Leicester Civic Society
Chairman's Report March 2017

14 March 2017

119. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT: 14 MARCH 2017.

1. 20162302: 36 St. JAMES ROAD.

1.1. Despite an excellent letter of objection from Ena, this was slipped passed CAP on the B Agenda. Local residents are therefore justifiably incensed that the Planning Committee granted consent for this wholly unsuitable residential development on the strength of the Chairman’s casting vote, at their January meeting. Uppermost in the mind of City Planning was the fear of an appeal from the new owner should they reverse their original (and wrong) 2013 decision. Cllr. Cutkelvin, opined that the earlier 2013 approval was “key” and the Chair followed up with the Planning Officer as to what the implications were of reversing a previously approved decision, to which there was no sensible or credible reply.So, the position is that consent was granted so that the Council doesn't risk a claim for appeal costs.

1.2. It is Civic Society policy to openly encourage and support individual conservation societies in residential conservation areas. Experience shows that there is much more these societies can achieve in protection of their local historic environment than can often be achieved by a civic society that has the whole city to deal with. Residents who have been upset by this awful application should be forming a conservation area society to maintain surveillance and actively campaign for the enhancement of the Evington Footpath Conservation Area. Following the row over lampposts in 2010 this is my second attempt to encourage a society in this area.

2. MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: Leicester Citizen was issued on 27 February and has been well received. Our Vice-President, Alan Warren, now living in retirement in Hunstanton, rang me to congratulate us on this issue. Six events between now and Mid-June are advertised and all bookings are open. We have had 70 additional copies printed so that we can use Citizen to promote membership at events such as the Heritage Fair, Art-House and Heritage Open Days. Membership appears to be increasing by about 9% per year (?) which is roughly in line with national bodies such as English Heritage and the National Trust. At this rate, we could possibly achieve 400 by early 2019 and reach 500 by sometime in 2021. However, I want us to use all our resources to try and do better than this.

3. HERBERT EPPEL: Herbert wishes to take time out from committee membership due to business pressures and naturally we would wish to respect this. I have however expressed my thanks to Herbert for his considerable constructive input. I look forward to his return before too long. As an active member, he is automatically welcome to committee meetings and we hope to continue to see him at our many events.

4. WEB SITE.

4.1. I am grateful for Herbert’s suggestions regarding a new web site. However, following detailed advice from Howard and Gordon I recommend to you that we do not change from the existing site, which serves us well. In any event this does not affect the shortage of volunteers to deal with social media, which remains the pressing problem.

4.2. Following our last meeting, when paucity of information was noted by our guests, I have forwarded all publicity for the seven events between now and End-June to Howard. Also, the 2017 Programme of Guided Walks as promised. Further to Ena’s bright idea I have also created a piece generally encouraging membership, and involvement by potential developers.

5. GREYFRIARS THI PROJECT BOARD

5.1. Lengthy meeting on 20 February. (Minutes circulated) We approved, or part approved, investment in restoration works at 21 St. Martins and 25 Millstone Lane. Concerns were expressed over the quality of some of the work at 10 - 14 New Street and I repeated those reported to us by Margaret last year. Approaching its third year the THI is achieving many improvements in the Greyfriars Conservation Area. Thirteen properties have works either completed or in progress. Public realm works are ongoing in Marble Street and Millstone Lane. They are also programmed for the near future in New Street, Friar Lane and Wycliffe Street.

5.2. An application has been made to have the area of the Greyfriars Friary made a Scheduled Ancient Monument, (no it wasn’t me!) so as to better protect the archaeology of the site.

5.3. We want to achieve a local ‘Georgian Society’ in some form or other and I shall be pursuing this with bodies such as the Heritage Partnership.

5.4. Members are working on the idea of a “Past and Present Trade Directory” for Greyfriars.

6. “LET’S GO TO TOWN”: 06 March. Howard, Michele and I attended this Historic England conference on “Place Branding, Pride and Prosperity”. This was a well-attended and highly informative event. There is much to learn. (See below)

7. SKITTLES AT WIGSTON: 31 March. Wigston Civic Society are keen for us to have 15. Bookings currently stand at 14, so there should be little trouble in reaching this. Deadline for bookings is 23 March. If you have yet to book, please do so now.

8. 2016 AWARDS

8.1. Friday 7 April. The winners were informed on 16 February and the press release issued on 17 February. This was featured in the Leicester Mercury on 21 February. Invitations were issued on 28 February. For Leicester City Council, we will welcome Councillor Piara Singh Clair, Assistant City Mayor for Heritage. Councillor Clair is representing Sir Peter Soulsby, who has written to me personally to thank us for making the Restoration Award to Friars Mill. Tippetts & Brooks have booked a table of 8. I have yet to hear from De Montfort University.

8.2. Jamie Lewis informs me that he is booking two tables (16) and has spoken to Naresh Parmar to get us moved upstairs to the Georgian Ballroom for the first time. This is wonderful news! I shall have to write a piece on “Georgian Splendour” for the July Citizen. Unfortunately, he will not be present on the night due to holiday arrangements.

8.3. Although this makes a total of 32 (4 tables) so far, bookings from our own members are currently only 7. Deadline for bookings is 30 March. If you have yet to book, please do so now. I shall sort out the arrangements for the night with Peter, Leigh and the City Rooms.

9. ICKWORTH TOUR: 13 May. A runaway success with 18 bookings to date. If we fill the coach (21 seats) by End-March I shall simply order a larger one.

10. GUIDED WALKS: Bookings are open and publicity is with Visit Leicester. Our current bookings are 4 for “New Walk” and 6 for “City of the Dead”. Further publicity will be produced later.

11. CHURCHGATE CA: I have commented on the public consultation over new Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan for Churchgate Conservation Area. All is good. Very positive.

12. PLACE MARKETING: Meeting 17 March. Clearly motivated by the Historic England event at 6 above, the City Mayor has convened an immediate meeting to apply the lessons learned to Leicester. Leigh is to attend to represent the Society.

13. MAINTENANCE MATTERS: 18 March. I am to attend the SPAB seminar on maintenance of historic buildings with particular reference to Greyfriars THI.

14. ISKCON: Iskcon want to come to the Heritage Fair on 27 May and they want us to be in their great banking hall for Heritage Open Days in September. This is wonderful news! I shall have to write a piece on “Victorian Splendour” for the July Citizen.

15. CITY CENTENARY: The Arts & Museums Service want to know if we are willing to be closely involved in the City Centenary Celebrations in 2019? I said yes.

16. QUALITY OF LEICESTER: I have a copy of the new “Quality of Leicester” available at a discounted price of £12. If anyone is interested, please let me know.

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