TO ALL RESIDENTS OF
Those residents who attended the Parish
Meeting on 8th. May will be aware of the outcome of the Inspector's report
on the future of the Freshford Mill site.
The Inspector has, as part of the
B.A.N.E.S. Local Plan preliminaries, investigated the possibilities for
the Mill site's future and, quite independently of any views from the
Parish, stated in his report that :
"I do not think that a similar approach to
that of Policy H.0.6 can be justified on this site nor would it be
reasonable to prepare a planning brief for residential purposes. ".
H.O.6 is the policy that states the
criteria for permitting housing development in the Green Belt. The
inspector's caveat against a "Similar approach" strengthens the case
against residential development. You should be aware that B.A.N.E.S., in
preparing the drafts of the Local Plan, followed the Wansdyke policy on
H.O.6 and did not consider the site to be suitable for change of use to
residential. The inspector has recommended that the site be considered by
B.A.N.E.S. for Major Development Status, but as you will observe from the
above , specifically not including residential options.
Some developers have plans for Freshford
Mill. The parish can expect marketing and public relations pressure from
them (or their agents or architects) who will have invested in the chance
of the site becoming available for residential purposes.
The argument that residential development
is the only way to improve the visual aspects of the site is fallacious.
In the two documents which we produced for consultation with residents
(July 1995 and January 2000) we examined many of the ways forward and the
result has been the formulation of two preferred options.
The first is recreational and involves
returning the land to wood and grass land, preferably in village
ownership. A specific plan is being drawn up for pursuing this and will be
put to the Parish in due course. Few residents are aware that there is not
one square foot of communally owned land; in the Parish, excepting the
cemetery and the war memorial, and thus none on which they can, for
instance, have a picnic if the landowner objects. This stricture includes
even the Tyning. We wish to redress this by use of the superb site at the
The second preferred option means no
change of use. There is the possibility of the land being used for
acceptable light industry. For instance, the original proposer of the film
studios idea confirmed last week that this plan is still a possibility.
We have not rushed into thinking that an
architecturally acceptable solution is worthy of consideration if it
means residential development. There is no local need for more housing
(Except "affordable" for which there are better sites than the Mill), the
approach roads are clearly inadequate, the Mill site is separate from the
village and would create a new community which would be, prices being what
they are, affluent, and not therefore contributing to the village social
mix, (The inspector also made the point that the site is well removed from
even the Sharpstone residential area), and there is the question of
traffic , both commuter and services. These are just a few of the many
factors militating against residential use.
We do not feel that anyone in Freshford
should be rushed into supporting any plan (No matter how convincingly it
is marketed) as the village will have to live with the consequences for a
Council 4th. June 2000