Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene 235 July 2001

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Text, letter

Lottery Grant for Village Hall

On the 9th June we were able to announce our success in obtaining Lottery funding to extend and improve the village hall. For those of you who have not heard we were awarded, £154,315. In addition to this we also received from Cherwell District Council, £18,000 for which we are most grateful.

I would like to publicly thank the whole village hall committee and the villagers who contributed to our success. In particular I would like to thank Christine Bell who was “elected” our project manager. It is largely due to her hard work and perseverance that we are where we are. Other key people were Peter Stollwood whose financial expertise shaped our business case and David Bennett whose experience in gaining lottery grants was invaluable in pulling our application. together.

We committed to you last year that we would raise the necessary capital funding through our own efforts and I’m obviously relieved that we have managed to do so. This money is working capital and effectively spent so please don’t stop supporting us, we still need revenue to maintain what we have.

I will keep you informed of our progress and hope you will celebrate with us a superb achievement.

Ian O’Hara Chairman, Sibford Village Hall

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

Development at Sibford School Manor Site

Dear Editor,

Suzy Straw sent the Parish Council a copy of her letter to you and we would like to respond to the points raised.

1. We acted as soon as we knew of the application. We were informed on the evening of the Sibford Ferris Annual Parish Meeting on 23rd April by District Councillor David Green that an application had been received that morning and was being checked and processed by CDC Planning Dept.

We immediately arranged for an insert to go into the Ferris copies of the Sibford Scene which was due for delivery that week. The insert informed every one that an application had been received and an Open Meeting would be arranged, and would be advertised on the notice board and in the shop. The Parish Councillors received details of the application on 10th May and immediately arranged with the Architects to attend a meeting to explain the scheme and their thinking behind it. The earliest the Architects could attend was 15th May. We immediately drew up notices and displayed them on the notice boards at Lanes End, the Gower PC board at the Cross, the Village Hall, in the Post Office and in the Bishop Blaize. Given the time scale individual letters were not possible, and as every household in the Ferris had notification that a meeting was imminent, not considered necessary – we also hope that people talk to each other.

To have arranged a meeting one month in advance would be totally impossible – from the DATE of the CDC letter sending us details of the application, we have a statutory period of only 3 weeks in which to respond – that includes Parish Councillors considering the scheme, arranging meetings and obtaining parishioners views.

2. We have obviously got no control over the time of year any application is made, and it is a busy time for Parish Councillors too, and we felt the attendance at the two meetings was very good, and from all areas of the villages. There were approx. 45 people at the Architects meeting, and others, including I think Suzy, came to view the drawings but did not stay for the meeting. For the Highways meeting there were about 30 of whom approx. 10 had not attended the Architects meeting. To put that into perspective the attendance at the Ferris Annual Parish Meeting was 6. The proposals are actually for 5 flats and 4 dwellings in the existing stone buildings, to demolish the existing brick buildings and construct 10 new dwellings. Suzy is concerned that the houses are too big and to close together. All the developments of 2 or more dwellings we have had in recent years have been of the 4/ 5 bedrooms, 2 en-suite 2 bathroom type of house. It is therefore something of a relief to find that this development contained 1 x 1 bedroom unit, 10 x 2 bedroom units and 3 x 3 bedroom units (the remainder are 4 x 4 beds, and 1 x 5 bed) – this we feel will give a better demographic balance of households and be more in proportion with the rest of the village.

As for being close together, the new houses are made up of 3 x detached, 1 pair semi detached, 1 pair linked to the Manor, and 3 in a terrace.

This again we feel, with the conversion of the existing buildings reflects the original character of the village, which was basically a series of terraced cottages with individual farmhouses between.

We do not feel the houses have been crammed in, and are much preferred to a series of detached or semi-detached houses spread over the site. It is a more sympathetic plan than we see on most village development sites. As for burglars, these villages have had their fair share in recent years.

3. Yes these houses will be purchased by newcomers, ALL new housing is generally too expensive for local people. We are trying to get some ‘affordable’ units into the scheme, but whether these will be for rent or to buy we do not know. Developers will always build more expensive homes than ‘affordable’ homes – there is more profit in it – and until the Government makes a directive to change that, it will remain. When the Conservative Government started to sell off the Council rented housing stock, they stipulated that the money raised could not be used to build replacement rented housing – this remains the same under the Labour Government.

As we see it, the only long term affordable housing is likely to be by Housing Associations / District Councils, but they can do very little because of the cost involved, and to make homes affordable the land has to be given or bought at agricultural prices ( £2,500 – 3,000 per acre rather then building land prices (in Sibford £400,000 / acre).

Personally I would like to see villages with affordable rented housing of sustainable construction and low energy / eco friendly design to give low impact / low maintenance properties.

However we have to be realistic and whilst planning policy remain as it is, developers will work within those rules and guidance.

4. We agree, which is why we arranged the open meeting with the Highways to discuss pedestrian and vehicular safety issues.

5. We agree, and how they will cope with the drainage pipework crossing the geological fault.

6. We agree this may be an issue, it was discussed at the open meeting, and it is part of our initial response.

7. We agree and although the fields between the villages are specifically mentioned in the CDC Local Plan as ‘not to be built on’ we would like this point reinforced, and also that there be no further dwellings built in the walled garden or area behind. We understand from the meeting with the Architects that the Developers would be likely to accept a legal undertaking on this.

Last two paragraphs – we agree, which is why we are trying to arrange further open meetings with the planning officer and the developers when they have had a chance to consider our initial observations on the proposals. This is likely to be in late June or early July –


John Simms, for and on behalf of Sibford Ferris PC.

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir and all Villagers

I have been compelled to write this letter on the grounds of actually being allowed to live in one’s own village. Just what is happening to all villages? After purposely leaving my own home (town) environment for the better, I have spent the last 21 years raising 4 children, all conceived and 2 born in this beautiful place. My husband has lived here for the last 44 years and can honestly say that he knows hardly any one in his own home place. What’s happened to the good old neighbourly community? The car perhaps?

‘The Sibfords’ have obviously become a ‘very sought after’ area to live in, but isn’t it about time everybody began to seriously consider where the ’locals and less well off’ can claim the right to a roof over their heads!

With the mass sell-off of council houses, exorbitant rents in the private (and also very often insubstantial accommodation) sector, it could almost be seen like only certain types of people will be living in rural areas!

Rising house prices, lack of affordable accommodation, can only already add to the ever increasing problem of homelessness. Is it not about time that all parties addressed this issue?

Villages in surrounding areas are already dealing with this problem now, by either allocating Alms Houses or buying and designating land to build affordable accommodation for those villagers who choose to stay ‘on home ground’. Could ‘The Sibfords’ not look into similar ideas?

I do not intend to offend or insult any resident of any village, but do feel very strongly for the need to do something positive soon, to protect the future and preservation of a healthy village life. We are all very privileged to be able to live in such beautiful surroundings, lets try to make sure that everyone can be allowed to do so.

Bernadette Jones

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