Click on any of the eight locations on the above picture to see a picture of Strawberry Field from that area.
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 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The planning application, registered on 10th September 2003, was eventually withdrawn on 6th February. This was the second planning application to develop the site, as a sports complex, that has been withdrawn.
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.
"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.
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.
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"
Planning Officer's Report
View Documents at WDDC site