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 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.