VILLAGE DESIGN STATEMENT A YEAR ON
On 13 April 2002 our Village Design Statement was launched.
How valuable was the exercise and, one year on, has it made
The beauty of the Design Statement is that while acting as
a watchdog on large-scale new developments, its guidelines
apply equally to small building projects. It is therefore
interesting to compare two recent small developments within
the village centre. One which could not better illustrate
the VDS' emphasis on attention to detail and one which should
have, but failed to accomplish top marks.
Developers, when rebuilding Southfields House on Sileby Road,
although not within the Conservation Area, have replicated
the granite stone walls that have been retained in front of
so many of the properties from Jerusalem Island to the bottom
of 'Drivers Hill'. In doing so it is a splendid example of
what the Village Design Statement set out to achieve.
On the other hand, within the Conservation Area, the new
housing on the site of Stevenson's Garage in South Street,
whilst sympathetic in other critical design particulars, has
failed to respect the surrounding area in an important way.
The building of dwarf brick walls in front of the pair of
semis could so easily have been constructed using local stone.
Disappointing when taking into account the adjacent cottage
property which has a granite plinth and again the traditional
stone walls featured along most of South Street.
So, we need to make sure that the guidance is followed and
that applications are scrutinised in order to meet the aims
of our Design Statement. If, or when, the Cotes Road/Willow
Way development takes place, we all need to pay attention
to the overall planning and small print of the proposals.
We should demand a diversity which sits comfortably with our
village character, and is not taken from standard developer
pattern book designs which are replicated from Devon to Durham
and lack any local distinctiveness.
'LOCAL PLAN A FIASCO' SAYS CPRE
No doubt recent press comments have left residents wondering
what is the outcome of the Local Plan and its implications
on the proposed Cotes Road/Willow Way development.
After the second Public Inquiry, held in April 2002, the
presiding inspector agreed with the developers that nine Greenfield
sites, including the reserve site in Barrow should be re-instated
for approval to proceed. The other sites are in Anstey, Burton
on the Wolds, Shepshed, Quorn, Syston, Wymeswold and Pear
Tree Lane, Loughborough.
Student housing is partly to blame; much of the re-used
land in Loughborough is being developed for this purpose
In March 2003, Charnwood Local Plan Officers carried out
a further urban capacity study and declared that they had
sufficient brownfield sites and land with planning permission
for housing to avoid the use of Greenfield sites. Whilst we
cheered and commended the officers for proposing the changes,
the developers threatened legal action. When Charnwood took
legal advice, we waited with baited breath. The outcome was
not good. Student housing is partly to blame; much of the
re-used land in Loughborough is being developed for this purpose
and guess what - they don't count in towards the total dwelling
numbers required by 2006.
In June, all nine Greenfield sites were put back into the
plan and put forward for approval by the Council. The Environment
Scrutiny Committee threw it out, the Cabinet approved the
proposal. We then witnessed the full Council meeting party
split almost 50:50, but not quite as the resolution to accept
the officers recommendation was carried.
So, back to the beginning. Except that we now have another
round of consultation which should have been over by 29 August
but due to an administrative error (CBC failed to approve
the public notices and there isn't a full council until late
September) we have a further wait.
To say that our Local Plan is a fiasco is putting it mildly
- Councillors were threatened that if they did not approve
the proposals it increased the likelihood of GO-EM (The Government
Office for the East Midlands) taking over. Quite frankly so
far as CPRE is concerned it's the best thing that could happen.
At least the Greenfield sites would be developed in a sustainable
way and most likely sequentially so that they would not all
be released at once, thereby providing some control if they
were not required.
[We] seek an end to this ridiculous abuse of Government
Policy which seeks to protect premature use of countryside.
The spectre of GO-EM should not have been used at Council
meetings. CPRE has found them most co-operative and we are
sure that when the latest proposals are put out for public
consultation, Charnwood will not have an easy ride. In the
meantime we are preparing for meetings with our Regional Officers
and GO-EM to seek an end to this ridiculous abuse of Government
Policy which seeks to protect premature use of countryside.
The present situation is that in addition to the 353 homes
now proposed up to 2006, in excess of 2000 homes are planned
into the next Local Plan period, all on greenfield sites,
which totally conflicts with The Country Structure Plan and
Joyce Noon, Chair of Charnwood,
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)
TIME TO MAKE A GARDEN
It was Samuel Johnson who said that when two Englishmen
meet the first thing they talk about is the weather. This
summer, more than most, it has been the topic on everyone's
lips and more words have been written in the press about trends
in climate, global warming and soaring temperatures than for
many a long year.
Anyone whose summer event was rained off was very unlucky.
This edition has lots of photos of things happening in sunshine
and some interesting inside shots too at the Three Crowns,
the Hammer & Pincers and the Library.
With all the recent work at the Three Crowns, isn't it a
shame that the 'garden' at the corner is still a mess. When
the autumn rains come, this could be turned into something
really attractive. In such a key area, it really lets the
village down. I hope the Parish Council is listening.
BETTER COUNTRYSIDE ACCESS SUCCESS
As a result of a new working partnership with farmers and
landowners the County Council has successfully cleared crops
from many of Leicestershire's public footpaths and bridleways.
There are more than 3,000 kilometres of footpaths, cycle
paths and horse riding tracks throughout Leicestershire. These
make up the 'Rights of Way' network, which is available for
all to enjoy. The County Council has a specialist team dedicated
to the upkeep of these paths and tracks, making sure they
are maintained in good condition.
In May, the Council sent out over 3,000 letters and leaflets
to farmers and landowners reminding them of good practice
relating to the maintenance of the paths crossing their land.
There was a great response from this, and by combining forces,
an additional 400 paths are available for use by the public.
This work is just one aspect of a major scheme to improve
access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders in the County.
For example, there is a programme to cut back over-grown scrub,
and in the past year alone there have been nearly 200 stiles
and around 30 sleeper bridges replaced or repaired.
In addition, vast improvements have been made to signs on
paths. More than 900 new fingerposts have been installed on
roadsides in the northern and western parts of the County
and more are planned. Also, there are now over 10,000 bold
yellow topped way-markers guiding walkers, cyclists and horse
riders along the different paths. It is hoped that by clearly
marking routes on the ground, people will feel more confident
that they can explore the wider countryside without wandering
Why not take the opportunity to explore your local countryside
and enjoy the fresh air. There are also many circular walking
and riding leaflet guides available. If you would like more
information please contact Sue Johnson at Leicestershire County
Council on 0116 265 8160 or visit the County Council's footpath
PARISH WALKS LEAFLET
A local group are pursuing a project to produce a leaflet
of walks along local footpaths.
Leicestershire County Council offers support and advice for
groups wishing to develop networks of walks along public footpaths
within their parish. The walks are described in a leaflet
and the groups are responsible for seeing that the paths are
accessible. Such initiatives require the approval of the local
Parish Council, but without the need for any financial input
from the Council.
A small group of us is investigating the possibility of such
a project within our Parish. We are Arthur Gardner, Kevin
Harrison, Bob Mee, David Rodgers and Judith Rodgers.
We are now ready to move to detailed planning.
- received considerable guidance from the County Council,
and support in the form of excellent maps
- approached the Parish Council, who have given their blessing
to the project
- surveyed a numbered of walks, including one that will
be wheelchair accessible.
This project does not in any way compete with the annual
parish walks, since the idea of the leaflet is that these
will be self-guided walks. The leaflets will be made available
through local outlets in much the same way as the Fossil Trail
guides (adult and children's versions).
If anyone else would like to join our working group, do let
BARROW SCOUTS AFRICAN CHALLENGE
Schoolchildren in an isolated Gambian village will soon
be enjoying a better standard of education, thanks to the
efforts of our village scout troop who visited an African
school earlier this year.
The Scouts are also hoping to bring better medical care to
the 450 villagers of Sambel Kunda in the central region of
the country and raise awareness of conservation projects in
the area. These include the Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Trust
which has successfully reintroduced over 60 chimps back into
their natural environment in the Gambia.
Planting a tree on behalf of the
Scouts Ghambia Link
The CRT hosted the scouts at their base camp on the River
Gambia National Park after a seven hour journey inland in
a convoy of 4x4 vehicles. The party consisted of Scout Leader
Stuart McBride, his assistant Jonathan Billington and scouts
Luke Pentecost (14) and Jason Hewitt (15).
During their stay, they spent two days in the village visiting
the scout troop, the school and being invited into peoples'
homes. Stuart McBride said: 'The school is in a terrible state
of disrepair with cracks through all the walls and very inadequate
chairs and tables for the children. They are also very short
of basic things such as books and toys, and could make so
much use out of things we wouldn't think twice about throwing
For Jason Hewitt it was a fascinating introduction to Africa.
He said: 'It was a life changing experience to see how these
people live with so little and still greet you with a big
smile and such friendliness'.
Other experiences the boys had included sharing a campfire
with a baby baboon and stroking a crocodile. Stuart commented:
'These lads did so much in a week and handled it all with
amazing maturity. They were only the second scout group to
visit the Gambia and they were treated like royalty‘.
Barrow Scouts have a reputation for being at the forefront
of international scouting and have set foot in eight different
countries in the last 12 months. At the moment they are fundraising
to help to finance a return trip in the New Year to oversee
some of the progress with their projects. These include the
Chimpanzee Adoption Scheme and School Child Sponsorship Scheme.
Some of the scouts on the next trip will be as young as 12
and will have the opportunity to sit in classes with Gambian
children and see the difference in learning between our two
For more information on any of the Scouts projects mentioned,
or if you have books or jumble to donate, please call Stuart
on 07812 150666 or email email@example.com.
NO PHONE MAST IN BARROW
Scout Group Executive Committee have formally refused the
application from Orange to erect a Mast at the Barrow upon
Soar Scout Headquarters site.
The initial approach was made early in 2003. Serious consideration
to the offer had to be made, due to the significant sum of
money that this offer would have made available to the Group.
The income from this agreement would have supported Barrow
Scouting for the foreseeable future.
However, consultation with local residents and advice from
the Scout Association, led the committee to the decision that,
in the best interests of the village and Scouting in Barrow,
the offer would be declined.
A new committee was appointed over the summer, and work to
secure funds to replace this 'lost' income is now underway.
They, the boys and parents, will be working hard to ensure
the financial stability of the Barrow Scout Group and are
appealing to the village to support the forthcoming fund raising
activities so the future of Scouting in Barrow can be secure.