THE guardian of Chester’s urban landscape fears plans for a controversial new square at the cathedral are still on the cards.
Chester Civic Trust, a consultee on planning applications whose views are widely respected by decision-makers, is worried the scheme has not gone away despite ‘widespread criticism’.
Cheshire West and Chester Council and Chester Renaissance wanted to replace grass surrounding the war memorial with granite setts but the plan was withdrawn after a wave of opposition.
John Herson, of the Civic Trust, said: “Consultants are working on revised plans, but initial evidence is that these revisions will be cosmetic only. Basic flaws in the scheme remain and it is disappointing that little attempt has been made to engage with the constructive views put forward by many local people.
“Chester Civic Trust believes that any proposal for the cathedral area needs to enhance its character, be related to surrounding areas and designed to make it a locality worthy of the city.
“In principle, the Civic Trust supports plans to create a new civic space in the cathedral precinct, but to succeed it must be done well.
“The proposals – both the previous ones and the probable forthcoming ones – do not demonstrate a sensitive feel for the city. The plans bear hallmarks of being a standard civic design scheme produced ‘off the peg’.
“The purpose of the cathedral square is not clear. The new square should be a magnet to which people are drawn and where meetings and other activities can take place. The current plans create a potentially sterile open space with little clear purpose.”
Steve Broomhead, the new chairman of Chester Renaissance, who is aware of the controversy, said: “We will have to assess the situation and listen to what people have to say.”