The Chairman’s annual address of the AGM is the time to comment on what has happened during the past year. For the past year the major occupation of the Society has been to support the Burrard Neale Monument project.
Don Mackenzie will give you a more detailed account of this but in broad terms this has resulted in the complete landscaping of the grounds of the monument and preparations towards the obtaining of a lottery grant for the detailed restoration of the monument itself.
To the credit of the Society and those responsible, this also involved the splendid events of last September with the visit to Lymington of two naval ships and the concert at St Thomas’s. This was a tremendous success with a full church for the musical recital and the various performances.
You will hear from Don Mackenzie that the application for a lottery grant to complete the restoration the monument will require a significant amount of community involvement to ensure that the lottery grant results in the benefit to as many people in Lymington as possible. The project is at the moment pretty well halfway through with the landscaping completed and the organisation set up to obtain a grant and complete the work.
I have said at two or three past AGMs that the Society’s major controversial campaigns are behind us, but one never knows where the next one is coming from. Well now we do know, in the shape of the major new scheme on the bus station site, which could not be more central to Lymington and its shopping centre. Whatever goes there will have an impact on the centre of the town and its uses. The proposal is currently for high-quality residential development for older people. The site is zoned for retail. The difficulty with the site is that it does not have any through access, but on the other hand it is big enough to be a destination in itself with a mixture of shops and houses and possibly eating establishments.
The developers will need to show that they have exhausted all possibilities of retail commercial development so that a sale on a commercial basis is not feasible. Only then will they be able to obtain planning permission for a change of use. At the moment the Society does not have sufficient information to know on what basis commercial development has been rejected to justify an application for planning permission for residential units.
Clearly this is part of the central commercial area and if possible should continue to be retail commercial to avoid diluting the commercial uses in the centre of the town. In the questions and answers at the end of this meeting I will be asking for opinions as to the use of this site in order for the committee to gauge the feelings of the members.
If it is to be residential then my personal view is that any residential development should be hidden by the frontage of the High Street being continuous at first and second floors, with architecture in keeping with the existing high Street, and access of course underneath.
The effect on Londesborough House, which is a separately owned listed building on the edge of the development, will have to be carefully looked at.
Turning to more general matters, during the course of the year the usual numerous individual planning applications have been looked at and commented on by the Society through its committee members and in particular so far as planning matters are concerned, by Nick King.
That brings me onto the individual members of the committee and every few years I make a point of emphasising their particular qualities and how well the committee works.
Nick has concentrated on planning matters for many years firstly in conjunction with Jonathan Hutchinson but more recently on his own, until he and Alyson have decided to move to Bath. We gave them a presentation at the Stanwell House drinks party in anticipation of their moving but their move has been delayed.
However in anticipation of moving Nick has given up his membership of the committee and by some great fortune we were approached by James Bull who is a retired architect who has taken up the reins of analysing the planning applications and bringing them to the attention of the committee at its monthly meetings and dealing with the representations to the planners.
Last year I mentioned that Pam Morrisey had taken over the social committee and is now fully in charge of it running all the social events. She had a great deal to do with the Burrard Neale project and the involvement of schoolchildren. She has organised several successful social events during the year.
Don Mackenzie gave up the social committee but continues as press secretary under the frequent newspaper quote: “Don Mackenzie on behalf of the Lymington Society said……..” He also has taken a considerable part in the Burrard Neale project with Peter Stone.
Peter Stone joined the committee to push forward the Burrard Neale project and we hope he will stay on as a committee member when the Burrard Neale project is complete. In the meantime he is a great source of strength, having thought of the Burrard Neale project and pushed it forward largely on his own in the early days, but now jointly with Don Mackenzie with ad hoc help and support from the rest of us as necessary.
Getting down to the poor bloody infantry, who carry out their duties diligently and without whom an organisation like this would just not run, I come to a stalwart of the committee, Derek Sheffer, dealing with membership matters and acting as treasurer, on whom I rely completely to give me the right cheque to sign and who we have to thank for the accounts, and whose work has increased by passing much of the Burrard Neale monies through a separate account under the control of the Society.
Nigel Seth Smith deals with the editing of the newsletter which now works quite smoothly through being printed professionally, and folded and stuffed unprofessionally, by committee members usually in my office.
Finally Mark Lanigan provides a cool head and sensible guidance in running the website.
At the moment we do not have a secretary so I double up as secretary with Ivor Johnston as acting secretary and Pam Morrisey having stood in where necessary during this year.
Last year my notes tell me that on Ivor Johnston resigning as secretary we made him joint president with Peter Chitty. Somehow he was then designated acting secretary which can hardly being compatible with his being joint president.
That is now resolved with Peter Chitty having now given up his connection with the Society and wishing to resign as President. That means that Ivor is now sole President.
Unfortunately Peter Chitty is not here tonight but I wish to acknowledge Peters help on this Committee for many years before I joined. Since I joined he has been a tower of strength and provided quiet but sensible counsel and provided a link between the old days of the Society and the more recent committee which started when I became chairman more than 10 years ago. The Committee are buying him a token of our appreciation on your behalf.
Clive Sutton Chairman