Exeter County Committee
12 February 2009
Exeter Cathedral Green Landscape Strategy
Report of the Executive Director of Environment, Economy and Culture
Recommendation: It is recommended that the Committee:
(a) notes the discussion that has taken place with the Dean and Chapter, and their consultants;
(b) identifies key issues for the cathedral to consider as it moves towards its formal consultation phase.
The Dean and Chapter of Exeter Cathedral have commissioned landscape architects Robert Myers Associates to prepare a new vision and plan for the redesign of the Cathedral Green. Having considered the proposals informally at their previous meeting the Committee are requested to provide formal feedback on the key issues that the Dean and Chapter need to consider when consulting wider on the current proposals.
Members will recall that at their meeting on 13 November they received, under matters raised as a matter of urgency by the Chairman, a verbal report on the proposals commissioned by the Dean and Chapter for a new vision and long term plan for Cathedral Green. At that meeting Members resolved that, whilst welcoming the Dean and Chapter's plans to enhance this important focal point for the City, the Committee would welcome further discussion on the details of the proposals.
Following their meeting in November, Councillors Westlake, Hobden, Owen and Brock were invited, together with City Councillors, representatives from the City Centre Partnership, the Fabric Advisory Committee for the Cathedral, and the Dean and members of his staff, to a presentation by the commissioned consultants Robert Myers Associates. This presentation was given on 12 December 2008.
The Dean and Chapter are seeking the views from both the County and City Councils in advance of a wider public consultation of the proposals. The proposals, as currently envisaged, are set out in Appendix I to this report and a copy of the Master Plan will be displayed at the meeting.
4. Issues Raised
At the meeting on 12 December a number of issues were identified. These are outlined within Appendix II to this report, together with the responses on the issues raised. Members are asked, in the context of the issues highlighted, what formal comments they wish to be submitted to the Dean and Chapter on behalf of the County Council.
5. Financial Considerations
There are no indications at present as to the likely cost of implementing these proposals. To date there has been no formal request for the County Council to contribute towards the scheme.
6. Sustainability Considerations
The Cathedral precinct is a pivotal site within the city and is widely regarded as the most important open space in Exeter. As a destination for residents it is very popular throughout the year. It attracts many thousands of visitors annually. The relationship between the sacred space and its secular use is an important metaphor for wider relationships across the city and county. An enhanced precinct will bring added value to the county as a whole and the city in particular.
7. Equality Considerations
Members may wish to bring to the attention of the Dean and Chapter the County Council's commitment to equality and the need to ensure the scheme to be consulted upon will promote equality of opportunity.
Members discussed and highlighted a number of issues following the presentation of the verbal report at their meeting on 13 November. In particular these related to the re positioning of monuments, planting arrangements, the new shop adjacent the west wing, new monuments to mark burial of ashes, and car parking arrangements. Members also considered that the enhancement proposals represented an excellent opportunity for the excavation of the baths, which could be highlighted as another important and historical feature and interesting tourist attraction. Members are now requested to confirm the key issues for the cathedral to consider.
The County Council is being invited to comment on these proposals. Whilst earlier iterations were prepared by the consultants, there has been no formal opportunity to comment on other alternatives.
10. Reason for Recommendation/Conclusion
To help the Dean and Chapter and their consultants address the key issues when seeking the views of the wider public on the Cathedral Green proposals.
Electoral Divisions: All in Exeter
Local Government Act 1972: List of Background Papers
Contact for enquiries: Alan Stone
Room No: ABG Lucombe House
Tel No: (01392) 382252
Exeter cathedral Green Proposals office file
June 2008 to current
Consultants (Robert Myers Associates) proposals
3 hq 030209
Proposals contained within Master Plan
1 To the North of the Cathedral
Paths will be re-surfaced with natural stone and bonded gravel;
tree planting around the northern side of the Green will be restored;
new memorial garden with ornamental trees will be created at the eastern end;
new paving and improved access to the North door will be included;
low planting introduced between the Cathedral buttresses;
new seating and lighting will be installed and worn areas of grass reinstated.
2 At the West end of the Cathedral
the existing pavement outside the West front will be re-laid, and will be contained by stone walls which can be used as low seats;
the existing Jellicoe steps will be replaced with a gentle ramped path to improve disabled access, and the ground either side re-modelled to create an informal 'amphitheatre';
the County War Memorial will be repositioned at the western end of the ramped path, and will form the central focus for a new piazza space outside the old Bank building;
the recently re-laid surface of Cathedral Yard will be retained, and trees planted around the new piazza space;
in the Cloisters, a new Cathedral Shop is proposed, which will recreate the former Western range of the Cloister garth;
the existing grassed space will be transformed into a garden space with lawns, water, benches and planting, as well as a paved terrace for the Refectory.
3 In The Cloisters/Palace Gate
car parking to be relocated to a new parking area on Kalanderhay;
the tarmacadam roads and parking from Palace Gate to the Cathedral West end will be resurfaced with stone setts and slabs;
new areas of planting introduced on the grassy bank to the South of the cloister and Chapter House.
Key Issues identified at presentation on 12 December
(i) Relocation of the County War Memorial: which would no longer be aligned with the axis of the Cathedral but obliquely towards Broadgate; implications of re-positioning of the War Memorial affecting the view of the Cathedral from Broadgate; potential impact on the Roman bath house remains; research needed to establish the relationship of the original location and Cathedral; omission of the railings, whilst enhancing the Memorial, could leave it vulnerable to abuse and vehicle damage.
(ii) Proposed ramp: concern was expressed about how this might affect the Processional Way. There was also concern regarding the attractiveness of the ramp for skateboarders.
(iii) Parking in Kalendarhay: whilst the removal of the existing parking at the cloisters was supported the proposed new parking was opposed.
(iv) Proposed tree planting: the positioning of trees was questioned because of concerns that CCTV views would be obstructed: the proposed trees around the relocated Memorial would also obstruct the view of the west front.
(v) The proposals did not include any provision for the potential opening up of the Roman bath house remains.
(vi) The quality of materials that would be used was a matter of concern.
(vii) Although included on the drawings, no detail was provided about the proposed shop.
(viii) Was the presentation part of a formal or informal consultation?