Daily Telegraph Letters & Ely Cathedral’s Meadows

Image: Ely Cathedral

As the controversy continues to surround ECDC’s proposal to extend a car park onto land that houses an ancient orchard in a designated conservation area of the cathedral’s precinct. It is good to see such important stories about Ely making the The Daily Telegraph’s letters page.

Anna Hitchin first raised awareness with her website – Parkland or Car Park? As Anna states on her website: ‘The area which it is intended to pave over is an ancient Orchard in a designated conservation area, having historical and natural significance. It is part of the cathedral precinct, and has been used by the monastic and cathedral foundations as vineyards and as orchard land since the middle ages. It is important too, as surviving physical evidence of the economic changes to monastic cathedrals at the Reformation, and as part of the greatest range of medieval monastic buildings in continual use in Europe.’

The area which it is intended to pave over is an ancient Orchard in a designated conservation area, having historical and natural significance.

There does seem to be some confusion with the local media as to whether Ely Cathedral are in favour of this proposal. In an interview with the Ely Standard: Cathedral dean, the Rev Michael Chandler, said: ‘We were approached by representatives of East Cambridgeshire District Council some time ago and the matter was given consideration. But we are not in negotiations with anybody about this land.

‘We would never consider putting a permanent car park in the meadow that would impinge on the cathedral or the park. We would never do anything that would be seen as a negative development for the Cathedral or the city of Ely.

‘If it were to go-ahead it would be on a lease basis and any developments would be reversible once the lease came up for renewal or concluded. The dean and chapter today is very different to those of 20 years ago and that has to be a consideration. We are very protective of the cathedral. The people of Ely will have to trust us.’

Listed below are recent letters that have appeared in the The Daily Telegraph’s letters page.

Preserve Ely Cathedral’s meadows – 31 May 2006

Sir – We are horrified by the proposal to construct a car park on the meadows in front of the cathedral at Ely. We are uniquely blessed to have these fields, which form a priceless rural enclave in the middle of our small city.

When we moved here, we read about a proposal to construct houses on the site, and believed that it simply would not be possible in this day and age. However we have been proved horribly wrong, and the prospect of losing this charming site appears only too real.

Like most citizens, we feel impotent against this proposed barbarism. All we can do is to seek support and hope the clamour makes the proposal go away forever.

Charles and Alice Devereux, Ely, Cambs

The proposals, which are supported by the cathedral authorities, would involve building a road through mature woodland beside the river and constructing a car park on the ancient meadows next to the cathedral.

Cathedral Concrete – 2 June 2006

Sir – Charles and Alice Devereux (letter, May 31) hope the proposals for concreting over green spaces in Ely will go away if there is sufficient clamour. Unfortunately, plans for many green fields in the region are already well advanced.

Last winter, Ely hosted the “examination in public” of the regional assembly’s plans for massive house-building. The inspectors’ report will be sent to the Government in the second part of June. Ruth Kelly’s department is where concerted pressure must now be applied by all campaigners.

As a serial objector to inappropriate housing in her constituency, perhaps she will be sympathetic to the arguments.

Nigel Clark, Hunsdon, Herts

Sir – If planners want to see an example of the tragedy of proposed building in the immediate environs of Ely, they should take a trip to Salisbury, where they will note what damage can be wreaked by the construction of housing “boxes” blighting the uninterrupted view from the south-east.

These would have no architectural merit in any location and it is hard to imagine any sane council of such a beautiful city allowing these to be built. I think the same maxim applies to a car park.

Surely we should preserve the heritage that brings us our precious tourist industry?

Amanda Marx, East Chisenbury, Wilts

Sir – I share the horror of Charles and Alice Devereux at the proposals to build a car park on the meadows in front of Ely Cathedral. I am sure they and others will be equally horrified to learn that the same idea is being discussed for Llandaff.

The proposals, which are supported by the cathedral authorities, would involve building a road through mature woodland beside the river and constructing a car park on the ancient meadows next to the cathedral.

The banality of it all is breathtaking, but sadly it is what one has learnt to expect from a church seemingly more interested in committees than souls.

Alun Rees, Llandaff, Cardiff

Creeping Car Parks – 5 June 2006

Sir – We in Ely are all shocked that the cathedral is willing even to consider the proposal to extend the car park into the Orchard, in the protected conservation area of the cathedral precincts, even after polls in the local paper show consistent levels of around 93 per cent against it (Letters, June 2).

The Ely Conservation Group began its campaign with a few posters in the meadow and leafletting homes. It has been remarkable to watch the rapid rise of public hostility.

This is far from a local issue. If a site of such importance, with so many safeguards to protect it, can consider such a proposal, how confident can we be that other, less prominent, but greatly loved, sites will not fall, too?

Anna Hitchin, Ely Conservation Group, Ely, Cambridgeshire

3 replies
  1. Annette Dale
    Annette Dale says:

    When I read about the proposed car park on the meadows I could not believe it. Surely not, no one in their right mind could even contemplate such a thing. Walking up past the meadows with my dog, come rain or shine, through Cherry Hill, seeing the lambs, horses and foals with the cathedral in the background is one of the most beautiful sights, sounds and relaxing places there is to walk through. It gives me so much pleasure as I am sure it does for others. I could not bear the thought of a bulldozer anywhere near!
    I say no way!!

  2. Mary McGuire
    Mary McGuire says:

    Let’s face it, turning the Cathedral Orchard into a car park is a pretty barking idea. For a start, is it really going to make any difference, bit of a drop in the ocean as far as spaces are concerned isn’t it?

    Secondly, at the risk of sounding controversial, I’d suggest that instead of spending money making a new car park and leasing the land from the Cathedral, why not use those funds to manage and more to the point police the carparks we already have. If half the people who park all over the pavement on the High Street got tickets we would have a lot more revenue to put in to something sensible like a shuttlebus to the station or a park and ride.

  3. Martin
    Martin says:

    I’d suggest emailing your local councillor here.

    This proposal is quite absurd, I lived in the London Borough of Hackeny for ten years and I thought they were barmy, this really beats anything I saw or heard in that time!

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