Rotherham District Civic Society
Protecting and preserving all that is best in the heritage of Rotherham
All Saints Minster Yard - Response to consultation
September the 21st, 2009

Rotherham District Civic Society Executive Committee, 7th July 2009 All Saints' Minster Yard

At the Executive Committee meeting on the 2nd December 2008 the Committee agreed the contents of a letter to Katherine Boyes regarding the design and access proposals for the All Saints' Minster Yard.

Concerns were raised with regard to the following:

1      The design of the seating - comparison being made with the high quality of the seating in Sheffield's Winter Gardens. It was suggested that the arm rests should be coloured matt black.

2     The site of the Ring O'Bells - an information plaque or board was suggested. Clarification was requested as to whether the CCTV pole was to be relocated or wall mounted.

3     Floodlighting of the Minster was welcomed although the issue of light pollution was mentioned.

4,    The Church Street steps - increasing the width of the steps was of concern, and the potential problems of skateboarders and BMX riders was highlighted. Concern was expressed regarding the illumination of these steps as the existing lamp post was proposed to be removed

At the recent liaison meeting with RMBC a revised design and access statement, dated May 2009, was passed to the Civic Society for comment.

Comparing the original and revised proposals the differences can be summarised as follows:

1.    The amount by which the Church Street steps are to be widened has been reduced, There is no scale on the plan but the reduction seems to be about the length of five paving slabs.

2.   Ring O'Bells - rather than the site being represented by a paving pattern and brass interpretation strip it is now demarcated by brass studs. No site is indicated for the interpretation board.

3.    The length of yew hedge planted along the rear of the College Street properties is now shortened to allow a view of the 'Davy's' property, 4.    There are significant changes to the Vicarage Lane entrance - paving now to be gradually widened out. A curved wall 'provides a more inviting entrance and railings provide a feeling of safety'. The curved wall leads to an additional curved pathway which 'provides a new route through the gardens, encourages surveillance and makes better use of the space'. This will be surfaced in 'golden gravel' rather than paving slabs to denote 'the informal garden setting', A wall mounted CCTV camera is placed at the Vicarage Lane entrance.

5.    The paving pattern close to the Minster is simplified and the extent of seating walls within the Minster Yard is reduced. Breaks are now included in the seating walls to allow access to the grassed area. The tops of the seating walls are chamfered at 1 metre intervals to deter skateboarders. The sites of two freestanding benches (originally to be removed) are now retained.

6.    On the detailed plans the CCTV pole on Church Street is retained, although it does not appear on the artists impression.

7.     The original proposals provided for the removal of three trees and one large shrub. The revised proposals include the removal also of two holly trees close to the Vicarage Lane entrance. The plan notation suggests that four new trees are planted. However, one appears to be a cotoneaster shrub, and two others are indicated to be approximately 35 crn high. Yet on the artists visualisation they appear to be as high as the lamp posts.

8.   The new scheme provides a slightly greater area of shrub planting, with a significant move away from the planting of cotoneaster and berberis, in favour of more colourful shrubs. Importantly it also includes large swathes which are to be planted with crocus bulbs for spring flowering.

9.    The various stone troughs (4 in number) near the Minster all appear to be removed (their removal was also indicated in the original plans).

10 Lighting of the Minster Yard is achieved by a combination of the Minster floodlighting, re-use of existing and relocated lamp posts, and lighting built into the seating walls. No new provision is shown for the Church Street steps.

No narrative is included by the consultants to explain why the changes have been made, although it is probably in response to other representations received. Generally the proposals are less austere with the inclusion of curved walls, breaks in the length of seating walls, and the inclusion of an 'informal garden setting',

Ian Hawkridge 9th June 2009.