"Problem" churchyard to be transformed
EXCITING plans to spruce up one of Cheltenham's most historic sites were hailed as "a terrific idea" by those who walk through it on a regular basis.
Dozens of people attended a fun day at St Mary's Church, in the town centre, to see how it might look if proposals to overhaul the space around the building go ahead.
In recent years the churchyard has earned a bad name, becoming a haven for booze-swigging louts, but residents and volunteers have teamed up with the borough council to present a bright vision for the future.
They want to install colourful flower beds, improved lighting, seating areas, an events space and a smart new footpath leading to Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum.
Traditional Shave, Facial Treatment, Whisky and a Shoe Shine -...View details
Gents, enjoy a traditional shave, facial treatment, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £31
Terms: Early and later appointments available upon request.
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
Drawings of how the revamped site might look went on display so people behind the scheme could gauge the public response.
Trisha Ratcliffe, from Charlton Kings, said: "This whole space needs a lift. It has been looking a bit run down for far too long.
"I think this project is an excellent idea and I'm sure most people in Cheltenham will be right behind it."
Susan Hamilton, who lives in Montpellier, said: "At the moment I wouldn't dream of walking through here at night. But it shouldn't be like that. If these plans go ahead it would be a big improvement and I'm sure people would enjoy walking through at any time."
The thoughts were echoed by Dominic Franks, from St Peter's.
"I think it's a terrific idea," he said.
"Instead of people using the churchyard for drinking cans of cider, it would be nice if it was a place where people came to enjoy a picnic or read a book."
The church is said to be the oldest building in Cheltenham, its origins dating back to the 13th century. It was granted Minster status earlier this year as a mark of its rich heritage.
If plans for the upgrade go ahead, artwork could be installed on the walls of the alleyways leading onto the High Street and there would also be a designated picnic area.
People behind the scheme say it could cost around £250,000 to complete. It is hoped an array of bulbs will be planted later this year to kick-start the transformation. Bernice Thomson is leading the way for the Cheltenham Town Centre Neighbourhood Coordination Group, which is behind the plans.
She said the fun day, dubbed Minster Merriment, which included stalls, facepainting and a barbecue, was a big success.
"It has been a lot of fun," she said.