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Report urges councillors to back plan for new events pavilion at the National Memorial Arboretum

A report has urged councillors to give the go-ahead for the National Memorial Arboretum to develop a new events pavilion.

The scheme has been sent before Lichfield District Council’s planning committee amid concerns that the construction would mean The Phantom Memorial at the Alrewas site would need to be relocated.

But an officer’s report to the local authority has said the project should be approved.

“The council is satisfied that there are no better alternative locations for this development and that the size is fit for purpose,” the report says. “Unfortunately it is not possible to develop new facilities at this central location without the need to relocate memorials but this has been kept to a minimum.

“Officers have entered into lengthy discussions regarding the siting and specifically the need to relocate two memorials.

“The visitor numbers are currently around the 300,000 per year and the National Memorial Arboretum hosts over 200 events a year for various groups and regiments that have memorials. The need for a dedicated function suite that is flexible in terms of the internal space for these visiting groups is understood.

“It is also understood that a separate function suite is required to ensure the ongoing use by daily visitors is not interrupted or affected. Taking this acceptance forward, the new function suite needs to relate to and be in close proximity to the existing Remembrance Centre and the site entrance.”

The Phantom Memorial

The Phantom Memorial

The Phantom Memorial was created to honour those who took part in Operation Loyton, an SAS operation behind enemy lines in France during World War Two.

A police memorial will also need to be relocated to make way for the new development.

The report adds: “Mindful of the fact that any movement of memorials is emotionally difficult for stakeholders, the National Memorial Arboretum has carefully considered the options available as part of construction works for the events pavilion.

“They have confirmed that the Phantom Memorial will be relocated as a priority, prior to the construction of the development. Furthermore a large fundraising programme is underway for a new national police memorial at the arboretum and the Police Credit Union and Police Memorial Garden are involved and incorporated within this.

“The National Memorial Arboretum are further committed to engaging fully and positively with the Phantom Garden Memorial Trustees. For the reasons given, it is considered that the development with conditions relating to the relocation of the memorials is acceptable.

“The objections put forward in relation to the relocation are completely understood but the council puts great store in the fact that the National Memorial Arboretum have done this successfully before in relation to memorials moved as part of the visitor centre and remembrance centre developments. “

However, Jane Wadham, one of the trustees for the Phantom Memorial has called for a rethink on plans to move the garden created by her late father.

But Andrew Baud, spokesperson for the NMA, said the new facility was necessary: “In order to accommodate growing visitor numbers, currently including 15,000 schoolchildren, and to host over 200 events every year, the National Memorial Arboretum has a well-progressed development strategy.

“This plan saw the official opening of a £16m Remembrance Centre by HRH The Duke of Cambridge in March 2017. The second key element of the plan is to create an events pavilion, a flexible building that will replace a large marquee which has was erected over eight years ago.”

A decision will be made at the meeting of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee on August 21.

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4 Comments

  1. Jane Wadham

    15th August, 2017 at 10:55 am

    We think it’s shortsighted and dangerous to put such a prestigious building in a place

    *where severe FLOODS could happen – level 3 flood plain – remember 2012

    *which is a SECURITY RISK because it -is isolated from the Remembrance Centre
    -has open space, grass and trees around it
    -has a public footpath by it, open 24 hours

    *which BLOCKS forever the HISTORIC VIEW down ‘The Beat’ from the Remembrance Centre

    It’s not just about moving the Phantom Garden!

    Why not attach the Events Pavilion to the side of the Remembrance Centre and avoid these problems?

  2. Cllr Jon O'Hagan

    15th August, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    I am opposed to the NMA’s plan, and I will be speaking at the Planning Committee to explain why in detail.

    This move is a desecration of a memorial to brave men who gave their lives for this country.

    The proposed building is to be sited on a flood plane that will require massive expenditure to have a hope of mitigating the flood risk. There are huge security risks too.

    I would like to give the same advice to the NMA that Yes Minister’s Sir Humphry gave to the Minister, “If you must do this damn silly thing, don’t do it this damn silly way.”

  3. Ann Morrison

    16th August, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I do hope other councillors are as mindful as Mr O’Hagan. I also agree with all Jane Wadham has highlighted especially in relation to the view down ‘The Beat’. But l fear that the ‘big boys’ and LDC will once again ride roughshod over the people, who after all is what the NMA is about………………. isn’t it?

  4. Steve

    17th August, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    I really do wonder if some of the planning officers are genuinely fit for the role.

    I have spoken to the planning department about a number of matters and they have always told me, they are understaffed and overworked.

    It is not just on this decision. There have been a number of awful planning decisions, that the visiting officer has supported. At times it seems ignoring all of the negatives and just listing the positives. It is hurting Lichfield and surrounding areas.