Chair's Message

It seems that the return to so-called ‘normal’ so ardently wanted by society following the Covid pandemic and lockdowns is now here, but things are not as they were. We are in a period of change, both in our town and in society as a whole. Climate change, changing work habits, war in Europe and unsettled politics have all contributed to the feeling that we must move on. The 2020s are shaping up to be as restless as the 1920s.
We have many more empty retail spaces in Stratford now than at the beginning of the year, and this is a worrying trend throughout the country. It seems that retail units change hands very quickly, or extremely slowly with no measured pace of change. The demolition of buildings before firm plans for rebuilding are in place should not be encouraged, but currently we have two weed-filled plots in town as a result of this.
Too often, a need for new housing seems to clash with the need to preserve green space in the district and beyond. Housing without infrastructure creates trouble for the future: roads, schools and places for the community to gather are all too often left out of builders’ plans.
In Stratford there is an appetite for pedestrianisation: this doesn’t have to wait for money from central government. During the lockdowns High Street was closed to vehicular traffic and most residents seemed to like it. Surely this is something we can do ourselves without having to wait? Not letting traffic drive down the High Street from, say, 10-4 will also help preserve the fabric of the buildings that contribute to Stratford’s historic town status.
The Historic Spine plaques are a great addition to the town’s sense of history and, given the number of key buildings outside this central pathway, could be extended to include even more of the town’s historic fabric and thus encourage tourists to explore further and find out more about Stratford.
Stratford is so much more than just Shakespeare. The Birthplace Trust (and the RSC) make a significant contribution in this direction. The Stratford Society has a key role to play in maintaining, developing and promoting other aspects of the town. Let us all work together to preserve the past, while looking to the future, in order to make this town one where people say of it: ‘Stratford’s a great place to live, work and visit.

Jann Tracy
April 2023