(July 2001) Open Letter Regarding the Proposed Development of the Site Sold Recently by Sibford School

I found out almost by chance about the display of plans and presentation by the architects (Batterton Tyack) on behalf of the developers (Swan Hill Homes) which took place on Tuesday evening 15th May.

I am writing to express my concerns on this issue and to see to what extent they are shared by other local people.

  1. The publicity for the above meeting appears to have been very sparse: I happened to see a small poster in the Shop barely a week before the meeting. For a proposed development on this scale, a letter to each inhabitant in the Ferris at least, if not the Gower and Burdrop, a month in advance, together with a notice in the Sibford Scene, as well as posters, would have been more appropriate.
  2. The meeting came at what is for many people the busiest time of their year – when they have the least time to give their full attention to ‘yet another matter’. This works to the advantage of the developers and the architects, even if not deliberately planned. The attendance at the meeting may reflect these two factors more than lack of concern by local people.

The proposal as I understand it is for the existing building adjoining the road to be made into 7 apartments and for 13 yes thirteen, new houses to be built in the grounds behind.

What concerns me is that the houses seem too big and too close to each other – it seems that the developer has crammed in as many as possible. (I have been told by a similar developer that people who buy such homes do not want to bother with gardens and like to be close together because they feel more protected from burglars. What do you make of that?)

  1. These dwellings do not appear to support and serve the local Community. They are likely to be purchased mainly by affluent newcomers. The houses are too big and expensive for the people who have grown up in the village and who, one would hope, would like the choice of continuing to live here. A good development would reflect the needs of local (often first-time) buyers. Other developments with which I am familiar typically contain eleven large expensive houses and two low cost small houses (to appease the locality?) when the balance should in fact be the other way round.
  2. It is estimated that the owners of these houses will possess at the very least 40 vehicles between them. This is a huge increase in a village of the size of the Ferris. Also the T junction is at present not dangerous largely because of the present volume of traffic.
  3. Concern has been expressed at the effect of the volume of sewerage on the land below the proposed houses.
  4. According to the plans some of the houses are very close to trees (which the plans portray as being protected) which would block the light. Would the buyers start to cut these down once they took possession?
  5. To extent is the land bought by the developers beyond the proposed housing development (down the hill) safe from being built upon at some stage in the future? I observe with surprise that the School did not put conditions upon the use of this land at the time of purchase. Their interest in the quality of life in the village and the environment does not seem to have been a priority. The Sibfords and Burdrop are incredibly beautiful and lovely villages. Let us do our very best to keep them this way, so that its inhabitants continue to enjoy the benefits of this, which tragically people often only realise they had once they have gone.

If you share these concerns, let us work together to look thoroughly into every aspect of this proposed development now before it is too late.

For information from the architects ring Batterton Tyack – 01608 650490.

Suzy Straw