THE MILCOMBE CONSERVATION GROUP
The Milcombe Conservation Group (MCG) was established under the auspices of the Parish Council to address and implement the actions required in the area conservation identified in the 2009 Parish Action Plan (PAP). The PAP represented a 74% response rate from Milcombe residents and reflected that a majority of respondents were in favour of preservation of key aspects of the village.
Conservation Group Members Chairman – Richard Hazel
Parish Council Representative
With Cliff Potters responsibilities as Chairman of the Parish Council, I have agreed to take over as Chairman of the Conservation Group and would like to take this opportunity to thank Cliff for his contribution in this role. The foundational objectives of the group, that was established under the auspices of the Parish Council, were as follows:
The key aims of the group are defined as follows:
• Establishment of a conservation area in Milcombe
• Promotion of a Special Status for Low Field (Ridge & Furrow) – completed
• Preservation and improvement of watercourses and pond/lakes.
• Improvement and development of rights of way network.
• Development of a tree planting strategy
It is now 5 years since these objectives were originally established and I believe it is time to review / update them so that we have clarity of purpose going forward for the next 5yrs. We will be arranging a meeting during February and whilst a core group of individuals have been members since the groups inception, we would really welcome hearing from anyone who would like to join us. It only represents a small time commitment (we generally meet just every couple of months) and there is no need for experience, just an interest or passion for what we are doing. If you would like to know more, please contact Richard Hazel at Farnell Fields, Paradise Lane or via email at richard_ firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Hazel reported that there would be a meeting shortly with CDC about the Conservation Area status of the village. The Group would also be following up on the reinstatement of the right of way across Close Field and the listing of Low Field as a Local Heritage Asset. The Group would also be carrying out an assessment of the trees in the village and a view to requesting TPO’s on those which needed to be protected.
The Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project
Swifts spend almost all of their lives flying. In summer, you may be lucky enough to see (and hear) their aerial acrobatic displays! A pair of swifts may gather 20,000 aphids, midges and other insects in a single day to feed their young. They nest out of sight in buildings: under roof tiles or in eaves or in cracks in walls. Sadly their numbers are in decline.
The Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project collects information about the presence of swifts and their nest sites. If you know where swifts are nesting, or if you see displaying swifts – swifts performing their screaming flight low over buildings – then the Cherwell Swifts Conservation
Project would like to hear from you. Email Chris Mason “email@example.com” or write to:
Swifts Project, c/o 6 Cranleigh Close, Banbury OX16 9NT.
There are downloads about the work of CSCP available on the Cherwell DC website.
Swift nest sites may be at risk due to planned building work or development. If you would like to help swifts by fitting swift bricks or boxes into a new building or extension, or by putting up a swift nest box, then visit www.swift-conservation.org for information.
MILCOMBE CONSERVATION GROUP
The Milcombe Conservation Group (MCG) was established under the auspices of the Parish Council to address and implement the actions required in the area conservation identified in the 2009 Parish Action Plan (PAP). The PAP represented a 74% response rate from Milcombe residents and reflected that a majority of respondents were in favour of preservation of key aspects of the village. Conservation Group Members (June 2012) Chairman – Richard Hazel Parish Council Representative – The key aims of the group are defined as follows: 1.Establishment of a conservation area in Milcombe. 2.Promotion of a special status for Low field (Ridge & Furrow) – completed. 3. Preservation and improvement of watercourses and ponds/ lakes. 5. Improvement and development of the rights of way network. 6 Development of a tree planting strategy. Conservation Area designation does not mean mothballing Milcombe or stopping new development but is a means of recognising and protecting the importance of all factors that contribute to the character and appearance of our village (not just buildings but open spaces, trees, other features and views as well) and helps to ensure that any new development does not harm or damage the established visual and historic nature or character of the area.
Whilst there are some implications for those living in the designated area, most people are proud to live in a conservation area and the benefits may be considerable. Many of our neighbouring villages such as Hook Norton, Wigginton, South Newington, Tadmarton etc already have designated conservation areas and there are over 9,000 across England and 59 in Cherwell district alone. Designation will preserve the rural heritage of Milcombe and our natural setting within the agricultural landscape; protect our historic unlisted houses and buildings; and maintain our open views both within the village and into the surrounding countryside not just for ourselves but for our children and future generations for years to come.
The next stage in the process is for Cherwell District Council to prepare a draft designation appraisal for the Parish Council, followed by public consultation with residents and possible amendments before a review and decision by CDC executive.
Milcombe Conservation Group firmly believes that on all objective criteria, conservation area designation for the village is highly desirable as without this status, it faces a very real risk of the loss or damage to the character and appearance of areas that we should want to preserve and enhance.
SPECIAL STATUS FOR LOW FIELD (RIDGE AND FURROW)
Low Field is situated within the village to the south of Main Road and has a total area of approximately 5.0 hectares, of which about 4.0 hectares are “ridge and furrow”. The ridges have the characteristic elongated “S” configurations typical of the medieval field system, which can be clearly seen especially after periods of heavy rain as shown below: At the northern end, Low Field is traversed by a narrow watercourse which has been in existence for many centuries. The land to the north of the stream is a listed archaeological site (PRN 14000) – “earthworks of house platforms, holloways, ditches and pond, of a shrunken settlement in two fields either side of Main Road”.
An aim of the Milcombe Conservation Group (MCG) since its inception has been to attain a special status for the ridge and furrow area of Low Field in advance of any conservation area designation for the village as it had no form of protection from inappropriate development. The ridge and furrow covers approximately 4 hectares and the ridges have the elongated “S” configurations characteristic of the medieval field system, which can be clearly seen especially after periods of heavy rain. MCG requested that the CDC Ecology Officer undertake a survey to assess the site in terms of any ecological merit and this established that the field constituted ‘improved grassland’ and that any botanical diversity had been lost over the years. As such the site wouldn’t meet the criteria for Local Wildlife Site status or Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat. MCG are delighted to confirm that subsequent to consultation with the Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) Planning Archaeologist, the field has now been formally associated with the medieval and early post medieval settlement of Milcombe and the monument entry on the Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record (HER) has been updated accordingly. This means that the ridge and furrow field is now recognised as a heritage asset in its own right and any planning application for the area would need to assess the potential impact on the field. Savills (acting as land agents for the owners, Christ Church) and English Heritage have been advised accordingly.
Appraisals use standard English Heritage format
- •Origins and development of the settlement
- •Archaeological significance
- •Architectural history and contribution of unlisted buildings
- •Character Areas
- •Contribution of green spaces, trees, hedges
- •Landscape setting
- •Management Plan
Our Consultation Process • Liaison with Parish Council • Preparation of draft appraisal • Public consultation • Possible amendments • Responses reported to Executive • Executive makes decision • Designated with immediate effect History • Old maps • Archaeological Investigations & reports • Historic Documents • Books • Oral histories
Benefits of Conservation Area Designation for Milcombe
It will help to maintain and protect all factors that contribute to the character and appearance of our village.
These factors are not just restricted to the individual buildings or groups of buildings but also to the spaces between them, the open areas, trees, woodland and other features or views that contribute to the ambience of the area.
It will help to protect Milcombe from unwanted or unsightly developments or alterations
Whilst there are some implications for those living in the designated area, most people are proud to live in a conservation area and the benefits may be considerable It will benefit the village by protecting our open views within the village and into the surrounding countryside, at the same time protecting our historic unlisted housesand buildings It will preserve the rural heritage of Milcombe and our natural setting within the agricultural landscape for our children and future generations for years to come. The group has been proactive in undertaking actions in all of these areas and in terms of conservation area designation it has been in regular contact with Cherwell District Council (CDC). At the request of CDC, a document has been produced to provide a review of the history and development of the village to assist them in preparing an appraisal for designation. This document and an accompanying letter was sent to Linda Rand, CDC Conservation Group Leader at the end of February and for those interested, copies can be obtained by emailing:
Paradise Lane – Reserved Matters Planning Application Update Nov 2014
Further to the article in the last edition of The Dove and additional information distributed to all Milcombe residents, it was great to see over 40 villagers and the Parish Council expressing their objections in writing to CDC, predominantly with respect to the matters of scale, appearance and landscaping. The application is currently pending consideration and a decision is expected shortly.
Milcombe Conservation Group
With Cliff Potters responsibilities as Chairman of the Parish Council, I have agreed to takeover as Chairman of the Conservation Group and would like to take this opportunity to thank Cliff for his contribution in this role. The foundational objectives of the group, that was established under the auspices of the Parish Council, were as follows:
· Establishment of a conservation area in Milcombe
· Promotion of a Special Status for Low Field (Ridge & Furrow) – completed
· Preservation and improvement of watercourses and pond/lakes.
· Improvement and development of rights of way network.
· Development of a tree planting strategy
It is now 5 yrs since these objectives were originally established and I believe it is time to review / update them so that we have clarity of purpose going forward for the next 5yrs. We will be arranging a meeting before Christmas and whilst a core group of individuals have been members since the groups inception, we would really welcome hearing from anyone who would like to join us. It only represents a small time commitment (we generally meet just every couple of months) and there is no need for experience, just an interest or passion for what we are doing. If you would like to know more, please contact Richard Hazel at Farnell Fields, Paradise Lane or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paradise Lane Development Update
Further to the fantastic support from many villagers over the last few years in opposing the totally inappropriate development proposals submitted for the site at the end of Paradise Lane that resulted in refusal by CDC of two planning applications (one at planning committee), and dismissal by the Planning Inspectorate of a subsequent appeal, I would like to provide an update on the latest development plans for the site. The appeal dismissal effectively dictated that the applicants would need to leverage their exist-ing assets as opposed to any substantial demolition and rebuild proposals that had been submitted in previous applications. To that end, both Little Stoney and The Cottage are now to be retained, with planning applications for modest extensions / alterations to the NE aspect of both properties being passed in the last few months and work to this effect commenced on September 1st. From a heritage perspective it is clearly great for Milcombe to see that The Cottage, the last remaining one of a row of four historic workers cottages dating back to the late 17C, is not only to be retained but actually lived in again for the first time in nearly 30 years! For those concerned in the associated ecology matters, namely impact on a known bat roost, I can confirm that an appropriate Habitats Regulation licence has now been granted by Natural England. There remains just one aspect of the site development that is outstanding, relating to the construction of a new dwelling on the approved outline area to the north of The Cottage – it is expected that a formal planning application will be submitted imminently. The applicants have shared draft proposals for the new dwelling but these plans have highlighted a number of significant concerns with respect to the proposed siting, height, and materials and villagers may be contacted should their support be required, so our voice can be heard yet again!, by CDC planning to ensure that any development is appropriate for this historic part of our great village. Richard Hazel
Paradise Lane Planning Appeal Dismissed – April Dove 2014
As many residents will now be aware, the Planning Inspector, Mr J P Roberts, dismissed the Appeal by the Hester family against Cherwell District Councils decision to refuse the application in Paradise Lane, for the demolition of The Cottage and Little Stoney and the construction of four large modern town houses. In dismissing the appeal – a non-emotive and neutral decision made solely on the basis of legislative planning policy – Mr Roberts fully supported the stance of the 140+ villagers and the Parish Council who had strongly objected in writing to the two previous planning applications and the Appeal. The Appeal was dismissed in a comprehensive 7-page report for multiple reasons including being in conflict with housing policy for the village; detrimental to the character and appearance of the area; significantly impacting on the setting of a Listed building and having an unacceptable effect on protected wildlife species. This reiterates the fact that although Milcombe is only a small village – which is a key part of why we all love living here! – we do have a voice that residents are prepared to make heard and it is important that whilst not being anti-development, we must continue to be collectively committed to proactively opposing any applications that are considered to be inappropriate irrespective of their location within the village. The appeal result was covered in the 27th February edition of the Banbury Guardian and the full decision notice can be found online at CDC’s planning portal or by contacting Richard Hazel at Farnell Fields for a hardcopy version or at email@example.com for a PDF version.
It was fantastic news in our efforts to prevent inappropriate development within Milcombe when the CDC planning committee voted at their meeting on 28th Feb to overturn, by a significant majority, the recommendation for approval of the Paradise Lane planning application.Their decision restores ones faith in such bodies not to just be a rubber stamping exercise of recommendations put before them, but to undertake a very logical, fact based assessment and debate of the many planning issues that were at play here. Cllr Barry Wood, Leader of Cherwell District Council stated that as a planning committee they should also listen to the ‘voice of the people’ – well you expressed your views and they were heard!!Our local Councillor Chris Heath, who sits on the planning committee, did an absolutely outstanding job in representing the feelings of the significant number of villagers who had expressed their objections via the petition signed by 88 people and the ~75 letters sent directly to CDC. Invaluable support was also provided by OCC Cllr Keith Mitchell.We may only be a small village but we are a genuine community and it has been fantastic to see villagers rally together, to express their views, and with the refusal decision to know that we can make a difference.We would like to express our personal thanks to the many, many people who played their part in achieving this result – villagers should be truly proud of what we have achieved but more importantly we must ensure that we harness this great community spirit and continue to stand up for what we see as appropriate, whatever it may be and wherever it may be happening in Milcombe. Richard & Jane Hazel
Delighted to see that the Parish Council wrote to the Planning Inspectorate to express their outright objection to the planning application – isn’t it great to be in a village where the sentiments expressed by a very large percentage of the community are truly represented by the Parish Council! As for the appeal itself, all comments are now closed and we just await a site visit and then the ruling by the Planning Inspectorate – indications are that this is unlikely to be before Jan/Feb. In parallel, an application has been submitted for renewal of the outline application at The Cottage. There has been significant material change as a result of adoption of the Local Plan since the last renewal in 2010 and I believe there are now strong grounds for refusal of this application – help protect the village from further inappropriate development and write to CDC to express your opinion or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org using reference 13/01675/OUT.
MILCOMBE CONSERVATION GROUP 2012 SUMMARY
As we approach the end of the year, the Milcombe Conservation Group (MCG) would like to thank the Parish Council and residents for their support throughout 2012 and to provide a brief summary of our key achievements over the past twelve months. Most significantly we have achieved one of our founding aims which was to achieve special status for the ridge and furrow area of Low Field. The ridge and furrow has now been associated with the medieval and early post medieval settlement of Milcombe and the Oxfordshire Historic Environment Record (HER) has been updated accordingly. This means that the ridge and furrow field is now formally recognised as a heritage asset in its own right and any planning application for the area would need to assess the potential impact on the field as part of that application. Savills (in their capacity as land agents for Christ Church who own the field) and English Heritage have been advised of this change of status.
MCG made a presentation on conservation area designation at the Annual Parish Meeting on May 8th. We firmly believe that on all objective criteria, the historical parts of Milcombe should be designated as a conservation area as without this status the village faces a very real risk of the loss or damage of areas of special architectural and historical interest that it should be highly desirable for all residents and CDC to preserve and enhance.
The Milcombe Conservation Group now has a Facebook page (with over 70 historical photographs) and would encourage all users interested in supporting our objectives to ‘like’ this page.
Many thanks to those residents who were able to attend the Annual Parish Meeting on May 8th to understand more about the benefits that Conservation Area designation will bring to Milcombe. As a next step CDC will be preparing a draft appraisal to share with the Parish Council and subsequent public consultation. If you were unable to attend the meeting but would like to understand more about what conservation area designation means; have any questions in this respect; or would simply like to get a .PDF version of the presentation that was given at the meeting,
The establishment of conservation area designation for Milcombe has been progressed during the year and at the Annual Parish Meeting in early May, MCG gave a presentation on designation and the benefits to Milcombe with Dr Rose Todd, Cherwell District Council (CDC ) Senior Conservation Officer. As a reminder, Conservation Area designation is not about mothballing Milcombe or stopping new development but it is a means of recognising and protecting the importance of all factors that contribute to the character and appearance of our village (not just buildings but open spaces, trees, other features and views as well) and will help to preserve the rural heritage of Milcombe not just for ourselves but for our children and future generations for years to come. We continue to work with the Parish Council and Cherwell District Council in our pursuit of this objective.
In addition to the above, we have provided comments to the Parish Council and CDC on a number of planning applications and village developments; we have worked with Oxfordshire County Council in respect of stiles on footpath 298/7a that were considered of inappropriate construction and far from easy to negotiate, particularly for the elderly, less agile and those with dogs; we continue to work on preserving and improving watercourses and ponds/lakes in the parish; we have investigated available options for tree planting; and are in the process of establishing a summary of non-listed heritage assets within the village. As we head into 2013 we will continue in our commitment to represent Milcombe in the area of conservation under the auspices of the Parish Council and look forward to sharing further progress over the coming twelve months.
Milcombe Conservation Group firmly believes that on all objective criteria, conservation area designation for the village is highly desirable as without this status, it faces a very real risk of the loss or damage to the character and appearance of areas that we should all want to preserve and enhance.
Eco-Bicester: building the UK’s first eco-town, & CPRE Oxfordshire AGM – Sat 21 June