Responses to Planning Applications

The Stratford Society keeps a watch on planning applications and proposals for new development within the town. We also encourage the conservation and restoration of significant buildings and landscapes. We are not against development, and do not adopt a 'nimby' attitude, but we seek to ensure that the character of the town is maintained, that its architectural heritage is respected and that the principles of good design are applied. We encourage adherence to the Neighbourhood Plan. Drawing on the experience and knowledge of our members, we are able to provide expert advice and guidance to the Councils and planning authorities. We also challenge the Stratford District Council in relation to the planning process where we feel it to be necessary: see the letter to the Herald by Dr Kevin Bond, Chairman, in June 2021.

A Planning Application in December 2021 seeks to build a block of four apartments within a small plot accessed via an alley off Meer Street. It is a ridiculous proposal because there is barely enough space for one apartment, let alone four, and the unfortunate occupants would be crammed in like the proverbial sardines. More importantly the building would overshadow the Minories and would be completely inappropriate in a conservation area. The Society in its response draws attention to the opportunity for this site to create some craft studios and artisan workshops that would enhance the Minories and make it a more attractive precinct for tourist shopping.


A Planning Application in December 2021 proposes an extension to the terrace of cottages at Trinity Close, between the Methodist Church and the Anglican Parish Hall in Old Town. The front gate would also be widened and a hard surface laid for a car park. Although the building work is not controversial, this is the site of the medieval Ecclesiastical College, built in 1353 and demolished in 1799, which was of great importance for the development of Holy Trinity Church and for the town generally. The Society in its response supports the Archaeological Assessment, which calls for a thorough and detailed excavation to establish the location of the foundations of the College building and to look for medieval artefacts in the deposits. A study based on analysis of historical maps and drawings aims to establish the exact location of the College building relative to the Trinity Close site.

Trinity Close

A Planning Application in October 2021 proposed to build a nondescript apartment block on the prime site at the corner of Arden and Greenhill Streets. This location is very important for the appearance of the town because it is one of the portals for entry into the medieval town centre, and is seen by everyone alighting from the train and approaching by foot. The fact that it has been an eyesore for the past five years is no reason to rush into an inappropriate development. The Society objected strongly, and in its response noted that the Neighbourhood Development Plan (Policy TC3 and TC Project 2), identified this site with the objective of enhancing it as one of the main entrances to the town for both residents and visitors.

Corner of Arden and Greenhill Streets

The Debenhams department store closed in April 2020, to the great regret of Stratford residents. This building occupies a key location in the High Street, and lies on the Historic Spine through the town centre. The Society believes that the building itself is of significant heritage value and should be preserved, and therefore we object to the Planning Application in July 2021 which seeks to demolish the building and build a 148-bed hotel. In our response we note that conversion rather than demolition would avoid the danger of any further archaeological damage to the site, and would also be more environmentally sound as it would avoid the emission of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Corner of Arden and Greenhill Streets

The Society submitted objections in March 2021 to a Planning Application, in which the operator of the huge Observation Wheel on the Recreation Ground (near the Swan's Nest) sought to use it 'for a period of six months in each calendar year'. Grounds for refusal include that it is not permitted within the scope of the Neighbourhood Plan and that it is against the spirit of the Riverside Green Corridor. Above all, if the application were granted it would enable the wheel to be erected and active for half of every year indefinitely, i.e. with no time limit. The application was subsequently modified to be on a temporary basis for five years, and was referred to a meeting of the SDC Planning Committee. The Society spoke at the meeting with further objections, but councillors felt that the commercial attraction of the wheel outweighed the nuisance to neighbours and breaching of environmental policy.

Stratford Observation Wheel

For the public consultation on the Stratford Riverside Project, the Society conducted a survey of members and collated a response, submitted at the end of January 2021. Although there was broad support for the environmental aspects of the scheme, there was also widespread concern over the proposed 500-car park at the northern end of the land. A meeting was organised in December, with two of the project leaders as speakers. The revised plan issued in May 2021 includes many of the changes recommended by the Society. More detailed plans for the northern area were published in July 2021, showing the amenities for the Fisherman's car park, now to be extended by only 71 spaces, and also a design plan for the whole of the northern section. New concerns have been raised about contamination of the land, because of its former use as a landfill site for rubbish from the town, and an objection was raised to the Planning Application. A subsequent site investigation by an independent environmental consultant found that 'there are no valid pollutant linkages relating to end users, construction workers, neighbours, the general public or controlled waters'. The Society then withdrew its objection and expressed support. The Environment Agency also withdrew its objection to the Planning Application, which was finally approved by the SDC Planning Committee on 24th November. The proposed carpark extensions have both been removed from the plan.

The Society submitted vehement objections in January 2021 to a Planning Application, in which the District Council sought to grant itself retrospective permission for the holding of Markets on the Waterside area, near the Bancroft Gardens and river. As a result of these, together with strong objections from the Canal & River Trust, the Council withdrew the proposal.

Stratford Waterside Market

In January 2019 the Society expressed the concerns of members about the proposed location of a Chinese Pavilion at the end of the garden between Rother and Arden Streets, known as 'The Firs'. These amplified the widespread view in the town that this was the wrong location. Nevertheless the District Council went ahead with the plan.

Stratford Chinese Pavilion