2017