Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society

Salisbury Central Area Framework Consultation

Unexpected and inappropriate changes in the wording of the latest draft of the CAF document and a lack of engagement with the Society’s earlier submissions have given rise to a third submission on 20 February 2020.
In summary:

  • The current CAF draft section for The Close drops “tranquil/quiet place and contemplation…” for “tourism…” The implied advocacy of further commercialisation is wholly inappropriate and contrary to the grade I listed status of both the Cathedral as well as The Close.
  • The local authority has a statutory obligation to have special regard to preserving listed buildings “and their settings” in making planning decisions.
  • The Close is a Heritage Asset in its entirety. The CAF needs to address the importance of this setting.
  • CAF recommends to “Seek to identify suitable points of access to the river for the public within the Cathedral Close”. This would destroy the historic layout of The Close. There are many miles of much more appropriate river banks for this in the Salisbury area. .
  • Pedestrianisation: The North (High St) Gate provides the only vehicle entrance to The Close. It is the only adequate access for the emergency services. Therefore, the section of the High Street between its intersection with Crane Street and New Street and the North Gate is not feasible for pedestrianisation.
  • The CAF wishes to remove uncoordinated street furniture and signage. The Society strongly supports this approach.

Read the full text here…


Previous CAF Submissions:

On behalf of the Trustees of the Society the chairman has sent a second consultation submission to the CAF team on 8 October 2019. Read the full text here…

Professor Ron Johnson has provided the following consultation response on 19 July 2019:

“I am writing on behalf of the Trustees of The Salisbury Cathedral Close Preservation Society. The Society is a registered charity whose aims are ‘to promote knowledge of The Close, its history and architecture and to secure the preservation, protection and improvement of its features of historic and public interest’.

In this context, we were interested to read the consultation document on the Central Area Framework and very pleased to note the features that you deem characteristic of The Close – notably Contemplation and Quiet. We very much welcome that characterisation and the statement that you wish to protect that area, which is entirely consistent with our view of the future of The Close. It is also consistent with the Salisbury Conservation Appraisal and Management Plan which identifies, as core features of The Close, its ‘quiet formality’, its ‘tranquil character’ and ‘the absence of commercial enterprises within the walls’. This is an area that, as you note, contains Salisbury’s major tourist attraction but whose unique features should be protected from commercial intrusions other than those low key activities which are provided by the museums and other buildings open to the public which add to the attraction of The Close. These should continue to be constrained by planning conditions to ensure they do not damage the unique setting of the collection of heritage assets that comprise The Close. We therefore commend your proposals for The Close and trust that they will be retained in the final draft of the Framework.

Elsewhere in the consultation document we note that you identify ‘Limited links between the Cathedral and the city’, which we assume refers to physical links. It is true that there are only five entrances to The Close, two of which provide access to schools from Exeter St and are not usable by the public. To us that is not a weakness; it is part of the charm of The Close that it is both separated from and yet open to the city; indeed, the vista looking south down the High St to the North Gate offers an attractive and welcoming prospect along the route that most visitors traverse when moving towards The Close and Cathedral. Improving that access route by reducing traffic in the city centre and creating pedestrianised or pedestrian prioritised informal or enhanced streets as you propose is therefore much to be commended – while noting that the North (High St) Gate provides the only vehicular entrance to The Close, which is of course a residential area with several hundred inhabitants as well as a major ecclesiastical, educational and visitor attraction.

Many visitors, especially those visiting Salisbury on coach tours, enter The Close through the St Ann’s Gate, with the coaches being parked on the west side of St Johns St. This is not a satisfactory situation, and the coaches – many of which come from continental Europe and discharge their passengers on the right-hand side into busy traffic – create both a traffic blockage and air pollution. The framework refers to the need for additional parking but makes no specific proposals for where this might be located. Creating such additional parking in locations that would end the use of the west side of St Johns St by coaches would substantially improve the quality of the local environment there.

There is one major impediment to your achieving the ‘people friendly’ city centre you aspire to, with improved air quality and a ‘rebalanced city in favour of pedestrians and cyclists’ – Churchfields. We note that this area continues to be characterised by trading, industry and working in the Framework map. Not only that, it mentions a wish to ‘increase intensity of land use’ there, which would surely only exacerbate the problem? There has long been discussion about, even an intention to bring about, the rezoning of Churchfields with the employment moved elsewhere and the land used for housing. Nothing ever gets done and it seems you now no longer even raise the possibility. If Churchfields is to remain then there has to be an end to the volume of traffic moving to and from there through the city centre, notably along New St and Crane St. This heavily-polluting traffic (noise as well as vehicular emissions) creates an unsafe environment and impinges heavily on the pedestrian environment, notably but not only at the New St/High St crossroads. While that continues, everything else you propose for the city centre is put at risk: if Churchfields is to be retained in its current form and use, then an alternative route serving it – presumably from Netherhampton Road – must be a part of the plan.

We commend the Framework for its aspirations and intentions, therefore, but believe you must go further if you are to achieve those laudable ends.”