Chelmsford Cathedral enhancement plan
We are working with Chelmsford Cathedral on plans to improve the Cathedral precinct, a highly signiﬁcant public space at the heart of the city centre.
The Cathedral is a thriving religious and cultural centre for the city, which makes use of the outside space during events, such as graduation ceremonies.
The churchyard acts as an important public open space and thoroughfare, which we maintain. It also includes a number of public footpaths. There are pedestrian routes to the Chapter House to the northwest and the Cathedral Oﬃces to the east.
The area north of the Cathedral building houses the builders’ compound during repair works. Within this space, there is also an area with potential for a further extension.
The Cathedral is classiﬁed as a Grade I listed building, with a number of the monuments within the churchyard classiﬁed as Grade II listed. Shire Hall, located to the south, is Grade II* listed. The buildings to the south and east of the precinct are Grade II listed. The whole site is within the Chelmsford Central Conservation Area.
For the purposes of this study, the Cathedral precinct includes:
- the area deﬁned by the buildings fronting onto the churchyard in New Street, Church Lane, Church Street and the back of Tindal Square
- the approach spaces oﬀ of Duke Street, adjacent Shire Hall, the Chapter House
- the courtyard adjacent the Cathedral Oﬃces
The churchyard is currently well maintained with colourful planting schemes, but lacks a ceremonial route to the west end and a focal public space.
It has a mixed quality of surfacing materials and street furniture and some inappropriate trees. There is therefore an opportunity to enhance the space, which will improve public enjoyment of the area and create a more fitting setting for the Cathedral.
The Cathedral also needs a new service access route, as its loading bays were removed as part of the pedestrianisation of Tindal Square.
The study has a number of guiding principles, including:
- ensuring access for all by creating level access to the Cathedral and managed subtle change of levels across the site
- adding vehicle access from the north of the site
- creating a new ceremonial route to the west door with enhancement of the entrance space oﬀ of Duke Street (southwest side)
- creating a new public space to the east of the Cathedral, which could include a water feature or public art
- enlarging hard surfaced public spaces to the south and west entrances to the Cathedral
- creating an open, uncluttered, informal grassed public park type space, with a clear area for ﬁre evacuation assembly
- retaining monuments within the churchyard whilst avoiding/minimising disruption to graves
- keeping signiﬁcant trees and removing inappropriate trees, with phased tree planting and replacement
- improving cycle parking and extra provisions for public seating.
- making recommendations for lighting of the churchyard and for public art and heritage interpretation
- considering the closure of pedestrian access midway along New Street.
- paying consideration to the spaces and building facades fronting onto the precinct
Proposed tree plan
The current proposals include:
- enlarging public spaces to the west and south of the cathedral and a new public space to the east
- improving street furniture
- adding two cycle parking areas
- improving the landscaping, with the removal of non-native species, and creating an informal layout to allow the cathedral to be the primary feature
- planting new trees and some soft landscaping work
- improving hard surfacing throughout, including the Duke Street entrance
- widening the main thoroughfare between Tindal Square and New Street, while still maintaining existing routes
- closing off the dangerous pedestrian access on New Street
- widening existing steps toward Waterloo Lane and creating a new path towards the south porch
- altering the northern boundary wall with a new ceremonial route to the west door
- creating an infrequent ceremonial vehicle route from New Street via Church Street
We have worked with landscape consultants to drawn up the proposals, with input from key stakeholders. We also asked the public for their views, and the consultation period is now closed.
We will use the feedback to ﬁnalise the plans. The Cathedral will then apply for the relevant permissions, and secure funding from a range of sources.