Click on any of the eight locations on the above picture to see a picture of Strawberry Field from that area.
Update Page 2003(most recent first)
front page main article reports on a Lyme Regis Society's newsletter feature on the Strawberry Field proposal. Click here,
belated report of the possible involvement of the Lawn Tennis Association in the Strawberry field project adds little on the article that appeared in the LRNews of 12th December and my comments remain as then stated.
If you did send a representation and have not received an
acknowledgment from the district council, can I suggest that you email
WDDC's planning office to check that your objection has been recorded.
Please contact Glo Towner at:
plans for the hotel.
Mr Gibbon's plans for a gym indicate that he is yet another person unaware of the superb fitness suite that will be available to the public when the Woodroffe School opens its facilities to the local community. Two or three hundred people using a sea front gym "coming from all over the area" does not bear thinking about considering the parking problems in the area. Isn't it due time to fully reveal the potential that the Woodroffe School will offer the people of Lyme when the facilities are opened to the public? Why the secrecy over this?
In a letter David Sole answers those that appeared the previous week.
front page article reported the remarks made, during the Open Forum of Wednesday's Uplyme Parish Council meeting, by David Sole about a leader article that appeared in the Pulman's of 10th December. The Pulman's article went under the heading "Time to heal the rift between Lyme and Uplyme". It accused Uplyme Parish councillors of making vindictive comments about town councillor Lovell. The Pulman's editorial manager is Philip Evans who is also the chairman of the football club.
Another article "Professional tennis coaching could be provided at centre" said that Mr Evans had opened discussions with the Lawn Tennis Association and that they have offered to provide professional coaching and are interested in helping to finance a dedicated tennis court on Strawberry Field. A "dedicated" court would obviously be in addition to the MUGA, for the MUGA is intended to accommodate a variety of sporting activities. This brings up a number of questions such as where is it intended to locate this extra court and will it also be floodlit? Placing it almost anywhere on the site would either result in the loss of many the supposedly screening trees , of it being itself rather prominent in the landscape or both.
Of course for professional coaching of children and adults alike, the ideal location for this or these courts as well as a MUGA would be the Woodroffe School. There are already marked out on an asphalt surface at the school six tennis courts making the area approximately twice the size of the proposed MUGA at Strawberry Field. I am sure the school would appreciate one of these being adopted and up-graded to the standards required by the LTA. Did Mr Evans inform the LTA of the probability of the school's facilities being made available to the public?
Mr Evans was also reported saying that "Profit from the bar will be essential to pay for the ongoing running cost of the Strawberry Field, but we are not planning to open a public house or turn the clubhouse into a function suite". Not exactly in name but revenue from the bar is expected to increase three fold to £120,000 through opening six nights a week in addition to opening during and after matches (Minutes from a meeting between the football club and the town council on 22nd February 2002)
There were also three letters on the subject of Strawberry Field. One by Ian Mouland was much appreciated for its complete lack of abuse, hype and verbal aggression that we have come to expect from many of the supporters of the development. I think that he would find from reading the local football reports in the newspapers that 150 footballers playing each week is a slight exaggeration. As for "the club being open all hours" I refer him to the above paragraph. And "the two pitches need to be together". We in Uplyme are expected to put up uncomplainingly with what the town council and football club want to throw at us whilst the football club are not prepared to compromise a little in the interest of restricting damage to the AONB.
Lorna Jenkin's in her letter says Barnes Meadow encroaches into the AONB. Come off it this land was surrounded by development and sits well within the development envelope. Strawberry Field is in open countryside and well outside the Defined Development Boundary. Has Mrs Jenkin ever stepped foot on Strawberry Field? If she considers it "the most unobtrusive flat land" then surely she can't have. Unobtrusive, well perhaps so for the people of Lyme, being in "this corner of Lyme Regis" but certainly not for those living across the parish, district and county border in Uplyme. She said earmarking the area for sport will save it from being built on. Some consolation. Does she think that to have obtained planning permission to build on Strawberry Field would have been as easy as the current application is proving!
Finally David Sole insists that the purchase of the land was a gamble.
"Democracy 'compromised' by Strawberry Field saga" outlining Chris Boothroyd's critisicim of how the town council has mishandled the Strawberry Field project. It is based on a much longer essay that can be read here.
On the letters page was one from the Lyme Regis Society's chairman Bernard Spencer.
Former town councillor Nick Cornwell wrote giving details of the town council's decision to purchase Strawberry Field. The draft minutes referred to by the editor can be viewed here and here, in addition to the title page
Keith Jenkins reflects on the wearing of two hats by people of a small town.
So congratulations also for having the "eminently playable" (Philip Evans, Pulman's 3rd Dec 2003) Davey Fort pitch. This is the pitch that the club wishes to abandon and on which Philip Evans said "was unplayable at certain times of the season" (Strawberry Fields Sub-Committee 1st. March 2002). But obviously not so unplayable as the other three pitches scheduled to host the town's teams on the same day. The inferior unplayable pitches were those to be used for the Netherbury, Chard and Combe games.
One clarifying an article that appeared the previous week in the Pulman's. The other in the Lyme Regis News gives some details of what his work with the town council minutes has been turning up. This included the six night per week opening of the clubhouse, the town and district councillors Owen Lovell and Ken Meech role in this and the three choices the town council had when considering the purchase of Strawberry Field.
An interesting email in connection with the last item was sent by the town clerk on 11th September 2001 to Derek Boyt, planning officer telling of the urgency of the situation and suggesting that the vendor will be chasing his cheque. This urgency held no water with Mr Boyt judging by his reply.
At this stage the district council planning officers were still hoping that the town council would take their advice to fully investigate other sites with the possibility of extending the development boundary.
What's the proverb about buying in haste repenting at leisure?
Chris Boothroyd traces,
As an example of what is available you can here view the email of 20th August 2001 from Derek Boyt that is referred to in Friday's Lyme Regis News article. The advice in that email was ignored and the fatal decision to buy Strawberry Field was made on 10th October 2001. See minutes page 2 and page 3. Lyme's Development Control West Committee chairman and vice-chairman were present at this meeting (see page 1 of these minutes,) and although the two abstentions on the vital vote may have been theirs, they did not leave the room as they now consider it essential to do so in recent Strawberry Field discussions.
Pulman's and the Lyme Regis News. Also in the Pulman's the reaction of the Uplyme Parish Council to the Letwin about face was reported.
Letters in the News included Simon Flux's disbelief of Nicky Coleman's fears, John Wallis's contentment to be living in Dorset, Stuart Broom being Stuart Broom and a well needed piece of cutting humour from Roger Brisley. Whilst in the Pulman's yours truly answers Stuart Broom's creative writings.
Regarding drinking at the proposed new clubhouse Mr Flux should bear in mind the three fold increase in bar takings envisaged from the longer opening hours, as detailed in the minutes of a meeting between the football club and the town council of 22nd February 2002.
numerous concerns on the front page.
A government body the Countryside Agency comes out, as expected, firmly against the development.
In his letter Roger Brisley, a football fan, asks
Oliver Letwin MP "Why a change
Whilst Hugo Swire MP remains resolutely against.
Lyme's objectors are without a voice on the town council.
Representatives of the local press were present and it will be extremely interesting how this information will be reported particularly in the Pulman's.
There was also going around news that the Countryside Agency have added their condemnation of the development to all the other official bodies opposing this project. Apparently an article reporting this will appear in the Lyme Regis News tomorrow.
(see below) and indicated that he was still sitting on the fence.
After the news of Letwins conversion the parish council wrote questioning his apparent ambivalent attitude. A prompt reply from his secretary said in effect that as the majority of his constituents in Lyme were all for the project he would support them. How he came by this information is difficult to know precisely, but as he was shown Strawberry Field by the Chairman and the President of the football club a fair guess can be made, but that could hardly be called an independent assessment.
Those of you amongst the "small minority" of Letwins constituents may wish to write to him and question how he came to the conclusion that the majority of his constituents in Lyme are all for the project. You may also like to ask him if he has considered the effect of this development on the people of east Devon and suggest that he should seek the other viewpoint and meet people opposing the development.
(Pulman's 12th Nov.) to my letter (Pulman's 5th Nov.). He is well known, in another local newspaper, for attempting, and not making a very good job of it either, to ridicule my comments. I will not list here his latest ineffective attempts but only give one example to allow you to judge for yourself how this man works.
He says in his letter that I suggested "that Lyme Regis Football Club,
and in particular Philip Evans, has some influence on deciding when the
planning application will be heard". Philip Evans comments in the Pulman's
front page article were "The plans were deposited at Dorchester on
August 8th. Surely five months is long enough for this scheme to be
determined, or are they being delayed for another reason?"
There are so many mistakes in Mr Broom's letter that I am offering a free seat at the planning application hearing for anyone able to find at least four of his other five mistakes in his letter. All the answers can be found within these web pages.
LRNews (7th November 2003) that he wanted to see the environmental implications of the scheme. From Strawberry Field he would have seen that very few if any of his constituents would shoulder the visual and audible impact of this development unlike the constituents of his neighbouring MP, Hugo Swire who on a recent visit to the area came out with views contrary to Dr Letwins. That he could make a judgement on the environmental implications without visiting the areas in East Devon that would be affected by the development confirms that his concern is solely with his constituents of Lyme. Of course on this single daylight visit to the site he remains completely unaware of the implications that the floodlighting will have after dark on the surrounding countryside.
Dr Letwin had a chance here of taking this whole thing out of the cross border bickering that has developed and been fueled by the town council and the football club. Instead he has restated the man made border between the various councils in an area that should be viewed as a single geographical one.
In a letter, dated 27th October, from Dr Letwin to one of the opponents to the development, he was still saying, as he had been for the last 12 months or more, that he was unable to take up either side of the argument because he had constituents in both camps, and strongly encouraged the recipient to direct his concerns elsewhere. Within ten days of his letter he had come firmly down on the pro side. If this man ever becomes the chancellor we will be in for a very exciting time.
What has suddenly made him change his mind?
Do we see him here angling for votes at the cost of the environment?
Philip Evans in the Pulman's of 29th October delved into the intricacies of the involvement of councillors Lovell and Meech in the Strawberry Field planning application and their endeavours to retain their privileges of being able to preside over the Development Control West Committee as chairman and vice-chairman respectively when the application goes before them.
Regular readers of these pages will know we maintain that the foresight of these two councillors has not been fore enough. It is only relatively recently that they have refrained from joining in discussions on the Strawberry Field planning application by leaving the room. There is however sufficient documentation to show how they have supported the development of Strawberry Field. It is even stated in part of the official planning application, The Strawberry Field Newspaper that:
"We would like to say a big thank you to the following:
The Mayor, Councillor Barbara Austin, also President of the Football Club was reported as saying that she considered it unfair that she was also "gagged" over the Strawberry Field project . Surely this and the fact that she has been associated with the club for over 40 years, is the very reason that it would be extremely unfair if she had spoken on the subject. This is the very same person who had forbidden David Sole to speak at a town council meeting because, "It is such a controversial issue and I feel they've had enough say on it in Uplyme"
his letter was not the only one on Strawberry Field in the LRNews of 24th October. He ranted on in his letter about "this small section of the Uplyme community....are objecting for one reason only...their view across the valley. If the setting were beyond their skyline you would not have heard a squeak from them." Not so Mr Fortnam for the other three letters on the same subject were from opponents to the development, none of whom live within sight or sound of Strawberry Field.
Yes many of the people who will be directly affected by the development have also objected to it, would he want or expect otherwise? But as indicated by the three letter writers they are not alone. People from across the entire community, strangers from all walks of life are being brought together through this unifying cause. Unlike those writers of letters of support and speakers at "public forum" sessions of the town council meetings , merely officers of the football club and their friends and family. Meetings, incidentally, at which any opposing view is stifled.
Mr Fortnam calls the Woodroffe playing field impractical. Supporters of this project tend to be ambivalent in the way that they view the options. In their mind's eye they see the completed Strawberry Field after close on £1M has been spent on it and compare it for instance with the current situation regarding parking and access of the Woodroffe playing field. What is needed is a little lateral thinking and the outlay of a tiny fraction of £1M and you have a solution. For Mr Fortnam is obviously unaware, as most people are, of the work being put in by the Lyme Regis Development Trust to open to the public the Woodroffe School's excellent facilities . The latest progress on this will be available to officers and district councillors when the decision on Strawberry Field is made. This knowledge alone should be enough to scupper the Strawberry Field plans for all time.
Mr Fortnam should please note that the letter by Guy Ottewell showed concern for what the development would do for Lyme, something yet to be expressed or understood by most commentators of Lyme. Mr Ottewell said almost prophetically "..there is talk that this development will open the way to more" for in the same issue of the newspaper it was revealed that the golf club are considering a driving range on the next field to Strawberry Field. This is one of the many developments waiting in the wings for a green light that approval of the Strawberry Field project would give.
Philip Evans Calls for end to bitterness over Strawberry Field, then continues with more of the same. (24th October 2003)The uncredited main article on the front page of the Pulman's (22nd October 2003) is assumed to be the work of the editorial manager of the Pulman's and chairman of the Lyme Regis Football Club Philip Evans. Mr Evans is quoted as reading out a statement during the public forum at the town council meeting of 15th October, "I would implore this council - and our district councillors Ken Meech and Owen Lovell - to do all they can to ensure that the plans are dealt with in December so that we can put an end to the rancour". He says "The plans were deposited at Dorchester on August 8th. Surely five months is long enough for this scheme to be determined, or are they being delayed for another reason?"
If Mr Evans knows of a reason, and this suggests that he does, that the
hearing is being delayed then surely he should speak up. Is his request
for a speedy decision reflecting his fear of an impending announcement
that the Woodroffe
School's sports facilities will be opened to the public?
Although the plans were deposited on August 8th, they did not include all of the supporting documents. In particular the Ecological Survey was not at the Lyme Regis Town Council Offices on 22 September 2003. On notifying Mr Evans of this omission he kindly supplied me with a copy. It eventually became clear that the agent had omitted it from the application. This document was eventually received by the town council on 9th October. Therefore with the late submission of this document, the responsibility for any delay in the hearing is largely down to the Football Club's agent
Concerning the traffic chaos in Anning Road one Friday evening,
mentioned by Stan Williams at a recent town council meeting. Mr Evans
assures us that "The problem, of course, will be solved overnight when we
get to the Strawberry Field but in the meantime I can assure you we will
do all we can to minimise the danger and inconvenience to residents and
other road users". If he admits that there was a danger and assures us
that he would do all he could to minimise it, why did he not minimise it
by dividing the 100 or so players over two or more sessions?
Mr Evans gives the impression that to him this planning application has no more relevance than one for a garden shed. All along he has hoped to keep a low profile on the development hoping that it would slip through unnoticed. Then Peter Burton lit the blue touch paper with the word "Crazy" and retired immediately. The resultant explosion still rumbles on. Far from having little impact the consequences of this application being approved are far reaching and will result in the death of the Harcombe Valley as we know it. It has been suggested that there are a string of applications waiting in the wings for a favourable decision on this application. Developments that could include a Penn Cross industrial estate and the extension to the Timber Vale Caravan Park. Rumours of a commercial development in the form of a golf driving range has now been confirmed. See (LRNews 24th October 2003). Let this application go through and the flood gates will open.
Also supporting the application at the meeting was Les Loveridge, football club life member. He drew attention to the Standards Board of Great Britain's Code of Conduct that says a councillor may discuss and decide on applications at both town and district levels. What this argument conveniently leaves out is the involvement of these two councillors. The town council own the land, has previously made an outline planning application for a similar project and has encouraged and financially supported the football club in their application. Cllrs. Lovell and Meech have been involved in this up to the hilt. Even one of the documents of the planning application "The Strawberry Field Newspaper" says;
"We would like to say a big thank you to the following:
No amount of remaining silent at town council meetings will now wash the slate clean for these two councillors.
On prejudicial interests Alan Muir, Legal Services Manager & Monitoring Officer with WDDC in a letter to the chairman of the Uplyme Parish Council said that, "If the Councillor considers that the interest constitutes not only a personal interest but a personal prejudicial interest, i.e., one which the public, with knowledge of the relevant facts, would consider to be so significant that it is likely to prejudice the Councillor's judgement of the public interest, then, as you will appreciate, the Councillor concerned should declare such an interest at the Committee and leave the room, taking no part in the debate on this issue".
The public or a significant proportion do consider it so. We now have to convince the two councillors that the public are of this mind.
Also speaking during the public forum was Mark Jenkin. He said that he felt "very strongly that the new facilities would benefit Lyme Regis" and that the MUGA would be a great asset to the youth of the town.
I wonder if Mr. Jenkin is aware of the efforts currently being made to open and extend the Woodroffe School's present facilities to the public. They will be within walking distance for his children and most adults and children of Lyme. In fact in the government's Planning Policy Guidance 13: Transport, this is the very kind of project that they are encouraging, sports facilities within the town, within walking distance of a large section of the population and in turn reducing the need to travel by car. Strawberry Field would increase the use of the car.
It is nothing short of scandalous that expensive equipment and buildings are standing idle for most of the time at the school, whilst the town council and the football club are proposing the expenditure of close on one million pounds, most of which is other people's money, on an unnecessary and damaging project. The opening of the school's recreational facilities would benefit the town, school, children and adults alike. The full use of existing facilities is the logical and practical way forward rather than the development of a Strawberry Field white elephant that is not needed and would be destructive to an unspoilt valley and destroy the entrance onto the World Heritage Site gateway town of Lyme Regis.
Why does the town council keep such a low profile in respect of the
Woodroffe School project?
All this went on undemocratically as the only objector to the project wanting to speak, David Sole, was nobbled by the mayor and football club president Barbara Austin.
"gagged" (LRNews 17 Oct) when Barbara Austin, President of the football club and also the mayor of Lyme refused to let him speak during the public forum at the full council meeting on Wednesday 15th October. She said "It is my prerogative to say someone can't speak. David Sole comes from Uplyme, he does not pay his taxes in Lyme Regis".
Mr Sole or any other resident of Uplyme is quite entitled to be put up for election as a candidate for the Lyme Regis Town Council no matter where he pays his taxes. If he had stood at the elections in May he would now be a town councillor, even then there still would not have been enough candidates necessitating an election to have been held. Presently there are at least two town councillors who live in Uplmye.
Mrs. Austin added "It is such a controversial issue and I feel they've had enough say on it in Uplyme and I wasn't going to allow them to say any more at our council meeting". So much for democracy. This comes on top of the fact that the people of Uplyme are completely unrepresented at the WDDC. Supporters of the project were of course allowed their say in this "controversial issue". Whilst the town council and councillors remain so inextricably involved in this planning application so it will go on and any adverse comments will be stifled. The people of Lyme deserve better than this.
Cllrs Lovell and Meech are carefully busy producing squeaky clean records by declaring an interest when anything related to Strawberry Field is discussed. They hope that this will allow them to preside over the hearing when the application is decided. Although there are others with longer memories.
Jacqueline Evans coming into the argument rather late in the day goes over old arguments and irrelevances. Young people are mentioned several times in her letter as if this whole issue is only about them, perhaps she should look a lot closer at home to see that there is an older ambitious force driving this whole scheme.
She and the football club's character assasin Stuart Broom then had a go at me. They as well as Mrs. Evans's husband's newspaper kindly answered the implicit question in my letter informing me that the Anning Road pitch is adequate to accommodate junior games without overflowing into Saturdays. It's good to know that they have spare capacity.
Cllr. Stan Williams's statement was not "challenged". I find it odd though, that considering "75% [of the members] live within 400 yards of the existing Davey Fort facilities" (Strawberry Field planning application) so many parents found it necessary to drive to Anning Road. How would Strawberry Field be accessed?
Mr Broom's hypersensitivity to what he sees as other people's mistakes, faux pas and lack of accuracies must have been fully put to the test when or if he read the Visual Impact Study by David Scragg Associates or Price Planning Consultancy's nine page statement that accompanied the planning application. For in these documents were mistakes, faux pas, misinformations and worse. What must be exceptionally difficult for him to bear is that these reports cost his members thousands of pounds to obtain, when he can have mine for gratis.
town council meeting of 3rd October I thought it high time, having been a protagonist for the public use of the Woodroffe School's sporting facilities for the last two years, that I took a closer look.
Cllr. Lorna Jenkin said "Access through the school was not possible because it was closed at weekends". The gates on the drive way were indeed locked, but besides that a footpath runs up to the school. The size of the hard surfaced games area came somewhat as a shock. The MUGA proposed for the Strawberry Field would measure 35 X 51 metres. This would be sufficient space for three courts for tennis or other sports. The Woodroffe area is almost twice this measuring, by stiding out, approximately 30 X 90 metres. Painted on the surface are six tennis courts!
These courts stand empty each evening, weekends and holiday times. Why must the Harcombe Valley be destroyed for three tennis courts when six existing ones are not used?
Also standing unused at these times are the newly built Sports Hall, Fitness Studio and the Thornton Pearne Drama Studio.
Why can't these facilities be opened up as was envisaged three years ago?
The resurfacing of the outdoor games area into one of an all weather make up would cost a trifling amount compared with the £950,000 (as quoted in the planning application) required to develop Strawberry Field. There is also a neglected swimming pool asking to be covered.
These resources are pleading to be used. The Strawberry Field Planning Application must be postponed until these facilities have been fully looked into. The Strawberry Field MUGA is not needed. Woodroffe offers all that the Strawberry Field Muga could and more.
I then climbed up to the area above the school where the sports fields are located. It was like Conan Doyle's Lost World. After the steep climb through vegetation one comes out into a different world, a flat and airy plateau. Here various pitches are lined out and goal posts installed on two hockey pitches, two rugby pitches and two football pitches. The football club already has access to these pitches. With Annning Road for the juniors, Davey Fort and Woodroffe for the seniors can there still be any justification in destroying the Harcombe Valley?
Surely the town councillors are aware of these wonderful opportunities. Then why are they so stubbornly against encouraging the development towards their use by the community and instead support the white elephant of Strawberry Field?
Is there a hidden agenda?
Lyme Regis News of 10th October 2003.
Chris Boothroyd suggested that if everyone in the hall that evening wrote both to the Government Office for the South West for the application to be Called-in and also made their objections known to the district council much weight would be added to the argument.
The society will now be writing the strongest letter of objection that was finalised on the evening by suggestions from the members.
When should you begin to worry?
If you have not heard after ten days perhaps it is time to contact them. Click here to Email the GOSW
Remember that whatever the society decides to do it is essential to write your own letter of objection and if you are a couple send one each, etc. Aim for one per person for effectiveness.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm in the Uplyme village hall on Thursday 9th October
The News (3rd October 2003) asked people in Lyme whether or not they care about the outcome of the Strawberry Field project. It was the first some people had heard of the project and they made comments off the top of their heads. Of course they could not be aware of all the implications involved in this controversial application. On the other hand Mike Hartley is someone who has given the project careful and considered attention and has an open mind on the pros and cons of the project.
He will now also be requesting the calling-in of the application and will be meeting Oliver Letwin, MP for the constituency that includes Strawberry Field.
The meeting got underway, with a similar pathetic turnout of the public, there being five supporters of the application, members of the football club, and nine opponents from both Uplyme and Lyme. There was no introduction of the planning application dealing with the sports development. It was not recorded that the town council own a 999 year lease on the Strawberry Field for which they paid £50/60,000, that they pioneered the idea of a sports development on the site, that they financed for an undisclosed sum a feasibility study, that they made their own aborted outline planning application and that they underwrote the geotechnical survey to the tune of £10,000.
There were just two declarations of a personal interest made by two lady councillors Lorna Jenkin and Sally Holman. This allowed them to take part in the discussion and also to vote.
One of the first to speak was Cllr. Dibben who repeated his often heard statement - why should the youth of Lyme be disadvantaged just because they live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There followed a rally between Cllr. Dibben and the chairman Michaela Ellis, which had the reminiscence of a piece of badly rehearsed school drama, in which the chairman could hardly stop laughing. There followed statements by each councillor, many of them carefully quoting selected pieces from various planning policies and bending their meanings to support the application.
Stan Williams in support of the application said how inadequate the Anning Road football pitch was. He said that he had just driven along Anning Road and was faced with cars everywhere, a dangerous situation. He said this was due to three teams trying to play football on the pitch. This was just before 7 pm and almost dark! I was prompted by this to visit the pitch at 3 pm the following Saturday afternoon to see some of this action hoping that one of the seven junior teams would be playing. A glorious afternoon at the peak time of football activity throughout the nation. Apart from a couple with their child on the swings, the playing field was completely empty.
I digress, Lorna Jenkin suggested that the use of the playing fields above the Woodroffe School is a non-starter. Because children would have to walk up an unpavemented road to get there. Access through the school was not possible because it was closed at weekends! Has she not heard that there are plans for the excellent and underused resources of the school to be made available to the public? The town council have been dragging their feet over this. If they are so concerned about the youth of the town and the provision of sporting facilities then why have they not been pushing forward with this proposal? It was not until Oliver Letwin opened up talks with interested parties about a year ago that the impasse was finally negotiated.
There was some dialogue that there was very little communication between the district council and the town council over Strawberry Field and the committee eventually unanimously agreed to recommend the application for acceptance to the WDDC.
This could be an old fashion family affair. Get the whole family to write their own individual letters Not just a copy of mum's. Use a bit of individuality, share out your list of objections with each other. Ten points in one letter will count with the planning officers as one letter. Two points in four letters will count as four.This is how the system works Exploit it. It's a numbers game.
Although the councillors sitting on the planning committee have access to your letters, don't rely on them seeing them. The majority of letters will be read by the planning officers with each new point of objection being noted and the total number of letters being tallied. These totals will be given to the members of the committee.
If you wish any individual councillor to read your letter then you will have to write to him (no ladies on the committee) or of course to all of them. This is easy and I will remind you of this closer to the right time. Email me to be put on the list of those to be reminded.
Come early to get a good seat for what promises to be a night to remember!
The meeting takes place on Friday 3rd October 2003 and begins at 7:00 pm in the Guildhall. Members of the public can attend whether they live in Lyme or Uplyme but will not be permitted to speak. They may be frisked for tap recorders. (Sorry an in-joke. If you really want it explained please email me. )
The meeting will begin at 7:30 pm in the village hall on 9th October 2003.
That will give you the following weekend to get that letter off to arrive by 17th October..
Complete (probably) Plans can now be viewed at the Lyme Regis Town Council Offices . (22nd September 2003)The plans are available at the town council offices above the tourist office in Church Street. Included with the many drawings are reports on the Visual Impact study, the geotechnical study and details of the floodlighting, as well as a letter from Price Planning Consultancy forming part of the planning application.
A little information about the floodlights. The MUGA area will have an overall dimensions of 35 X 51 metres and have a total of 18 lights on 12 poles. The top of each light will be 6.7 metres above the ground. the technical details of their luminosity is in luxes and we are kept in the dark as to the actual total wattage.
Don't hope to get through the paper work in one session. I spent nearly three hours there even though I had seen the drawings on the internet and will still have to go back.
The council offices are open Monday to Friday 10 am to 1 pm and 2pm to 5 pm. Conditions are a bit cramped there, one chair and no table.
WDDC web site, there are serious omissions and the much awaited reports are not there at all.
Apart from niggling mistakes such as the grounds man's hut moving around the site on different plans, the ongoing problem the football club seems to have with knowing the route of the A35 and much more serious, bearing in mind that it is one of the chief criticisms of the project, the complete lack of details of the MUGA floodlighting and the general lighting of the site. All we know about the floodlighting is what was said in the Strawberry Field Newspaper, that they will be on 6 metre high poles. The number, position and the individual power of the lamps is something I would have thought essential to be given on the plans. Has the sacrificial MUGA already been abandoned although it still appears in the description.
Not at all surprising is the fact that no pictures of the location seem to have been included with the application.
These plans have already been returned to the architect for more detail. It seems that they should be returned once more.
WDDC web site. All the documents associated with the application should be made available on the site today. As expected these will include various reports and are essential reading.
Pulman's interpretation of the declaration was quite different from that in the Lyme Regis News as reported immediately below. Here we have Philip Evans, the chairman of the football club, reporting, in what must be a record sized heading, squabbling between two supporters of the sports complex over a declaration of interest. What's going on?
debated. There has been much concern by the opponents to the project that his involvement in the Strawberry Field project should exclude him from participating when the application comes before the committee.
This action came after receiving advice from Mr Muir, the district council's legal officer. In a letter from the officer to Uplyme Parish Council he said "From the information available to me at the time my initial view was that both Councillors [cllrs. Lovell and Meech] had been careful not to place themselves in this situation, i.e., that they had refrained from participating in public discussion of the scheme in order to be in a position to take part subsequently in the decision making process at Development Control Committee."
Mr. Muir could have advised cllr. Lovell not to speak on the subject. He obviously considered his mere presence during the discussion on Strawberry Field enough to suggest to the public that it would be likely to prejudice the Councillor's interest in the matter. If this is the case then what has been the effect of all those other meetings attended by cllrs. Lovell and Meech at which Strawberry Field and the sports complex have been discussed?
Mr Muir also said in his letter "If the Councillor considers that the interest constitutes not only a personal interest but a personal prejudicial interest, i.e., one which the public, with knowledge of the relevant facts, would consider to be so significant that it is likely to prejudice the Councillor's judgement of the public interest, then, as you will appreciate, the Councillor concerned should declare such an interest at the Committee and leave the room, taking no part in the debate on this issue". The public having knowledge of the relevant facts all it now remains is for the two councillors to become aware of this.
A request for the town council to pay £1,960 for consultancy and planning fees associated with the MUGA was submitted by the football club. Originally intended to be held in camera this was the item that caused cllr. Lovell to declare a prejudicial interest, probably an unprecedented move. The Mayor, Barbara Austin, also declared a prejudicial interest, being the president of the football club and left the meeting. This is a move that critics of the ethics of the town council have long been waiting for.
A letter indicating the way that the planning committee's decision will go on this application, if they show the slightest consistency, was published. This adds to the number of cases of planning applications for this valley that have been refused by the WDDC including some that have gone to appeal. If you have knowledge of similar refusals in this valley or other nearby areas of the AONB of West Dorset please let us know.
SA1 Policy into the draft Local Plan, predicts that the planning application will be refused.
A letter from Stuart Broom appeared in the newspaper aggressively attacking John Wood (letter 22nd August) for assuming that the £56,000 extra cost referred to in the News for 15th August was a reference to legal costs that would result from the club having to fight a calling-in enquiry.
It is rather surprising that Mr Broom being such a stickler for correctness in other people's writings makes so many mistakes himself. I list examples of them that appeared in his letter.
At that meeting Philip Evans told us that the planning application would be made in October 2002. Are we therefore to assume that the delay of nearly a year has also resulted in increased building and development costs approaching £56,000? A self imposed penalty.
In an article in the Lyme Regis News of 14th March 2003 Philip Evans was reported as saying "We cannot afford to spend £15,000 on something which may not have a positive outcome", "The club will be forced to abandon the project". He was referring to the situation if their Strawberry Field application was called-in for determination by a government inspector. So the resulting cost to the club for calling-in would be a total of £71,000. Now we see why Mr Broom was so touchy regarding my letter.Surely time to abandon the project.
Finally I would like to thank Mr Broom for bringing my website to the attention of the New's readers, for as we know there is no such thing as bad publicity. The resulting increase in visitors to the site unsuccessfully searching for "misinformation" has been marked, even though he overlooked giving the web address.
I note that Mr Broom did not mention anything regarding the topic of my letter, the calling-in of planning applications.
Sarah Thompson and Tony Woodman!
I think that a misunderstanding over the number of teams and players arose from an article in the Lyme Regis News of 20th June 2003. The article speaking about the number of teams the club had went on: "...the club had grown from having three teams six years ago to fielding 14 next season covering senior, ladies and youth soccer for all ages. Mr. Evans said that Lyme currently had 96 players on its books within a total membership of 256..."
Here we have the total number of teams being mentioned but there is no indication that the 96 players is not the total number of players. This youth oriented club had overlooked its under 15s.
Since the article of 20th June the waters have been further muddied by two more extremely similar articles in the Pulman's and the Lyme Regis News respectively of 30th July and 1st August. In these articles the club secretary was reported as saying that 60 [senior] players had already signed on, but with four senior teams more players would be required.
The secretary Martin Edwards has now written to the LRNews clarifying the numbers of teams and players, I think! Still uncertain?
The question must be asked "Why should a small seaside town with an
ageing population have so many people wanting to play football?"
The table below shows the population of Lyme Regis and its football club membership and team details. Surely the number of teams is closely reaching saturation point.
LRFC figures from Martin Edwards LRNews 22nd August 2003
Population figures from the 1991 census.
The description as stated on the application form was:
"Use land as a sports field; construct club house; provide two football pitches, an informal grass playing area and an illuminated Multi use games area".
The Case Officer not too happy with this has changed the description to:
"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".
From this alone it seems that no last minute abandonment of plans, such as floodlighting, has taken place and the application details will be roughly what we had come to expect and criticise.
The council has requested further information from the applicant and the plans have gone back to the architect. The full application details are therefore not yet available to the public.
Philip Evans confirms youth games will be played at the Anning Road playing field. (Pulman's 27th August 2003)
But contrary to Mr Evans's statement it is far from certain that any games will ever be played on Strawberry Field.
The application has still not appeared on the WDDC website which suggests that it will not be advertised in this Friday's LRNews.
double standards concerning two separate developments in the same area, both outside the development area and within the AONB?
It will be interesting to see how the TC will deal with the Strawberry Field application when it comes before them, especially with reference to the next item below.
declaring interests (LRNews 22nd August 2003). This was one of the subjects amongst other procedures that very much concerned ex-Councillor Mr Cornwell. The town clerk's findings on this matter will be eagerly awaited with its possible far reaching consequences especially regarding how this will affect the two town Councillors Lovell and Meech in relation to their positions as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Development Control West Committee at the Strawberry Field hearing.
The application was submitted on Friday although it is not yet in the system as my enquiry with the council's office produced no information related to the application, other than last year's outline application. Although we expected the football club to make their application during the peak holiday period the fact that they have done so smacks of desperation. It is the action of someone with a very dodgy application hoping to avoid too many objections.
It could now be anything from two weeks for the application to be advertised. It is then that the plans and reports will be available for inspection at council offices. Details of the application, reports and plans will also be available on the WDDC excellent website for perhaps a week before they are advertised. To search for recent planning applications for Lyme Regis click here for the planning application search page then select at "I wish to search" on the drop-down menu "West Dorset" and type in "Lyme" against "Town/Village" and press "go". You will be presented with a list of applications with the most recent at the top. All relevant document will be available by clicking appropriately.
Lyme Regis News 20th June 2003 that the football club had made its application to the Football Foundation for grant aid. If a grant is not forth coming the whole project would fall flat. Besides there is less money available now for these projects. If it can be proven that the project is unnecessary, and it is no longer, in fact if it ever was, necessary, then we have won. The football club have dallied for too long, if they had put in an outline planning application a year ago they may have stood some chance. Now with the building of the toilet and changing block at Anning Road and the use of the Woodroffe School's pitches and that the school's sporting facilities will eventually be opened to the public their entire case has crumbled. All without mentioning the environmental aspects. Bad decision making has lost them their chance. Blame it on the consultants.
So get typing for you can put forward your views on the project by clicking here.
I would suggest that you concentrate on the non-existent need for the sports centre. They will consider that the environmental issues will be dealt with by the district council, making their grant dependent on planning permission being obtained.
Lyme Regis News.
Praise and congratulations were abundant in the article written by
Sarah Thompson. Wait a minute. Wasn't there a similar article in
To give them the benefit of the doubt it may be that Ms Thompson wrote the article and that Mr Evans wanted an unbiased account and used her article, but I doubt it. All the same it is not a healthy development especially with this controversial issue when people want an unbiased viewpoint.
Is it any longer necessary to buy the two local newspapers hoping for independent views?
As for the article itself well is it really worth the paper it is written on when you consider the likely author and the subject. It all reeks of stage management. Even the annual meeting seems to have been postponed from June to slot into the application submission period for a much needed morale boost.
Perhaps one thing needs commenting on. Income from the bar operations amounted to a record £41,000, although we are told that "we are a sporting club that has a social side - not a social club that plays sport" (Strawberry Field Newspaper).
Any astrologers out there for an interpretation?
(31st July 2003)
"We have a very Strong Case" statement costs £24,000"Our consultants believe we have a very strong case and that our plans will not detract from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty", was quoted from a recent football club newsletter and reported in the Lyme Regis News of 25th July 2003
It said that only £2,000 remains of the original £26,000 fighting fund. £24,000 has gone on consultant's fees to enable them to come out with statements the like of that above. I would consider money down the drain if my consultants did not come up with such words of wisdom. I would also guarantee that the wildlife consultants will say that no wildlife will be affected by the development and that the environmental impact survey tells us that the floodlighting and noise will not give cause for any concern whatsoever. It is a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune. Give us £24,000 to spend on fighting this project and we would come up with completely opposite reports.
This really is becoming a case of David and Goliath as mentioned in the previous update below. Let's hope it continues so until the giant is slain.
The giant has the upper hand in that he can and probably will submit the application at the peak of the holiday period when the greatest number of people are away. He can launch his petition campaign for he knows exactly what the application will be about, whereas now that Philip Evans has reneged on his promise to supply the opposition with plans and reports we must wait and will have only three weeks between the application being advertised and the final date by which objections must be made.
Rumours of Imminent SubmissionWell that was the news going around the Uplyme Parish council meeting on 9th July and also a mention was made of it in the LRNews the following Friday.
As Philip Evans had promised several people including myself a copy of the plans when they were finalised I emailed him to confirm that he would honour his promise. He said that now David Sole had disclosed his intention that he will attempt to have the application called-in and the Uplyme parish council would go along with this, his consultants have advised him for the time being not to distribute the plans to parties other than the land owners.
This is good news for we have been suggesting that the application be
called-in since the town council made its aborted outline planning
application in the spring of last year. During this time Mr Evans has not
given calling-in a second thought. So why the change in attitude?
He is now seeking advice on the consequences of the plans being called in. His off the cuff estimate was that the calling-in enquiry would cost him £33,000 so I am informed. This whole affair is fast becoming a case of David and Goliath when you consider how much money the football club has thrown at the project, expenses that could have been saved if they first went for an outline planning application. Someone somewhere will have to answer for this, was it another consultant or someone closer to home?
Of course the intention may have been to argue the case that as so much money has been invested in the project it cannot now be refused. All the money in the world would not overrule the case against the project.
Finally he said that he "is quite happy to accept whatever decision the planning authority comes to but it would seem that those in opposition are not prepared to do likewise". With the two town councillors dedicated supporters of the project running the planning committee he would say that wouldn't he?
Davey Fort, Perfectly PositionedAn article in the Lyme Regis News of 20th June nearly slipped through the net.It conveniently answers a question that I have wanted answering for some time.
Philip Evans was speaking at the inaugural general meeting of the Bridport Football Partnership and ringing the praises of the Lyme Regis Football Club. He said the club had 96 players and 256 members and that 70% of those lived within 400 yards of their Davey Fort football ground.
This is certainly food for thought as I am sure you will appreciate and I intend saying no more at the moment.
WDDC Chief Executive's Office says it is down to individual Councillors to Determine whether they had Prejudicial Interests (11th July 2003)The leading article in today's Lyme Regis News reported on Wednesday's Uplyme Parish Council meeting at which the councillors suggested that the Strawberry Field application should be called-in. This decision was made after receiving a reply from the West Dorset District Council Chief Executive's office. The letter was written by Alan Muir the Legal Services Manager & Monitoring Officer for the district council. It was his opinion that cllrs. Lovell and Meech had been careful not to publicly air their views on the subject and that they will be coming to the decision at the Development Control Committee with an open mind. "they had refrained from participating in public discussion of the scheme in order to be in a position to take part subsequently in the decision making process at Development Control Committee", which sounds extremely devious.
Anyone who has followed the development of this saga will know that the two councillors are involved with this scheme up to the hilt. It is therefore essential that the application is called-in. Even if they are removed from the decision making process there are still enough reasons for it to be Called-in
Pulman's Weekly (25th June 2003)An editorial in the Pulman's 25th June 2003 reflected on the ongoing quest for a skatepark in Lyme Regis. Why is this search so protracted?
The answer is given in the editorial "It seems that no one in Lyme wants the skatepark on their doorstep."
The town council not wanting to upset a single voter - not that the present town council is an elected body - have listened to and taken heed of every complaint of the residents in Lyme Regis. You can trace the proposed sites around the town, each one a good site and backed by the majority of the council until the people living in the area have lodged a justifiable protest and declared that they do not want it on their doorstep. Then follows a speedy u-turn by the council.
This has happened time and again with other matters. In the spring of 2002 the town council was trying to rush through the new design of lighting along Marine Parade saying that if they did not act speedily the grant would not be available. This produced a ground swell of opposition in the light of which the council did a u-turn. Much more recently the councillors were commandeering parking spaces for themselves at the guild hall and considering spending £5,000 on an electric barrier. An uproar from the people of Lyme against these moves resulted in the councillors being eager to divorce themselves from the scheme and jump on the band wagon as if they had never proposed such a thing in the first place.
Not wanting it on their "doorsteps" is an interesting choice of word, in the editorial, for if these are the words of the editorial manager Philip Evans, then interestingly when he talks about the opponents to the Lyme Regis Strawberry Field sports complex in other publications he prefers to use the word NIMBYs.
So why has the town council so resolutely stuck with the Strawberry
Field location for a sports complex against such strong opposition?
I trust that the people of Lyme Regis will have more sense of justice and in due course come out against such an imposition on the people of Uplyme.
Juxtaposed beside this editorial is an article by Martin Roundell Greene entitled "Light pollution blanks out marvels of night sky" in which he laments the loss of the truly dark night sky and gives a brief history of the development of street lighting in Lyme. In the Harcombe branch of the Lym valley we still have reasonably dark skies being away from street lighting. It is this fact which makes the prospect of floodlighting on an overlooking hill so depressing. When I first heard of this project I thought surely they can't be serious, but alas they were.
Also covered in this edition was the Uplyme Parish Council Meeting of 11th June.
Councillors Lovell and Meech given the Go ahead? (20th June 2003)An article in the Lyme Regis News of 20th June 2003 seems to give the all clear for the two Lyme town and district councillors to preside over the eventual planning meeting that will determine this case. For the two councillors also happen to be the chairman and vice-chairman of the West Dorset District Council's planning committee, the body that will decide on this planning application. I say "seems" for who are the solicitors making this ruling?
We need more details on this. Howard Thomas in his letter of 30th May 2003 said that "The district solicitor will doubtless suitably advise them" If this is the solicitor making this ruling then it is no more impartial than Cllrs. Lovell's and Meech's veiw of the project.
There is one certain way in which to eliminate any suspicion of ill deeds being committed or nasty tastes left in the mouth on this decision and that is to have the complete planning application taken out of the hands of the district council. Calling-in is the process whereby an inspector authorised by the Secretary of State will determine at a local enquiry the outcome of a planning application.
More Delays (13th June 2003)After many false starts to the submission of the planning application the latest news, although not confirmed, is that the application will not now be submitted until July. Even the correspondence from the "pro" lobby in the newspapers seems to have peaked early, suggesting that there is a genuine problem and not just an intentional delay to launch in the holiday period.
All the same with last Wednesday's Uplyme Parish Council's meeting- see report and Lyme Regis News and also Pulman's Weekly- having possibly been the last before the application is made John Duffin and Peter Burton took the opportunity of getting their act together by making more measured statements than the off the cuff questions put to Stan Williams at the previous meeting.
Colin Pratt had the courage to say what has been on everyone's lips that the Strawberry Field newspaper produced by Philip Evans was an intentional effort to influence the East Devon District Council election. He also found it insulting that Mr Evans referred to the properties in the Harcombe area as shacks. What Mr Evans did say was that "..a number of ramshackle properties in Rocombe.." Ken George later referring to a rollicking he received from Mr Evans said that "He has also apologised for his remarks about the shacks in a grovelling letter to the Lyme Regis News". Yes Mr Evans having obviously paid little attention to the geography of the area in which he wishes to destroy the tranquility called it Rocombe. The apology was in fact one to the people of Rocombe for his mistake, the insult to the people of Harcombe still stands. Don't give credit where it is not due. Of course whether they are ramshackle or not is quite irrelevant for it is most certainly not a planning matter unlike the vandalism he intends to inflict on the valley from the other side.
An Obvious Divide This Week with Letters "For" from the Pulman's and "Against" from the Lyme News. (1st June 2003)Cliff Powley, being the person who sold Strawberry Field to the town council, should know the facts concerning the leasehold , but it was probably a surprise to him when he learnt recently that the floodlighting would be used until 10pm ("The courts will close at 10pm every evening" Strawberry Field Newspaper). Also what's in a name? The words "pub/club" will not appear on the planning application, but the clubhouse will host a number of social events to generate income. As to "inaccuracies" the recreational use he refers to is in fact "Planning Permission for Seasonal Pitch & Putt Facility". An activity far from the proposal we are now seeing.
As for Stuart Broom's letter well very little is said there regarding the project just more of the same diversionary tactics.
Thomas's letter on the other hand must give a severe dent to the
confidence of the football club. Ironically if development is not allowed
in the AONB land of West Dorset and if Philip Evans is correct in his
statement that all land around Lyme Regis is within the AONB, they would
now appear to have little choice than to use land in Devon where this same
exclusion appears not to exist!
Bernard Spencer's suggestion that portable lighting equipment be installed before the planning permission is considered must be the only way to see what the affect of the floodlighting would be. Only then will the football club be convinced that this lighting will affect more than the "dozen" as Philip Evans and Stuart Broom maintain.
Copies of letters of Objection already coming in. (24th May 2003)The copy of one letter of objection to the Development Control West Committee containing many new angles, was unfortunately unsigned and just finished "Sincerely yours, A genuine Lyme soccer fan"
I'm afraid that unsigned letters are rejected, for any single person could send hundreds of letters. Letters are also made available to the person submitting the application, our correspondent was probably aware of this and feared repercussions if he or she gave their name. Please be patient and wait for the official application details including the planning application number and please include this number and your name and address on your letter. A premature objection may also be invalid because the exact details on the application may not be what we are expecting.
The Week from the Papers (23rd May 2003)The pace is gathering momentum as we approach the submission of the planning application. Unlike the submission of the outline application over a year ago this one is not going to creep in almost unnoticed.
There is a trend developing for each letter to be published in both the Lyme Regis News and the Pulmans. The opening up of the Pulmans is most welcome for with its connection with the football club they have had to tread a delicate path, which resulted in it attracting little if any opposition to the project. Perhaps we can now look forward to a change in that situation.
This new tend began with a letter from Nigel Fortnam on 14th. with a similar letter to the Lyme Regis News two days later. I myself replied to both newspapers and include the LRNews 23rd May one here.
An editorial "An interesting time in the politics of Lyme" by Philip Evans appeared in the Pulmans of 21st May. He included the news that the two Lyme district councillors, Owen Lovell and Ken Meech, also town councillors and supporters of the project, have been selected to be the chairman and vice-chairman respectively of the Development Control West Committee, which decides on all Lyme's planning applications. I could almost hear the cheers go up. But with their considerable influence over the planning committee it would now be entirely inappropriate for the district council to rule on this application. We have always been of the opinion that the district council should not determine the outcome of this application and that it should be Called-In. This latest development almost ensures that our request for the application to be called -in will be looked upon favourably.
Town councillor Lorna Jenkin has been doing some homework on the floodlighting problem. Her letter appeared in the Pulmans of 21st May. A shortened version was also printed in the Lyme Regis News of 23rd May. Indeed she has looked into the state of the art regarding floodlighting and I am sure the best that is currently available will be specified for this site, but on this site it will not be good enough, you can't hide umpteen kilowatts of lighting in an otherwise dark valley.
I also have visited the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's webpages "Lighting in the Countryside: Towards Good Practice" and oddly enough I read an entirely different story than she did. She obviously turned a blind eye to much that the document contains. The town council being obsessed with the town, she and her fellow councillors have probably never gone to the trouble of viewing the Strawberry Field from Harcombe and Rhode Hill, they are most welcome there are no border controls. So let me put them in the picture, we are not talking about lighting a sports field in a sea of existing lighting not even carefully extending on the periphery of a urban landscape, but the development of a floodlit sports complex in an otherwise unspoilt landscape high above a valley that is at present sheltered from any visible street lighting. I suggest that with this in mind she revisits the DPM's website, taking particular note of the sections on Effects on Wildlife and Effects on Countryside Character.
After Philip Evans letter in which he assures Ken George that Strawberry Field will be properly screened and the lighting will be "as sympathetic as possible" perhaps Mr George would like to re-confirm his stand on this issue.
In Stuart Broom's letter he questions the News' sources. I thought it standard practice that newspapers do not and cannot be forced to disclose their sources, his colleague Philip Evans could put him right on this. Perhaps they need look no further than the "Strawberry Field" newspaper Mr Evans produced immediately before the district council elections. I must add that as a prime suspect in this I can assure him that "It wasn't me guv"
No Alliance between Ken George (newly elected East Devon district councillor) and Football Club Chairman Phillip Evans. Also Stan Williams Quizzed and More. As Reported in the Lyme Regis News (16th May 2003)An article full of interest for the followers of this saga.
The statement by Councillor Stan Williams that the town council would be talking with West Dorset Council about a possible alternative site - possibly swapping the Strawberry Field land for it, was withdrawn at the first opportunity in fact at the following Friday's annual meeting as reported in the Pulmans 21st May. The reason given for the original statement was far from satisfactory and there is no smoke without fire and most people are not convinced. I dare say that we will be hearing more on this once the application is refused, then it will be time to consider all those alternative sites.
A Timely Campaign by the CPRE (9th May 2003)The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England today launched its campaign "Night Blight". Full details on the CPRE Website.
An article on this campaign appeared in the Lyme Regis News and stated "Lyme Regis remains fairly in the dark about light pollution, with the CPRE map showing the area to be darker than most".
From Harcombe it is easy to understand why. For in this valley street lighting has yet to encroach and the litmus test of whether the milky way is visible or not still holds as an indication to light pollution. Even though we are assured that flood lighting on the Strawberry Field MUGA will be state of the art and direct glare will be eliminated, to put umpteen kilowatts (we await exact details) of light near the top of one of the highest hills in the area high above an otherwise dark valley will be a disastrous precedent and will transform the whole valley for the worse. We understand that it is planned to have these lights on five days a week up until 10 p.m. The fact that they will be on poles "only" six metres high is rather irrelevant when considering that they will be installed high above the valley at about 150 metres above sea level.
A Change of Tack? (9th May 2003)An article in the Lyme Regis News today, regards an aspect of the fund raising that has interested me for considerable time.If the planning application is refused what happens to the football clubs coffers collected for the specific purpose of funding the Strawberry Field project?
Philip Evans assures us that records have been kept of donations to the project and refunds will be offered.
What most interests me in this article is that a "sports complex" and
the associated other activities are not mentioned at all. There are many
references to "the club". Are we here seeing the realization of the
football club that floodlighting on this site will under no circumstances
Has the club already made contingency plans to come back with a modified application for just a couple of unfloodlit football pitches and a new club house once the original application has been rejected?
Still in the Public Eye. (2nd May 2003)A letter from each side of the argument in today's LRNews from Philip Evans and David Sole.
From the Philip Evans letter it is obvious that the football club is not showing the necessary flexibility which is required for a successful outcome of their quest for additional football facilities in the area. For example "it would be totally impractical for Lyme Regis Football Club to be based in Uplyme" Why? and "It is not our intention to retain the existing clubhouse on the Charmouth Road site", although their lease on Davey Fort expires in 2018.
It seems that having set their sights and funds on the Strawberry Field
site they have not the ability to consider alternatives.
One Letter in the Lyme Regis News this week (25th April 2003)Just a single letter on Strawberry Field in this week's addition. I'll just make a few points on the letter as Mr Finnigan may not have access to the internet. Of course any reply to the letter should be sent to the LRNews.
After being told by others that the objectors living in Devon should not be concerned with the affairs of Lyme Regis, Mr Finnigan now tells us that the right to object to the project is related to how long one has lived in the area. I do note that the four years that he has lived here seems to qualify him to making his opinions known. I know Strawberry field is not a level playing field but please let the arguments be more balanced.
I do wish that some of the passion for Lyme Regis that Mr Finnigan mentions would spill over onto the surrounding countryside. The incomers do feel this passion for Lyme Regis and its surroundings, evident by having chosen to live here!
More Letters from the Lyme Regis News (18th April 2003)The ripples from the "crazy" article in the News four weeks ago continue:
Some of the dust having now settled (16th April 2003)And with some of the more genuine disagreements, mis-understandings and mistakes having been aired in the Lyme Regis News and made available on this page,(28 March 2003 and 11 April 2003), it leaves us with various pathetic remarks by the supporters of the scheme, on which I refuse to waste any of the 300 word maxumum that the News allows letter writers . But here it is a different matter and I can indulge myself in a little light relief from the more serious matters.
Let's start with the use of the word "Nimby" ( not in my
back yard ). The use of this
acronym does suggest that the writer is without any genuine argument. What
do the users of this word really expect someone to do, when that someone
has during his lifetime made the occasional protest, signed petitions and
demonstrated against what he considers unfair or repressive acts or
While mentioning Mr Puddy
I wonder what support he would allow Mr Burton to use in his arguments
after banning the subjects "wildlife, disruption, diggers, lighting etc"?
Then we have the blackmail line which goes something like, "If planning
permission is refused then the future of sport in Lyme Regis and Uplyme
will be very bleak". What did Philip Evans say about scaremongering?
Some of the writers show an appalling parochial attitude. They are
convinced that as Strawberry Field is within Lyme Regis they can do what
they like and it is not the business of anybody across the parish,
district and county boundary even though they will in the main be those
most adversely affected. They put more store in man-made artificial
boundaries rather than view the valley in its entirety. What did Howard
Larcombe say in his first sentence?
Far from finding it being light relief I am finding it depressing, I've had enough.
Three or Four Weeks to Submission Day? (11th April 2003)The latest news from the football club is that they intend to submit the planning application in early May. But I would not cancel that holiday for this is the third date that we have had in the last seven months.
Well Worth Waiting for? (11th April 2003)The Postbag letters that should have been printed in last week's Lyme Regis News have now appeared in today's issue and again I have added them ( not necessarily in order of importance but alphabetically ) to the website:
There was also, in this addition, a report of the last item ( though not an indication of the importance given to the subject by the parish council ) in the Open Forum of the Uplyme Parish Council's meeting held on the previous Wednesday.
What Happened to all those Letters in the Lyme Regis News today? (4th April 2003)A simple mistake. The Bridport edition had the Lyme letters and vice versa. We are told it was not a conspiracy! They have apologized, but when will we see the relevant letters page?
A Well Orchestrated Response to Councillor Peter Burton's "Crazy Plans" (28th March 2003)Obviously someone has got the troops organized in a mass letter write, for the same mistakes and phrases appear in many of the eight letters and the lead article in today's Lyme Regis News. It's our turn next week! An entire page is taken up with the letters, all pro-Strawberry Field, and all of which I have made available here:
Featuring Rob Larcombe fourteen year old under fourteen player.
Lyme Regis Football Club chairman and chairman of the Strawberry Field Project. Also managing director of the parent company of the Pulman's Weekly
Lyme Regis Lasers
LR Bantams Manager
Strawberry Field Project
Strawberry Field steering committee
Local man of letters
How do you respond to this lot?
I would be the last person in the world to inhibit you from writing a letter to the paper, but I shall not get the whip out!
East Devon District and Uplyme Parish Councillor declares Strawberry Field Plans are Crazy (21st March 2003)Click to see Lyme Regis News cutting
There was an associated picture
Football Club threatens to Pull Out - again! (14th March 2003)Just five months since the last threat by Lyme Regis football club to abandon the project the town council heard of the latest problem which could cause them to "abandon the project". This time the warning came from the clubs chairman Philip Evans in a statement to the planning committee at Wednesday's town council meeting.
Mr Evans said "..the council will have wasted much money and effort over three years..."
Although some sympathy should be shown to the football club, for having had the responsibility to prepare the application thrust upon them, any such for the town council is completely misplaced. They went into this project full of enthusiasm hoping at last to do something for the assumed sporting needs of the town, but with their eyes closed especially regarding the environmental considerations and the affect the project would have on the people of Uplyme. The district council advised them to withdraw their outline planning application, but instead of supplying more detailed information in a modified outline application they decided to go for a full planning application. The revised planning application could have been made last summer and we would have known if the kind of sports complex they envisaged on the site was at all acceptable. A refusal would then have saved much money and effort.
My advise to Mr Evans is make an outline application or abandon the project before more money and effort is wasted.
During this week there has been renewed activity on Strawberry Field in the form of a series of holes having been dug by a JCB. I assume this to be in connection with the geotechnical survey, the field work of which I thought was completed in December. Perhaps an indicating that they have problems. The geotechnical survey was one of the major expenditures that could have been avoided if outline PP had first been sought and refused.
"The Natural Beauty of the Lym Valley Deserves the Strongest Protection" says Government Planning Inspector (28th February 2003)Mr Christopher Gethin was presiding over an appeal against planning refusal to build a garage with living accommodation over, off Colway Lane. The inspector's decision is perhaps an indication of how an inquiry resulting from the Calling-In process would go. Report from today's Lyme Regis News.
Could the Town Council's wish Bernard Spencer, in
in today's Lyme Regis News, sees the danger in including Strawberry Field
within the Defined Development Boundary.(see entry for 14th Feb 2003)
Planning Officer's Report
View Documents at WDDC site
Email: johnrhodehill.co.uk if you have any comments.