Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Laundry Field Update

A meeting was held last week with The Homes and Communities Association (HCA) in regards to the recent developments at Laundry Field.
John Cottrell the Area Team Leader from the HCA gave those that attended a run down of the HCA's involvement and possible intentions with the site and a synopsis of this meeting is below:

The HCA bought the Blackberry Hill Hospital Site (not including the secure unit) and Laundry Field in March/April 2009.
Land Agents gave a Red Book Appraisal (valuation) of the hospital site only (not including Laundry Field) based on the potential for housing using recommended government housing density per hectare figures. This was calculated to be 350 homes. This figure was then used to confirm the purchase price of the land.

No plans for the site have been drawn up and the site will not come into full ownership until July 2010 when the NHS has to either vacate or buy back the land.

Currently the HCA has no monies allocated for the site and as such cannot progress with any consultation or draw up plans.

The HCA currently has 4 options

1. Consult over proposals when funding available
2. Bring a partner on board to fund consultation and subsequent development (e.g. Barrat/Bovis etc...)
3. Do nothing
4. Sell the Land to the highest bidder.

By the end of our discussions all felt that options 1 and 3 would be the best outcome for everyone.

Then the subject of Laundry Field came up and the signs.
The signs have been put up by the HCA to protect themselves as landowners and limit their public liability. This means that if they put a sign up saying private land do not enter and a member of the public goes onto that land and hurts themselves then they can be shown as advising the public to not go on the land and thus cannot be held accountable.
The signs are legal and the HCA has no intention of taking them down. However we shall be writing to the HCA to see if they will change their appearance as a minimum.

As no plans have been drawn up for the site ideas were bounced around as to what the potential for the site development would be and whether or not Laundry Field would be developed. The HCA felt that there would be some development of Laundry Field possibly around the outside, but this would form part of the consultation process.

The group understood that this was a possibility and stated that it would rather see no development on the field, but also appreciated that any developer would like to develop the field to some degree and thanked John Cottrell for his honesty on the subject.

The meeting ended on good terms and all those that attended felt that the HCA was an organisation that would pay a high regard to to views of the local residents and was glad to hear that pre consultation would be started at an early stage depending on what option over the land was decided.

Please watch this space for any further news and please add comments as the feeback can be used in future meetings.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Open meeting

Thanks to the nearly 50 people, who attended tonight's meeting about Snuff Mills, including John Mair, Lord Jafari's agent. We will update this blog with further details of everything that was discussed in due course.

It was useful to have a lively discussion with a representative of the landowner and it was certainly a really useful step in trying to build a relationship between the community and the landowner, but this is just the first step in trying to resolve all the issues that surround Grove Wood. It was in no way a consultation about the future management of the woodland and we have informed the Forestry Commission to this effect.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Eels in the river

Eels have declined by 95% across Europe in the last 25 years and no one knows why. But, they seem to be at home in the River Frome judging by this clip sent to us from a family that went fishing for tiddlers. It's a great sign that the river is healthy and not polluted and of course eels a food for herons, one of the birds we regularly see by the river

Monday, 14 September 2009

Owl prowl - 17th September

If you live close to Snuff Mills you've probably heard the tawny owls hooting and screeching during the night. We've organised a special event to find out more about these elusive birds with leading owl expert Chris Sperring. He'll lead us on a twilight walk to look and listen for them. He may even be able to confirm that they are really singing 'save Grove Wood' when they are hooting.

The event takes place on Thursday 17th September from 7.30pm and costs a very modest £2. Numbers are limited as we do not want to disturb the wildlife, so get your tickets in advance by emailing chrisvinecottage@yahoo.com

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Deer in the valley

A few people have been reporting seeing deer in the valley recently. We think there are at least two types in the area. The native roe deer has been seen around Snuff Mills in the fields and woods above the car park and the muntjac (pictured) has been seen close to the river. Muntjac have been introduced from Japan, but have spread throughout England. They are really small and you'd be very lucky to see them as they are very timid. Roe deer are a little braver, but also flee at the sight or smell of humans.

You are most likely to see them at dawn or dusk when the valley is quiet, so if you have dogs that like to chase animals, beware. Unlike squirrels, that dash up trees, or rabbits, that go down holes, when a deer is being chased it will run for miles. You could be waiting for a long time for your dog to return.

Has anyone else seen deer recently?