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Chair report 2009

Last year was a productive one for PHS. The society successfully bid for around £10,000 from English Heritage to run a heritage project, in partnership with the City Council. The project involves developing a web-based information resource for people living in and around conservation areas and a series of workshops and walks for local people, taking place in January and February 2010. These are aimed at raising awareness and understanding of heritage, planning and local character.

PHS guided walk in BurslemPHS participated in the heritage open days in the autumn, leading a series of guided walks in the City’s town centres. These followed on from our ‘Understanding Places’ walks that took place at the end of 2008 and it is hoped to continue the series of guided walks this year.

A leaflet has been developed and a publicity campaign is being planned to promote PHS and recruit new members.

We introduced new procedures for dealing with planning consultations. A planning sub-group has been established, which generally meets every 2-3 weeks to discuss current planning applications, draft masterplans and other policy documents. The planning group comprises Andy Perkin, Steve Wood, Stacey Sykes and myself. We have responded to numerous applications during the year.

One of our responses was to a consultation on a masterplan for the Middleport area, including the land for the Burslem Port project. We were unhappy with the format of consultation, which put forward a choice of three masterplans. In conjunction with other local groups, a fourth option was produced, including the Burslem Port canal arm. I am pleased to report that the emerging masterplan now includes the restoration and redevelopment of the former Burslem canal branch.

Betty SmithersI had extensive involvement in the draft PPS15, the Government’s main policy statement on heritage. This included involvement in the national stakeholder group arranged by English Heritage and providing material for the joint response of the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation.

I responded to surveys regarding the new civic societies initiative, following the demise of the Civic Trust for England. PHS has expressed support for the new initiative.

On a sad note, we were very sorry to hear of the death of Betty Smithers (pictured right). Betty, and her husband, Alick (a past Chair of PHS), contributed much to the society. Our thoughts are with Alick.

Finally, I would like to express my general thanks to the officers and other members of PHS who have given up their time to support the society’s work over the past year.

Dave Chetwyn