Leicester Civic Society
Chairman's E-newsletter March 2018 #131

13 March 2018


1. 20171911: ST. GEORGE’S CHURCHYARD: I met with Cllr. Adam Clarke on 19 February. His principal arguments in favour of the City Council proposals were:

· “We need to create an improved and safer space for people to enjoy, that encourages footfall and thereby improves natural surveillance”.I agreed with this admirable objective but could not agree that it would be achieved by such excessive tree loss.

· “We need to improve connectivity between the St. George’s Cultural Quarter and the railway station”. I said this was OK with us though we did not think that the Council proposals would actually achieve this. A greatly improved churchyard environment might induce people to take this route – but of course only during the day.

· “We need to enhance the setting and views of the Grade II-star listed St. George’s Church as a heritage asset and remove the listed Church from Historic England's 'At Risk' register”. I agreed that the latest Historic England Heritage at Risk Register clearly states: "The church fabric remains at risk from water penetration caused by the blockages of the high level rainwater disposal system, due to the proximity of churchyard trees, which are not being adequately managed". I therefore conceded that the 5 trees in immediate proximity to the building must regrettably be removed. We will not argue with Historic England. However, this is 5 trees - not 21.

· “We need to enhance connectivity to the rear of LCB Depot through the creation of a new path and gateway”. I said that this was agreed by ourselves from the outset.

I am now willing to put these points, which embrace the compromises we have made, in writing. And I will do so before the Planning Committee meeting on 04 April, at which this will be discussed. In addition to the above Richard went to the Friends of the Earth meeting on 02 March, at which it was clear that they had gotten nowhere either. Everyone should now re-iterate their concerns by 04 April. As the decision will be that of the Planning Committee you might in addition like to write directly to members. Details are on the City Council website.

2. PUTNEY ROAD and EVESHAM ROAD LINKS: The City Council has entered a consultation period on the proposal to reopen Putney Road at the Aylestone Road end. This will immediately create a rat run on Victoria Park Road and therefore put renewed pressure on the London Road traffic island - which is presumably why Putney Road was closed off in the first place. But in addition, the consultation says:

Please note that this is a stand-alone project and is not connected with any other road improvement scheme - either currently being considered, or potential future developments that may, or may not, ever take place.

This has clearly been inserted in an effort to distance the Council from widespread public alarm about a future link westward to Narborough Road across Aylestone Meadows, thereby creating an unofficial southern ring from Narborough Road to London Road. (A speculative map has already appeared courtesy of the Leicester Mercury and that shows a fanciful connexion across British Gas, through the railway embankment and across the Roman Scheduled Monument at Rawdykes!) However, Cllr. Patrick Kitterick has already blown the whistle, quoting from the Council bid for the Putney Road link (£3.4M) submitted to the Department for Transport:

“The Putney Road scheme would greatly improve the viability of the Evesham Road Link.”

Everyone should now write expressing their concerns by 29 April. It is of little use only objecting to the Putney Road link if you live in say Clarendon Park. And it is of little use only objecting to the link across the meadows if you live on say Evesham Road. This would be exactly what the Council want you to do. (“Divide and rule”) Everyone must be prepared to object to both schemes, even though the consultation is currently on the Putney Road link only.

3. 20172677 and 2678 BSS FACTORY, LEE CIRCLE Two separate applications for the BSS Factory on Lee Circle. (Local Interest List) They are 'technically' nothing to do with 20172357, (Demolition only) to which we objected previously. We therefore need to object again to both as they will still involve destruction of the existing building. This could be a clever device by the developer to try and sidestep objections, but it won't work as being wholly new applications they will still have to go to CAP. Don't be put off by the scale of the proposal - destructive rubbish is destructive rubbish, no matter how big. I've copied my concerns to the Victorian Society.

4. TREE STRATEGY: On 09 March I received a disturbing phone call from one of our members. There is a footpath of about 100 yards in length from the east end of Corporation Road next to Abbey Pumping Station. It connects with the riverside walkway along the west bank of the river. This footpath has 21 mature Lombardy Poplars in a line along its south side. However, workmen were on site, apparentlyto cut them down. She spoke out and they said they would be planting replacements - though we all know what that could mean. I do not think there was planning consent for this, though if it counts as routine maintenance of street trees City Highways or Parks will say that it doesn't need it. I could only suggest she ring her Ward Councillor straight away. Quite clearly we need greater protection through consultation periods incorporated in the proposed Tree Strategy, otherwise Council departments are going to be cutting down mature trees all over the place as a part their maintenance schedules.

5. 2017 AWARDS: We made our second day of site visits on 17 February. The adjudication panel made the Restoration Award to Mr. and Mrs. Parmar for Winstanley House and the New Build Award to Maber Architects for the Lumis Building, Southgate Street. Commendations went to De Montfort University Business School for the Restoration of the Great Hall of Leicester Castle, where Maber were also the architects, and Leicester University for restoration of the roof of the Engineering Building. Commendations also went to three private houses in Stoneygate Conservation Area: 15 Portland Road, 16 Burlington Road and No1 The Avenue.

Many thanks once more to Peter, Howard, Jennifer, Richard and Ann for their hard work on two successive Saturdays. We just managed to dodge ‘the Beast from the East’!

Everyone has been informed and the press release issued. Bookings for the Awards Dinner on 13 April are now open in Leicester Citizen, with a deadline of 05 April. This is our second year in the great ballroom and growing numbers of some quite important people come - we’ve arrived at last. Unfortunately the Mercury don’t see it. This is the second year out of three where I’ve had to repeat the press release to get us noticed and come the night they never turn up.

6. MEMBERSHIP DRIVE: I have decided to use our pdf to print 1,000 leaflets on the best quality paper I can lay my hands on. This will save on a new print before Gordon’s retirement in a year’s time. However we should be incorporating something about the General Data Protection Regulation in the renewal letters due out this April.

The appeal for someone to take over Twitter has produced an immediate response from Georgina Sear, to whom I am sure we are very grateful; who I have put in contact with Howard and invited to tonight’s meeting.

7. LEICESTER CITIZEN: Citizen was finally issued on 04 March and is hopefully now out there working its magic. Many thanks to Gordon, Jennifer and Simon, without whose combined efforts this would not have happened. Bookings are now open for all events until June.

8. SKITTLES MATCH: 06 April. First of the events in Citizen - Leicester CS v Wigston CS at the Black Horse, Aylestone. Bookings are open with a deadline of 31 March.

And for your info:

· WESTERN WARD COMMUNITY ENTERPRISE POP-UP CAFÉ: 17 March at St. Anne’s Church Hall, Letchworth Road. Advertised in Leicester Citizen. I shall be popping up as well!

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