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You are here Past Speakers 2013/14       
MEMBERS MEETING -  MONDAY, 17 March 2014 at 3pm at the Falcon Hotel


Helen Munro, Chief Executive of the Stratford Town Trust, was the speaker at this month’s meeting of the Stratford Society on 17 th March.
She reminded the meeting of the mediaeval origins of the Guild and CollegeEstates which provided the income which the Trust used to fulfil its mission ‘to enhance the quality of life of the people of Stratford’. Some 36% of its income was committed in non-discretionary grants, for example in support of King Edward Grammar School, and in 2012 a further £1.2 million was distributed in the form of discretionary grants. She explained the process for application, assessment and follow-up to ensure that grants were properly used and played a video illustrating some of the work the Trust had supported recently. She emphasised that demand for assistance was expected to grow as welfare reforms started to take effect.

The majority of the properties owned by the Trust had to be managed as investments and the meeting expressed its concern at the current state of Town Square/Bell Court. However, two non-investment buildings were coming to the end of major refurbishment work: the Guild Chapel had needed ceiling repairs before the planned replacement of the organ and this would be completed later this year. Meanwhile the Civic Hall would reopen in April after its £1.8 million ‘rejuvenation’ with a new name, Stratford Arts House, and a new charity to run it.

Helen Munro urged members to look at the Town Trust’s website for full details of its work. Membership was open to all residents in the postcodes listed there and the Trust was looking for new Trustees with appropriate skills.

The meeting finished with a lively question and answer session before the Chairman thanked the speaker and the Town Trust for its recent grant to the Society for a new edition of the Historic Spine leaflet.

©Nic Walsh 24 March 2014

MEMBERS MEETING - MONDAY, 17th February 2014 6.15pm at the Falcon Hotel

Matthew Turner

Investing in the Town’s Future

Matthew Turner, senior project officer in the regeneration team at City Hall in London, will be guest speaker

Following our October talk on how historic towns are improving their high streets, Matthew completes the circle by looking at six London high streets and examining what can be learned from the similarities and the differences. Matthew has worked for two years on delivering the Mayor’s Outer London Fund high street programme and will discuss how such spending can revive the local economy.

The event is free to members (£5 for non-members, refundable if taking out membership). Afterwards there is an opportunity to meet the speaker and enjoy a free glass of wine.

We do hope that you will be able to join us.

Jean Clymer, Programme Secretary


Roger Pringle

Shakespeare - Man of Stratford

Roger Pringle will be guest speaker at the Stratford upon Avon Society’s next meeting on Monday afternoon, 20 th January 2014. The meeting will be held at 3pm in the Falcon Hotel, Chapel Street, Stratford upon Avon.

Roger Pringle, former Director of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and ex-chairman of the Society, will give an illustrated talk on what Shakespeare owed to his Stratford upbringing and his links with the town throughout his life.

The event is free to members (£5 for non-members, refundable if taking out membership).

We do hope that you will be able to join us.

Jean Clymer, Programme Secretary



New Place – New Vision
Two top executives of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust were given a challenging reception last night when they presented their ideas for the re-invention of New Place to members of the Stratford Society as part of an on-going consultation on the future of the site.

The Trust’s director, Dr Diana Owen, and Head of Major Projects, Mark Armstrong, outlined plans based on the results of the recent archaeological dig. The development will cost £4.6 million and an application for £2 million will be made in 2014 to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“New Place is the most important site in Stratford as it is where Shakespeare had his final home and where he died in 1616,’ said Dr Owen. “It sits on the Historic Spine, which at the moment looks like a smile with the big front tooth missing and we need to do something to fill that gap by the 2016 anniversary when the world will be beating a path to our door.”

The digitised presentation by Mark Armstrong showed a contemporary interpretation of what is known about the house, which was the second largest in the town. See-through outlines of rooms and courtyards in steel with pierced bronze panels represent the gatehouse and the rooms beyond it where Shakespeare wrote and lived with his family.

“The dig told us a huge amount about how the building fits together and we want to tell the story of Shakespeare the man, his home and how he and his family lived,” said Mark Armstrong. “We will also restore Nash’s House, the Tudor knot garden, re-created in the 1920s, and make the Great Garden more easily accessible to all residents.”

He was not given an easy ride by Society members, some of whom wanted the green space next to Nash’s House left as it is, or felt that any structure would detract from the view of the Guild Chapel. The plans stimulated a lively and sometimes excitable debate which the acting chairman, John Scampion described as ‘a rollicking evening’.

owever, throughout the evening Dr Owen was busy taking notes of the suggestions made and further consultations will be held in the town before plans are presented for planning consent. It is hoped that construction will begin in 2015 for the re-vamped sit to be opened on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23rd April 2016.


Geoff Noble looking round Stratford
with Chris Gregory and Joyce Bridges

Geoff Noble on ‘Re-inventing the High Street’

With a bit of creative thinking and an emphasis on individuality, Stratford town centre can beat out-of-town competition despite the rise of internet shopping.

That was the message from conservation expert and urban designer Geoff Noble, who spoke at the October meeting of the Stratford Society on ‘Re-inventing the High Street’. He had earlier toured the town with BID project director Chris Gregory and Stratford Society member Joyce Bridges, who was recently appointed as a trustee of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

Planners should think of Stratford as a community asset, not just as a commercial hub, said Mr Noble. They should emphasise historic individuality and combine it with leisure activities and town centre living.

“Don’t be afraid of out-of-town competition. Just make sure you offer something special and individual,” he advised. “A distinctive historic character can create an attractive retail setting and mainstream retailing and niche shopping can complement each other - some towns even offer free transport between the two.”

Mr Noble has more than 30 years experience to draw on. He was responsible for the recent 2013 report ‘Retail and Town Centre issues in Historic Areas’, produced for English Heritage by Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners.

Among the examples included in the report were historic towns which have been brave enough to pedestrianise their centres to create a more pleasant environment.

“But it’s not all or nothing. It’s more about access than parking – Oxford Street in London has no car parking at all and yet has a greater turnover than the whole of Birmingham. Stratford could go for shared space or traffic calming – you need to be prepared to try it out and see what works.”

One of the ways to avoid a cloned affect, he told his audience, which included district and county councillors, was to create small, entrepreneurial partnerships and use several architects to bring a mix of styles to developments and create an effect that was more natural than something designed by one hand. A commitment to architectural excellence was vital.

“First you have to win hearts and minds and then find people who are prepared to back your dream. Businesses have to see a reasonable return, but pop-up shops and even rent-free periods can stimulate energy and enterprise and create a sense of revival.

“John Lewis has shown the way with Click and Collect and now independent retailers are mixing shop front retailing with selling internationally through the internet for the price of a website. It’s all a question of where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Meeting the Challenges of Growth  by Peter Studdert at the Members Meeting
on Monday, 16 September 2013


A positive vision and collaboration between neighbouring authorities are essential if development in and around Stratford is to be managed properly.

This was the view of architect and planning consultant Peter Studdert when he addressed members of the Stratford Society on ‘Meeting the Challenge of Growth’ at their September meeting opened by the mayor, Councillor Diane Walden.

Drawing on his experience of the expansion of Cambridge , where he was Director of Planning for fourteen years and now runs his own design and urban planning consultancy, Mr Studdert said that despite the difference in size, Stratford could benefit from a similar approach.

There had been a long-term policy of resisting the expansion of Cambridge, which was sited on a heavily trafficked area of the country and had 4.5 million visitors a year, plus a student population of 29,000. However, the scale of growth in the science and technology industries had led to a rethink and the expansion was based on three criteria – equity, efficiency and environment.

Local authority co-operation and public consultation had been essential and development was based on small expansions on the least significant green belt land and some new communities. Good public transport links were of key importance and establishing partnerships across the sectors, plus having in place a robust design and quality review to support decision-making were vital.

Where new settlements were planned, Mr Studdert said that it was important to establish an expert panel, including a landscape architect, to consider detailed schemes. The Cambridge panel had travelled extensively in the UK and Europe to look at other successful developments and had proved that it was possible, with sensitive planning, to manage successful expansion even in the historic core.

The result had been the prize-winning Accordia housing scheme in the city and a new long-term plan was being considered which, over the next 20 years, would provide 33,500 homes within the town and outlying areas.

“It is possible that settlements of around 7,000 homes could be large enough to provide a new secondary school,” he said, “but to provide additional community facilities a new settlement would need to be around 10,000 to make it viable for developers. Smaller development would be simply residential and lead to significant increases in traffic.”

His final piece of advice to planners? “Don’t be afraid to be ambitious and have in place a robust design and quality policy to support all your decision making.”