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.

Update Page 2004

(most recent first)

We remain very protective of it! (17th December)

The "it" in this instance is "our countryside". So says a report from Ken Meech in the Lyme Regis News (17th December 2004).

Those readers who have followed the fortunes of the Strawberry Field project will be surprised with the views expressed in the article for Mr Meech has been fully supportive of developing the field. Mr Meech "deplores the situation" that "Tetra masts mushroom across our countryside in unwelcome habitats". But what has he done in his capacity as Lyme's representative on the WDDC to remove the illegally installed TETRA mast on the field next to Strawberry Field?

Perhaps we really have seen the greening of Mr Meech for reflecting on the application to install the driving range on the golf club's practice area, why was he content, knowing that his town council was fully supportive of the application, to let the decision be decided by delegated powers when he could have called for the Development Control West Committee to make the decision?

I dare say that the sceptics amongst us will argue that Mr Meech is taking the long view and preparing a environmental cloak for himself for the forthcoming "Grandson of Strawberry Field" application.

Tree planting, again! (29th October 2004)

Tree planting at Strawberry Field "to go ahead as soon as possible" (Lyme Regis News)

We've been here before. Well before the town council made their own aborted outline planning application, intense discussion was ongoing about the urgency of tree planting. On 23rd Janurary 2002 the News reported a discussion at a Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting at which many differing views were expressed. Mike Lewis,the town clerk, had the final word by suggesting a rational approach in that trees planted at that time may have had to be moved at a later date when plans for the field would have been known. As those plans are still a figment of the imagination it is time for another word from the wise Mr Lewis.

Planning application imminent

It has recently been revealed that a planning application is about to be made to develop Strawberry Field with two football pitches and a "modest" changing room building.

This of course would still require the land to be terraced, a bone of contention with the planners. How it would be financed is another problem when it is known that the football club is not flushed with cash.

We look forward to the application

Developing Strawberry Field has suddenly become harder. (2nd October)

With the refusal of the planning application to install a driving range on the Lyme Regis Golf Club's practice area, obtaining the go ahead for any development on Strawberry Field will have become even more difficult. The list of precedents stopping development in the Harcombe Valley is now becoming quite long. Can the football club afford to persevere with the field or should they cut their losses and look elsewhere? Isn't it time to end the special relationship the club has with the town council? By accepting the poisoned chalice from the town council the club has lost valuable time and a considerable amount of money. It is time to move on.

The latest threat to Strawberry Field . (11th September)

It was announced in the Lyme Regis News of 10th September that the town council will be making a planning application to store 50 brightly coloured beach huts on Strawberry Field for ten months of the year when coastal stabilisation work begins next year, work that will probably take three years to complete.

The huts are usually stored over winter on the Woodmeads Hall car park, but next year when they will only be allowed on the sea front during July and August they would be occupying valuable revenue creating space on the car park. We know what happens when something cuts down income from the car parks. It has to go, as did the tennis courts. The beach huts must follow suit and where better put them, for the town council, than on their own Strawberry Field. This will further antagonize the opponents to development of Strawberry Field and in the meantime degrade the area in preparation of a further application to develop Strawberry Field.

This is yet another instance of what little respect the town council has for the AONB and in particular the unspoilt Harcombe Valley. It could be postulated that at the moment the town council would agree to any kind of development along these top fields of the Harcombe Valley if it resulted in the beginning of general development in the area.

A sensible way forward. (11th September)

At the September meeting of Uplyme Parish Council the chairman Beryl Denham reported on a meeting that she had attended chaired by Marcus Dixon. The idea was to get together bodies interested or hopefully interested in bridging the artificial line that cuts what should be a single integrated community into almost warring parties as was seen over this very planning application. Surely it can do no harm to meet representatives of the town council and other parties to discuss matters in which they share a common interest.

Unfortunately some of the councillors did not see it this way. A minority feared, that by going along with this, Uplyme would eventually be dominated by Lyme and loose its autonomy. There was a clear cut split between the longer serving councillors who saw no future in this approach and the newer members who thought that it was certainly worth giving it a go. It was put to the vote and the majority of councillors, probably 7 to 3, were for further participation in the group.

"Ball is in council's court"( Lyme Regis News 27th August)

Mr Renders serves an ace with his letter

Of course the hidden agenda in Cllrs. Lovell, Meech and Williams rhetoric is that the court in which they stubbornly want to play would be on the Strawberry Field. Could it be any other way having been behind spending so much of the town's money on the field and the aborted football club's planning application. Not until Lyme has more new faces and consequently egg free ones will the driving force behind the town council see the obvious benefits for the town, the school and the people (electorate) in taking the Woodroffe option.

"Town Council will set up working group to look into public use of Woodroffe's facilities."( Lyme Regis News 20th August)

Is this the turning point that we have been waiting for? David Sole called for wholehearted support into working with the school. At least there now seems to be some support probably coming from the newer councillors. They haven't got the weight of the purchase of Strawberry Field around their necks, unlike Councillors Lovell, Meech and Ken Williams. See article

"Lyme Regis Town Council's depressingly negative attitude"(30th July)

In a letter to the Lyme Regis News (30th July) David Sole suggests that the town council having made an initial mistake should now "put its wholehearted support into working with the school."

School's email forces rare comment from town council( Lyme Regis News 23rd July)

Revealing comment, reported in the Lyme Regis News (23rd July 2004), came from town councillors after Dr Richard Steward, head of the Woodroffe School emailed policy committee chairman Lorna Jenkin with a plea for help over progress over the public use of the school's facilities.

Unfortunately it fell on stoney ground for the town council seem determined to support the Strawberry field site to the exclusion of the Woodroffe School project. Could this be because, and unmentioned in any of the councillors' reported statements, the town council own Strawberry Field and stand to loose the 10,000, with which they pledged to finance the geotechnical survey, if the project doesn't go through?

Councillor Meech said that in his capacity of district councillor he had always pushed for more financial help for Strawberry Field in preference to the Woodroffe project. Cllr. Meech should be reminded that the Woodroffe School's project was publicly announced in the year 2000, Strawberry Field was not bought until the autumn of 2001 following advice from the district council not to do so.

Cllrs. Owen Lovell and Stan Williams were of the opinion that the school "don't want" and "aren't interested" in the public use of the school's facilities even though the council were considering a plea from the school for this very same thing which included, "If you - the town council - can use your position to take a more active part, the school could really begin to move forward."

This article confirms what many had suspected, that the town council have all along played down the proposals for the Woodroffe School in preference for developing Strawberry Field. If anyone is not interested in the project it most clearly is the town council.

"Coun Jenkin asked if anyone had any ideas about what they could do but there was no response" The town council reverting to their silence on the issue!

Also in the same issue came the news that the town council are giving the football club about 4,000 for the design fees of the MUGA and planning application costs. Although there was a condition. They wanted assuring that another planning application would be forthcoming. It should be remembered that the inclusion of the MUGA in the project was at the insistence of the town council!

Woodfroffe facilities will be opened to the public( Lyme Regis News 16th July)

Confirmation, that the school and its governors and the Lyme Regis Development Trust are determined to make the school's facilities available to the public, came in an articles in the Lyme Regis News (16th July) which answered questions put in a letter the previous week, which in turn was in response to Camilla Maccoy's letter.

The fact that no statement from the Lyme Regis Town Council was included in the article came as no surprise.

Camilla Maccoy - see article immediately below - should be delighted that included in the future plans will be a swimming pool, although it may be that her children will be the main beneficiaries.

Sporting facilities would be gratefully received by Camilla Maccoy ( Lyme Regis News 2nd July)

Thirteen year old Camilla, in her letter, gave the youngsters view on the lack of sporting facilities in the town. She is obviously oblivious to the proposal to open the Woodroffe School's sporting and other facilities to the community. This is not surprising when you consider the almost secrecy in which this project has been veiled.

The opponents to the Strawberry Field project have for a very long time been attempting to encourage some progress on the Woodroffe scheme. There was a brief surge of interest when we encouraged Oliver Letwin to get involved in November 2002, but the forward pace again faltered. David Cozens summed up the situation over two years ago with an article in the News. Since then there has been some talking but no positive advance.

Why does any progress in this town have to be so dragged out, for instance the skateboard park.

Will MMO2 accept the golf club's invitation? ( Lyme Regis News 11th June)

All articles dealing with developments on the golf club's members practice area can now be found on the dedicated golf driving range pages.

Coast in line for top world award ( Lyme Regis News 4th June)

The World Heritage Site has been recognised as one o the most environmentally friendly tourism destinations in the world. It is one of the 12 finalists in the 2004 World Legacy Awards.

Keith Bellows, editor of National Geographic Traveller, said: "Great travel experiences depend on keeping destinations distinctive and unspoiled".

The town council is quick to pick up and wallow in such praise whilst on the other hand it is only too keen to erode Lyme's attractiveness by such schemes as sticking floodlighting on a prominent hilltop.

Planning application submitted for golf driving range.

All articles dealing with developments on the golf club's members practice area can now be found on the dedicated golf driving range pages.

Project not financially feasible with just pitches and changing facilities ( Lyme Regis News 7th May)

An interview with the football club's chairman Philip Evans by David Cozens, in today's News, revealed the current thinking regarding the project.

It is now disclosed that the amount already spent on the project is 40,000, a scandalous amount when considering that the granting of planning permission was always a doubtful issue on such a site.

The club were hoping to finance the running of the complex with takings from a clubhouse. It was hoped revenue from its bar would amount to 120,000. Without this input the whole project flounders.

The club is considering reducing its senior teams from four to three in the Perry Street League because they don't have use of a second pitch each week. A drastic and quite unnecessary move, for until they have another permanent pitch closer to home there will be available, not a stone's throw away from the Axmouth pitch, from the beginning of next season , two other first class pitches for hire at the Colyton Grammar School. The availability of these pitches was mentioned in Mr Evan's newspaper, the Pulman's, for 7th January 2004. See also New 1.1 million sports hall

Uplyme Parish Council to write to Lyme Regis Golf Club over future siting of Tetra Mast (14th April)

All articles dealing with developments on the golf club's members practice area can now be found on the dedicated golf driving range pages.

Non-participation of Councillors Lovell and Meech will not prevent a future application being called-in. (19th March)

David Cozens - today's Lyme Regis News - is of the opinion that the decision of the two district and town councillors not to take part in the Strawberry Field hearing would have prevented the planning application from being called-in. Long before these two councillors were given the chairmanship and vice-chairmanship of the Development Control West Committee, we - the "antis"- were requesting, on valid grounds, that any application for Strawberry Field should be called-in, in fact we requested that the original outline planning application made by the town council in the spring of 2002 was called-in. These grounds still existed and included Conflict with National Policies regarding AONB and the Local Plan and Substantial Regional Controversy particularly concerning the disenfanchisement of the people of the Parish of Uplyme.

Of course any future planning application for Strawberry Field will be assessed on its merits and any action thought necessary will be taken, and if these controversies remain we will again request that the application be called-in.

Radio mast threat explained to Uplyme Parish Council (Lyme Regis News 12th March)

All articles dealing with developments on the golf club's members practice area can now be found on the dedicated golf driving range pages.

Radio mast next to Strawberry Field? (Lyme Regis News 5th March)

All articles dealing with developments on the golf club's members practice area can now be found on the dedicated golf driving range pages.

Good Lighting Award is not for town Council, Lyme Regis News makes correction. (5th March)

The rightful recipients of the award are the people of Lyme Regis and according to the correction they will be receiving the award in April. (see article immediately below)

"Good Lighting Award for town council!" but it's not 1st. April! (1st March)

This was the news in an article in the Lyme Regis News of 27th February.

Is this the same town council that backed the floodlighting on Strawberry Field?

And had decided on an inferior and light polluting design for replacement of the light fittings on Marine Parade, a design that they wanted to push through with great speed and refused to appear on TV to discuss the issue? (see News articles)

An award to the town council would be an insult to all those people including Judy Simmonds, then of the Bay Hotel, and John Fowles who worked so hard with the county council to have the design accepted that is now installed. It would be complete hypocrisy for the town council to accept this award.

Development could go ahead but not with floodlights or clubhouse. (20th February)

The Lyme Regis News reported on the town council meeting, 18th February, at which the clerk briefed the councillors of the meeting of the football club and the planning officers at WDDC that took place on 12th February. The club are in a catch 22 situation, yes they may get planning permission for two pitches but the maintenance of the site was planned to be financed by profits from the clubhouse which they now may not be allowed to build (see minutes and here). Of course this is all based on the views of the planning officers whilst the final decision rests in the hands of the planning committee, and we have yet to hear their views on Strawberry Field.

The same edition contained a constructive letter from Geoffrey Mann in answer to Professor Whitfield's. Far from constructive was Nigel Fortnam's letter in which he revisited old and tired arguments which I have answered on two previous occasions.

The Pulman's (18th February)

The Pulman's had a report of the meeting between the football club and the planning officers of the West Dorset District Council that was held last Thursday to discuss possible ways forward for the football club,. Nothing enlightening came out of this meeting or if it did we were not told about it.

Will the football club now abandon all ideas of including any sport other than football in any future development?
This would be difficult for the following was recorded in the minutes of a Strawberry Field Committee meeting held on 17th April 2002, "Cllr Meech strongly advised that, in order to obtain planning permission, the plans must convince the District Councillors that this would be a multi-purpose sporting complex". We look forward to seeing any future proposals.

Lyme Regis News (13th February)

There was coverage of the application withdrawal, the "arson" attack on the clubhouse and Uplyme Parish Council's reaction to councillors Lovall and Meech's acquisations of being threatened by someone from Uplyme.

The only letter on the subject was from Professor Richard Whitfield with much needed and perfectly timed advice on what must be the only logical and sensible way forward.

The Pulman's reports (11th February)

The fire did not completely destroy the clubhouse but has caused between 5,000 and 10,000 worth of damage.

The withdrawal is reported and an editorial tells of the club's plight.

Davey Fort clubhouse fire (9th February)

Unconfirmed news was circulating on Saturday that the clubhouse had been damaged by fire. This was confirmed today by "the existing club house has mysteriously burnt down over the weekend!"

Ignoring the various conspiracy theories that this has triggered, what are the implications for the club. This will probably mean yet more expense for the club in having to hire pitches for every home game. Could they now build the clubhouse of their dreams at Davey Fort? Would the planners now be more sympathetic to the club's needs?

Read Officer's Report on the Strawberry Field planning application 1/W/2003/1670.

Unfortunately the report is unobtainable on the WDDC website anymore. If you email me (bottom of page) I will attach a copy to an email. It is a pdf file of 500kbs and you will need Adobe Acrobat to view it. Acrobat is a free download.

Application Withdrawn (7th February)

Within one week of the hearing date the application has been withdrawn. The news came in the early evening of Thursday that the officers report came out very firmly against the planning application, with a recommendation for refusal. This was confirmed by the lead story in the LRNews the next day. There was added encouragement, for those opposed to the development, on the front page with the news that councillors Lovell and Meech were going to abstain from voting at the Development Control West Committee's meeting on Thursday. Then hardly having time to adjust to what this probably meant, we learnt that the application had been withdrawn.

What does this, not completely, unexpected move suggest?

The football club realize that the application as submitted is a complete none starter.

It has been rumored for a long time that the football club have an alternative plan already prepared and once it was thought it would run alongside this application, an idea suggested by the district council many months ago. These new plans would be for an application to be made without the MUGA and its floodlighting. It was an insistence of the town council that the Strawberry Field development should contain a MUGA so that it would not be thought that they were doing this solely for the football club. Now in the luxurious position of being able say that we tried, an unabashed application can go ahead without the MUGA. The football club are meeting the WDDC planning officers to discuss the way ahead.

How would the officer's report stand with the criticism of the MUGA removed?
There would still be a very strong case against the development. The terracing would obviously still be included. This was particularly criticised in the report. The over large clubhouse was also singled out.We await developments.

What made the football club change its mind after Philip Evans confidently said in the News, "However it is not unknown for Mr Hughes' recommendations to be overruled"?
The announcement that Cllrs. Lovell and Meech were going to abstain from voting may have been an influence for the withdrawal came very soon after their announcement.

Much of what is said in the News article on the abstention of the two councillors is difficult to understand. They say that they have been threatened by someone in Uplyme. By whom and where is the evidence?
Surely if this is so they should bring it out in the open. It sounds like bullying tactics and should be exposed.

"..the standards required in today's society". It was because of these standards that the stance of the councillors was being questioned. At long last they have done what these standards expect of them.

"When we took these positions we never believed it could disadvantage our community.." Then they must be even more naive than we imagined. The vast majority of people saw this immediately.

"irrelevant misinformation" and "it had seemed on occasions to be a deliberate attempt to mislead". Again what are we specifically speaking about and where is the evidence?

If councillors are to make these accusations they should be backed up with details. I suspect that they are here listening too much to the football club's own propaganda.

They also thought it was unfair that Uplyme Parish council should be allowed to take part in the planning application hearing. By what means would they prefer to ban them from taking part?
By disqualifying them because they are NIMBYs or because they don't even live in the same county. Two arguments that we often hear from many of the supporters of the scheme that would exclude almost everyone. Do they not consider it unfair that the town council from the first flush of this project did not consider it a good neighbourly gesture to obtain the views of the people of Uplyme through the parish council?
People who would suffer all the negative sides of the development.

Yes "Thank goodness" for the fairness of the planning officers who continue to maintain that "West Dorset is [a] democratic body".

Only one letter appeared in the Lyme Regis News this week. It being from Stuart Broom replying to the anonymous letter that exposed his position as a fellow NIMBY. One comment is required here, to point out that it is good to know that Mr Broom has a dictionary, it is just a shame that he did not refer to it when entering into correspondence, in the Pulman's, regarding the possibility of "dedicated" tennis courts on the Strawberry Field

The Lyme Regis News (30th. January)

As "An Uplyme Resident" rightfully said in his/her letter, thank goodness we have the Lyme Regis News with its policy of open discussion. What is sad is the fact that this correspondent feels that he/she needs to remain anonymous. How many other people are out there frightened to object to the planning application for fear of repercussions?
I have had several unsigned letters supporting our campaign. I have also had discussions with people who say that they are fully behind us in suggesting that Strawberry Field is not the right location for this development but because their children are members of the club they feel that "coming out" would lead to their children being ostracized.

The letter contains an exposé of Stuart Broom's other side and was covered, although not so eloquently, on this page.

Geoffrey Mann's letter is mainly about word definitions, a subject of which we have already had some correspondence in the Pulman's with the same Mr Broom. Although Mr Mann is correct in what he says about the environmental aspects of golf courses what Professor Whitfield suggested for Strawberry Field was not a golf course but a pitch and put course for which there is already planning permission for part of the field.

Nigel Marsh's letter contained some faulty logic. He is convinced that Councillors Lovell and Meech will vote on the application even if it means resigning their positions as chairman and vice-chairman of the Development Control West Committee. In suggesting that they resign their positions he infers that they have predetermined their positions regarding the application but their position as ordinary members of the planning committee would not wash their slate clean. Their status on the committee is irrelevant.

Does Mr Marsh know something we do not?
Until the officer's report is in the public domain in a few days time he is doing something that the two councillors were careful to avoid as reported in the News (23 Jan), that they cannot make a move on this until the report is published. Unlike Mr Marsh I am convinced that they will not vote. It is not just a sports field at stake here but the people's trust in local democracy. The district council just cannot allow the two councillors to vote on this one. See also entry for the 23rd January

To bracket together the lack of affordable accommodation and sporting facilities as equal reasons that Lyme Regis could loose its youth is absolutely ridiculous. I am certain even if this application fails Lyme Regis is assured of an improvement in its sporting facilities. We sincerely hope that the town council and the football club will follow through their desire to improve facilities and that with lessons learnt will work with the district council rather than against them in resolving this problem. With Strawberry Field out of the way perhaps the town council, no longer with a vested interest to protect, will open their eyes to the opportunities that do exist in Lyme Regis instead of putting obstacles in the way.

What if.....?(28th. January)

Could a serious logistical problem be waiting to happen at the hearing. Each of the two hundred or so people that made representations are allowed three minutes in which to air his or her views in front of the Development Control West Committee. A back of a envelope calculation suggests that if just a half of those entitled to speak did so it would take over eight hours to fit them all in. Whats more how could the committee members sift through such a lot of information not having it as a hard copy?

Lazers pull out of Dorset League.(23rd. January)

The withdrawal by the football club of the Lyme Lazers women's team from the Dorset Women's League (LRNews 23rd. Jan) leaves this Dorset football club badly represented in the league with which they profess to be so involved. They now have only the Junior Under 11s Team playing in a Dorset League. This is the club that states that it cannot contemplate moving to a new Devon base because it would mean changing leagues and then having to work their way through the leagues to attain their present status.

The News hears a rumour.(23rd. January)

Rumours that they would not be voting at the hearing were rejected by councillors Owen Lovell and Ken Meech . Cllr. Meech said that they would make a statement about a week before the hearing when they have considered their position.

They obviously find themselves in a difficult one. It is highly likely that the planning officers will come out strongly against the application. How could it be otherwise?

If the other committee members then follow the advice of the officers and reject the application with only the two Lyme councillors voting for it, their action on this will attract criticism that they did not come to the hearing with open minds. On the other hand if they vote against approval they will face criticism that they let down their fellow town councillors and in particular the football club after encouraging and helping them in their application. The council tax payers of Lyme must also be taken into consideration, for there is 10,000 riding on this decision. No to the development and the town will pay the bill for the geotechnical survey.

"But we've got all sorts of things to consider - whether there will be appeals, whether or not someone will complain." Why were they worrying about these things? Perhaps because they knew that they had a loosing case. As for complaining, the pens are already poised.

Their only way out of this dilema is to abstain from voting.

In his letter Prof. Richard Whitfield supports the Woodberry Down solution, with Strawberry Field used as a park and ride site and a pitch and put course, for which activities the field already has planning permission. His list of clear advantages cannot be faulted. It was this site that was referred to in the minutes of the meeting of 4th October 2001 that can be viewed under "Alternate Sites" on the town council minutes page. The WDDC had gone to the meeting with proposals for this site and were prepared to negotiate the extension of the defined development boundary. Within a week the fateful decision to buy Strawberry Field had been made.

Speaking at the hearing.(21st. January)

Anyone who made an objection to WDDC regarding the planning application is entitled to speak at the hearing for three minutes. Full details and hints about speaking at planning hearings can be seen on the WDDC website.

What you have to say may be the words that swings the outcome in our favour.

The Pulman's allows one last letter.(21st. January)

After last week's notice of a ban on Strawberry Field the editor kindly allowed me to respond to Stuart Broom's attack.

Lyme Regis News(16th January)

There were two letters supporting the project from:

Mark Larcombe giving top priority to the continuance of local culture and thought that "planting of a few trees" could save the day. Mark is from Yeovil and perhaps is not too familiar with the landscape here.

Geoffrey Mann praises a letter from Lorna Jenkin.

Bernard Spencer, chairman of the Lyme Regis society, is reason itself.

Whilst talking of reason you may be interested at this point to re-read Chris Boothroyd's article in which he gives a history of the Strawberry Field proposals and shows how lamentable the town council have behaved in this.

There was also an article reporting Beryl Denham's plea for parishioners to attend the hearing on 12th February. David Sole was also reported saying that the Pulman's will not be printing any more letters about Strawberry Field until after the hearing (see item immediately below). He was speaking during the Open Forum session.

The Pulman's puts the boot in and blows the whistle for end of game( 14th January)

The editor of the Pulman's having allowed publication of another of Stuart Broom's aggresive and insulting letters blocks any response to the letter by closing any future correspondence on the subject until after the hearing.

Mr Broom's letter was an attack on mine that appeared in the Pulman's of 31st December, which in turn commented on an article in the 24th December issue. The argument revolves around the word "dedicated". A word, evident from his careful effort not to use in his letter, with which Mr Broom seems to have difficulty.

In my dictionary "dedicated" means "To set apart for a special use". So a "dedicated tennis court", which is what appeared in the original Pulman's article, in an article in the Lyme Regis News and in an email that I received from Neil Darragh of the Lawn Tennis Association, as well as in my letter, is an "area set apart for tennis". This means that the court, would not be over-run with Five-A-Side footballers, netball or basket ball players, all quite valid users of a MUGA, when members of the proposed tennis club wished to play.

If a dedicated tennis court is going to be installed on the proposed MUGA then that part is no longer a MUGA. This would in affect cut the MUGA down by a third defeating the whole object. You can't have your cake and eat it.

Perhaps a dedicated court was not what was meant. If so all that was necessary from Mr Broom was an apology, on Philip Evans behalf, that Mr Evans had inadvertently used the wrong word in feeding the story of his meeting with Mr Darragh to both his and the Lyme Regis News reporters. It is either dedicated or it isn't. Or is Mr Broom guilty of what he so quickly accuses others of, the act of misinforming.

Lawn Tennis Association not given the full story( 13th January)

An email from Neil Darragh County Development Officer of the LTA confirms that, as suggested here, Philip Evans neither informed him of the controversy that the Strawberry Field had raised nor that the Woodroffe School was a viable alternative.

More town council minutes( 13th January)

More minutes have been added, concentrating on those that illustrate the involvement of Cllrs. Lovell and Meech. After reading these can it any longer be considered that these two councillors, as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Development Control West Committee, can go to the hearing with open minds?

"Lyme Regis News" ( 9th January)

The News also carried the announcement of the hearing date, saying that the "project could be decided on February 12"!
It's thanks to the local newspapers that we know of this for the official WDDC website still doesn't give the date. There were also letters, from Melanie Hitchcock and Lorna Jenkin criticizing the Lyme Regis Society's newsletter article.

"Date fixed for Strawberry Field hearing" (Pulman's 7th January)

So read the lead article in the Pulman's (7th January 2004), even though the WDDC website's dedicated page to the planning application still showed a blank in the decision date window the following evening.

The newspaper gave the date as 12th February 2004 at 2:15 pm in the Woodmead Halls. The time gives the football club some concern for they were hoping to pack the hall with children and requested that the meeting began after school finished. The club so immersed in a spectator sport seem to think that this hearing should have a similar atmosphere as a football match. Stuart Broom said, "The process of local government should be open to all, not just a few retired or self employed people who oppose the scheme and will be able to attend in the afternoon". Are we to infer from this statement that a number of the club's officers including the chairman Philip Evans, being in neither of these categories, will not be able to attend. They will be missed.

The article stated that the plans have been strongly opposed by Uplyme Parish Council. It may be a good idea here to recap on what other bodies oppose the application. They include the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Countryside Agency, the Campaign for Dark Skies, the East Devon District Council, the Devon County Council, the Uplyme and Lym Valley Society and the Lyme Regis Society. Supporting the application is the landowner of Strawberry Field the Lyme Regis Town Council.

"New 1.1 million sports hall opens in Colyton" (Pulman's 7th January)

Nicely juxtaposed to the above article on the front page was the news that a sports hall was opened at Colyton Grammar School. The article sang its praises and in particular the fact that the hall and other sports facilities on the site were open to public use. Officially opening the centre was England cricketer Andy Caddick who later said, "We need centres like this, they're very good not only for the community but also for local schools".

Of course similar facilities are installed at the Woodroffe School but seldom does the Pulman's mention the fact. The newspaper tends to withhold certain information and the opening of the Woodroffe facilities to the public is one of them. Most of what was said in the article about Colyton could be said about Woodroffe, except that the facilities are not yet, but are intended to be, open to the public.

As the article appeared in the Lyme Regis Football Club chairman's newspaper, I hope Mr Evans made a note that an agreement has been made for "local football clubs to have access to the school's grass pitches". Can he any longer say that there is a lack of available pitches within reasonable distance of Lyme?

"Moves to heal rift between local councils" (Pulman's 7th January)

Town Councillor and president of the football club Barbara Austin in, "The youth of every town and village are the future survival of our towns and villages and we can't afford to drive then out. It's up to our generation to look after them and protect them", seems to be suggesting that it is sports facilities that keep the youngsters in our towns and villages and that we must do all we can to provide such. How many years has Mrs Austin been a town councillor and for how many years have the youngsters of the town been waiting for their skate park. Rather than increasing sporting facilities the town council record shows that they have gone about the removal of them. The Woodmead tennis courts are a case in point. The council's recent conversion to wanting to provide such facilities is one of expediency and in its almost panic has not fully considered the consequences. If it had consulted Uplyme at the inception of the project, as Cllr. Austin is now proposing, there probably would not be a "rift" to overcome.

Can Mrs Austin be serious about healing the rift when she polarizes the pro and anti divide as between Lyme Regis and Uplyme. We all know that it is not as simple as that. I can assure her that the people of Uplyme are just as concerned about the lack of sporting facilities, although the village is adequately provided with football and cricket pitches as well as a tennis court. Obviously the population is too small for a sports hall and fitness suites but these will eventually be provided at the Woodroffe School and the people look forward enthusiastically to using them.Perhaps when Mrs Austin meets Beryl Denham the subject of the opening up of the school facilities to the public could be on the agenda.

Football Club's right to request determination by a government inspector.(6th January 2004)

Within the planning law provision is made that if a planning application takes longer than eight weeks for a decision to be made the applicant has the right to appeal for an inspector to determine the case. Already a report in the Pulman's (22 October 2003) showed that Philip Evans, the football club's chairman, was becoming anxious about the delay for the application to be heard. On 7th January 2004 it will be a full sixteen weeks since the application was registered or nearly 21 weeks since the incomplete plans were lodged at the council offices.

It does seem odd that, considering Mr Evans's concern shown in the above mentioned newspaper cutting, the football club has not demanded, as is its right, to have the application given over to a government inspector to determine the case. Unless, of course, they consider their chance of succeeding with their application much greater with the district council. Bearing in mind that the two town councillors Lovell and Meech are the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Development Control West Committee, the committee that will determine the case, and it is virtually their application, it would indeed be surprising if the club took the application out of their hands.

Is it feasible that, with their record of support and involvement in the project, they could not vote for the application.

Lyme Regis Town Council Minutes. (3rd January 2004)

Following considerable interest in the town council minutes arising from Nick Cornwell's recent letter in the LRNews, I am making those already on the site more accessible by including a drop-down menu to the right. At the moment the number available here is restricted to those that have been relevant to recent correspondence but I will, as time permits, add more of the 100 or so pages available to me.

Lyme Regis News. (2nd January 2004)

The News kicked off the New Year with two letters on the subject, the harbingers no doubt of many more to come.

Stuart Broom was once more stirred into action, as a spokesman for the Lyme Regis Football Club, by the lead story in last week's News.

He obviously gives great importance to a person being "indigenous" to an area if they are to make critical observations to certain proposed developments. Perhaps he should be reminded that 30 years of living in Bridport does not make him indigenous to that town. But I would be the last to consider his comments irrelevant when, as was revealed in the same edition of the News, he is leading opposition to a planning application by Safeway in Bridport to install an illuminated 20ft sign within 60 metres of his own home. He said, "Another garish, large illuminated sign will detract from the benefit of our houses. This is an inappropriate place and it is not necessary". Now where have I heard that kind of argument before?

Although Mr Broom is not indigenous to the town of Bridport, and some people may be inclined to suggest that in his opposition he is a "NIMBBY" (Not In Mr Broom's Back Yard), it is no reason to detract from the validity of his opposition. Now who was it who described Peter Burton as a NIMBY for objecting to the Strawberry Field development?
Click here for a clue.
And again for a disclosure of the "misinformation" contained within that letter.

Mr Broom also said, "Incidentally the golf club already has a driving range next to the Strawberry Field." At the moment, Mr Broom, they have a member's practice range. What the golf club would like to develop is an enclosed driving range open to the public. These differ as chalk from cheese. Apparently the golf club has already had an application on the lines of a driving range rightfully refused. Mr Broom may wish to consider the application refusal as an indication of the chances of his club's application being successful.

The other letter from David Sole cleared up some points arising from his open correspondence with Nick Cornwell. In particular he gave details of the current situation regarding planning consents on the field.

Defined Development Boundary (DDB) runs through the middle of the house. (1st January 2004)

Well almost. Although nobody seems certain. Another case of the inconsistency of approach by the town council has only recently come to my notice. It was reported in the Pulman's of 13 August 2003 that the planning committee of the town council had recommended for refusal an application to erect a dwelling and garage in the garden of an existing property. Not being certain where the boundary actually ran Cllr. Sally Holman said, not wanting to make an "iffy" decision they decided to recommend refusal. I'm pleased to know that the council take building outside of the boundary so seriously especially considering that, according to the plans on the WDDC offices website, the proposed dwelling would have been built between two existing houses.

It would be interesting to know why the town council had no inhibition of buying Strawberry Field with the intention of developing it even though it is far outside the DDB. Of course you can take it as read that when, a few weeks after considering the above application , the full council considered the Strawberry Field application no mention was made that the site was well outside the boundary.

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

Monsoon at Harcombe

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