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.


Pre- 2003 Update Page

(most recent first)

Opening Up Woodroffe School's Sporting Facilities
(31st December 2002)

Lyme Regis News of 20th December 2002 reported an interesting development in that an agreement had been made between the school and the football club to make the school's football pitches and gymnasium available for the use of the football club.This goes beyond our wildest dreams, we were hoping to encourage the opening of the sports hall, fitness suit and outdoor areas to the public but did not consider the football pitches a practicality.

The news on the opening of the facilities to the public is that on 1st November Oliver Letwin, Lyme's member of parliament, called a meeting with interested parties at the school. The chief stumbling block raised its head again, that being the VAT payment of about 96,000 that would have to be made if the doors were opened to the public. A pittance compared with the 800,000 needed to develop Strawberry Field to provide unnecessary facilities and destroy a peaceful and dark valley.
This discussion is due to resume in the new year.


Geotechnical Survey Field Work Completed.

The drilling of core samples on Strawberry Field was completed in early December. Perhaps indicating that we will not have to wait too long for the results and the full planning application.Let's not be caught napping!

Town Council disappointed with Local Plan?
(29th November 2002)

A letter in today's Lyme Regis News from town councillor Stan Williams suggests that the council was rather surprised and angry that the district council have not outlined "A site on the north east of the town..." for industrial development. Penn Cross has been signalled by various councillors as a site for industrial use and this is probably the site he is referring to.

The inhabitants of Harcombe and Rhode Hill are thankful that the district council recognises the restricting limitations on development imposed by the AONB and the instability of the ground.


The Local Plan (26th November 2002)

Having viewed the copy of the Local Plan First Draft at the St Michael's Business Centre I can honestly say that the Lyme Regis News article last week included all the important items concerning Lyme.

Although the town council had asked the district council to extend the development area to include Strawberry Field, there is no mention that they have obliged. Unfortunately the associated maps that should accompany the Local Plan have not been supplied by the district council. We may therefore have to wait until the period of public consultation in January. Even so it would be very unlikely for the maps to show an extension to include Strawberry Field without there being an indication of this in the text of the First Deposit Local Plan.

There is a list of future sports and recreational areas throughout West Dorset, but Strawberry Field is not included.

Section 8.3.11 on "mugas" states the following:
"Multi-user games areas are particularly valuable...... Floodlighting is considered necessary. Careful consideration must be given to the siting of these areas in order that the amenities of adjacent areas is not adversely affected."

Policy C8 states. "Proposals for the provision of recreational facilities in the countryside will be permitted providing that:

1/ their scale is in keeping with the surrounding environment and they would not be visually intrusive in the landscape".

Strawberry Field must fail on both these counts. But bear in mind these two clauses will not be adopted until about 2005.

All the same the current adopted Local Plan says almost the same thing in a roundabout manner.

Chapter 9.35 PROPOSALS FOR THE PROVISION OF RECREATIONAL AND SPORTING FACILITIES IN THE COUNTRYSIDE WILL BE PERMITTED PROVIDED THAT:

i) THEY ARE COMPATIBLE IN CHARACTER, DESIGN AND SCALE WITH THE SITE AND ITS SURROUNDINGS;

ii) THE AMENITIES OF LOCAL RESIDENTS AND VISITORS ARE SAFEGUARDED;

v) THEY DO NOT CONFLICT WITH LANDSCAPE POLICIES IN CHAPTER 7 OF THE LOCAL PLAN AND DO NOT HAVE A MATERIALLY ADVERSE EFFECT ON AGRICULTURE.

On to:
Chapter 7.5 WITHIN THE DESIGNATED AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY, PRIORITY WILL BE GIVEN TO THE CONSERVATION OF THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE LANDSCAPE. EXCEPT FOR SPECIFIC ALLOCATIONS IN THE LOCAL PLAN, DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA OF OUTSTANDING NATURAL BEAUTY WILL ONLY BE PERMITTED WHERE IT WILL NOT RESULT IN HARM TO THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE AREA. PARTICULAR ATTENTION WILL BE PAID TO THE DESIGN, EXTERNAL APPEARANCE AND LOCATION OF ALL PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT IN THIS AREA.

7.10 When considering or formulating proposals for development in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, therefore, designs which enhance the landscape will be encouraged and development which would detract from the quality and distinctive character of the landscape will not be permitted. It is normally considered inconsistent with the aims of designation to permit the siting of major industrial or commercial development within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Plenty of points there to bring up in your eventual letter of protest.

The complete Local Plan can be viewed on the West Dorset District Council's website .


The Local Plan (25th November 2002)

The Local Plan -First Deposit- is already available for viewing at the community learning centre, LymeNET, which is located in St Michael's Business Centre, off Church Street, Lyme Regis. LymeNET is open from 9am through to 5pm on weekdays and on Saturday mornings. There are no formal viewing arrangements so just drop in when convenient.

An article in the Lyme Regis News of 22nd November carried the news that the area earmarked for industrial and residential development is Woodberry Down which lies between the top of Talbot Road and the caravan site. There will be 40 houses, 12 of them "affordable". No mention was made in the article of the development area being extended to include Strawberry Field. The article briefly touched on other matters of local interest such as local community use of the sports facilities at the Woodroffe School, skateboarding and the Three Cups Hotel.


The Local Plan (10th November 2002)

The Local Plan is a blueprint set out by a district council , amongst other things, to define areas where development, industrial or residential, may take place during the lifetime of that particular local plan. It is not a question of a fait accompli, a document put before the people that must be adhered to. The adoption of a local plan is a long drawn out process in which the people have every opportunity to put forward and argue their views on the plan. Each step of the process is well defined and includes public enquires to settle any differences in opinions.

The East Devon District Council's First Deposit Plan of the local plan deposited early in 2002 attracted vast opposition to the large residential development planned for an area east of Exeter. 11,000 letters of objection were received, which will probably result in the development being abandoned.

The West Dorset District Council's current Local Plan was adopted in 1998.

The First Deposit Plan of the Local Plan Review is due in January 2003.There have been many and various signals that the development area for Lyme Regis will be extended to include Strawberry Field and Pen Cross. For instance at a recent Town Council meeting councillor Evemy's statement "I do not think it would be wise to pour millions into Pen Cross" was answered by district councillor Ken Meech saying there was provision for more industry in the Draft Local Plan which would "pleasantly surprise" Councillor Evemy.

One of our points of opposition to the sports complex is that it is outside the Lyme Regis area defined for development. It is highly likely that the planning application will be judged on the current Local Plan. If we are successful in our opposition to the sports complex, it could possibly resurface once the development zone has been extended by the new Local Plan. It therefore is imperative that the Local plan will not include the extension to the development area. Besides, ignoring the possibility of the sports complex, the establishment of an industrial estate at Pen Cross is no less of an environmental disaster, it is still within an AONB.

We must oppose this likely alteration to the local plan. I shall post more information here when it becomes available.


Lyme Regis Town Council Meeting (23rd October 2002)

Stuart Broom of Lyme Regis Football Club gave details of the latest alterations to the site layout and a plan plan was made available.He also told us the current position regarding their progress toward making a planning application.(LRNews cutting)

There are various surveys that still need to be carried out. The chief matter that was holding up progress was the Geotechnical Survey. This survey must be completed before a full planning application can be made. It will probably take three months before the results are known, putting the date of the eventual application back to February at the earliest.

What's more this survey will cost 20,000. The funds collected by the football club total 13,000. The problem appears to be that the money raised cannot be spent on these works. Of course if planning permission is granted the football club will be so flush with funding cash that payment would be no problem. On the other hand if planning permission is not forthcoming donations to the football club would have to be repaid. It was in this eventuality that the football club would like the town council to underwrite this survey to 10,000. It was put quite bluntly that if the town council did not agree to this then the football club would have no alternative than to pull out of the entire project.

This did the trick, how could they have refused?

The one abstention came from Councillor Ivor Curtis.

The town council will now be even keener to promote the Strawberry Field project. Fail to get the permission and they will loose 10,000, bringing the outlay to 70,000 for a field not much good for anything apart from growing strawberries perhaps.


Propaganda! (22nd October 2002)

Both the Pulmans (16th Oct) and the Lyme Regis News (18th Oct) were full of suggestions that the town must expand to survive. There were articles for the development of industrial estates and business parks, with favourite locations being Pen Cross and the recent park and ride site opposite Strawberry Field. All just within the town councils jurisdiction but conveniently out of sight from Lyme but alas not Uplyme.

This all suggests that the First Deposit Plan of the Local Plan Review will include the extension of the development zone to encompass Penn Cross as well as Strawberry Field. The Plan should be deposited in January 2003, you will then have six weeks to register any objection you may have.

The barrage in the local papers points to an orchestrated effort by interested parties.

At the Town Council's meeting at the Woodmead Halls on Wednesday 23rd October an item on the agenda will be dealing with finance of the pre-application feasibility studies on Strawberry Field. It is believed that the Football Club want the town council to underwrite these expenses. But isn't this one of the very reasons why the council put the development into the hands of the football club, to offload much of the costs and responsibilities?

My I add that when reading the articles that appear in the Pulmans bear in mind that they are written by Philip Evans, the Pulman's editor and the chairman of the Lyme Regis Football Club.


Over Optimistic (16th October 2002)

It is now becoming obvious that the hope to have the Planning Application before the planning committee for the October meeting was grossly over optimistic. Various feasibility studies are still to be carried out and more importantly paid for. A meeting is called for next Wednesday, 23rd October,at the Woodmead Hall to discuss this very problem.

Planning Application Imminent. (19th September 2002)

The Lyme Regis Football Club are soon to make their application to develop Strawberry Field. They intend to have the Full Planning Application before the planning committee for the October meeting.

Full details will be available on this site as soon as they become available.


Recommended for Refusal by the Town Council and WDDC Officers. Planning Permission grated by WDDC Committee. (26th July 2002)

The West Dorset District Council's development control west committee gave the go ahead for this application (see 21st June immediately below). This to an application referred to by the town council as a "further encroachment into the Lym Valley" and recommended for refusal by principal area planning officer Gerald Hughes who said that "it would effectively be a new home outside the defined development boundary and contrary to their planning policy."

This is an example that even though planning policies may indicate that an application should be refused the final decision is down to the councillors. What decides on how the individual councillors vote could be discussed until the cows come home. A sure way of circumvented this lottery would be to have the Strawberry Field application called-in for which there are genuine reasons which are fully discussed on a separate page.


Councillors Urged to Protect Lym Valley (LRNews 21st June 2002)

Both the Lyme Regis Town Council and Gerald Hughes the principal planning officer with the West Dorset District Council, recommended to the Development Control West Committee that an application to demolish derelict buildings and replace with a new dwelling at Haye Lane be rejected. Mr. Hughes said the proposed house would be outside the defined development boundary, was in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and of local landscape importance.

The town council described the proposal as "a further encroachment into the Lym Valley". It is rather strange that the town council is unable to see their proposal to develop the sports centre at Strawberry Field, also in the Lym Valley, in the same light. It being eleven acre's of development including destruction of the valley contours, the building of a club house, installation of flood lights, etc., on an extremely open and obvious position on a green field site . I hate to have to say it again but here we have more of those double standards.


Very Quiet on the Strawberry Field Front. (21st June 2002)

Could be ominous, suggesting that the planning application may be imminent. This is what happened just before the outline application was made by the town council. Stand by your key-boards or have your pens at the ready!
To date the application has not been advertised in the Lyme Regis News.

Funds flow in to the Football Club

Whatever your views are about Strawberry Field, yes it now seems to be singular, you can't help but admire the way the football club has gone about fund raising. Although the hype surrounding this campaign to raise the necessary cash seldom concerns itself with the fact that planning permission for the project has yet to be obtained.


The District Council's Heaven-sent Opportunity.
Common Sense from the Lyme Regis News (24th May 2002)

In an article in the Lyme Regis News, David Cozens ties up the need for sports facilities with the excellent under used ones at the Woodroffe School.

See article

Why have the Town and District Councils been so quiet on this?
It's as if there was a hidden agenda!


Fund Raising Walk Around Strawberry Field

On Sunday 19th May 2002 a sponsored walk was held around the perimeter of the field to help raise money for the football club's contribution of 50,000 toward the 750,000/1million cost of developing the site.

Thirty people including babies, toddlers on shoulders, children and a couple of dogs took part in the hour long walk. It could be seen from a distance that this must have been the first visit to the site for some of the people for during their first lap they just stood and gazed at the outstanding views. Perhaps they will have second thoughts now about contributing to such an act of vandalism the building of a sports centre on this site would constitute. I hope these very same toddlers will not in the future reproach their parents for having a hand in the destruction of their heritage.


Those Plans (10th May 2002)

I have now managed to see the plans. They are indeed the most elementary of plans. Nothing is included on them outside the boundary of the "field". It is thus difficult getting an handle on the scaling, especially as there are no measurements given.

Three football pitches are drawn in, two full size and a smaller one. They lie roughly north to south along the contour lines, so minimizing excavation work, but even then it will be considerable. There is the Multi-Use Games Area which will be the only floodlit area, at least at the commencement of the project. We are told these lights will be well screened by trees, which I find difficult to believe possible on such a sloping site.

A substantial "pavilion" is situated adjacent to the entrance to the field. Again there being no measurements it is impossible to be exact about the size of the building. The position of the pavilion leaves little space in the vicinity for parking, most of the parking being well away at the top of the field, which seems a serious design fault.

It seems that it is the intention of the town council to continue the Park and Ride scheme on the site, in which case there seems too little parking.

It is obvious that a lot of the basic layout still has to be determined and if the next application is to be "full plans" then considerable work has to be done.

When you consider all the sporting activities the council were hoping to include on the site, it is difficult to imagine where they would all have gone. This is just another indication of the lack of thought that has been given to the project, where enthusiasm has overcome common sense.


Special Town Council Meeting
Held on 1st May 2002

One of the items on the agenda at this meeting was the Strawberry Field Plans. The councillors were not greatly impressed with them. The main criticisms were concerned with their complete lack of measurements, making it difficult to estimate the number of car parking spaces, Stan Williams saying that there could be anything from 30 to 200. Also there was some concern that the entrance to the site was rather narrow and that the "buildings" were perhaps not in the right place.

Lighting was briefly and hurriedly mentioned. With particular mention of certain low lights for the "Multi-Use Games Area"

The public were not given access to the plans so not much can be said about them.

The council not being at all happy with the parking space, a proposal, duly seconded and passed was made for the Strawberry Field Committee to meet and discuss the parking situation.

It was said that when the planning application is re-submitted it will be one of Full Plans. Bearing in mind the comments made about the plans it seems that it will be a considerable time before they are re-submitted!

It does seem that the town council are pushing ahead with the full sports centre complex even though the only organization interested in using the facilities is the football club. I do get the feeling after attending my first town council meeting that this project now has a momentum of its own. The town councillors not wanting this pet of theirs to fail refusing to go back to basics and reconsider if this centre is at all necessary.


More Double Standards from the Town Council

In the Lyme Regis News for 12 April 2002 Stan Williams showed some caution.

He said the way the scheme has been dealt with so far is undemocratic. More public consultation should take place before any further action on the proposed scheme.

He accused the council of "ignoring the proper process of local government".

"The council has not carried out its own assessment to see whether there are any other sites which may be less environmentally unfriendly. It has not assessed how much it would cost the town's taxpayers of Lyme Regis...We must study the proposed hours of operation, insurance cover, noise level....."

You would be forgiven if you thought that he was talking about Strawberry Field, when infact he was talking about the proposed skateboard park at Monmouth Beach

This is the same old double standards, one for the town where the voters are and an entirely different attitude for the countryside devoid of any Lyme voters and those that are around are across the town / parish, district, county and even parliamentary constituency boundaries.


10th April 2002
Lyme Regis Town Council Withdraws the Planning Application

Apparently West Dorset District Council asked the Town Council to withdraw the application because of it's vagueness. It will probably be re-submitted with a clearer description or perhaps as a full application.

I'm not sure if this is good or bad news. Being the eternal sceptic, I believe that this may have been intentional, for it means that all your letters of objection, the petition and the letters requesting that the matter be called-in will not be valid for the new application, we will have to do it all over again. A good technique to draw our fire and later slip the new application in after we have lost some of our original enthusiasm.


Strawberry Field was discussed at the Uplyme Parish Council's Meeting on 10th April

Go to Strawberry Field report from the meeting.

Lyme Regis Town Council's Double Standards

It was reported in the Lyme Regis News for 5th April 2002 that the Town Council was very annoyed by two warning signs that have been put up at the Cobb. Town Councillor Nigel Clarke was reported as saying:
"This structure is an eyesore and was erected without planning permission. It is completely out of keeping with this fine marine structure."
This comes from a man who is one of the main proponents of putting a sports centre probably complete with floodlights on a hilltop overlooking a beautiful unspoilt valley. Are his fine sensitivities only reserved for the appreciation of things man made?
Councillor Stan Williams said he had been told that no alteration could be made to a Grade 1 Listed structure without English Heritage's permission.
I wonder if he is also aware that development cannot take place in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, especially if it detracts from the landscape value of the area. Whilst recreational facilities take second place when considering the landscape value of a site.
Does he also know that the proposed Sports Centre Development is outside the development area as outlined in the Local Plan?

Members of the Lyme Regis Town Council, seem to read more into it's name than is justified. For although their boundary does go beyond the built environment they seem solely to concern themselves with the "Town".

Perhaps not until their entire area is under concrete will they show some concern for it, but of course then it will be too late!

In this I am not joking. For the Town Council has already had talks with the West Dorset District Council proposing that Strawberry Field be included within the Development Area when the Local Plan is reviewed. Actually how far they propose to extend the Development Area is a matter of conjecture, but I am concerned that it will extend beyond Strawberry Field. So when this present battle is over the war will continue with the Local Plan Review.



Strawberry Field Home Page

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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


Thanks you very much for any support you can give regarding objecting to this planning application.

Email:   johnrhodehill.co.uk  if you have any comments.


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