Welcome to 2017, our 50th Anniversary Year. A year to celebrate and recognise what we have achieved. A year perhaps to also look to the future and what we would like to achieve for Cockermouth over the next few years. Ideally this would be supported by a progressive Neighbourhood Plan, but so far our Town Council feel unable to support this objective.
In terms of celebrations, we will be issuing a special 50th anniversary newsletter around Easter time. This will be followed by our 50th anniversary lunch on Wednesday May 3rd at the Trout Hotel. Hunter Davies will be our guest speaker. Tickets will cost £25 and this will include a welcome drink and a toast to the Civic Trust, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It would be very special if we can get a good attendance and we would be grateful if you could make a prompt application for tickets so that we can get an early indication of the number of members that we can expect. In October, our first lecture meeting of the 2017/18 season will be a special birthday occasion.
So what else is happening in 2017? Well there are the continuing sagas of the Neighbourhood Plan and Local Heritage Listing. We have a special project on Conservation Areas as part of the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the very first Conservation Area in the UK. We have submitted an application for the riverside footpath between Waterloo Street and Low Sand Lane to be given public footpath status, and are considering a similar application for the Green Way.
Lecture Programme 2016/17
The two remaining lectures of this season are shown below. Both will be at the Friends Meeting House, 7.30pm.
Mar 1st – Diane Hewitt – National Garden Scheme
Apr 5th – Darren Ward – Restoring Underscar Manor
The ‘Big Conservation Conversation’
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the first introduction of Conservation Areas in the UK through the Civic Amenities Act 1967. When the legislation was introduced there was widespread public concern over the pace of redevelopment of historic towns and cities. Today there are around 9,300 Conservation Areas in England alone, reflecting the popularity of this legislation in protecting our most valued historic places. The designation controls the demolition of unlisted buildings, controls work on trees, restricts permitted development rights on houses and tightens regulations on advertising. It also requires the local planning authority to pay special attention to preserving or enhancing the character & appearance of conservation areas.
In 2017, the national civic movement are seeking to raise awareness of conservation areas throughout the country as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, under the heading of ‘The Big Conservation Conversation’. For example, it is felt that there is a general lack of knowledge amongst the public and even residents within conservation areas about where conservation areas are, what the requirements are and what the benefits are to the character of the local area. Also, the designation of a conservation area should not be seen as an end in itself; we live in a changing world & for the historic environment to survive and continue to be cherished, it needs to be positively managed.
We in the Civic Trust would like to take the opportunity to play our part in this national campaign and seek to raise the profile and implementation of our own conservation areas during 2017. The Town Council and Allerdale BC have agreed to join us in a Working Group to take this forward.
The current Cockermouth Conservation Area was established in 1975. It resulted from the amalgamation of 5 separate Conservation Areas administered by the previous Cockermouth Urban District Council. A Character Appraisal of the Cockermouth Conservation Area was produced and subjected to public consultation in 2006. However, it was not formally adopted and remains in draft form today. It is referred to for planning purposes but carries less weight than a formally adopted appraisal would be. The Character Appraisal contained a number of recommendations. It is believed that none of these have been formally implemented as such, although some have ‘happened’ or are no longer relevant for a variety of reasons.
A key recommendation was that the boundary of the Conservation Area should be reviewed. It specifically recommended that there should be 3 separate areas reflecting ‘character zones’. It recommended some ‘omissions’ and ‘additions’ to the area covered. A significant example is that Walkers factory and Derwent Side Gardens Housing Estate are currently within the CA. This is now clearly not appropriate. There are currently 1,486 properties within the Cockermouth Conservation Area. It is considered unlikely that these current property owners and residents are fully aware of the reasons for there being a Conservation Area or of the associated constraints.
As a member of Civic Voice, Cockermouth Civic Trust has had the opportunity to apply for grant funding for a project of up to £200 from the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, (IHBC), Conservation Areas Anniversary Fund. Since this fund is on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, we have already applied for and received a grant of £200. This has to be used for the project applied for and within the next year.
The project that we applied for was to produce a booklet in association with the Town Council and Allerdale BC on our Conservation Areas and to distribute it to all properties within the Conservation Areas, ( 1600 in total including Papcastle). As a minimum this would cover the origin & purpose of Conservation Areas nationally, a map & description of each of the Conservation Areas local to Cockermouth & Papcastle, constraints on development within the Conservation Areas, with key examples and contacts for further information. We have obtained a quote for the printing of 1,800 copies of a 12 page colour booklet, (A5), of £207. Preparation of the booklet content will be ‘in house’ and Eric Apperley has kindly agreed to lead on this.
Derwentside Footpath, by John Dent
The land over which the footpath traverses is on the south bank of the River Derwent. In the past a mill stream went along this bank serving mills including Graves Mill, an old woollen mill now converted to a block of flats. The mill stream disappeared when the mills were made redundant. The river bank was probably narrower after this and ownership would have been with the owners of properties adjacent. Even so it seems there was a public access along this bank at least as far back as 1940. Walter Hall of Castlegate Drive remembers using the footpath when he was a ten year old in 1940.
Around 1974/75 dredging the river resulted in the gravel being deposited on the bank, widening it substantially and this is when the current route of the path was probably established. Alan Kennon was born in Waterloo Street and remembers cycling along the path in the early 1970’s when he was a teenager. In 1995, the Civic Trust decided to create a Town Trail around Cockermouth for the benefit of locals and visitors. The path was used as part of this Town Trail and is shown clearly on the 4th Edition leaflet published September 2000 and the latest edition published 2016. A map of the Town Trail is shown on two display boards in the town and is also available on line.
The path was severely damaged by the 2009 floods. The Environment Agency repaired the path as part of the riverbank repairs.
The path was again damaged by the 2015 floods. Investigations into the actual ownership of the land resulted in both Allerdale Borough Council and Cockermouth Town Council denying ownership. Examination of the deeds of a house adjacent to the path established the extent of their land stopped at their boundary wall which was close to the river at the date of the deeds. However, a reasonable interpretation is that their land ownership extends to the river bank and expands and contracts according to the course of the river at that time. This same interpretation can be applied to all the properties aligning the land over which the path goes (even if the owners are not aware of it).
The Civic Trust was concerned about the damaged condition of this path as it was part of the Town Trail and used regularly by locals and visitors and decided to take on the responsibility of repairing it. This was completed in the autumn of 2016 in association with Allerdale Borough Council and with the aid of a grant from the Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Recovery Fund. The current ordnance survey maps show the path as a “footpath” but not as a “Public Right of Way”. In order to safeguard the path for future users, Cockermouth Civic Trust has applied to the Cumbria County Council to have the footpath upgraded to a Public Right of Way and is awaiting a response.
50th Anniversary Lunch, Wednesday 3rd May
Hunter Davies has kindly agreed to give us a pre-dinner talk at our anniversary lunch on 3rd May. Hunter is a prolific author, journalist and broadcaster and the author of the only authorised biography of the Beatles. He was born in Johnston, Renfrewshire in 1936 and moved to Carlisle aged 11. He went on to study at Durham University where he wrote for their university newspaper Palatinate and gained a teaching diploma after his undergraduate degree. He went on to write for publications such as Punch, New Statesman, The Guardian and The Sunday Times and he has written the Flossie Teacake, Ossie and Snotty Bumstead book series for children. His more recent books have included The Beatles Encyclopedia, The Co-ops Got Bananas and Lakeland: a Personal Journey. Hunter’s wife, Margaret Forster, died in February 2016. They had been married for 55 years and had lived in their Lakeland home for 30 years. After Margaret died, Hunter decided that he couldn’t face continuing to live there alone and sold the house later in the year.
- The programme for the day will be along the following lines:
- 12 noon – meet for pre-dinner drinks*
- 12.30 – take your seats in the main restaurant to listen to Hunter Davies
- 1pm (approx) – lunch is served
- After lunch – toasts to 50 years of Cockermouth Civic Trust*
* There will be a choice of prosecco or elderflower presse.
The lunch menu and ticket application are attached. We are hoping for a good turnout for our 50th!
Neighbourhood Plan for Cockermouth
In May 2016, the Town Council decided not to pursue the development of such a plan. The Civic Trust was concerned and disappointed at this Council decision. We believe that such a document could be of significant benefit in the future shaping of our town for generations to come, taking into account the views of the community as a whole. We think it would be short sighted to think that ‘all decisions affecting the town’s development have already been taken and that a neighbourhood plan is not therefore necessary’.
We believe that a well written Neighbourhood Plan will enable the Town Council and the community as a whole to develop a shared vision for the future of Cockermouth and to shape the development and growth of our historic town. We will be able to influence where we want new homes, retail developments and industry to be built and have a say on what these new buildings should look like. Neighbourhood planning will provide Cockermouth with a powerful set of tools for the local people to ensure that the town gets the right types of development for the community, given that it aligns with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider, Allerdale, area.
The Civic Trust was impressed by the level of public concern about the Council’s decision and established a working group, Cockermouth Neighbourhood Group, to make a case to the Council of the benefit of such a Plan. The team have been able to address some concerns, namely:
Councillors were concerned about the workload involved in developing the Neighbourhood Plan. Clearly this will be significant, but whilst the project will be led by the Town Council, much of the work can, and should, be undertaken by members of the community. Members of the Cockermouth Neighbourhood Group believe that there is significant volunteer effort available within the group and in the community as a whole.
The Council also cited ‘lack of community support’ as a contributory reason for not proceeding. The Group were able to demonstrate significant support both through the membership of the Group and the returns on public petition.
The Group also demonstrated that the Council were influenced by an exaggerated view of the costs involved in producing the Neighbourhood Plan. Average costs of plans produced elsewhere have only been around £11,000, not significantly more than Government grants currently available.
The Neighbourhood Group took this information back to the Council at the January 2017 meeting. However, the Council still felt that there was insufficient information put forward to enable them to commit to a Plan at this stage. What the Neighbourhood Group had not yet managed to achieve was a demonstration of potential outcomes for Cockermouth or a project plan on how the Plan will be achieved. Hopefully, the Group will have the resolve to develop a project plan and take the initiative back to the Council.
Cockermouth Library, by Shirley Campbell
The Civic Trust does not have any issue in principle with the change in service provision from the County County to the Town Council and the combination of the library with the TIC as a service hub. However, we are concerned that the changes should be robustly implemented so as to both ensure the continued use of the historic library building and the continued provision of a quality library service for our expanding town, meeting the needs of the 21st century. In this respect, we commented on the adequacy of the case made in respect of such areas as staffing adequacy, routine maintenance provision, lack of a building hand over survey, opening hours, disability access.
War Memorial Condition Surveys, by Duncan Keeler
We are pleased to report that we have completed our programme of war memorial condition surveys that we undertook as part of the national programme organised by Civic Voice. In total, we surveyed 30 memorials, stretching our interest area to include Maryport and a couple of Lake District Fell Tops. The only memorial found to be requiring significant attention is our own Cenotaph at the top of Station Street. We know that the Town Council are aware of this and have repairs under consideration. Articles were included in both the Times & Star & News and Star.
The ‘repairs’ to the bank supporting the castle walls have now been completed and hopefully the future structural integrity of the castle has been secured as far as is practicable. We have received permission to undertake a 2017 programme of tours without the access restrictions that we imposed last year.
Confluence Area Improvement Scheme
The improvement work to the Confluence area is gradually progressing. We are also supporting a grant application for artwork and heritage interpretation activities.
Local Heritage Listing Progress
We have to report that we are still at an impasse with Allerdale BC in that they are still refusing nominations for the Local Heritage List from within Conservation Areas. This does not make sense to us in that it goes against national policy, makes the Heritage List much less effective and 95% of our nominations for Cockermouth are in the Conservation Area. We are continuing to seek avenues to reverse this condition.
Town Centre Projects
We have been assured by Cumbria County Council that they will be repairing the Market Place infrastructure with its ‘as is’ materials. This does not include items such as the artwork and lighting which will remain the responsibility of Allerdale BC. The County Council work was scheduled to be undertaken after the work on High Sand Lane, but this is significantly behind schedule. Obtaining information from Cumbria CC is still like ‘extracting teeth’!
Property Flood Protection
We have concerns that some property owners are receiving inadequate advice on the installation of flood protection. For example, a flood gate may be certified as flood proof, but it is only as good as the surrounding structure. Darren Ward, on our behalf, has raised these concerns with Allerdale BC as the authorising agency.
With this in mind, we specifically spoke to the Trout Hotel about their flood protection scheme and had a very positive meeting with the Trout Manager and the Architect for the project.
Clearly, we want to encourage properties to improve their flood protection, but we would like to ensure that it is fit for purpose and does protect our town centre buildings.
Our annual trip is proving to be harder to organise this year so it is likely to be later in the year, perhaps September. What we would like to do is organise a trip to Newcastle with a visit to the Sage in the morning & a walking tour of the historic city areas in the afternoon.
There are still a few members who have yet to renew their membership. If you are one of these please send your Membership Renewal Form to Ian Dodsworth or contact him on 01900 823599. If you don’t act, this will be the last Newsletter you will receive and you will miss all our 50th Anniversary celebration events.
Phil Campbell, Chairman
7.30pm Wednesday 2nd November 2016
Phil Campbell (Chairman) welcomed 30 members and visitors to the Annual General Meeting.
Apologies: Vic Emmerson
Minutes of the meeting of 4th November 2015:
Peter Hubbard proposed that the minutes be accepted as a true record – this was seconded by Ros Earthy and passed unanimously.
Matters arising: None.
Secretary’s Report: John Dent
The 2015/16 winter programme of lectures was well received by all who attended the events. The annual lunch was held at the Hundith Hill Hotel on 4th May 2016 where the speaker was the Town Mayor. The annual day trip was to Carlisle and Lanercost Priory on July 5th 2016 and was enjoyed by all who went.
The Trust has been working with the Town Manager, Joe Broomfield on plans to improve the river confluence area and this should be achieved in the next few months.
The Trust was concerned about the lack of repairs to the Derwent riverside path behind Wordsworth House. Using a grant from the Cumbria Community Foundation Flood Recovery Fund and in partnership with Allerdale council contractors the repairs have been successfully completed.
The Trust has continued to comment on the various planning applications as and when appropriate and is using the “Building for Life” method of assessment. We continue to be pro-active by talking to the developers before any submission for planning permission. We made submissions to the planning authority with regard to the Lidl & WCF development on Station Street, the Low Road Commercial development and the Premier Inn development on the Shepherd’s Hotel site as well as numerous other developments. We have also taken up various valid comments with the appropriate authorities with some success.
We are involved in the pilot scheme for Local Listing in Allerdale and have developed the system of nomination forms and assessment processes. Unfortunately the Council has ruled that properties within the Conservation Areas would not be considered despite the official Good Practice Guide stating they can be.
The Trust was disappointed that the Town Council turned down the proposal for a Neighbourhood Plan without consulting the residents of the town. We therefore organised a Public Meeting to gauge support of a Plan and as a result of this a Neighbourhood Plan Forum was established with the Trust providing the Co-Chairs.
We nominated the United Reformed Church as an Assets of Community Value but Allerdale BC declined to place it on the list.
The Trust continued to have involvement in pressing for the Main Street and Market Place repairs to be completed but is exasperated at the lack of progress and concerned that the Main Street drain outlet is only now being worked on.
The Trust was disappointed that the Town Council has once again refused to have a town flag.
We were able to help the Town Spring Clean Day organised by Joe Broomfield on Friday 23rd March 2016 which concentrated on removing debris from the flood-hit memorial Gardens.
The Trust continues to be a member of the North West Association of Civic Societies (NWACTS) and of the national Civic Voice. Members of the Executive Committee have attended various meetings organised by Civic Voice and NWACTS including the Civic Voice AGM on 21st/22nd October 2016.
The Chairman of the National Civic Voice, Freddie Gick, visited us on 15th March 2016 and met members before being shown round the town.
The Trust is participating in the national War Memorials Condition Survey and a workshop was held by Freddie Gick during his visit.
The Trust has continued to host a website. Publicity throughout the year has been quite good with regular articles in the “Times & Star”.
Proceeds from the sale of the various publications this year have continued to ensure that our membership fees remain affordable.
The Trust participated in the Wordsworth Daffodil Day organised on 2nd April by the Cockermouth Rotary Club. The Trust participated in the “Heritage Open Days” event on 8th – 11th September for the eighth year. Seven premises were open in Cockermouth on the day plus one lecture. The 250th Anniversary of the birth of John Dalton marked by walks and exhibitions in Eaglesfield was a special addition to this year’s event.The Trust has taken various groups round the Town Trail including Leyland Historical Society and Keswick U3A Group. In addition, Castle visits have been hosted in support of the National Civic Day, Cockermouth Live, Derventio Archaeology Group and Keswick U3A History Group in addition to the Heritage Open Days.
Membership at the end of the 2015/16 year stands at 105. Currently 71 members are on the email list which saves the Trust printing and postal costs and keeps those members right up to date.
Chairman’s Report: Phil Campbell
Our Secretary has already reported on the detail of our activities over the last year. I would just like to focus on some achievements & key issues for us in the coming year.
Clearly, the big issue for Cockermouth in the past year was the major flood as a result of Storm Desmond in December 2015. The town has again proved resilient and recovered well. However, work still has to be done and there remain questions for the future such as insurance and the future frequency of such events. We have contributed in small ways to the recovery, such as the clearance of debris from the Memorial Gardens and the reinstatement of the footpath on the town side of the Derwent. An obvious concern has been the collapse of the castle mound putting the castle walls at risk. We are pleased to see that a repair to the mound has been designed and work is under way.
We remain a member and a strong supporter of Civic Voice. It provides a powerful focus and influence on civic issues at national level.
We have put a significant amount of work into developing a ‘Local Heritage List’ for Cockermouth and have nominated around 20 aspects. Unfortunately, we remain at an impasse with Allerdale BC who currently will not consider anything within a Conservation Area. Clearly this is an issue that needs resolution in the coming year.
We were very disappointed that the Town Council voted to reject the concept of a Neighbourhood Plan for Cockermouth. We believe that such a plan could benefit the future of our town and we recognise that there is significant community support. We have therefore established a Neighbourhood Forum with the objective of providing evidence to convince the Council to change its mind. Hopefully, the actual development of the plan will be a theme that we will become involved in.
A national Civic Voice campaign this year has been to undertake condition surveys of war memorials as part of the WW1 100th anniversary commemorations. As part of this, we have been inspecting & reporting the condition of memorials in our locality.
The Heritage Open Days event this year was our most successful to date. We introduced the theme of John Dalton 250 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of our famous son’s birth, which fell in the same week as HODS.
Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the formation of the then Cockermouth & District Civic Society in September 1967. We do intend to celebrate this anniversary.
2017 is also the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the first Conservation Area. Civic Voice is seeking to utilise this anniversary as an opportunity to refresh and reinvigorate the standing of Conservation Areas and we hope to participate in some way.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for their contributions over the last year, elected officers and members. We still need to broaden our membership base so please do help by advertising what we do to friends and neighbours. It was sad to see the ‘mothballing’ of Workington Civic Trust this year, not something we want to happen to us!
Treasurer’s Report: Ian Dodsworth
The financial year was much as anticipated.
At the year end our Bank Balance was up from £3747 to £3954. Excess of income over expenditure was £216.
The Stock of Books was down from f4410 to f4058 reflecting the books sold during the year.
The main income was from book sales at £770 and membership subscriptions of £558.
Our membership subscription was increased in this year from £5.50 to £7.50 and will remain unchanged for 2016/17.
Shirley Campbell proposed that the accounts be accepted as a true record and this was seconded by Brian Coley and passed unanimously.
Election of Officers and Committee Members:
The present officers Phil Campbell (Chairman), Ian Dodsworth (Treasurer) and John Dent (Secretary) were happy to continue in their roles. There being no other nominations, David Cornwall proposed that the officers be appointed and this was seconded by Ros Earthy and passed unanimously.
The current committee members, Shirley Campbell, Darren Ward, Duncan Keeler, Brian Coley, Ros Earthy, Margaret Coley and Elizabeth Silman were happy to continue. Their election was proposed by Georgina Dent and seconded by Kath Keeler and this was passed unanimously.
There was no additional business and the meeting closed at 7.44 pm.
September has arrived along with a new Civic Trust season and we are still in argument with all 3 councils. The Town Council collectively fail to see the future benefits of a Neighbourhood Plan for Cockermouth. Allerdale BC continue to exclude our Conservation Areas from Local Heritage Listing. The County Council still will not keep us informed of their plans for the Cockermouth projects. On a brighter note, we have another excellent programme of lectures for you this year and 2017 marks our 50th anniversary, which we aim to celebrate in style. We have just had a successful Heritage Open Days weekend, this year having the added focus of the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton, a famous son.
On the subject of Neighbourhood Planning, we do need to be able to demonstrate the support of the community. This is where you can help. If you do support its development, please write and tell us, or better still, write to your town councillor.
It is time to renew your subscriptions please. I hope you will because we rely on having a strong membership to support our work and campaigns. A membership renewal form is enclosed. The subscription rate is unchanged from last year.
Lecture Programme 2016/17
As usual, all lectures will be on the evening of the first Wednesday of the month at the Friends Meeting House, 7.30pm.
|Oct 5th||Phil Brown||Saving Cumbria’s wildlife & wild places|
|Nov 2nd||Jane Laskey||Senhouse Museum – latest finds. (preceded by AGM)|
|Dec 7th||Julie Ward||Neighbourhood Planning|
|Feb 1st||Stephen Bray||Non-Tech, New Reactor|
|Mar 1st||Diane Hewitt||National Garden Scheme|
|Apr 6th||Darren Ward||Restoring Underscar Manor|
50th Anniversary Year
The first meeting of the Cockermouth Civic Society was held in Derwent School on 13th September, 1967. Right from its start, the Society was considered to belong not just to Cockermouth, but also the neighbouring villages. The local ‘Times’ reported that the enthusiasm shown ‘was a good augury for its future’.It was reported that there had been small groups of people popping up at all parts of the town, looking for interesting places, bemoaning the fact that so much had already disappeared’.
49 years on, we like to think that the Civic Trust is still going strong and having an influence for the good on the development of the town. A measure perhaps is that Cockermouth continues to be a hugely popular place to live. Another measure is that we do seem to be a very busy society for our size. Anyway, we are not going to let our 50th birthday pass without a celebration, both of our anniversary and of our successes over the 50 years.
Our 2017 annual dinner will therefore become our ’50th Anniversary Dinner’. I hope that a good number of you will be able to come. Details will come in a later newsletter.
Our lecture meeting on 4th October 2017, being very close to the actual anniversary, will also be a celebratory evening.
Heritage Open Days 2016
Talking about birthday anniversaries, you will be aware by now that September 5th or 6th was the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton, and that we enriched Heritage Open Days this year with a John Dalton 250th Anniversary Weekend.
The celebrations opened with a lecture by Tom Smith on Dalton’s life and work, accompanied by an exhibition by Cockermouth Heritage Group. Both were very well received, & the lecture was attended by around 80 people. It probably would have been a full house if the weather on the Friday evening hadn’t been so foul.
The weather on the Saturday was much kinder and it opened with an exhibition in Cockermouth School. It demonstrated how different scientific theories are taught in school today, theories that would have been known about when John Dalton was teaching. It also showed how science teaching has developed in the lifetime of many of the visitors. 34 people took the heritage walks from Cockermouth to Eaglesfield, along the first part of the John Dalton Way, a route similar to that which Dalton would have taken to visit friends in Eaglesfield when staying at the Globe Hotel.
On arrival in Eaglesfield, the walkers and others were in for a treat. First tea and cakes in the village hall, whilst exploring the exhibition on historic Eaglesfield. Then a walking tour of the historic village itself, guided by a map and interpretation boards at 18 properties. These were expertly produced and very informative. Visitors were even invited inside some of the properties, including John Dalton Cottage, the actual birthplace of Dalton.
Bus transport between Eaglesfield and Cockermouth was provided by Workington Transport Heritage Trust and around 100 passenger journeys were made. On the return journey, the bus paused at the John Dalton Memorial Church, St Philips, and around 100 people visited the church during the day.
As well as the John Dalton celebration activities, a number of other properties were open for Heritage Open Days. Special for this year was the bell tower at All Saints Church and a WW1 centenary exhibition at the Friend’s Meeting House on the Quaker’s response to war and peace and the impact of the Military Service Act of 1916.
Riverside Footpath Repair, Waterloo Street to Low Sand Lane
We have been seeking since early this year to get this footpath repaired following the flood damage. Many locals use it for leisure, and it also forms part of our Town Trail. This is used by many visitors, including on our own guided tours. At first it was difficult to establish ownership as all of the local councils declared it not to be their responsibility. Our research eventually established that this area of land actually belongs to the individual properties adjoining it, and that it has gradually grown over the centuries, as the river moved away. This has complicated our options for repair. Initially, we proposed to use voluntary effort to replace the infill for the gouged out section with new gravel. Finally, we have collaborated with Allerdale BC to get a full repair of the path, including the damaged area at the bottom of Low Sand Lane, with the aid of a grant from the Cumbria Community Fund Flood Appeal. This work will also include measures to prevent future vehicle access which has added to the path damage.
I am pleased to say that our funding application has just been approved, which has cleared the way for work to begin before winter arrives.
Adoption as a Public Right of Way
Although the above footpath is marked on the Ordnance Survey Map as a path, we have come to realise that it is not registered as a formal Public Right of Way. We have decided to rectify this by making a formal application. This does require supporting evidence of footpath usage. If you have used this path regularly over the years and are willing to assist our application, please let us know. There will be a simple form to fill in which we can help you with.
War Memorial Condition Surveys
Following the workshop, members have started inspecting the memorials in our locality. Most of them such as the one above at Broughton, have been found to be in very good condition. A few, such as the cenotaph in Cockermouth, are in need of maintenance. We register our findings on a national web site. Those that we register as good or fair are just registered. Any that we identify as poor or very bad are highlighted as requiring remedial work.
What is Neighbourhood Planning?
Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area. They are able to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided, and grant planning permission for the new buildings they want to see go ahead. Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community where the ambition of the neighbourhood is aligned with the strategic needs and priorities of the wider local area.
Cockermouth Neighbourhood Plan
You will be aware from the last newsletter & other communication routes that we were very disappointed with the Town Council decision not to proceed with the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for the Town. We felt that the concept of a Neighbourhood Plan for Cockermouth must not be lost and we therefore have established a ‘Community Forum’ with the objective of producing a scoping document for the production of such a plan for Cockermouth. The intention is to present this document back to the Town Council to allow them to reconsider their decision based on informed evidence. This Community Forum is not legally empowered to produce a Neighbourhood Plan itself, this will still need the agreement of the Town Council. Furthermore, the government funding for the plan development has to come to the Town Council.
An opening meeting for this Community Forum was held in July. This was very well attended by Civic Trust members and other members of the community, around 32 in total, and was very well received. It was agreed to proceed with a smaller group of around 20, jointly chaired by Ros Earthy and Darren Ward, both from the Civic Trust Committee.
To date, 2 further meetings of the established Community Forum have been held. One of the objectives of the forum is to demonstrate that there is community support for the Neighbourhood Plan. You can assist them in this by writing a letter or email of support to the Civic Trust, and ideally to your Town Councillors as well if you live in Cockermouth itself.
Local Heritage Listing Progress
Unfortunately, we are at the same impasse with Allerdale BC on the Local Heritage Listing as we reported in the last newsletter. The process that we produced was all but agreed with Allerdale BC but at the 11th hour, someone on their Scrutiny Committee proposed, to save money, that Conservation Areas should be excluded from consideration. This was agreed and ratified by the full Council. They took no consideration of the fact that all but one of our nominations for the Local List in Cockermouth lie within a Conservation Area. They also took no account of The Good Practice Guide for Local Listing stating that ‘Heritage assets can be added to a local heritage list regardless of whether they are sited in conservation areas’. We have been in communication with the Chief Executive of Allerdale BC without making significant progress. His hands are tied by the elected Council decision. We are currently following up on two avenues. One is to see if we are able to nominate a few assets for consideration outside of Conservation Areas. These will need to be outside of Cockermouth itself. This will start the ball rolling and allow the Council to assess the actual impact on their resources. The second is to determine if we can open a channel of communication directly with the Councillors who were involved in the decision.
Town Centre Projects
We still have the following questions for the County Council:
- Are they going to complete the storm drain project by connecting their expensive drains in Main Street to the river, or are they going to decide its too difficult & quietly forget about it?
- When are they going to rectify the faults identified on the Main Street project snagging list?
- When are they going to address the faults in the road & pavement infrastructure in Market Place and what are they going to do?
Clearly, we are concerned that they are walking away from their responsibilities and we are worried that they will come and damage the character of Market Place, particularly if they remove the art work.
We have made a formal complaint to the County Council about their lack of communication with us on these issues. They have actually acknowledged receipt of our complaint but that was the last that we heard.
The one communication that we did receive indicated that they hoped to start the storm drain connection in autumn this year, followed by Market Place. No indication of what they are going to do.
Workington Civic Trust
We were sad to learn that Workington Civic Trust has folded. It seems that they were unable to maintain sufficient volunteers to serve on their committee or in executive roles. Many societies have the same issues, even Cockermouth U3A with its large membership is organising a special meeting to consider their lack of willing organising committee members. We as a society are not immune!
It is sad for Workington that they no longer have a civic society. It is sad for us too. They were a local companion society and we were able to learn and share with each other.
Visit to Carlisle & Lanercost Priory
A good example of the impact of the demise of Workington Civic Trust on us is that over a number of years a few of their members have come on our trips. If half a dozen of them came it helped spread our costs and keep our prices down. Only one Workington member came on this year’s trip. Partially as a result of this, we had fewer on our trip this year than expected and made a loss on the day of around £60. Also fewer of our members came, possibly because it was nearer to home and possibly because of the amount of walking that was envisaged.
The 2015 trip was a sell out and we had a waiting list. Some years we make a profit, some times a loss & we aim to break even in the longer term. Lets hope that continues and our members continue to support our outings.
This year’s trip actually went very well and the slightly smaller numbers were actually a benefit on our tours. We started off in Carlisle with a town tour organised by Carlisle Civic Trust and led by a Blue Badge Guide. A central feature of the tour was a visit to the old civil and criminal courts.
We all had a buffet lunch at ‘Cakes & Ale’ cafe before moving on to Lanercost Priory. Here we had a stimulating tour of the Priory Church and the old Priory ruins, ending up in Dacre Hall. A cream tea followed.
You will all be aware of the flood damage to the castle mound. We have undertaken all of our programmed castle tours this year, including specials for Keswick U3A and the Papcastle Archaeological Group. We have had to introduce some additional access constraints as a result of the risk assessment, pending the outcome of the engineering assessment
The engineering assessment has now been completed and this has shown that the castle is built on glacial deposits, not solid rock. Therefore, if no remedial work is undertaken, there is a high probability that the castle walls will collapse in the relatively near future.
A planning application has been submitted for remedial work to the exposed mound. This involves inserting ‘soil nails’, typically 3 to 4 metres long into the bank at intervals of around 2 metres. A schematic is shown below, apologies that you can’t read the text unless on email. The nails will be installed using a long reach mechanical device sitting on the boulders below. A mesh will be installed between the nails to allow vegetation to grow. Its not going to look very good for a while, but will recover well in time.
Happy 180th birthday to JB Banks Ironmongers. All members are, (or were), welcome to a charity coffee morning there between 10am and 2pm on Wednesday, September 21st.
Phil Campbell, Chairman
SEPTEMBER 2016 THURSDAY 8th to SUNDAY 11th
‘Heritage Open Days’ is England’s biggest heritage festival. It celebrates our fantastic history, architecture and culture; offering people the
chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences – all of which are FREE to explore.
This is an opportunity for everyone, whatever their background, age or ability, to discover an endless variety of places and ways to them
from castles to city halls, tunnels to tower tops, police cells to private homes, workshops to woodland walks.
The events are organised by a huge network of people who share a passion for places, history and culture. Over 1,500 organisations and
some 40,000 volunteers organise thousands of site openings and events, jointly attracting over 3 million visitors. On a national level, the
programme is managed by the National Trust and funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Historic England.
Headlines for this newsletter:
- We welcome Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice, to Cockermouth
- Celebrations of John Dalton 250 begin with the unveiling of the John Dalton Way Plaque
- Heritage Open Days plans are progressing well, boosted by John Dalton 250
- Tickets are now on sale for our trip to Carlisle and Lanercost Priory on July 5th, limited to 25.
- We continue with our castle tours with some access restrictions pending engineering assessments, but it has all happened before!
- Allerdale BC put a spanner in the works on the Local Heritage Listing project.
- Allerdale BC reject our application for the URC rooms to be an Asset of Community Value
- Cockermouth Town Council decide NOT to develop a Neighbourhood Plan
- Cumbria County Council have stopped talking to us
- A dozen Civic Trust members assist in the tidy up of the Memorial Gardens, post flood
- We object to the proposal for an out of town retail development on Low Road
For more information on these and other activities, please read on.
Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice, visits us.
Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice, spent the day with us in Cockermouth on 16th March. We started the day with a Civic Trust member’s meeting. Freddie informed us about Civic Voice, its future & its relationship with local civic societies. Freddie’s term of office ends near the end of this year, as will a number of other trustees, so we can expect significant change at the top.
We then gave a presentation on what we have been doing locally and our local concerns. Freddie took these away to share with other societies. Not surprisingly, flooding, flood defences and flood mitigation was prominent and Freddie undertook to determine if there was wider support for a meeting of Civic Societies from ‘flood towns’ to share and learn from experiences, and then to agree on any learning points that need to be a national focus at government level.
After a buffet lunch, we took Freddie on a walk around our town centre to reinforce his impressions of Cockermouth. He clearly was impressed, not least with the excellent weather!
War Memorial Workshop
After lunch, we hosted a War Memorial Workshop which Freddie Gick led. As well as some of our members, a number of people from other societies and councils in North Cumbria attended. During these centenary years of WW1, there is a national focus on improving the condition of our memorials and Civic Voice have been given the role of identifying memorials & undertaking simple condition surveys. There is national grant money available for repairs where needed. We undertook to do surveys on memorials in the Cockermouth locality, and there are more than you might think! The cenotaph in Cockermouth is a good example. We believe it hasn’t received significant maintenance for decades & you can see through from one side to the other where mortar should be!
John Dalton 250
The Civic Trust has taken the lead in ensuring that Cockermouth and Eaglesfield celebrate this year the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton, our famous son. John Dalton is of course famous world wide for his contributions to the development of atomic theory, the science of meteorology and the understanding of colour blindness. Celebrations have already begun with the formal opening of the new ‘John Dalton Way’ when our Mayor, Julie Laidlow, unveiled the plaque at the start of the walk in Kings Arms Lane.
This walk was created by local walking group, ‘the Nuclear Striders’ who have also produced a booklet describing both the walk & the life of John Dalton.
In August, the Cockermouth Heritage Group will have their annual summer exhibition at the Kirkgate Centre which this year will feature John Dalton as well as WW1 centenary material.
The actual anniversary is around the 5th or 6th September, so we have decided to include a John Dalton 250 weekend as part of Heritage Open Days which run from 8th to 11th September this year. The plans now include:
- A lecture on John Dalton at the Kirkgate Centre on the Friday at 7.30pm by Tom Smith, author of the book ‘John Dalton, a Cumbrian Philosopher’. Free tickets now available.
- An accompanying exhibition by the Heritage Group on the Friday evening and Saturday
- An exhibition on the Saturday in Eaglesfield Village Hall on John Dalton and historic Eaglesfield, with refreshments. Organised by Eaglesfield Village Hall Committee.
- A self guided walk round Eaglesfield on the Saturday, with Children’s quiz, organised by the Village Hall Committee.
- Open day at John Dalton Memorial Church, St Philips, Eaglesfield, on the Saturday.
- Two guided walks along the John Dalton Way from Cockermouth to Eaglesfield, led by the Nuclear Striders, on the Saturday at 10am and 12.30pm.
- Transport between Cockermouth & Eaglesfield on the Saturday by vintage bus organised by Workington Transport Heritage Group.
- An exhibition in the Eco Centre by Cockermouth School on the development of science since the time of John Dalton.
Heritage Open Days, 8th to 11th September 2016
In addition to the John Dalton 250 activities already described, there following will be open:
– Banks Ironmongers
– Percy House
– Masonic Hall – John Dalton Lodge
– Friend’s Meeting House – exhibition of the Quaker response to the Military Service Act, 1916.
(all of the above on the Saturday).
– Isel Hall on the Thursday & Friday
The exhibition at the Friend’s Meeting House will be particularly worth a visit as it will be a once only event as part of the WW1 centenary. Quakers and members of other peace churches suffered imprisonment under the Militia Acts of the 18th & 19th centuries. However, it was the Military services Act of 1916 that encouraged Quakers to challenge conscription. This meant facing imprisonment for their beliefs or accepting alternative service on the land, in hospitals or doing relief work. This display will include part of the Quaker Service exhibition which illustrates alternatives to violence.
Carlisle & Lanercost Priory, Tueday July 5th
Our annual trip this year is closer to home with a walking tour round historic Carlisle in the morning and a guided visit to Lanercost Priory in the afternoon. Total cost per person will be £21, (English Heritage members £18). Tickets are limited to 25 so please apply early, some were disappointed last year. Full details of the itinerary are are on the enclosed ticket application form but in summary we will have:
- A morning walking tour lasting 1½ hours, led by Carol Donnelly, arranged by Carlisle Civic Trust
- Free time for lunch in Carlisle
- Tour of Lanercost Priory & Dacre Hall led by John Lee – who promises an entertaining tour!
- Afternoon refreshments in Dacre Hall, included.
The breakdown of costs is coach £10, Lanercost entry £3 (group), tour guide pm £3, refreshments pm £5. The latter 2 will help support the ‘Parochial Village Hall’. The Carlisle tour is on a reciprocal basis for a future Carlisle CT visit to Cockermouth.
We reported the landslip on the castle mound in the last newsletter and the work that had already been undertaken to protect the mound from further erosion. We understand that no visible damage has occurred to the walls or buttresses and engineering assessments are ongoing. We also understand that consideration is being given to additional protection to the castle mound at river level. We have agreement from Lord & Lady Egremont to continue with our 2016 programme of castle tours, but have jointly reviewed the risk assessment for the visits. As a result, and pending the outcome of the engineering assessments, we have introduced limited access restrictions. These should not interfere significantly with the visits apart from not including the Mirk Kirk in the tours.
What is interesting is that the problem is not something new. I quote from Bernard Bradbury:
‘In addition to three 15C buttresses on the north wall, 3 large ones were built between the Round & Kitchen towers in 1752 because the bank gave way and ‘parted from the wall”.
‘In 1755, a water ‘wear’ was built to prevent the River Derwent from undermining and washing away the Castle Hill’.
We were very happy to support the inaugural Daffodil Day, organised by Rotary. We had a stall inside All Saints Church for the day where we displayed information on our activities and sold some of our books.
We also led 3 ‘History Walks’ from All Saints Church to Wordsworth House. We ran all 3 walks but the turnout was quite small due to the atrocious weather on the day.
Local Heritage Listing Progress
The good news first. Allerdale BC seem to have now agreed the process for considering nominations for local listing, and as such, they are ready to begin the process of compiling a pilot list based on Cockermouth & District, as submitted by ourselves. Now the (very) bad news. Allerdale BC in their wisdom have decided that the List should exclude anything within a Conservation Area as they believe that properties & other aspects within Conservation Areas are already adequately protected by their conservation area status. The real reason is to seek to save officer time & money, not an unreasonable objective in itself.
We believe that this decision is flawed in that Conservation Area status and Local Listing provide different types of protection and protection provided to a heritage asset through listing is not necessarily automatically provided by the asset being in a Conservation Area. The role of the Conservation Area is to protect the quality and special interest of the neighbourhood as a whole, rather than specific buildings; whereas the role of local listing is to protect individual buildings or aspects of an area, whether or not they lie within a Conservation Area.
The Good Practice Guide for Local Listing states:
‘Heritage assets can be added to a local heritage list regardless of whether they are sited in conservation areas. Nonetheless, conservation area appraisals and management plans may provide a useful starting point for the preparation of a local list. One aspect of the appraisal process with particular relevance to local heritage listing is the identification of unlisted buildings that make a ‘positive contribution’ to the character of a conservation area’
We have submitted 19 nominations to Allerdale of which 17, (89%), lie within a Conservation Area. These 19 were simply based on a brainstorm of our members on what they considered important to list in our town and environs. From our perspective, excluding Conservation Areas is not an option.
Allerdale BC have left the door slightly ajar, in that they said that they might reconsider with experience and review if the actual impact on officer time is not unduly onerous. We will therefore offer them an olive branch for them to review our nominations outside of Conservation Areas, then undertake a joint review.
Assets of Community Value.
Allerdale BC have rejected our application for the United Reformed Church Rooms to be declared an ‘asset of community value’. The rejection was on the basis that the community use of the building is not the ‘main purpose’ of the building, this being as a place of worship. We are well aware that assets of community value can only be applied to the main purpose of a building. We are also obviously aware that the design purpose of the URC buildings is as a place of worship. However, the buildings are actually used, time-wise, significantly more for community use than worship and this was the basis of our application. So it comes down to interpretation of what ‘main use’ means. There is no right of appeal so we do not intend to progress this any further.
Around 20 of us had an excellent lunch at Hundith Hill this year and our guests of honour were the Mayor & ‘Mayoress’. The Mayor, Julie Laidlow, gave our after dinner speech and she talked about her year in office. In conversation, Julie suggested that we put a formal proposal to the Town Council again that they reconsider having a town flag. This we did, but the Council rejected it, 7 to 3, split along party lines. We still feel that having a town flag would be good for our town but it needs Town Council support. We asked the Council to consider the concept & not have preconceived ideas on the design. However, they dug out our previous design concept & went immediately into detail why they didn’t like it.
We were extremely disappointed that the Town Council decided not to proceed with the development of a Neighbourhood Plan for the Town. Having such a plan in place would enable the community to have a say on how our town develops in the future. It would help determine where future housing developments are and avoid Strawberry How type controversies. It could help avoid inappropriate out of town retail developments that might prejudice our town centre of independent shops. We wrote to the Town Council to this effect and attended the Annual Parish Meeting with others to express our dissatisfaction and to offer our support & involvement for its development. Unfortunately, some council members did not seem to understand the concept of such a plan and naively seemed to think that all planning controversies are behind us & therefore a plan is superfluous. Another issue is that the Council have a rule that they will not reconsider a decision that they have made until after a minimum period of 6 months, unless 7 councillors sign a motion to do so.
We are conscious that there are people outside of the Civic Trust who feel the same way as us, both from responses to articles in the Times & Star and at the Cockermouth Parish Meeting. We therefore have in mind establishing a 6 month project with others to scope out what a Neighbourhood Plan for Cockermouth might look like, what is involved in putting it together and how much it might cost. The object after 6 months would be to ask the Council to reconsider without being able to deny community support. If they fail to agree, the community will need to consider the way forward from there.
We do not have to start from scratch, there are approved Neighbourhood Plans out there. Morpeth is a good example. Its a market town of 14,000 inhabitants, with independent shops & significant flood risk.
Town Centre Projects
Cumbria County Council are not talking to us, or to the people of Cockermouth either. We had meetings last year when promises were made on work to be done & to keep us informed. Now we are sitting with unanswered letters. Are they going to install a storm drain from Main Street or are they quietly forgetting their unfulfilled investment. Are they going to repair & adopt Market Place whilst maintaining the character achieved with the street and art work. Who knows other than Cumbria County Council?
Around a dozen members of the Civic Trust turned out to help spruce up the town before Daffodil Day along with Allerdale BC and others. We cleared stones off the Memorial Gardens to allow grass cutting. We removed flood debris from the Eastern side of the Gardens along the river front. We planted flowers in Main Street planters. We cleaned seats in Market Place
Footpaths in the Memorial Gardens are the responsibility of the Town Council. The footpath on the south side, on our town trail, apparently belongs to the individual houses. We are therefore looking at ways to get this path repaired. We are also seeking to get the path adopted by Cumbria County Council as a formal public right of way.
We have objected to the proposal for a retail development behind The Lakes Centre on Low Road. It lacks detail and we feel Cockermouth needs an out of town retail development like a hole in the head. It goes against the national need to revitalise town centres like ours. We would support development of this brown field site but an industrial use would provide a broader employment base for the town’s population.
Civic Day, 18th May
We have an extra castle tour this year for ‘Civic Day’.
Thanks to Brian Coley for all of his excellent photos for the Civic Trust.
Phil Campbell, Chairman
· ‘We were devastated that Cockermouth has been hit yet again and send our sympathy to all affected. Best wishes to all’, Barbara and Peter Colley (former secretary & architectural adviser to Cockermouth CivicTrust)
· ‘I’ve been shedding a few tears listening to the news about the town, so soon after the last flood.. I seem to recall that “officials” claimed that it would be a once in a life time event, how wrong. I am thinking about all those affected, some for the second time. I am thinking of you all and listening to the news as things change and hope all my old friends will be safe and well’. Barbara Barker (former Secretary to Cockermouth Civic Trust)
· ‘I was so sorry to see on the news last night that Cockermouth had been flooded again. You were kind enough to show members of Blackpool Civic Trust around the town 2 or 3 years ago. We saw all the hard work that had gone into the repair and renovation of the town centre. It must be dreadful to experience another flooding again. We are all thinking about you at this difficult time’. Joan Humble, (Chairman Blackpool Civic Trust)
· ‘We are so sorry about this disaster. What a shock for it to happen so soon after the last flood. I hope that we can do something to help. I am in touch with the authorities. Best wishes’. Max Egremont, (President, Cockermouth Civic Trust).
· ‘We have all been very shocked by the devastation from the flooding and feel that we here in Petworth must do something to help. My wife and I have a meeting tonight with some friends to start putting some ideas in motion to help your community. I would be very grateful if you could let us know of any specific urgent requirements and whether the Cumbria Community Foundation is the most useful place to send money to. We would like the money to go to Cockermouth from Petworth, but appreciate that this may not be logistically possible in the grand scheme of things. But maybe you have some thoughts? Please be assured that Petworth has Cockermouth and it’s surroundings in their thoughts and prayers’. Chris Kemp, (Chairman of Petworth Town Council).
Lecture Season, 2015/16
A reminder of the remaining lectures of this season, all on the evening of the first Wednesday of the month at the Friends Meeting House, 7.30pm.
Real bread – the best thing since sliced bread
Saving Cumbria’s wildlife & wild places
Visit by Freddie Gick, Tues 15th March (10.30 am)
Venue – United Reformed Church Rooms
Freddie Gick, Chair of Civic Voice, will be visiting us on Tuesday 15th March. The purpose is for us to inform Freddie on what is happening in Cockermouth and to give us the opportunity to influence Civic Voice thinking and policy. The visit will take the form of a meeting in the United Reformed Church Rooms, where we will discuss Cockermouth Civic Trust and Civic Voice activities, followed by an informal light lunch. Around 12.30, we will then take Freddie on a walking tour of our town, returning in time for the afternoon workshop. Members are invited to attend the meeting & lunch. There will be a charge of £6 for the lunch. If you would like to come, could you please return the appropriate slip.
Freddie Gick is a former research scientist and international management consultant who has been involved with civic societies for about 20 years. He is currently a member of Civic Societies in Cheltenham, Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. He is the ex Chairman of the West Midlands Amenity Societies Association an Honorary Vice President of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists and a Trustee of Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust of which he was Chairman from 2009 to 2012.
War Memorial Condition Survey Workshop
Tuesday 15th March (2 -4 pm), URC Rooms
On the afternoon of the 15th March, we are hosting a war memorial condition survey workshop, organised through Civic Voice, and lead by Freddie Gick. This is again open to members. If you would like to attend, please return the attached slip. The event will be open to individuals and members of other local societies and organisations.
As the nation reflects on the events of the First World War on the centenary, the opportunity is being taken to ensure that war memorials remain a fitting tribute to the fallen. The Civic Voice project, as part of the national commemorative events, will help conserve and protect the nation’s war memorials for the long term, as well as ensuring that there are skilled volunteers available to assess their condition and take steps to preserve them in the proper way.
Please note that there is no obligation to undertake surveys following the workshop and no specific skills are required. The surveys will be at a similar level to those already undertaken by members of Grade II listed buildings.
Funding is available now to restore war memorials, so now is the time for us to act! We have looked at the Cockermouth Memorial and this is clearly in need of some repair, it is possible to see through the Memorial between the stones. The Town Council, now owners of the Memorial, are aware of this and are progressing a formal inspection & costing of repair.
Annual Lunch, Wednesday 4th May, 12 for 12.30pm
Feedback from last year was that a lunchtime rather than evening meal was a resounding success so we will do the same this year.. We had planned to return to the Trout Hotel, but unfortunately they do not expect to re-open after the flood damage until June. We have therefore booked into Hundith Hill. The menu is on the attached return slip. If you would like to come, please return the slip with the remittance of £21.95 per person. As usual, we hope to have an after dinner speaker but this has not yet been finalised. If you would like a lift there, please indicate this on your return slip.
Car Parking Charges – Allerdale BC Consultation
We have made the following response to Allerdale BC on behalf of our members:
‘The Civic Trust does accept that it may be reasonable for some overall increase in charges to reflect the low levels of inflation over the past 4 years. However, irrespective of our comments below, we would ask if the Council would consider delaying any increases to allow towns and businesses affected by the recent flooding time to recover.
We would also remind the Council that it is inappropriate to cross fund revenue from parking to other Departmental budgets. In this respect we note that in 2013/14 the Council had a surplus of £171,320.99, so we would wish budgets for future years to be fully transparent so that it is clear how any surplus is spent.
The Council proposes to replace parking ticket machines to a capital cost of £350,000. Presumably, this can be phased over a few years to minimise the capital impact on an individual year?
We would like to raise two specific concerns over the Council’s proposals:
– Firstly, we are concerned about the proposed new imposition of evening and overnight charges. This is not simply a cost of living increase, it is a major cost change for people attending theatre or social events in our town centres, rising from zero charge to up to £5. Clearly this will have a significant impact on both individuals and businesses offering evening entertainment, including on volunteers supporting these activities. Similarly, we are concerned about the impact on town centre hotels and bed & breakfasts and feel that they will be adversely prejudiced by out of town hotels with free parking like the proposed new Premier Inn. We wonder if the Council have really thought this through.
– Secondly, we are concerned about the totally disproportionate increase in permit charges. We are specifically concerned here about the effect this will have on some small town centre businesses without their own parking. This may be the final nail in the coffin for some businesses, aimed by the Council!’
Confluence Area Project
Ros Earthy represented CCT at a meeting to discuss the redevelopment of the confluence area. This meeting was to outline the project and recognise possible problems. It appears that ownership of the land is shared between Allerdale and Jennings. The aim of this scheme is to provide a quiet landscaped area with seating and a heritage information point. There may also be an art work but this will be provided from a separate fund.
The Civic Trust has long campaigned for improvements to this area of town and its gratifying to see the project go ahead despite the floods. One remit of the project is that everything should be flood proof as far as is practicable. The budget for the project is £16,000, of which £13,000 is being provided by Lovells, the builders of the new housing development on Low Road..
Clearly we have all been dismayed at the havoc and hardship inflicted by the floods on residents and businesses in Cockermouth, again. One thing we did not anticipate is the landslip into the River Derwent below the castle walls.
What amazed and concerned us is the land slip went back so close to the walls without revealing any supporting bedrock. We immediately reported it to Lord & Lady Egremont who were already aware. We also reported it to Historic England, as the castle is a Grade 1 listed building, and to Allerdale BC in case the building should be considered unsafe.
Work has already been undertaken to protect the castle mound against further erosion. We anticipate that further engineering assessments will now be undertaken to evaluate the castle wall foundations. The walls have stood for over 600 years and we would expect the Normans to have sought out solid foundations!
We held a special meeting to discuss 2 significant planning applications for the town:
Premier Inn to replace the Shepherd’s Hotel
Lidls and a new building for West Cumberland Farmers.
Both applicants had previously held consultation sessions, which we attended, and both applicants were receptive to our comments. We recognised from the design perspective, both developments, although not visually exciting, would improve their respective localities. Our remaining concerns were the potential impact on other local businesses, particularly the small independent businesses that make Cockermouth what it is. We can see pros and cons to both developments in this respect and it is a difficult call as to where the balance lies. We decided NOT to object to either proposal, but made a few comments of detail.
We strongly objected to the proposal to erect locked gates between the new development on Sullart Street and the Derwent Street area of town. We felt that they would inappropriately divide our town. We were pleased to see that the proposals have been withdrawn.
Town Centre Projects
Cumbria County Council informed us last year that they intended to both complete the Main Street Storm Drain Project & to carry out the necessary repairs to the Market Place infrastructure in early 2016. We were about to ask for an update from the council when Storm Desmond hit us. We have therefore delayed writing but still intend to ask for a formal update shortly.
We are anticipating final agreement to the local listing process from Allerdale BC this month, (January). Once received, the establishment of the ‘Local List’ can begin!
Assets of Community Value
We have submitted a further application for ‘an asset of community value’. This is for the United Reformed Church Rooms and was prepared in agreement with the church. The reason for the submission is that the rooms are now used by a large number of community groups and activities in town and their loss would be a significant detriment to the town’s social scene.
We would also like to nominate the Kirkgate Centre and have drafted an application. We believe this is a prime candidate but are waiting to see if the Kirkgate Centre management team will give us their formal agreement first.
A further ‘asset’ that we have under consideration for registration is the ‘Greenway’. This is complicated by the fact that it has 3 owners along its length and is so far only designated as a ‘permissive footpath’ rather than a ‘public footpath’. We are investigating this designation as well.
Carlisle Civic Trust have invited us for a guided tour of their city. Closer to home than usual, but we plan to take advantage of their invite to find out more about our nearest city than just a shopping venue. We would like to include a visit to Lanercost Priory as well. Plans are yet to be put in place, so wait for the next newsletter.
John Dalton Anniversary
2016 is the 250th anniversary of the birth of John Dalton, one of our famous sons. We have decided that Cockermouth should celebrate this anniversary and to feature John Dalton as part of Heritage Open Days in September, which are very close to his birth date. The Heritage Group have agreed to feature Dalton & his work as part of their summer exhibition & to carry forward a dedicated exhibition for HODs. This will supplement a HODs talk on Dalton at the Kirkgate Centre by Thomas Fletcher Smith, author of the book, ‘John Dalton, A Cumbrian Philosopher’.
The local walking group, ‘the Nuclear Striders’, have also developed a long distance footpath called the John Dalton Way in celebration of this anniversary. This starts in Kings Arms Lane, passes through Eaglesfield where Dalton was born, and goes on to Calder Hall near Seascale, the first commercial atomic power station. They plan to launch the walk in Spring and to include some guided walks along the first stage to Eaglesfield as part of HODs in September. The Town Council have kindly provided the Civic Trust with a grant of £150 towards a plaque to mark the start of the walk.
Have you paid your 2015/16 Membership Fee?
This is addressed to the few members who have yet to pay their 2015/16 membership fee. Unless you pay the fee soon this will be the last Newsletter you will receive. If you are unsure if you have paid or not you can check your membership status by contacting Treasurer Ian Dodsworth on 01900 823599 and he will enlighten you. We will shortly have to pay our subscription to Civic Voice which costs £1.50 per member; so you can see it is important to know the correct number of members at that time.
Free Day Out at a National Trust Property.
As a member of Cockermouth Civic Trust you are eligible to apply to Civic Voice to receive a free day pass, worth up to £14, for entrance to a National Trust property. This can be used by yourself or passed to friends and families. A number of members have already taken up this offer and this is a reminder for those who haven’t. When you consider that you will have only paid £7.50 membership fee this is a bargain offer! The current passes are valid up to 31May 2016 so there is plenty of time to have a free day out. Simply send a request stating you are a member of Cockermouth Civic Trust and including a stamped self-addressed envelope to Amber Palmer at Civic Voice, 60 Duke Street, Liverpool, L1 5AA.
It was devastating for Cockermouth to be so hard hit by the floods yet again, particularly for those directly affected, whether homes or businesses. The new flood defences were never designed to cope with flood water on this scale but thankfully, they did mitigate the effects and the overall impact to some extent. Clearly, one in one hundred year events can repeat in a short time frame, the fact that one flood has happened does not reduce the risk of one tomorrow. However, the science of global warming does predict higher rainfall events and this increase in risk needs to be built into flood assessments and flood protection. We also need to be more innovative nationally in our thinking on our design for flood protection and to be more aware of the negative consequences of our building practices. An example of such lateral thinking has already been implemented in Pickering in Yorkshire, led by their Civic Society, a ‘slowing the flow’ scheme that received a Civic Voice Design award in 2015. This scheme involves a package of measures to slow the rate of run off up stream, such as woodland planting, mini dams, etc.. Clearly, there are lessons to be learnt from Pickering for the Derwent and Cocker catchment areas, and others.
The efforts being put into the recovery of our town centre are to be applauded. It was excellent for the spirit of the town that the lantern parade and Christmas Food Festival went ahead only a week or so after the flood.
Phil Campbell, Chairman