For a list of the Society’s latest planning activity please click on this link: Planning list 04 March 2014
With the kind permission of Rachael and Peter Nuding, the Society’s Garden Party will be taking place in the historic gardens of Elm House in Church Lane. Hidden behind the crinkle-crankle walls built by Napolionic prisoners of war, this large and beautiful garden will provide a wonderful venue for this year’s garden party.
At the kind invitation of Brian and Dominic May, Directors of the Berthon Boatyard in Lymington, the Lymington Society arranged for one of its varied programme of member’s social events to take place at the Berthon Boatyard on the 7th of May. This meeting proved to be one of the most popular that the Society has organised in recent years with almost 80 members and guests enjoying a fascinating and memorable visit to one of Lymington’s most important and high profile businesses.
The 2013 AGM took place at the Lymington Community Centre on 26th March 2013. The Chairman gave his address highlighting the Society’s achievements over the last twelve months. Elections to the committee were approved and the new web site was presented to the membership.
For full details of the AGM click here
Tuesday 7th of May 2013 (6.00 PM to 8.00 PM)
By kind permission of Brian May, MD of Berthon Boat Company, we are pleased to have been able to arrange a visit to look round this major and very important local business which occupies such a significant and historic site in the heart of Lymington. The Berthon Boat Company has been in operation on the site since 1877 and the Lymington Shipyard is reputed to have been in operation since Roman times.
The visit will comprise a guided walk around the yard in several groups if numbers determine, followed by a Drinks Reception in the Berthon Boat Company boardroom.
Entry £5.00 to include refreshments. Members only
Private View at St Barbe Museum
6.00 PM—8.00 PM Tuesday the 29th of January 2013
Visitors to St Barbe’s Women’s Land Army exhibition in 2008/9 were struck by the heroic figures in Randolph Schwabe’s powerful and evocative oil paintings and drawings. The unprecedented interest in this neglected yet scholarly artist has resulted in a major retrospective exhibition curated by Dr Gill Clarke MBE which will showcase Schwabe’s varied output and demonstrate his significant contribution to 20th century British Art. He was employed as an Official War Artist in both world wars, producing a series on ‘Women on the Land’ in the First World War and portraits and drawings of bomb damage in the Second World War. This exhibition will also include his theatrical and ballet drawings, etchings, watercolours and book illustrations, many of which have not been on public display before.
Entry £5.00 to include refreshments.
50 years of the Society
Last year I reviewed the activities of the Society’s Committee under my chairmanship over the past 10 years or so. I have now been reminded by the Secretary, Dr Ivor Johnson, that this is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Society. I believe it was formally instituted on 16 April 1962. One of its founder members was Bill Hope Jones who was our president until his death a few years ago. He continued to actively support the Society until he died.
Missing Records—can you help?
I have looked up some of the records of the Society which cover the decade of the 90s. If anyone else knows where the previous records are going back into the60s 70s and 80s then please do let us know. I don’t say they had an easy time of it in the 90s. There was the major planning appeal in relation to Buckland rings in 1987 and the ongoing issue of the siting of the hospital all the way through the 90s.
My reason for joining
It was the possibility of being able to push forward the development of the Hospital that encouraged me to join the Society’s Committee and to become its Chairman and very soon after, probably not due to any great effort on my part, the hospital was built and is a very splendid facility for the Town, whether one likes its location or not.
All change with the new millennium
Apart from the Hospital, things in the minutes in the 90s were some what routine. I don’t know whether it was the fault of the new Committee but, as I set out in my last Chairman’s speech last year, everything then happened. The Chicken Factory Site issue became active and has had a mind of its own ever since. Mr Prescott decided to encourage development on Brownfield sites and incorporated back gardens into the term Brownfield. That started a battle which lasted several years until the planners came round to our way of thinking following a public meeting, and the Government eventually modified its directives. previous meetings with envy. Possibly two or three letters to be discussed. These days not a day goes by without emails circulating amongst the Committee dealing with all these issues. We take the details them as read and discuss the wider principles at our Committee meetings. It is principles upon which an Amenity Society needs to operate. Its mission and message need to be clear. It is not an organisation for individual one-off issues important as they are. It has to look at the overall picture and argue to its strengths. That involves getting a good relationship with the planners and the local councillors, which I hope we have now achieved. That does not mean that we all agree all the time. As has happened this year we had surprise decisions not only from the District Councillors over Wetherspoon’s but also from the Town Councillors over Redrow. That does not mean that we fallout but that we put over our point of view to ensure that at the end of the daythe issue has been fully debated and properly considered by those bodies, do not agree with the current plan, but understandable. It is also understandable that a single issue organisation such as “Lymington Last Shores” using a website to attract support, fights on to get a much lower density. The Committee however feel that it has adopted a reasonable and responsible approach which prevents the Town from the risk of the 300 unit development rising to 4 to 5 stories.
On the issue of the ferries the Society has finally seen to a conclusion, in the recent public enquiry, its efforts toensure that the introduction of the ferries was carried out on the basis of all appropriate investigations being carried out by the authorities rather than the presentation of a fait-accompli by Wightlink.
On Wetherspoon’s we have been surprised and shocked at the Council’s decision to grant the application in the teeth of local opposition and have expended some of our funds in establishing whether there were grounds to challenge that decision. There were, but on a pragmatic basis when it was clear to us that the decision would be likely to be repeated if set-aside after a very risky and expensive judicial review, the right decision was not to go further. Jonathan Hutchinson would like me to say that if any members criticise that decision he would like to know whether they were one of the few members who responded to his request for their views in making that decision.
This is your opportunity to say whether the Committee is doing what you think is right. The Advertiser and Times suggested that we were raising a white flag over Wetherspoon’s. I have sought to justify our position in the local paper. If you have any views let us have them tonight.
The Committee have to act on your behalf. I sit on various committees and Ihave to say that this is one of the most active and well integrated committees that I am involved with and I am lucky to be Chairman of it. I hope you will continue to support it.
Mr. Sutton welcomed the Mayor and gave the Chairman’s Address (to be published in the newsletter and on the website). He reminisced on the 50 year history of the Society and its involvement in the preservation of Buckland Rings and in the controversy over the site of the new hospital.
The Treasurer’s Report was given by Mr. Sheffer. He explained the expenditure on legal fees and the need to advertise important meetings concerning the Redrow site. Dr. Mackenzie appealed for members to send emails email@example.com to reduce postage costs. The accounts were then approved by a show of hands.
Mr. Sutton then opened the meeting for questions. Mr. Dixon ask about he maintenance of flower beds and verges, and Mr. Walrock commented on the poor state of pavements and parking areas. Cllr. Rostand explained the difficulties of dealing with the multiple agencies involved. She congratulated Dr. Mackenzie and the Christmas Lights Committee.
Questions were asked about the licensing of Wetherspoons. Cllr. Lewis said that opening hours had been reduced, but could not be blocked once permission for a pub had been granted by the planning authority. She asked thatneighbours keep a careful log of any problems. Mr. Sheffer reported the British Legion had similar licensing hours.
Mr. Hebard spoke of the £23m. Coastal Community Fund. Cllr. Rostand replied that the Council is aware and will appoint an events manager.
Mr. Sutton then paid tribute to the expertise and hard work of Jonathan Hutchinson, who is retiring from the Committee. There being no nominations from the floor, re-election of current members of the Executive Committee: Clive Sutton, Derek Sheffer, Ivor Johnston, Nic King, Donald Mackenzie, Nigel Seth-Smith and the co-opted member Tim Kermode was proposed by Cllr. Elizabeth Lewis and seconded by Wendy Couch and passed unanimously.
Dr. Mackenzie then reported on the social activities of the past year and announced the Summer Garden Party in thegarden of Chawton House on 19th June 2012.
Cllr. Rostand than gave a brief account of preparations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and explained that the preparations for the Olympic torch were imposed from on high with no input from local councils. She praised Cllr. Lewis’ organization for the Arts Festival on 18th – 24th June.
After refreshments, Angela Trend gave a talk on Lymington Town Tours illustrated with photographs of the many historical buildings and features demonstrated on the guided walks of the town conducted by volunteers.
The meeting closed at 10pm.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I well remember my father as a parish priest scratching his head for a theme for his sermon. I do the same in a secular way every year for the Lymington Society Annual General Meeting. This year I received a call yesterday afternoon from a helpful committee member, which reminded me of the AGM today. At the time I was in the process of clearing out an enormous amount of excess papers and in my hand were Lymington Society papers going back 10 years which reminded me that I had been asked to become Chairman in May 2001.
Many of you will remember the previous Acting Chairman Leslie Dry, who in asking for new committee members in his Acting Chairman’s report for March 2001 said: “It is essential if the Association is to continue, to find new officers for the coming Annual General Meeting and I would urge members to offer themselves for committee service since the Lymington Society is really the only forum to defend the Town against the overwhelming pressures of development”.
How right he was and I hope you agree that that is what the Society has done in the intervening 10 years.
In my first report to the members in October 2001, I said: “I would like to see the Society being not only reactive to proposals but also constructive and, where appropriate, supportive of the council’s planning policies. If however, we feel the policies, or individual applications, are wrong, we will be vociferous in opposing them”.
In the next paragraph I said: “One of the major current planning it is the future of the Webb Site. This is something on which I think and I believe the Society and its membership can have an important voice”.
Enough of quoting from the past, but I think it is interesting to go back every now and then to see where one started from and see what has been achieved in the light of that. Here are a few milestones from the past 10 years.
There was the Society’s contribution to the 2001 Supplemental Planning Guidance on the Webb Site, sadly largely ignored by the granting of the original Webb Site planning permission by the then councillors.
There was the first public meeting by the then developers, Paxtons, explaining their proposals, at which Paxtons said that, if they had been encouraged to meet the Society and its membership before developing their plans, they would have taken into account numerous of the points made by the members and the public at that meeting.
There was the start of planning applications for flats in our residential roads. These lead to another public meeting at which the planning officers and councillors were present, and which started a sea change in their thinking. The situation has been like stopping a super tanker, and I think we are now beginning to see official opposition to further flat developments in residential roads, but I’m afraid not without some significant change to the character of those roads having taken place. Change which has not inevitably and irrevocably changed Lymington’s character, but which could have done if loud opposition had not been voiced initially.
There have been issues over the ferries in which I hope the Society, in holding a public meeting, laid the ground for a level playing field preventing Wightlink from getting away entirely with a fait-accompli, and in respect of which the debate still continues.
Coming more up-to-date: in the last year, there has been the recent cooperation with the council officers over Local Distinctiveness, where the efforts put in by our committee members have led to the character of the town being reflected in the Local Distinctiveness Guidance, which will now inform planning decisions, and planning inspectors who come to review those decisions.
Even more up-to-date, and there has been the part played by the Society in the issue over Wetherspoons and the wholehearted opposition by the community to a “destination” public house immediately adjacent to our parish church and churchyard. Our efforts, with others, led to a unanimous vote by councillors against this, and our efforts will have to be renewed again for the inevitable new application, lodged in these cases in the hope that our opposition will be worn down by having to go through the whole process again.
Through all these issues I have tried to encourage the committee members to be objective, and they have responded. We are not a campaign group. There are other such groups, for example the groups set up to oppose the Redrow development and the Lymington River Users Group set up to oppose the ferries. Our objective is to ensure that the planning process works fairly and, where we do not feel the right decision is being made, to oppose that decision; and not only to oppose that decision but to encourage the right decision to be made.
An example of this is the Wellworthy Club site, where we encouraged a better effort by the developers, which they responded to with an Art Deco development, but which unfortunately was just too much for the site. We hope that the third proposal now being built will reflect the character of that site.
I can’t say that the development at the traffic lights has been one of our best successes but at least one can say that the building merges into the remainder of Southampton Road to the north without being able to set a precedent for further similar redevelopment up Southampton Road. We wait to see the results of Colton’s redevelopment opposite, having said goodbye to the old landmark of Buckland House.
That leads back to the thorny subject of the Webb’s chicken factory site exactly 10 years on. I would like to encourage everyone now to call it the Redrow site, at least in recognition of the effort which that company have put into trying to improve on the original Paxton’s planning permission. I said earlier how Paxton told us that, if the powers that be had not kept the Society apart from them as developers, then a lot of the issues raised could have been taken account of in the original plans.
Council policy has changed dramatically since then, and we have been involved with Redrow in their proposals. However, unfortunately, in trying to do something better Redrow engaged an architect who told me quite frankly that he only designed in square blocks. If only they had run that one past the Society before going ahead! Having realised their mistake, Redrow very fairly carried out a consultation which led to a final application with pitched roofs in a very individualistic style, which, however sympathetic one tries to be, just does not look as if it should be located in Lymington.
I go back to my first quotation: “If, however, we feel the policies or individual applications are wrong, we will be vociferous in opposing them”. We have every sympathy for Redrow’sefforts but the end result has to be right for Lymington. With that in mind we think the right way forward is to call another public meeting to be held on 4 April for everyone’s views to be aired and we will be inviting Redrow and councillors and planning officers to that meeting. Don Mackenzie will be giving you more of the background details of the applications as a preliminary to that meeting.
(The public meeting referred to here did indeed take place, and is referred to elsewhere on the website- ed)
Of the 10th anniversary of the new committee of the Society can I again record the efforts of those who do so much on a daily basis and on whom I can entirely rely to carry out theirduties.
Peter Chitty, our President and wise head. It’s not what he says, but what he doesn’t say, that I rely on.
Ivor Johnston, our Secretary keeping the paperwork and the correspondence in order and hosting our monthly meetings.
Don Mackenzie, our press officer who fires us up when necessary.
Nic King, who has dealt with the planning for so long.
Jonathan Hutchinson, who has recently put in so much detailed effort on the planning side and makes a fantastic team with Nic King.
Derek Sheffer, who manages the accounts and the subscriptions and membership so quietly and efficiently.
Nigel Seth-Smith, who manages the website and edits the newsletter to a form where my office photocopier produces it at the touch of a button.
I am very thankful not to be in the position of Leslie Dry 10 years ago who indicated that without fresh blood in the committee the Society was at risk of being able to continue. We may need changes and fresh blood in the future but at the moment this committee is firing on all cylinders and reacting to every challenge. I hope you will continue to give it your support.
Clive Sutton, Society Chairman