Strawberry Field

Lyme Regis

A Suitable Site for a Sports Complex?

On this high exposed site, owned  by the Lyme Regis Town Council, the Lyme Regis Football Club proposes to develop a sports centre. Activities mentioned by the town council to be included on this site have been many and various, from football to off-road motor-cycling. At one time there was mention of relocating the town council offices here and installing a sports hall.After many false starts what will appear  on the planning application for this site will be two football pitches, a floodlit multi-use games area (MUGA), a club house, and a grassed community area A clubhouse and changing rooms under one roof will be included in the development of this site. This field would be levelled to form four terraces
Floodlighting will still be a feature of the development. Although restricted to the multi-games area it will remain a serious intrusion into the nocturnal landscape of the Lym Valley and beyond.

Click on any of the eight locations on the above picture to see a picture of Strawberry Field from that area.

Surprising news came with the Lyme Regis News on 22nd July 2005 that the football club were withdrawing from the Strawberry Field project. See news page
Recent pressure to develop the Dorset side of the Harcombe Valley has been centred on the adjacent practice field of the Lyme Regis Golf Club. We have now seen three separate planning applications to install driving ranges on the field. The first two were refused under delegated powers whilst the third actually went before the planning committee and was again strongly refused. An illegally installed TETRA mast on the field was challenged by the WDDC, by issuing an enforcement notice, and was eventually removed by the offending company. Web pages dealing with these developments have been created.


The full planning application was registered on 10th September 2003 and advertised as Application No. 1/W/2003/1670. The description was :"Make change of use from agriculture to sports ground, construct 2 pitches, play areas & externally illuminated Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), erect clubhouse & grounds man's shed. Form car parks, install sewage treatment plant & modify existing vehicular access".

The application was withdrawn on 6th February 2004.

Go to update page for the latest news

Or directly to the WDDC page to see what was proposed for the site.

The above picture shows the site on which Lyme Regis Town Council encouraged Lyme Regis Football Club to develop a sports complex. It clearly illustrates part of the area that would be affected by noise and visual pollution. The actual site is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and outside the area defined in the local plan as that in which development is permitted.

The Lyme Regis Football Club, having signed a 25 year tenancy agreement with the Town Council, submitted a Full Planning Application to the West Dorset District Council for permission to develop the site as "MAKE CHANGE OF USE FROM AGRICULTURE TO SPORTS GROUND, CONSTRUCT 2 PITCHES, PLAY AREAS & EXTERNALLY ILLUMINATED MULTI USE GAMES AREA (MUGA), ERECT CLUBHOUSE & GROUNDS MAN'S SHED. FORM CAR PARKS, INSTALL SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT & MODIFY EXISTING VEHICULAR ACCESS"

Application Number: 1/W/2003/1670.

The planning application, registered on 10th September 2003, was eventually withdrawn on 6th February. This was the second planning application to develop the site, as a sports complex, that has been withdrawn.

How did we get here?,

The proposal would have involved major movement of earth to produce four levels of terracing resulting in destruction of the natural contours and detracting from the landscape value of the valley. It is the outstanding landscape aspect of the area that warrants the AONB status.

Flood lights were associated with this project since it's inception and were included in the final plans. On this exposed site they would have been an environmental disaster not only for the immediate area of the Lym valley, but to a lesser extent for a much greater area, the lighting would even have been visible from Rousdon almost 3 miles away.

Visit this field as I did one late spring evening and you will be astounded as to how the thought of such an inappropriate development ever came into existence.

Location

"Strawberry Field! Where's that?".

Having heard that many times, even from officers of the Lym Valley Society living under the "shadow" of the site, I need to put an X on the map.

The top centre field is Strawberry Field. Viewed from beside a footpath off Springhead Road, Uplyme.

Strawberry field is the top centre field, viewed from across the Lym Valley looking over The Dairy House at Rhode Hill and the roof of Rhode Hill House.

On the map, Strawberry Field is where you find the "n" in Rhode Barton.

The name came about because until about 1995 Major Berry had a PYO fruit farm on the site and since then it has been used as the Lyme Park and Ride base. Still not sure?

Take the Charmouth road out of Lyme, up to Dragon's Hill round the bends with the copse on your left, as soon as you leave the trees the first field on the left is Strawberry Field.

It is situated on one of the highest hills in the area at a height of about 160 metres. This is what made this proposal so objectionable for it would have been seen from miles around during daylight hours, whilst the flood lights would have been especially intrusive after dark. Noise would have carried across the valley to the people living at Rhode Hill and Harcombe.

What was Planned for this Sports Development?

Many sporting activities have been associated with the site since the town council announced their intentions in early summer 2001. The following newspaper clip mentions just a few of the sports that have been associated with this development, others being off-road motor-cycling, tennis, and hockey.

Whilst buildings have included the relocated town council offices and the ex-Allhallows School's sports Hall.

These early random over enthusiastic suggestions were eventually ruled out. Gone are the council offices and the off-road motor-cycling, although the attitudes and complete lack of concern and understanding for this site is clearly expressed in the motor-cycling sidetrack, and still exists.

If the sports centre ever becomes a reality, there is a danger that it will be the thin end of the wedge. For the town council is known to have designs on this whole area, they did seek to extend the Lyme Regis Defined Development Boundary (DDB) to include this and adjacent sites in the West Dorset District Local Plan Review, now at the First Deposit Draft, the first formal stage.

There is also pressure to develop a business park at Pen Cross, an area just north of Strawberry Field on the same skyline. The WDDC did not oblige the town council regarding these two matters saying that "...land instability and the town's landscape setting are major constraints to further development, and there is only limited potential for the allocation of new sites for residential and employment uses within or close to Lyme Regis"

The Outcome of the Outline Planning Application

Early in 2002 the town council applied to the West Dorset District Council for Outline Planning Permission . The application was then withdrawn after the District Council asked for a more detailed application. I think that the Lyme Regis Town Council were arrogantly expecting few objections. All along they seem to have spared not one thought that this "carbuncle" was not needed nor appreciated, was inappropriate, intrusive and would be an environmental disaster.

Second Planning Application Withdrawn

The full planning application no. 1/W/2003/1670 was withdraw on 6th February 2004 after the case officer, Gerald Hughes, recommended that the Development Control West Committee refuse the application. His objections were so damning that the football club felt that the extra expense that the hearing would cost them in consultant's fee would be throwing good money after bad and accordingly they withdrew the application. Read planning officer's report



Strawberry Field Home Page

Latest Update

2004 Archives

2003 Archives

Pre-2003 Archives

The Calling-In Process

Planning Officer's Report
(500kb pdf file)

Town Council Minutes, Emails etc.

The Town Council's Role - and the implications for West Dorset District Council

Woodroffe School's Sports Facilities to be Opened to the Local Community

Monsoon at Harcombe

Golf Club Developments



View Documents at WDDC site


A Reply to the Strawberry Field Newspaper


Email:   johnrhodehill.co.uk



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