CIVIC NEWS 145th NEWSLETTER of the DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY ‘working for a better town’
Site clearance at Hanbury Road over former canal wharf and garage site - a view soon to disappear
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DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY Founded 1974 Charity Reg. No. 503272
Officers: President Chairman Vice-Chairman Hon Treasurer Hon Secretary
Donald Fletcher Stuart Haywood Richard Taylor Fred Randall Helen Prew
01905 770553 01905 779688 01905 455424 01905 773166
Committee Members: Chris Bowers Jennifer Carter Mike Hayzelden Frank Hazzard Ken Hemmings George Leech Roger Peberdy Don Walters Bryan Woolley Patrick Davis Paul Chandler
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Website: www.droitwichspa.com (click on Header â€˜Civic Societyâ€™) The Droitwich Spa Civic Society was founded in 1974, as a response to the rapid development of the town. The Civic Society provides a meeting place for all with an interest in the enhancement and preservation of Droitwich Spa, as a town with a unique heritage and facilities in which to live, to work and to find a stimulating environment.
DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY cares what happens in and around Droitwich Spa - By stimulating public interest in the town of Droitwich Spa and the surrounding area. - By promoting high environmental standards in this same area. - By securing the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic and public interest in this same area. -2-
Foreword The main content of this newsletter is similar to that of it‟s predecessor: the future shape of the town. There is, however, a sub plot: who should be in the driving seat! A copy of our letter to the town clerk on neighbourhood plans, expressing disappointment with the town council‟s response follows: the committee feel this is an opportunity missed. In the spirit of fairness, we also include Councillor Roy Murphy‟s explanation of the Council‟s position. Promises of localism featured prominently in the last election and the legislation on neighbourhood plans was the result. One requirement of localism is a local willingness to take responsibility to try and make things happen: we have yet to see evidence of that. The other continuing issue is predatory planning applications for development on the south of the town. The Civic Societies of Evesham, Pershore and Droitwich Spa combined to lobby Wychavon District Council (WDC) on the subject. The meeting was cordial and informative, but discouraging: WDC said that it was difficult to refuse planning permission because developers were increasingly confident that they would win on appeal. Planning inspectors seemingly focus on one prior issue: has the council identified sufficient land for additional housing for the upcoming 5 years (which WDC has not!), and if not, planning consent is given seemingly regardless of specific objections to the site. Colleagues in Evesham went to a planning appeal hearing and ,as far as we understand it, their objections were not even heard because insufficient sites have been identified for housing. So the prospects for confining large scale development on the south to Copcut do not look good, as the much delayed development plan (which identifies sites acceptable to the local authorities) will not be fully in place before the end of 2013. The committee continue to beaver away on other matters. We hope for good news on a tree preservation order on remaining trees in Hanbury road, new signage is imminent for the town, and a viewing point at St Augustine's is still a possibility. We only wish the town was not the seemingly preferred target for road works and temporary traffic lights! It is heartening to see so many members at monthly meetings and we hope the hardy who came in December enjoyed the event, including the punch and mince pies. One change in the newsletter is a sad one: our resident poet (still anonymous) is no longer well enough to continue. We were delighted by his contributions, thank him for his support over the years and wish him well. Stuart Haywood December 2012
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Letter to the Town Clerk on Neighbourhood Plan DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY Pam Craney Town Clerk Droitwich Spa Town Council Worcestershire
3, The Orchard Lea Droitwich Spa WR9 7AL
11/12/12 Dear Pam The Civic Society Committee is very disappointed with the Town Council‟s reluctance to lead the preparation of a neighbourhood plan. Like the Business Forum, we felt this was an opportunity for councillors and townspeople to have a greater influence on developments in and around the town, rather than merely reacting to the plans of developers. The downside is that developers will now have no prior idea of local aspirations and preferences when developers come up with schemes for example, for the old pipe works site, Netherwich Basin, and the area we refer to the „ railway triangle‟( where we think there is a covered roman mosaic). A neighbourhood plan could also have addressed the issue of how to improve access from Vines Park to the town centre and how best to improve the High Street. Objecting to and trying to amend proposals is always less productive than trying to guide thinking in advance. We note but are not persuaded by the objections, some questionable about the need for and costs of a neighbourhood plan. Also, some of the groundwork has been done in the town plan, already accepted as reference document.. On the question of costs, a more enterprising approach would have been to access available funds as some other Councils have done. The Civic Society will be pleased to assist, if needed, with any alternative approach. However, the muted response to the town plan does not fill us with confidence. For example, one theme of the town plan was the need to attract more visitors to the town and to make the most of the restoration of the canals. There have been some initiatives, for example festival days and the signage project led by Janet Yates but what other things have been done to interest and attract visitors? Leadership is vitally needed and we hope the Town Council will rise to the challenge, be more pro-active and make positive suggestions on how to take advantage of the opening for „localism‟. Yours sincerely Stuart Haywood, Chairman CIVIC NEWS WINTER 2013
Neighbourhood Planning The View of Droitwich Spa Town Council
As a responsible council, the costs and benefits of Neighbourhood Planning have been extensively researched by councillors including attendance at conferences and visits to other councils pursuing Neighbourhood Plans. Discussions with officers at Wychavon District Council have also taken place and their advice has been followed. A Neighbourhood Plan is ideal for small parishes where development land is available and there is broadly community agreement as to how that land and services are to be deployed. For towns, achievement of a consensus is more difficult where the presence of groups with competing agendas makes overall acceptance of a Plan less likely. Note, at the final stage of the process, a referendum must obtain acceptance of at least 51% of the votes cast. Before this stage is reached an independent examiner must be satisfied that all criteria are in place. This stage can be expected to cost £20,000 this being the extent of the award for frontrunner status. Where technical surveys with contributions from consultants and specialists are a requirement there would be additional costs. Total costs have been estimated as up to £60,000. Most of this cost would have to be borne by the town’s Council taxpayers. A Neighbourhood Plan has to conform to the South Worcestershire Development Plan. Thus proposals cannot reduce development only add to it. Firms, households and councils make decisions based on available information. High cost decisions are taken only where there is a strong probability of a positive outcome. High cost ventures with only a low probability of a successful outcome are generally inadvisable. Hesitation is essential where the costs are certain but the outcome isn’t. Under the circumstances, therefore, Droitwich Town Council is adopting a cautious approach and will consider Neighbourhood Planning in due course as and when circumstances change. Residents will have ample opportunity to air their views with the revision of the Town Plan. It must be emphasised that as a responsible democratically elected council we intend to act in the best interests of the people of Droitwich. Cllr. Roy Murphy. Chairman of Planning Committee.
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Copy of Letter to Head of Integrated Transport WCC DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY Peter Blake Head of Integrated Transport Worcestershire County Council County Hall Worcester
3, The Orchard Lea Droitwich Spa Worcestershire WR 9 7AL
2/1/13 Dear Peter Blake This letter was prompted by a recent discussion with Peter Luff M.P. concerning highway implications of possible developments in the Yew Tree Hill area of Droitwich Spa. The Civic Society remains very concerned about the effects on local highways and environmental implications of such developments and, to date has been unable to obtain well informed assurances that they have been fully appreciated. Peter Luff suggested that we contact you. You will be aware of the increasing use of routes from the south-east of the town to Worcester and Malvern via Tibberton or Newland Road, which at present is reasonable. As a resident, I can confirm the routes provide a much more convenient, quicker and less stressful access to, for example, the Royal Infirmary, Tesco and other venues on the south and east of Worcester. The current volume of traffic does not seemingly pose problems for the very narrow roads or the rural „feel‟ of the area. However, if current planning applications for significant additional housing in the Yew Tree Hill area are approved, we feel this will materially change the situation. These routes will still provide a quicker access to these Worcester areas than the suggested route via a widened Pulley Lane and the A38, the latter already congested at peak times. When we have discussed this issue with developer‟s spokespersons, they have not seriously challenged the proposition of much greater use of these alternative routes. If this is the case, what will the implications be for these two rural roads (one with a hazardous corner near the Pear Tree Inn), the rural settlements and the two one-lane canal bridges (Tibberton and Smite)? Yours Sincerely Stuart Haywood, Chairman
Notes regarding the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) The joint meeting held on Monday, 10th December 2012, between representatives of Evesham, Pershore and Droitwich Spa Civic Societies with Mr Jack Hegarty, the Planning Officer and Wychavon Councillors Paul Middlebrough, and Judy Pearce proved be to both productive and, to some extent, premature, because original blocking action of Malvern Hills District Council was subsequently reversed at a meeting held on the 11th December 2012, and following the meeting held by Wychavon District Council on the 18th December 2012, the SWDP is now back on track. The SWDP Draft Submission Document will now be available to view and comment upon between Friday, 11th January and Friday, 22nd February 2013, via www.swdevelopmentplan.org Hard copies of the draft plan are available for inspection at the Library/Customer Contact Centre. The plan is subject to a Test of Soundness and Legal Compliance and guidance notes are supplied.
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Copy of Letter to Nicholas Boles - Planning Minister DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY Nicholas Boles Planning Minister Department for Communities and Local Government HM Government
3,The Orchard Lea Droitwich Spa Worcestershire WR9 7AL
2/1/13 Dear Nicholas Boles. The Civic Society has asked your colleague and our local M.P. Peter Luff to pass on this missive seeking urgent advice and clarification on a very complex and disturbing planning situation in South Worcestershire. The Society has a record of supporting responsible proposals for development, indeed suggesting the inclusion of brown field sites not then included in the draft plan. Our approach has been driven by concepts of sustainability, social needs and economic development of the town. The Wychavon District Council opted not to complete a development plan in 2010.This decision, compounded by the legal difficulties rescinding the Regional Spatial Strategy housing targets, has left voluntary organisations like ourselves in a seemingly „no win‟ position. We have been told that should a planning application for development be refused, even on land unlikely to be included in the upcoming development plan, it is pointless contesting the inevitable appeal. This is because the local authority has not identified sufficient land supply for a five year housing target. In these circumstances, as a neighbouring civic society in the district discovered, planning inspectors gave priority to the issue of land supply. Since a insufficient land supply was held not to have been identified, that was effectively the end of the matter: the planning merits of the proposal, social and environmental consequences were not a real consideration. Could you please assure a group of „non nimbys‟ that this experience was exceptional and our suspicions about the conduct of appeals is unfounded. Could you also suggest ways in which predatory (in the sense that developers are taking advantage of the absence of a plan) planning applications can be debated properly and challenged in the likelihood of an appeal against a refusal? However, if our fears have foundation in the absence of a finalised development plan and sufficient sites for a 5 year housing supply until the end of 2013, could you please be up front and tell Civic Societies and others in similar circumstances not to waste time on challenging predatory planning applications? There will be a deep sense of betrayal locally, given the emphasis on so called local democracy in the last election. Ironically, the most likely outcome for the town now is a spate of permissions for development well in excess of the numbers envisaged in the days of the Regional Spatial Strategy. Even more dispiriting is the near certainty that the permissions will do more for land banks than economic activity. Yours Sincerely Stuart Haywood. Chairman.
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South Worcestershire Development Plan (First it was on, then it was off, now its back on! Phew!)
What this plan for building is about:(From the Worcester News - Friday, 14th December 2012)
Q: What is the South Worcestershire Development Plan? A: A blueprint for where 23,000 homes will be built in south Worcestershire between now and 2030.
Q: Why is it so important? A: Without it the councils involved would be open to developer-led planning. Comment: Wychavon has already lost more than a dozen planning appeals because it has no such plan.
Q: Why are there so many meetings about it? A: Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon are all partners in the SWDP and each have to approve it at various stages during its development.
Q: What’s happened so far? A: Wychavon and Worcester City have been firm supporters of the SWDP but there have been concerns among a large number of members at Malvern Hills. Councillors called for an extraordinary meeting in November when they voted against the SWDP in favour of an alternative “dispersal strategy” for new homes in Malvern.
Q: What happened this week? A: Malvern Hills councillors were taken to the vote again and this time approved the SWDP, overturning their decision from last month. Comment: Worcester also voted on the SWDP and approved it as expected.
Q: What happens next? A: Wychavon is the only council that still needs to approve the SWDP. It is holding a vote on Tuesday, 18th December 2012, and if this succeeds as expected, there will be a further public consultation early next year before the SWDP is submitted for government approval. An inspector will be appointed to hold a public inquiry.
Note: The joint meeting of the 10th December 2012, enabled Wychavon to explain further that part of the problem with regard to the numerous planning applications being made and approved, was the Government‟s insistence that 1000 houses per annum are required to be provided in the Wychavon district. This does not mean that planning approvals for 1000 houses are required to be given but that the houses are actually built regardless of the number of applications! Wychavon has not yet identified a 5 year land supply and until the SWDP comes into force late in 2013, subject to final approval, any resistance to ad hoc planning applications is very limited. The driver for all of this planning activity is the Governments requirement for increased economic activity. Refer to the Chairman‟s letter to Nicholas Boles, Planning Minister on Page 7.
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A Letter from the County Council re Street Lighting and comment upon the proposals Worcestershire County Council, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester, WR5 2NP Trevor McGill Area Lighting Engineer Our ref: Street Lighting Trial Droitwich Ask for: Trevor McGill November 2012 Dear Resident, STREET LIGHTING TRIAL Worcestershire County Council is undertaking an initiative in your area for which your views are requested. We have committed to reduce our C02 emissions by 30% by the year 2016 and as part of that commitment we are looking at possible savings in energy use in street lighting. An option under consideration is to reduce street lighting between midnight and 05.30am. Your local councillors and the Police have agreed for the County Council to implement trials of this reduction in your area. This trial is planned to begin in November 2012. Initially it is envisaged that the trial period will be for six months, after which the scheme will be reviewed and evaluated. During this time we would be very grateful to receive your feedback and comments relating to the part night lighting trial. Please share your views by contacting by email at: StreetLiqhting@worcestershire.gov.uk Yours sincerely Trevor McGill Tel 01905 768344 Fax 01905 768368 DX 29941 Worcester 2 firstname.lastname@example.org www·worcestershire.gov.uk Comment upon the above proposal Some of our members living in the Witton Area will be affected by these proposals, together with other residents on the Westlands side of Droitwich. Any reduction of street lighting in these areas, which are only now lit to basic levels cannot be a good thing. You only have to look around on a dark night to find examples of excessive lighting levels, which could be lowered, before residential areas need to be brought into the equation. There is for example a roundabout near Wyre Piddle sporting some large lights which illuminate only a patch of brambles and locally, lighting levels on some of Droitwich‟s distributor roads could be reduced during the hours of midnight and 05.30am. There are also a number of signal controlled pedestrian crossing points, notably on Celvestune Way and Tagwell Road, which could comfortably be switch off at night and sometimes during the day as well! If members are prepared to look about for instances of excessive electricity consumption by the County Council, I‟m sure they would wish to know about it via the contact points listed above in Trevor McGill's letter. Richard Taylor Pedestrian & Cycleway Crossing Point on Celvestune Way, which is controlled by no less than 8 lamps burning 24 hours per day 365 days per year. There is little traffic of any kind between the hours of 7.00pm to 5.00am. I know, I live next to it. Richard Taylor -9-
CIVIC NEWS WINTER 2013
Annual General Meeting 2013 The Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday, 15th February 2013, at 7.30 p.m., at the Sacred Heart Church Hall, Worcester Road, Droitwich Spa After brief reports from the retiring Chairman and the Treasurer, the election of officers and committee members will take place. Any nominations to join the committee will be very welcome. Please notify the Secretary or a member of the present committee beforehand. Although most nominations will be received in advance of the meeting, it is possible to enter further nominations on the night provided:
The proposer and seconder are both members of the Civic Society.
They are both present at the meeting, and
The nominee is present and indicates his/her willingness to serve.
If you wish to make any nominations in advance of the meeting you can use the form printed below and send it to: Mrs. Helen Prew (Hon. Secretary) Droitwich Spa Civic Society 121 The Holloway Droitwich Spa WR9 7AJ
DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY Election of Officers and Committee 2013/2014 I wish to nominate.........……………………………………………………….. For the position of committee member Signed...............…...............……………………………………………………... I second this nomination……..………………………………………………... I confirm that I am willing to serve ..........….........………………………………
Immediately following the AGM there will be a talk to be given by Mr. Simon Topman MBE, Managing Director of Acme Whistles of Birmingham. Simon says (tongue in cheek) that he is the world's leading living authority on whistles. Acme Whistles Company has gone through 142 years of change - social change, engineering change and business change - and Simon's talk is a tour through all of this. He has won many plaudits from international organisations such as Microsoft, Canadian Hockey and Arts and Business Sweden. The evening will be completed by a social get together with wine and light refreshments. Admission to the AGM is free. For the evening entertainment there is a charge of £9.00. Please book by sending a cheque in favour of Droitwich Spa Civic Society by 1st February 2013, to the Treasurer, Fred Randall, Walnut Tree House, Ladywood, Droitwich Spa, WR9 OAL, together with the booking form printed on page 12. CIVIC NEWS WINTER 2013
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â€˜Living on the Brinkâ€™? The New Houses alongside Hanbury Road These new houses appear to be even closer to the road and canal/river than shown on the plans. There was a proposal for a retaining wall at the back of these properties but there seems to be no preparation for such works.
Step out of the back door and fall into the canal! Step out of the front door and get blown away by a lorry!
Advertisement from AGE UK
Trustees Age UK Droitwich Spa is seeking TRUSTEES to assist with its work supporting older people in the local community. Trustees will normally keep up to date with and take responsibility for a particular area of governance, for example, Finance, HR, or Employment law. They are asked to attend four Board meetings per annum and the AGM, and to promote the interests of the organisation through their own networks and at events. If you would like more information about becoming a Trustee, please call us on 01905 772126 Monday to Thursday, or email email@example.com. Thank you for your support. Registered charity no. 1105266 Company Limited by Guarantee, registered in England and Wales No 5150564
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CIVIC NEWS WINTER 2013
Programme - February to May 2013 The committee would like to wish all our members and their families a very happy and healthy 2013. We hope as many of you as possible will be able to attend our Annual General Meeting on Friday, 15th February at 7.30 p.m., full details of which are set out on page 10. Following the talk by Simon Topman, light refreshments and wine will be served. Simon is a well known business man and an excellent and humorous speaker, who I am sure you will enjoy, so please make his visit worthwhile by coming to hear him. Bookings must be received by Monday 4th February 2013. Also, do note the venue which is the Sacred Heart Parish Hall.
Tuesday, 19th March, we have a welcome return visit from the Rev. Peter Holzapsel who will be talking about Landscape Photography.
Tuesday, 16th April, we are asking you to be an judge and jury for the evening when we hear both sides of a crime.
Tuesday, 21st May, “Workhouses and the Andover Union Scandal” (inc. Droitwich Workhouse). A talk by Andrew Harris. A new programme card will be issued in March giving details of meetings for the rest of the year. You may have noticed the absence of a poem by Descamisado in recent editions of Civic News. The author has been providing these since 1989, about 100 poems we think, but has been unwell recently. We all wish him a speedy recovery. Helen Prew Unless otherwise stated, meetings are held in the Community Hall, Heritage Way, Droitwich Spa and start at 7.30 p.m. Society Membership is £6 per year (due April). Newsletters are published quarterly.
DROITWICH SPA CIVIC SOCIETY - AGM 2013 - BOOKING FORM Name………………………………………………………………………….…… Address…………………………………………………………………………….. Telephone Number………………………………………………………………… Please Reserve………………..……...tickets at £9 each for Friday, 15th February 2013 Cheques in favour of „Droitwich Spa Civic Society‟ should be sent with this form to the Treasurer, Fred Randall, Walnut Tree House, Ladywood, Droitwich Spa, WR9 0AL
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