Multi-million pound Cheltenham revamp plans for North Place Development are 'mundane, disappointing and flawed' say Civic Society
MUNDANE, disappointing and flawed are how plans to redevelop two Cheltenham car parks have been described by the city's heritage experts.
The comments on the multi-million pound plans for North Place and Portland Street were made by Cheltenham's Civic Society.
Cheltenham Development Taskforce – the group behind the revamp plans – want to turn the site into a supermarket and new homes.
There would also be a public square, 300 parking spaces and new bus stops.
But John Henry, chairman of the civic trust's planning forum, said: "Overall, we are disappointed by the whole scheme.
"We had hoped for an iconic development for this important site which could sit proudly alongside the traditional historic architecture of Cheltenham, as called for in the council's own design brief for the site.
"Instead, there is a set of buildings which are little more inspired than many mundane proposals regularly put forward elsewhere in the town.
"The whole scheme fails to create an important sense of space, and does not have the presence and grandeur which is needed for it to complement the rest of the town centre.
"We do not consider that the latest comparatively minor amendments are sufficient to rescue what is a basically flawed scheme."
The society also said that the bus stops would be in the wrong part of town.
They argued that the design for the supermarket is "bland" and that designers should come up with some more "distinct and imaginative".
Mr Henry added: "North Place will become significantly busier than at present.
"Although we are anxious to see the site developed, we are unable to give our support to the submitted scheme."
But Jeremy Williamson, managing director of Cheltenham Development Taskforce, said: "The task force has promoted this site and believes that the proposals reflect the general principles of the development brief and aims to balance the various concerns including planning issues, deliverability and financial viability.
"We welcome the views of the Civic Society and others as part of the planning process, but also recognise that they may be focused on a single issue, in this case design.
"In such cases, there is no right answer.
"For example, the proposed food store entrance, while not welcomed by the Civic Society, is supported by the Cheltenham architects' panel.
"Equally the Civic Society has, as part of the process, made a range of helpful comments which the developers have taken on board as the scheme has developed."