Chairman's Report May 2016
03 May 2016
CHAIRMAN’S REPORT: 03 MAY 2016
1.20141478 & 20152152: VICTORIA
PARK CENTENARY WALK: I have written to seek clarification of the details.
20141478 specified 71 trees to be felled, 49 planted as part of the
processional route and more planted elsewhere around the park, though this
didn’t specify how many. Apparently it was then felt that some of the trees to
the front of De Montfort Hall would not survive the construction period, and
because they were relatively young and immature specimens, it would be better
in the long term to remove and plant anew. Many of these trees would have
required future removal anyway because the area would require thinning to allow
other new trees to grow effectively. (This is a standard practice of woodland
20152152 included a site clearance
plan indicating the areas of tree removal. This was for 84 trees, 13 more than
originally stipulated for the reason given above. However, there will now be 79
new trees planted as part of the processional route, works along Granville Road
and to the front of De Montfort Hall instead of the 49 stipulated in the
original planning application. In addition, there have been 25 trees already
planted elsewhere around the park in January and February this year.
To summarise: 20141478 allowed for 71
felled and 49 planted = Nett loss of 22 trees. 20152152 allows for 84 felled
and 79 planted = Nett loss of 5 trees. 25 new trees have also been planted
elsewhere in the park this year. However, there are lessons to be learned:
attracted three comments, all in favour. There is no point in potential
objectors saying nothing and then violently objecting nearly two years
afterwards. Everyone worried about trees should study all such applications
thoroughly. This is why we have now appointed a tree officer with effect
from May 2015.
- Variations in numbers to be felled or
planted, for whatever good reasons, without either seeking a new planning
consent or at least explaining the situation to the stakeholders who
commented is sloppy. Ready acceptance of this as a condition fulfilment by
City Planning is also sloppy.
cut trunks and stumps lying around to alarm the general public - and delight Leicester
Mercury photographers - was an own goal.
- As we
have noted before, City Council officers (particularly in Planning and
Urban Design) tend to treat trees as items of street furniture not living
things and therefore continually underestimate the level of public
2. 20150338: 54-58 LONDON ROAD:
The Decision Notice has finally been published on 25 April. We have been
informed of this but not sent a copy. Presumably this has applied to all
objectors including the Inspector of Historic Buildings & Areas at Historic
England. City Planning did of course count the original HE letter as an
objection, despite the Head of Planning then informing the Planning & DC
Committee that HE hadn’t actually objected only recommended refusal. This was
to scare the committee and in direct response to my claim that the HE letter
would stand up well in any appeal against refusal, which I still believe.
Should we now take any further action? I think not at this late date, as HE are
likely to reason that any dispute between us and City Planning is no concern of
3.20151948: BLACK BOY PH. ALBION
STREET: Following on from the debacle above a suspicious and very worrying
pattern is emerging. Nothing may happen for many months. The developer will
then suddenly submit an amendment that is to all sense and purpose identical to
the original application and will certainly involve loss of the heritage asset.
City Planning will then portray this as a radical improvement and attempt to
force it through committee. Only a fraction of the current 780 objectors will
object again, believing that they only needed to do it once. It is therefore up
to us to prevent this by exposing this ploy in advance and urging all objectors
to object again when the time comes.
4. 2015 AWARDS: Friday 15
April: An exceptionally successful evening crowned the 2015 Awards. We had 30
for the reception and 28 for the dinner and I have written
to the City Rooms to thank them. I had a long conversation with Jamie Lewis who
said that next year he would work towards boosting numbers in attendance, even
if he had no building nominated. He said he was greatly impressed by what the
Civic Society is doing and wanted to do all that he could to promote us.
5. VICTORIAN SOCIETY: The
Victorian Society kindly invited me to their committee meeting on Tuesday 19
April. Both sides naturally expressed considerable concern over the clash of
date for their summer coach tours. They said this was entirely their fault and
it would not happen again. Meanwhile both societies are experiencing a drop in
bookings by virtue of competing for the same audience. Subject to item 14 below
I offered to advertise their events in Leicester Citizen providing there was a
reciprocal arrangement with their newsletter and this was agreed. We have
subsequently exchanged deadline dates for publication.
6. LOCAL INTEREST LIST: Between
03 and 19 April I proof read all 232 pages of the Draft Local Interest List for
Conservation & Design. I commented on 60 entries spread over 11 wards and
submitted 17 photographs. I recommended that they now publish ASAP. This
detailed text rivals that of the statutory list and will be an invaluable tool
that I will circulate to all members of the Conservation Team once it is published.
However, I have also said that LIL buildings need to be identified as such on
the weekly list of planning applications.
Following on from this we had a
meeting with the City Mayor on Wednesday 20 April at which momentous decisions
were taken over the local list. It was agreed that:
commercial and community properties be made subject to an Article 4 Direction
removing permitted development rights in respect of decoration or demolition.
residential properties be made subject to an Article 4 Direction removing all
permitted development rights.
entries on the list are not to be subject to Article 4. These include
non-habitable structures such as railway bridges, canal locks and bandstands.
Also City Council owned properties (!) and properties subject to current
was suggested that designation for commercial and community properties be instant,
(21 days’ notice) whereas with residential properties one year’s notice be
given. This would be to minimise the risk of compensation claims.
Although Article 4 Direction doesn’t
prevent loss, it prevents casual loss and is therefore a major step forward in
the protection of our historic environment.
7. HERITAGE OPEN DAYS: I met
Allison Colledge on Thursday 21 April and following lengthy discussion All
Saints Church was recommended for this year’s HOD’s. I have subsequently agreed
this with Denis Kenyon of Leicestershire War Memorials at Risk Trust: Thursday
08 Sept 2.00 - 5.00 pm, Friday 09 Sept 3.00 - 6.00 pm, Saturday 10 Sept 10.00 -
6.00 pm, and Sunday 11 Sept 2.30 - 5.00 pm. As per last year at the Wygston
House I shall be constructing a roster. I also agreed that the advertised
guided walk for Saturday 10 be part of HOD’s. It will have to be given free but
the free publicity is so massive that I think we would be foolish not to take
advantage. All information has now gone to Allison to conform with her
8. MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: Gordon
informs me that no new members have joined over the last month and that we
therefore continue with a membership of just under 350. Everyone take action
9. 45th ANNUAL GENERAL
MEETING: Wednesday 11 May, 7.30 pm at City Hall. All members please arrange
to attend. Should be over by 8.45-ish and will be followed by a social
get-together at the Ramada Hotel opposite.
10. CAMBRIDGE TOUR: Saturday 14
May: Unless a miracle occurs this will make a loss. (See item 5 above) However,
many thanks to Herbert for his widespread publicity. Now get those leaflets
11. CONSERVATION OFFICER: SOUTH
& EAST: Ena, Leigh and I will be meeting at Ena and Andrew’s house at
3.00 pm on Sunday 15 May for handover.
12. WESTERN PARK: Training
sessions for the Saturday 18 June guided walk will be conducted with Peter,
Leigh and I on Sunday 22 May and Sunday 05 June. Western Park Gates at 2.00 pm,
unless a morning is preferred for either date. Leaflets are out and bookings
13. HERITAGE FAIR: Saturday 28
May: For those who haven’t noticed the Heritage Fair is this year advertised in
the “What’s On” brochure for Spring and the DeCaux street posters for May. I
have written to Sarinder Bains at City Council Marketing thanking her for this.
Leaflets are widely distributed and are available tonight. Get them out. We are
one or two participants down but the Victorian Society has re-joined the fold. Set
up 09.30 am. Peter please bring the stand. Take down at about 3.45 pm. We need
to decide who is to do this as the stand will next be needed at Heritage Open
Days on Thursday 08 September.
14. MEETING DATES: Many thanks
to Herbert for his efforts to sort this out. It looks as if only the second or third
Tuesdays of the month are serious contenders and Regent Club say that the
latter is taken. I shall attempt to sort this out with them tonight. If all
else fails, we shall have to seek a new venue. Thinking caps on.
For your info:
MARKET SQUARE: Lengthy meeting with SPS on Wednesday 20 April at which
various design options for the new wall at the rear of the Corn Exchange
THI PROJECT BOARD: Meeting on Wednesday 27 April reviewed the excellent
progress in year one. I met Tina Barton of ‘Wotbox’ and am meeting her
again on Thursday 12 May to discuss use of vacant space by youth groups,
pop-up exhibitions etc.
LEICESTER IN THE SPRING”: Last but by no means least, thank you to Tim for
Saturday 30 April. 12 human walkers - plus one beagle. Well done!