Cockermouth Civic Trust Special Member’s Meeting

The Civic Trust held a special member’s meeting on Wednesday. The purpose was to provide time for the committee and members to jointly review issues affecting Cockermouth and the future of the Civic Trust movement in Cockermouth & nationally.  A key focus was how to encourage new active membership at a time when the Civic Trust is having increasing influence within the town. Members voted the meeting a big success and asked that such meetings become a regular feature, perhaps twice per year.

It was felt that the shop front improvement scheme had been a major success for the Trust together with Allerdale BC & other local organisations, this being recognised nationally by the Georgian Group. Pictures were shown of the ‘before and after’, which really emphasised what had been achieved. Members felt that there were improvements that could still be made for the good of the town, examples discussed included ‘Alternative Takeaway’ on Main St and the Coop on Station St.

Members were generally in favour of the proposed improvements for Main Street streetscape but had some concerns on the detail, which were discussed. There was concern that a vocal minority amongst the public were having an undue influence on the project, putting at risk the achievement of a general increase in quality of this public space. It was agreed that the Trust should particularly maintain focus on improving Bridge Street, an important gateway to the town.

Members were updated on the Environment Agency’s proposed enhanced flood defences for the town. The Civic Trust’s interest is to seek to ensure that appropriate materials, etc are used and that there is an appropriate balance struck between the flood risk and the detriment to the quality of life from the imposition of new barriers. For example, an original option had been to build a 5-foot solid wall along Rubby Banks that would clearly detract from the street ambiance. It was agreed that the key players in these decisions should be the local residents most affected by both the flood risk and the imposition of the proposed barriers.

There had been 3 significant proposals for housing developments over the past year, Sullart Street, The Fitz and at the Rugby Club on Lorton Road. The Trust had formally assessed each of these proposals on the basis of the national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods, the ‘Building for Life Assessment’. Following the assessments, detailed comments had been made, and a formal objection lodged against the development at the Fitz.

Last year, Cockermouth Civic Trust joined the national ‘Civic Voice’ movement, a movement that seeks to make places more attractive, enjoyable & distinctive, thereby promoting civic pride. The meeting concluded by discussing the future focus of our Civic Trust and how best we can contribute in Cockermouth to the Civic Voice objectives. It was agreed that we need to increase the profile of the Civic Trust in Cockermouth to seek to avoid it disappearing in the future due to lack of support, a fate that has happened to similar local societies and which we believe would be detrimental to Cockermouth.

[Phil Campbell, Chairman Cockermouth & District Civic Trust]