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Peer tells city planners not to repeat the 'rape' of Gloucester of the 1960s

By The Citizen  |  Posted: July 31, 2014

City council leader Paul James at the historic site of Blackfriars in Gloucester

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City planners must not repeat the ‘rape’ of Gloucester when developing town and cities across the UK a Conservative peer has warned.

Patrick Cormack, a former Conservative MP who sits as Lord Cormack, said heritage of cities must remain valued by planners, developers, architects and others.

The peer said it was often better to ‘adopt and adapt’ than to tear down, adding ‘pulsating life’ could be given to towns and cities if well-designed new buildings are brought in alongside adaptations to older ones.

Speaking during a short debate on Sir Terry Farrell's national review of architecture and the built environment, Lord Cormack told peers: “I talk very, very briefly about the heritage aspect of this report, which is a very important one.

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“We do need to be conscious of the enormous value of our historic built environment.

“We don't want a repetition of the tearing down of the terraces of Liverpool, of the rape of Worcester and of Gloucester and the despoliation of the lower town in Lincoln 40, 50 years ago.

“And what I hope we can take from this report, among other things, is the message it is still better to adopt and adapt very often than to tear down.

“I think there's a great deal to be said for trying to get life back into our cities. Where there is life, there is less crime.

“So much could be done to build or adapt, over the shop as it were. So much could be done to bring well-designed new buildings side by side with adapted older buildings to give real life, pulsating life to our towns and cities.”

The national review has sections on the benefit of heritage and the importance of the historic built environment.

Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said lessons have been learned from previous administration that have left their mark on how the city looks today.

“Looking back at the development of Gloucester in the 1960s and 1970s there are a lot of things that happened then that I would not think would happen now in Gloucester,” he said.

“Of the regeneration that is taking place at the moment we are bringing far more sensitivity to the heritage of the city than was considered in previous years.

“I hope that in decades to come people who will be looking back on what we have achieved will feel we have got it right and feel proud of what is being achieved for Gloucester.”

GRAND plans to regenerate the city of Gloucester to make it fit for the 21st Century include a facelift for the bus station, King’s Square and possible even the much maligned train station.

The Docks have blossomed to become the jewel in the city’s retail crown and the Railway Triangle refurbishment has enjoyed a multi-million pound facelift. Housing regeneration of the former Gloscat site in Brunswick Road is also well under way.

The King’s Walk shopping centre and the link bridge over Eastgate Street are to be given makeovers to disguise their current state. And the Longsmith Street car park will be decorated in green foliage to make it easier on the eye.

County architects Roberts Limbrick Ltd have been responsible for many of Gloucestershire’s most eye catching projects including Swinhay House in North Nibley made famous by Sherlock Holmes and Cheltenham Racecourse.

Jeffrey Roberts, joint managing director, said: “Towns and Cities are vital to the health and well being of our country. Planners and architects are taught why cities are so important, but do politicians understand this? It would seem not when so many of our smaller cities are on a downward spiral.

“The wholesale redevelopment of Gloucester was politically led, as are most major development initiatives of this scale. It is disingenuous for a politician to suggest that the type of wholesale redevelopment Gloucester suffered was a planning led blunder or that this approach is still a real threat.

“Politicians need to and many are, looking beyond the out dated decisions of 50 years ago and seek to understand the socio-economic problems of today. A very different set of problems exist that need innovative solutions.”

Some of the fundamental problems cities face today are:

Unfair competition from out of town retail developments with easy access and free parking a lack of desire to live in Cities relatively high retail rents and rates

Landlords blighting redevelopment by sitting on empty buildings and land.

Mr Roberts added: “These need political solutions to unlock the stalemate and generate opportunities to repair, restore and enhance our City.

We should not forget how much has been achieved over the last ten years.

“Credit should be given to the planned approach that was provided by the GHURC and the sensitive development of Gloucester Quays, Blackfriars, Greyfriars and hopefully,Kings Quarter.

“Gloucester also appears to have some politically joined up and visionary thinking involving the City MP, the City Council, the new Regeneration Advisory Board and Gloucestershire LEP.

“There is still a long way to go, but there is a very tangible political and economic will behind the regeneration of Gloucester that, if maintained, will piece by piece, regenerate our City. I for one, cannot wait.”

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  • forester_girl  |  August 02 2014, 6:15AM

    Ergh what a inconsiderate choice of words especially for a headline, someone was raped in the county last weekend and has yet to be found due to lack of CCTV actually working (guessing that's down to money, save a few £££s and don't worry about keeping anyone safe!) and a lack of police due to over excessive paperwork and money, a few homes won't ruin glos, and jas is spot on, it's under populated and social housing is a very low % indeed

  • jas37  |  July 31 2014, 10:38PM

    Roadwombat, If I remember rightly the Social Housing content is around 6% . That's 16 Homes. You are obviously aware that Gloucester City centre has an extremely low number of residents compared to Towns and Cities of a similar size and population. How do you come to the conclusion that an additional 250 Homes will lead to overcrowding. Please explain your calculations.

  • RoadWombat  |  July 31 2014, 10:18PM

    "Do you not agree that the additional City Centre residents will help add vibrancy to the City Centre?" No. They will add to overcrowding, pollution, litter and crime, particularly if they're in social housing.

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  • mikehibby  |  July 31 2014, 8:30AM

    MikeMorris I don't understand your point either. The concept of towns as a central commercial hub is dying, people simply don't use them as much as they did and it's only going to get worse. Building some new homes and modern living in the middle of Gloucester can only revitalise the city. Surely this is a good thing.

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  • jas37  |  July 30 2014, 10:07PM

    Selina30 In what way are the current City Council the problem? Please elaborate.

  • SELINA30  |  July 30 2014, 9:08PM

    The present City Council are part of the problem not the solution. I don't think the word "rape" is the best comparison.

  • jas37  |  July 30 2014, 7:56PM

    MikeMorris, What point are you trying to make here? There has been an acute shortage or Homes in the City Centre for many years. Do you not agree? The original proposal was for around 400 Homes on the site so 254 certainly doesn't seem excessive does it? Do you not agree that the additional City Centre residents will help add vibrancy to the City Centre? Could you be just trying to be deliberately negative by any chance? I think many of us would be interested in your answers.

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  • MikeMorrisOBE  |  July 30 2014, 4:14PM

    "Paul James, leader of Gloucester City Council, said lessons have been learned from previous administration that have left their mark on how the city looks today." Don't make me laugh. Just look what's being thrown up by Linden Homes on the former college site in Brunswick Road. There will be 174 new apartments as well as 78 new townhouses, with just 32 of the homes being affordable. The site will also have a doctor's surgery, a pharmacy, office space, restaurants, cafes, bars and community space. Shoe boxes or what?

  • Mike_Smith_Gl  |  July 30 2014, 3:08PM

    Well said, Patrick Cormack. We lost so much of value in the 60s