Present: Sheila Friend-Smith (chairman), John Baker, Daniel Block, Will Burton, Nigel Clarke, Ted Coney, Arthur Cutter, Peter Hillman, Suzanne Lindsay, Heber Martin, Shirley Overall, Terry Overall, Liz Sayers, Yvonne Thresh
There were apologies from Philip Eden, Angela Moody, Alan Mittins, Ray Tinker.
Daniel Block, website designer, was welcomed to the meeting.
These were agreed
Ted Coney reported increasing numbers of traders were taking advantage of the opportunity to advertise their businesses by displaying leaflets/A5 laminated posters on the Perspective's display stand at Ely Railway Station.
The Design and Access Statement prepared by Chris Blandford Associates prior to submission to ECDC for planning permission had been circulated:
During a general discussion the following points were made:
1. Exterior Refectory seating area could detract from view of Cathedral from Palace Green
2. Granite sets cause significant problems for wheelchair-users and the disabled
3. Ground cover needs to be suited to environment
4. Ground level tree surrounds gather cigarette ends etc.
5. Swale infill of drainage gulley on north wall of Cathedral would need careful maintenance
6. Aesthetics and maintenance of wildflower/longer grass area on Cross Green queried (this had been included to reduce danger to Cathedral windows from ball games being played on Cross Green)
7. Cycle rack as illustrated 'too low' - but general view these were 'standard' height
8. Regret that artwork 'screens', suggested for the rear of Steeple Row (originally by young residents during 2008 consultations) had not been included
9.Consultants had ignored requests to make corrections to documentation e.g. The Lady Chapel (not The Lady's Chapel) and the Old Bishop's Palace (not Sue Ryder Care)
10.Large lorries continue to mount grass on Palace Green due to tight bend outside West door of Cathedral
A proposal by John Baker that the document be accepted and submitted to ECDC for planning permission was unanimously accepted. Submission to be made by Philip Eden as chairman of Ely Perspective. Liz Sayers agreed to proof read the document and amend obvious typos and incorrect naming/spellings of buildings/Perspective etc.
Accepted that funding for the project likely to be exceptionally difficult in the current financial environment. Sheila Friend-Smith reported that Anthea Davidson, chairman of ECDC and a member of the authority's strategic development group, was very supportive of the Steeple Row initiative. She was meeting with the regional director of English Heritage. A project such as this could be seen as being within their remit and SFS thought there were other trusts which could be approached. JB reported that Hereford Cathedral precinct was currently a 'building site' and the project was being financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Shirley Overall queried maintenance of the Steeple Row/Cross Green/Palace Green. SFS thought ECDC cut the grass and Cambs CC maintained the pedestrian areas.
In addition to the Reformation Martyrs’ plaque on the wall by the Cathedral Centre, wording etc. for six of the 13 proposed plaques had been approved. Sheila and Terry Overall would place the order and collect the plaques. There had been no meeting with Philip Eden and Will Burton who had offered to help with the final administrative work relating to the plaques.
Tracey Harding supported the idea of a leaflet/link to the ECDC tourist website explaining the plaques. Suggested this could also include other historic buildings with existing plaques/historic lettering e.g. Catherine Needham's building on Back Hill. LS to prepare a Press release which would explain the Perspective's plaques initiative and invite the public to suggest other buildings for inclusion on a tourist trail leaflet.
Stories in the Press and a letter from ECDC leader Cllr Fred Brown on the Letters page of the Ely Weekly News had indicated that ECDC was pressing ahead with plans to refurbish the building as a holiday let. As yet there had been no acknowledgment of a letter from Philip Eden, on behalf of the Perspective, outlining various alternative uses which the Perspective's Design and Riverside Groups felt would enhance the Riverside area, provide additional tourist attractions and contribute revenue. The Maltings had been given to the city of Ely for public benefit. It was important that the community was involved in any discussions about the future of the cottage and The Maltings building itself which appeared to be in some difficulty.
Shirley Overall, who had attended the Market Towns conference, mentioned the Social Investment Business which she said had funds available for initiatives such as those proposed by the Perspective for Maltings Cottage.
If Maltings Cottage was used as a holiday let, Suzanne Lindsay queried what costs - in addition to refurbishment - had been included in the business plan to cover on-going cost of utilities/letting management etc. After a general discussion it was decided that a letter should be sent on behalf of the Perspective's Design and Riverside Groups inviting John Hill, chief executive of ECDC, to a meeting on a date that suited his diary, to discuss the future use of Maltings Cottage. Yvonne Thresh said the Ely Society would support the initiative (to invite John Hill). She hoped he would accept the invitation and was sure members of the Ely Society would be keen to attend a meeting. LS was asked to draft a letter.
Shirley Overall said Ely was faring much better than many of the market towns represented at the Market Towns conference she had attended. New businesses noted:
1. espice Indian restaurant on Fore Hill
2. additional pizza outlet planned for Fore Hill (in alleyway next to US Chicken
3. holistic centre in The Passage
4. Exquisite (jewellery/handbags etc) had expanded into adjoining premises vacated by Karen Lesley in Market Street
5. Domino's pizza soon to open in former St Mary's St fish and chip shop
6. Attractive renovation by John Borland of shop on Market St/The Passage still empty
7. Curry's former shop still empty - planning application for two shops, but only one door visible
8. Pasty shop in St Mary's Street (opposite pedestrian crossing)
View that traders increasingly sympathetic towards pedestrianisation in city centre.
Shirley Overall said centre of Chippenham in Wiltshire was pedestrianised with gates either end of High Street.
Arthur Cutter, speaking as the holder of a blue badge, said these were available on line and so many were being issued that their use was being abused. He said blue badge holders were given instructions not to park in areas - like the top of Fore Hill - where they might cause danger to other road users and pedestrians. These instructions were being ignored.
Shirley Overall felt disillusioned and disappointed by some of the results and decisions made by the judges of this year's competition. She would make her views known at the competition's seminar on 5 November. However, she remained committed to Ely In Bloom, feeling it provided a very worthwhile focus for the group's activities and contributed to the well-being and attractiveness of Ely as a place to live in and to visit.
Christmas dinner had been booked at Ely Golf Club on 14 December, cost £24.50 per head. Suzanne Lindsay to obtain menu and payment details.
Ted Coney suggested the Design Group's name should be changed to Marketing and Design Group. His suggestion would need to be considered by the executive.
Yvonne Thresh said the Ely Society had attracted some younger members. The society's website was to include a forum section.
Shirley and Terry Overall to present feedback from Market Town Conference at the next Design Group meeting. A number of good ideas from other towns could be applied in Ely.