Chairman’s address for 2018 AGM
Firstly it is my sad duty to have to record the death of our late secretary committee member and president Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Chitty. He was the link between the old Lymington Society and the continuing society during my period of chairmanship. I first came to know Peter Chitty like most of you when I spent a day with him commentating the raising of the Mary Rose from the point of view of the Engineers Regiment and felt like many of you that I had got to know him fairly well.
During my time as Chairman, which can be a lonely task, I found him an enormous source of wisdom and support. Can I on behalf of all of you write to Penelope to express our great sympathy to her and our gratitude for all that he did for the Society.
Normally the business of our annual general meeting covers the reports of the chairman and treasurer and the election of usually the same members of the committee.
This time we have a much more exciting annual general meeting. In addition to those matters we will also be considering and hopefully passing the new constitution to enable us to obtain charitable status and even more exciting, report on the new data protection regulations.
Given that excitement it is lucky that we have Nick Saunders to bring us back to earth by giving a lecture on the Special Operations Executive in World War II and the training of secret agents in Beaulieu.
So before we get there I have to give my annual report on what has been a fairly business like year in the work of the Society’s committee with the usual number of monthly meetings, although we possibly give ourselves a holiday in August.
Can I say how well our two new members, James Bull dealing with planning and Heather Burrell as treasurer, have settled in and how well the committee is working together as a result.
Recently we have been joined by Roger Lily and Oliver Dunne, initially as observers on the committee but they have been persuaded to join full time and they will be putting themselves forward for nominations for the executive committee. At the time of nominations I will ask them to stand and just give some brief background to their interests.
Our major interest this year, as last year, has been the Burrard Neale monument restoration. As you remember we completed the landscaping during the last couple of years. Now we have moved on to the lottery grant for the maintenance of the monument generally and it has been very good to report that the lottery grant for this purpose was approved during the course of the year.
Our recent newsletter gives details of the other issues as to learning and engagement, which the national lottery fund find so important in relation to their grants. Last year you heard an inspiring talk from Mark Drury of SPUD as to their work and they will be the people who will be majoring on the various programs to go with the conservation and restoration.
The pump priming for this project, which is so vital in getting such projects off the ground, was really largely the contribution of Charles Burnett of Newtown Park whose sad death in a helicopter crash we had to report during the course of the year. The fact of the restoration of the monument will be a memorial to his generosity.
Let me repeat that contrary to the views of some members of the public expressed in the press recently, none of the money that has been spent on the monument would have ever found its way to other welfare causes and indeed one of the most important factors in the lottery grant is that it has relieve the Town Council of having to raise money to support the monument, because for historical reasons the monument is a direct responsibility of the town Council.
The Society can really congratulate itself on having contributed to the public good so far as the monument is concerned. There are no other similar historical monuments in or around Lymington. The work will take place and Donald Mackenzie will tell you that it is hoped to have a rededication day for the completion of the work on 28 July where various events will be planned.
We have had a good series of social events this year culminating in being back in the Museum again for a view and talk on a recent exhibition of War paintings. The future programme is in the newsletter with a visit to the West Solent Solar Farm, about which we had a talk last year, and many other interesting events which I hope as many of you as possible will attend. We are very grateful to Pam Morrisey for organising these and I think she wants to discuss with you the possibility of a new venue for the Christmas drinks party this year.
On the planning front James Bull records all the relevant applications and gives us a synopsis of them so that we can come to a fairly reasoned decision. We have a laptop available at meetings to look at the applications online be able to see exactly what the potential results will be.
This year they have included various domestic buildings and as always we don’t tend to get involved in the detail of domestic buildings unless they have a significant impact on the particular local environment or local distinctiveness in the area of the application. However many applications do push the boundaries of what can change the character of an area.
A particular example at the moment is the fact that to the South side of Milford Road, which is an area predominantly individual houses set back in their own grounds, it is proposed to build firstly a 12 unit block of flats now reduced to a 9 unit application, which we will continue to oppose.
Of particular success was our opposition to the bus station redevelopment which was too dense, and now I think another less dense application will be canvassed, which I hope will be more in keeping with the existing redevelopments of the interesting areas off the High Street such as the Angel Yard development which I hope you agree was quite successful.
We had to accept the Churchill development on the Dennis Knight site and although it is high, it is not over high and fits reasonably well with the surroundings.
We have had another push on the Redrow site recently to get that to a conclusion. Finally the central area is almost completed so that one can see the effect internally. The properties are being sold and so clearly people are happy to live there. What they’re not getting at the moment is the direct access to the Town over the pedestrian bridge and completing this is causing considerable complication because of all the varied interests involved in achieving this.
We have had a particular push recently with the assistance of our Member of Parliament, Sir Desmond Swayne, to get an answer out of all the individual organisations including Redrow and South-Western Railway and others. The planning authority are very grateful for help in moving this forward so the planning permission conditions of a pedestrian bridge for the site can be complied with.
I hope you appreciate the developments resulting from the Society’s representation in past years which have now established themselves in the local community, such as the site of the old Wellworthy club and the site of the Travis Arnold builders merchants, where to an extent the new houses look as if they have merged with those existing.
Last year we were concerned about the use of greenbelt land and expected the land between Buckland and Ramley Road might be built on in the next 30 years. At the moment that is less likely because of more land becoming available at Waterside but the government requirements for houses are increasing all the time to provide homes for our young people and greenbelt land will need to be used. The essence is to ensure that where houses need to be built they are built in such a way that they fit into the environment without changing the existing character of the area any more than is necessary and that is what we as a society seek to achieve.
I hope you will continue to support the Society for the coming year and please encourage your friends and neighbours to do the same. It is a very small subscription, and the fact of a large membership gives us authority in the comments that we make on behalf of the Society.