Minutes of the Lymington Society AGM 2012

cropped-logo_small.jpg66 members attended the AGM on 20th March 2012.  Minutes of the 2011AGM had been circulated by post and on the website. Apologies received : Lt. Col. Chitty & Mr. Beaumont.

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 toinfo@lymsoc.co.uk  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.

Chairman’s Report for the AGM 17th March 2010

Ladies and gentlemen.

As those of you who have had the patience to listen to my previous Chairman’s addresses will know that I tend to pick up the theme from the previous address and carry it forward.

Last year in asking the question: “What has the Lymington Society done this year which I can share with the members”, I reminded you of three recent headlines in the paper which the Lymington Society was connected with: “Chaos As High Winds Halt New Ferries”;” Landmark Homes Development on Wellworthy Club Site Refused”; “Builders Face Big Bill As Bid to Keep too High Homes Refused”. You can obviously all identify these headlines and how things have developed since then.

The theme that struck me this year at our last monthly committee meeting on 9 March was the amount of dedicated detailed work that the committee members put into the work of the Society.

Here is another list of meetings attended by Members of the Committee in the preceding month:

  •  1st of February: Exhibition on Shoreline Management Plan — attended by one committee member
  •  1st of February: Friends of Lymington Railway AGM — attended by two committee members
  •  25th of February: Local Distinctiveness meeting with council planners — attended by four committee members
  •  4th of March: Lymington Parking Study meeting — attended by one committee member
  •  8th March: meeting with Natural England regarding ferries and mitigation of their damage — attended by three committee members
  •  9th March: presentation by Redrow on their new development attended by five committee members
  •  Finally 9th of March: our monthly committee meeting attended by all committee members including our president Peter Chitty, although one member could not stay, but came to deliver the envelopes he had stuffed with the notices of this meeting!

Is there any other organisation or any other chairman which is as lucky to have such a dedicated group of committee members always ready, if not vying, to attend meetings on subjects which they have a particular interest in connected with the Lymington Society.

As a result of those meetings one can summarise the Society’s current situation.

On ferries we have responsibly promoted a situation where the ferries issue is going to be resolved with a full intervention of the appropriate authorities and not purely on the basis of a take it or leave approach by Wightlink, and with proper liaison with Natural England as to an assessment of the impact of the larger ferries.

On the linked aspect of the shoreline, so important to Lymington, we are closely involved with that subject.

On the railway line, we support the friends of Lymington Railway and will maintain a useful liaison that will benefit Lymington and potentially affect development in the future

On Local Distinctiveness, this meeting has been one example of our lead role in cooperation with the planners in an analysis which I will mention more on in a moment

On the Redrow Riverside site, as I shall now call it, an extremely useful dialogue with Redrow as to its plans.

Finally I can say that our association with the Pennington Residents Association continues ensuring that our representations on Pennington are co-ordinated, if not always identical, and I paid particular tribute to Chris Howe for his cooperation.

Expanding on the subjects of these meetings can I say that the old Wellworthy Club site, which is going to be such an important building at the gateway to Lymington, is edging towards an agreed development with the cooperation of the developers, who have put forward various schemes. We thought the last scheme was probably as good as it would get but had strong reservations about the lack of parking and the effect on traffic.  The planners would like something better and we hope that the eventual scheme will do justice to that sensitive corner.

I say this from the point of view that the other sensitive entrance to the conservation area, the traffic lights, is now in process of development with the assistance of the first crane of that size in the Lymington area. As this can be seen from the Keyhaven marshes there is no escape from being reminded of this planning decision.

The second major issue this year has been the Council’s initiative on Local Distinctiveness in which they have involved the Society from the beginning.

I can remind members of a very useful meeting hosted by the Society with local councillors to ensure that we all got off on the right foot with this.

Local distinctiveness will create a new Supplementary Planning Guidance covering the whole area of the town not covered by conservation areas to identify locally distinctive characteristics, with which new development should be sympathetic and should comply. One can imagine that if that policy had been in place, so that inspectors had to follow it, several of the more prominent new buildings recently would not have been built in the way that they have.

On the subject of what the Society considers planning mistakes in the area of Avenue Road, I suspect the final local distinctiveness document will identify some of these and say that they should not be followed as precedents as they have been built out of character with their particular locations.

That brings me onto the biggest new development which will soon take place on the old Webb Site, now Redrow’s site. I recall this is one of the first issues I dealt with as Chairman, to be involved in the original supplemental planning guidance prior to the original planning permission, which conspicuously was not followed by the Council at that time. The position is that we are now fixed with the original permission that was provided by the Council, against many of the members’ better judgement.

Redrow’s could build on the basis of that permission, but as we learnt at presentation last week they have chosen to dramatically review the plans and come up with a much improved scheme.

Firstly specialist architects have been brought in and we were addressed at our meeting by Sir Richard McCormac of  MJP Architects who is a former President of the RIBA.

The previous scheme had allowed for the road access with the condition of a rear pedestrian access somewhere across the railway.

The imaginative difference of the current scheme has been to make the pedestrian access across the railway the central focus of the site and a link with the Town.  The bridge over the railway would be part of a graded access from the station car park, described possibly as “Station Square”, onto a high level entrance square of the development. The semicircular development radiates out from there with radial visual lines to and from theRiverside. On the Riverside, buildings will connect with the water and relate to it rather than looking away and inwards from it as the previous development did.

The development will, as presently considered, still be quite dense with up to 300 units but much broken up and protected by trees. The other committee members and councillors and planning officers, who were at the meeting, felt that this was an imaginative way to review the development, given that there is planning permission for a significant scheme at present.

Another feature which has pleased me particularly is how the Council have now involved local organisations such as this Society with the initial concept, rather than the exclusion which took place under earlier regimes. I recall how when we have called the previous developers to a public meeting to explain their plan, councillors said that if they had been put in touch with public feeling, they would have started their plan from a completely different concept.

Perhaps this is what we have now achieved. I hope that in due course the current developers, Redrow, will be able to attend a meeting to explain their plan to our membership as a whole and to take into account any feedback, as indeed happened at this recent meeting.

The climate of dialogue with the planners has really changed dramatically over the last few years, in response, I hope, to the reasonable and objective approach taken by the Society committee members to development matters.

Not least this has occurred in relation to the Town Council, who have been extremely grateful by the frequent presence of Jonathan Hutchinson dealing with planning matters. I think they would not mind me saying that when Jonathan goes to express the Society’s view on important issues which affect the character of the town, they wish he would stay to help them with the more mundane problems that as planning committee councillors they have to face!

On the question of cooperation, can I say that whilst in the past successive Town Councillors took the view that cooperation between the Town Councillors and the Society was incompatible with their public position, again we now have an extremely good working relationship with the current mayor Cllr Jan Hawker, who attended our local distinctiveness meeting.

I am afraid our current cooperation does not extend to the practicalities of ensuring that our AGM and an important Town Council meeting did not clash which is why the Lady Mayoress is not able to be here today, but I can assure our members that that is purely accidental and does not reflect on our relationship and she would be here if she could.

I am only the spokesperson for a Committee whose individual efforts for the Society are on a much more dedicated basis than mine. I tend to guide and encourage the Committee and where necessary pick up the pieces, but it is the other committee members who, all of them in their different ways, form the engine room of this Society.

I have named the committee members specifically previously and I will not embarrass them again but they are here today and can be spoken to informally afterwards. I will mention our thanks to Marion Jakes who joined us a couple of years ago as a committee member and took an interest in marshes and coastal matters but resigned recently.

The remaining members continue to offer themselves for re-election. I appreciate that new blood is always welcome but this committee works extremely well with all existing members having a task to do. I can assure you that it is in no way running out of steam or ideas and you would be well advised to re-elect its members rather than lose any of its wealth of talent.

Ladies and gentlemen I commend the committee to you for re-election in due course.

 

Clive Sutton

Chairman Lymington Society 

Chairman’s Report for the AGM 18th March 2009

Ladies and gentlemen. 

Those of you were who were at this meeting last year will remember that Peter Chitty read my address to you and I’m grateful to him for having done that.

This year, as the time came round to the Annual General Meeting, I thought to myself last Friday morning, “What has the Lymington Society done this year which I can share with the members” .

As soon as I had scanned the Lymington Times for the 14th of March the answer was clear.  In that paper they were at least four these items in which the Lymington Society is actively involved, if not in the news, then behind the news.

“CHAOS AS HIGH WINDS HALT NEW FERRIES”.  The Lymington Society was obviously not responsible for the high winds or the chaos, but what that headline indicates is the way in which the Harbour Commissioners are stringently monitoring the introduction of the new ferries.

I appreciate that everyone has mixed views about the introduction of these large ferries.  I would imagine when members heard my report last year about the very recent issue of the ferries people might have thought that there had been a degree of exaggeration in their size.  I think any such question is now dispelled.  They are very large, and the windage in high winds will mean that there has to be a large amount of sideways thrust onto the banks of the River to keep them in position.

The Society’s position has been consistent throughout; to ensure that the various statutory bodies have complied with their responsibilities and have not allowed Wightlink’s construction of the ferries, in advance of any approvals, to be a rubber stamp for their decisions.  One of the most difficult tasks has been to find who is responsible for making the decisions and to engage with them in a realistic way.

During the course of the year the Solent Protection Society, who are really the lead voluntary organisation responsible, have changed their position from acceptance to criticism and some of you may have seen the Chairman of the Solent Protection Society on the television, when the ferries were introduced without permission and without warning, expressing their opposition.  Some of our Committee members would say, “All very welcome but a bit late in the day” .

The decisions on the ferries will take their course and you may be aware that there is a judicial review application by the Lymington River Association taking place at this moment.  I can say that the Committee did not feel it appropriate to go as far as joining in legal proceedings in relation to the ferries partly because of exposure to costs and partly because that would place us in an active opposition to the ferries which has not been the basis of policy.

You should remember that when the Committee first became involved, the issue of the ferries was effectively accepted by the Solent Protection Society, the yacht clubs and to a certain extent the Harbour Commissioners and it has been significantly due to the Society’s efforts started at our public meeting at the end of 2007 which has raised the profile of these issues.

When I say the Society’s efforts I have to qualify that by saying: Donald MacKenzie’s efforts on behalf of the Society, supported, albeit at times reluctantly, by the Committee.  But I can say at this stage the Committee are satisfied with the Society’s position, and grateful for Don’s efforts, in that the regulators all are fully engaged and hopefully the final decisions will be transparent.

Next on page 12 of the paper is the headline “LANDMARK HOMES DEVELOPMENT ON WELLWORTHY  CLUB SITE REFUSED”.

I hope you will link this with the last edition of the Society’s newsletter at page 5 where, for the first time, the Committee tried to engage the members in opinions on a new and important proposal for the town.  You had my view and Ivor Johnston’s view and were asked to send or e-mail your views to Ivor Johnston.

Although we have approximately 400 members I have to say I was slightly disappointed that or we only had seven replies; some of those I believe from non-members.  It is going to be my intention in the future to ask the membership for their views on controversial schemes where the decision may not be entirely clear, so that in giving representations to the planners or other bodies we can say that we have taken into account the views of our members.  If you get a similar appeal in the future do please respond.

In this case the view that I suspected would prevail, that this building was magnificent but in the wrong place, did in fact prevail with both the Town Council and the Planning Committee, and it has been rejected.  However the background to that application does show the constructive dialogue which a developer can have with the Committee.  We were approached by the developers on an earlier proposal which was as big, but bland, and we suggested something more of a landmark building.  the architect came back to visit the Committee with the current proposal which, impressive as it is, is not quite going to hit the right note at that position set against the surrounding houses and the rest of the Town’s Georgian character .

Moving on in the Newspapers supplement we have “BUILDERS FACE BIG BILL AS BID TO KEEP TOO HIGH HOMES REFUSED”.  This is a reference to the new building which I now understand is known as a Rapunzel’s Tower by local residents, which is at the corner of Avenue Road and Lower Buckland Road .

The history of this is that this application was actively opposed by the Society at an earlier application and appeal.  On the basis of stating the Society’s position, without fear or favour, I have to say that the new application went through on the basis of delegated powers to the council officers because the new application was not opposed by the then Lymington Town Council.  The Society have raised, and will continue to raise, questions as to how a building of this size and nature could go through on delegated powers without the consideration of the elected planning councillors, regardless of any other factors.

This building firstly clashes with the character of the residential homes in Avenue Road and, possibly worse, overshadows the buildings on the other side of Buckland Road.  The current issue is the fact that the building is larger and higher than the approved plans. At last councillors are starting to reflect the views of local residents as to the sort of buildings that should be erected although those decisions can still of course be challenged before planning inspectors.  I feel that the efforts of the Lymington Society over the past eight years or so, to make representations against this sort of development, has supported some new councillors with views in tune with the local community to get onto the planning Committee.

Our opposition was led by Jonathan Hutchinson saying that the development was a striking example of the desecration of the area.  He is quoted as saying “This building is a standing reproach to the inability of the planning system to prevent developers from turning this old market town into a cod version of the celebrity retreat of Sandbanks.  You have the power to insist this ugly pile does at least match the terms of consent for its construction.  I urge you to do so.”  I think you may be hearing more from Jonathan Hutchinson on other applications in a similar vein.

Finally we now have the notice that the decision to oppose the demolition and redevelopment of Buckland House, supported by the Society, is now subject to appeal.  This is a difficult decision on the basis that one might say that Buckland house would probably never have got planning permission in its day, but it is a landmark of Lymington prominently by the traffic lights and has some character appropriate to its age, and it is unfortunate if character is lost.  I was assured at the time of the original McCarthy and Stone planning application on the other side of the road that Buckland house had been bought as an administrative headquarters for local developers and that there was no question at that stage of the building being redeveloped.

Finally I regret to say that the battle over the McCarthy and Stone development on the other corner of Avenue Road and Southampton Road has now been lost so that we will have a joined up building going all the way along the length of the newly erected hoardings and round the corner, on the basis that as it is sheltered housing it needs to be one unit.

This, with the development of Buckland House if it is finally allowed on appeal, will produce a barrier of new building between the existing listed buildings of the lower part of Southampton Road and the traditional individual family houses of the upper part .

Finally on the question of development generally, the Society feel the time has come, with the present possible pause in this rate of development due to economic circumstances, to take stock of the development that has occurred in Lymington and which is threatened, with a view to there being a policy for remaining undeveloped areas.  The Committee want to involve the membership in a meeting to consider that at some stage in the future.

The Society is not only preoccupied with development and ferries and business matters but provides opportunities for members to socialise.  One of most enjoyable meetings this year was at Buckland Rings on a thankfully fine day in the summer where members were able to go all the way round the Rings, following Joanna Close-Brooks’ talk at the last AGM, and appreciate such an important historical site within Lymington and what is currently being done there.  We also had a garden party at Buckland, Christmas drinks at Stanwell House, and a view of the Women’s Land Army exhibition at the Museum.

That brings me to the effort made to print the newsletter, organised by Nigel Seth-Smith, and which has settled into a comfortable routine for printing now that I have got an all-singing all-dancing colour printer for my office.  Thanks also to the distributors of the newsletter.

Our informal arrangement or association with the Pennington Residents Association is continuing well with representation on our Committee meetings by one of their Committee members on a regular basis so that each organisation knows of the other’s concerns and can co-operate and assist.

Looking at my last report I took the opportunity in my absence to compliment the Committee on their work.  I will not bore you again with the details but I repeat how grateful I am to the fact that the individuals on the Committee are so active and can be relied on to deal with their responsibilities.  I would like to make particular reference to the responsibilities that Jonathan Hutchinson is taking on in respect of planning and his team-work with Nic King on that aspect.  We have also welcomedMarion Jakes onto the Committee, who is taking a particular brief for matters involving the Solent, the foreshore and the marshes. All members offer themselves for election.

The subscription went up to £10 per member last year which is a satisfactory figure and is maintaining our finances.  The treasurer will report and I think our finances are healthy.

The Committee can only work with the knowledge that its members support its aims. We don’t seem to get too many complaints from members so we may be doing the right thing or perhaps the members are not particularly interested.

Today is your opportunity in the questions following this to make your comments, complimentary or otherwise, as to how the Society is complying with your expectations.

Finally can I make a short reference to the presentation that you will have tonight from the Lymington Forum through its representative Clifford Jakes, which replaces the talk from Sally Fear, who is unable to be here.

Clifford will outline the Forum’s position but so far as the Society is concerned the Forum is looking proactively at the future of Lymington whereas the Society tends to react to developments as they take place or we try to structure decisions affecting Lymington.  However our joint objectives are for the benefit of Lymington and therefore I would like to ensure that the Society gives the Forum every opportunity to tell the public, and in particular the Society’s members, of the Forum’s aims and proposals.  It is very convenient that the AGM is so close to the presentation of the Forum’s report. However in the time-honoured words of the small print, “the views of the Forum are not necessarily those of the Society.”

Ladies and gentlemen that brings my remarks to a conclusion and thank you for your continued support here tonight.

 

Clive Sutton

Chairman Lymington Society 

Chairman’s Report for the AGM 2nd April 2008

Ladies and gentlemen. 

At the time of my dictating this report it is intended that it should be read for me by our new Life President, Peter Chitty, due to the fact that for professional reasons I need to be in Cyprus early on Thursday morning.  He will have given you his first opening welcome to the meeting in his own words in his new capacity as Life President.  Peter continues to attend some of our committee meetings and provides valuable continuity.  I am grateful to him for that.

I am sorry not to be able to be here tonight to hear Joanna Close Brook’s talk on Buckland Rings, with which she and I have been associated since 1987 through little-known Buckland Trust which ran the small museum at the Toll House Pub and was the blueprint for what I believe is now a leading local museum, the Lymington Museum.

I think I first gave my Chairman’s report for the AGM in 2002.  I do not think there was much to report in those days but there has been more and more to deal with over the years.  Major issues have been and in some cases continue to be:

  • The Webb Site and its public meeting;
  • The density of development under PPG 3;
  • The flats resulting from that policy and the public meeting resulting from that issue which led to the acceptance by the New Forest District Council of a petition from that meeting and an amendment to its policy;
  • The question of the Pinetops development;
  • The preservation of the Old Infirmary Masters house;
  • The demolition of the Canon Street School;
  • The recent issue of the ferries.

The last two issues of the Cannon Street School and the ferries are matters to be reported to you at this meeting.  In my Chairman’s report for the last AGM I reported that we had commenced Judicial Review proceedings against the New Forest District Council. 

The newsletter has recently come out and those of you who have been able to read through the report on the Cannon Street School issue will know that the summary is that in the course of our legal complaint against the Council it is our view that we exposed a flaw in the Council’s decision-making process and that in other circumstances the decision to demolish the school might not have been made.  Obviously, the clock could not be put back, and at that stage the school was being demolished and for us to proceed to a full hearing to prove a point would have been beyond our resources. 

We brought matters to a close on the basis of total barristers’ fees for both ourselves and a contribution to those of the Council totalling £3,406.  I have to take responsibility for the fact that this is more than I anticipated when we started the case. However, we left a position with the Council where we withdrew on mutually agreeable terms which did not leave us beholden to the Council in any way and I was thereby able to report the matter fully to you in the last newsletter.

The exercise has eaten into our resources and I hope that Peter Chitty as our ex-treasurer will forgive the fact that some of his hard earned reserves were used in this exercise.  However, I think the overall feeling of the Committee is that the exercise, although expensive, was worth it to show our commitment to take action where necessary in any circumstances that might arise in the future. 

Obviously, if we were to commit ourselves to anything other than modest expenditure we would need to start an appeal to cover ourselves for funds.  However, the point has been made, and given other similar circumstances we are prepared to take action to either challenge the Council or any statutory body, or if necessary support them, if such action is to be in the interests of our Members and Lymington’s residents, whose interests are not being properly taken into account.

Due to some quick thinking by Members of the Committee, the old Bell Tower from the school has been bought by the Society and is available to be installed at some appropriate location in the future. Any suggestions would be welcome.  Members will be able to see it if they visit Buckland Manor Garden on the visit scheduled in June.

It was proposed a year ago at the last Annual General Meeting that the annual subscription should be increased to £10.  I did not think it constitutionally appropriate to make an increase without prior notice at that meeting but that notice has now been given for this meeting and the proposal will be made to increase the subscription.  I believe there are some generous Members amongst us who pay an additional sum with their basic subscription and to them I express my thanks.

The other major issue is the ferries which had not raised its head at the last AGM.  In fact initially I wondered whether it was our role to get involved.  However it does come under the Society’s aims, possibly slightly stretched, but my major concern has been that, rightly or wrongly, it appeared to be a subject which was being swept under the carpet by the statutory bodies involved.  This led to third public meeting, and possibly the most successful of all given the numbers involved, and the opportunity that it gave to all parties involved to make their points known and to realise the strength of the concern in the Town about the ferries.

Members may wonder what our policy is in relation to the ferries at present.  Your Committee’s policy is to make sure that the issues surrounding the introduction of the new ferries were put into the public arena and that the decision-making processes of the relevant statutory bodies were carried out fairly.  Since our meeting, Desmond Swayne has had an adjournment debate in the House of Commons to which the Minister, Joan Ruddock, had to reply in detail.  He referred to our meeting as showing the strength of feeling in the Town. 

Wightlink have agreed to carry out the reports which they are being asked to carry out which currently is an Environmental Assessment for English Nature. The Harbour Commissioners have obtained a new report which I believe will be published shortly.  The issue of an Environmental Impact Assessment is still not resolved.  From my discussions with the Council I am aware that they are relying very much on their legal opinion as to this. 

I can say that in the interests of openness I have made a request to the NFDC for the disclosure of that legal opinion which they are dealing with under the Freedom of Information Act and will give a response to you in due course. Don MacKenzie has written letters to the statutory bodies asking for such a full assessment.

Whilst those processes are being properly carried out, with or without our pressure, then I believe our purpose is to remain objective and to await the outcome of those reports.  If the ultimate decisions appear to fly in the face of the reports and common sense then we may change our position to be more proactive in resisting the new larger ferries.  However, whilst many of our individual Members may have strong views against the ferries, whatever the ultimate reports and decisions, this Society’s policy, during my time as Chairman, has been to be objective and constructive and not to be a mouthpiece purely for individual views or interests. 

It is that policy I believe which has gained us the respect of the Authorities such as the NFDC in accepting our petition on flat developments in the Town and in now starting to take into account our views as an amenity Society in relation to major new developments.

An example of this has been the involvement by the NFDC in a meeting with ourselves and the Council Planning Officer and the Developer and other interested parties in the Pinetops development greenbelt issue, and to take preliminary views which may assist the owner of the site in making a further application that might be accepted by the various interests in the Lymington and Pennington.

That leads me on to our new relationship with the Pennington Residents Association.  We have informal co-operation with them in which one of three of their Committee Members regularly come to our Committee meetings.  This enables us to coordinate our ideas and representations.  I have to say that our thinking may not have been exactly the same over the Pinetops issue, but we have not fallen out, and I welcome their attendance at our meetings and I hope some or all of the Pennington Residents Association Members are here tonight.

That brings me on to your Committee.  I will not be here tonight to ensure their re-election en bloc but I hope I can rely on Peter Chitty and yourselves to ensure that that happens.  I have been a member and chairman of many voluntary committees both local and national over the past 30 years.  I have to say that I have never been on a Committee which has had so many diverse talents and where everyone is taking the strain evenly.  It is one of the few Committees I have experienced where as Chairman one does not have to concern oneself with all the issues, and can rely on others to be responsible.

You are asked to elect your Committee who will then elect or confirm their officers on the grounds that they think that those officers are the right people to do those tasks.  The current position is as follows.

Myself, Clive Sutton, as Chairman, and you will have to judge me tonight by what Peter Chitty has read you.

Ivor Johnston, as the Society’s Secretary.  He is the person who tidies up all the loose ends and reminds us what needs to be done so that the rest of us do not have to worry about it.  The Committee meeting Minutes and agreed follow-up correspondence are often on our e-mails from him almost before we have got home! An invaluable support for a Chairman.

Derek Sheffer, who is not here tonight, but as Membership Secretary has also taken on the role of Treasurer.  He has caught and held many new members and anyone who is prepared to take on the role of Treasurer to any committee needs effusive thanks from the Chairman.

Don Mackenzie, as press officer.  He is probably the most public face of the Committee and our publicly pro-active member and encourages other members in the newsletter, social events, speaks on planning matters and is proactive in many of our campaigns.  He will be leading a short discussion on one or two items of interest.

Nic King, who manages to field the planning applications and guide us through them.  I should have said that in addition to all the major issues the ongoing individual planning applications need to be considered, analysed, reported on, thought about and representations made.

Jonathan Hutchinson, recently on the Committee, who is backing Nick King in this onerous task.

Nigel Seth-Smith, who has very successfully taken on the task of Social Secretary and has dealt with the newsletter. He will be giving you a report.

Rose Tainsh, who came on the Committee because of her success in the Bath Road planning appeal and is always willing to help out where she can particularly with the newsletter delivery.

Joe Bloggs, who I hope will come forward to offer his or her services by coming along to a Committee meeting and seeing whether he or she likes us and fits in and can add something and then be formally elected at the next AGM, unless that Joe Bloggs feels like putting himself or herself forward at the meeting tonight.

I have laid it on a bit thick, and if anything have underplayed your Committee members merits, because I will not be here, and I want you all to know how hard, efficiently and effectively your Committee work for this Society.  I hope the Society is now thought of, and will continue to be thought of, as a hard-working, respected and responsible Amenity Society for the Town.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your support here tonight.

Clive Sutton

Chairman Lymington Society 

Chairman’s Report for the AGM 21st March 2007

Ladies and gentlemen can I welcome you all to this Annual General Meeting of the Lymington Society.

Bill Hope-Jones

This year the meeting is not formally opened as in former years by our late President, Bill Hope Jones. He was our President for many years. Last year I announced that he was no longer attending Committee meetings nor the AGM. Sadly, he died before Christmas. I am sorry that there has not been a greater public recognition of the benefits he brought to this Town, by his involvement in setting up the Community Centre and being a founder member of the Lymington Society.

New President

Last year I also had to announce that my battle to retain Peter Chitty as an active member and Treasurer of the Committee had finally been lost and he had persuaded me to accept his resignation. I am pleased to say that we have secured his services in another guise and he has kindly agreed to be our new President.

The Secretary has guided us through the appropriate election procedures during the formalities. Well what a year it has been! Having been through the usual subject including the Webbs Site, in my last annual report for the 4th April 2006 Annual General Meeting I never dreamt so much would have happened before the next Annual General Meeting.

Public Meeting

Very soon after the last meeting there was enormous dissatisfaction over the manner in which the Waterford Lane planning application was passed and at the same moment McCarthy and Stone decided to make an application for a monstrous building on the corner of Avenue Road and Southampton Road

I well remember the pressure under which I was placed to do something over the Waterford Lane application, and at the same time I saw on the NFDC website the size of the proposed building at the junction of Avenue Road in Southampton Road.

Another public meeting was clearly in order to obtain our members and the Town’s views on these important planning issues following on from the precedent of our extremely successful public meeting over the Webbs Site a couple of years earlier.

The meeting took place on 21st June last and whilst I had expected to have one or two Councillors, we were all impressed by the fact that many members from the NFDC turned up and more would have come from the Town Council, if it had not clashed with a planning meeting.

I and Don Mackenzie opened the meeting and, after several questions from the floor, Mel Kendal, the Leader of the Council, took the floor to explain the Council’s position. One of the things they made very clear was that money was not an issue in relation to the opposition to unwarranted planning applications and that they were prepared to take on appeals when necessary. Chris Elliott, the Chief Planning Officer, followed that with an explanation of the difficulties faced by the Planning Officers. There were more questions and the meeting went on well beyond when most of the members of the audience should have been in bed.

The meeting was well publicised and Don McKenzie had a spot on in local television and I think rumours of our meeting even got as far as Government Departments. It filled three rooms in the Community Centre.

Petition leads to Society being Invited to Become Involved

As a result of that meeting and the petition which was circulated at the meeting and afterwards amounting to 1700 signatures Mel Kendal invited us to a Council meeting in October to present the petition formally to the Council.

The resolution passed at that meeting reads as follows:

“Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions should not be accepted.”

And I hope this is having a direct influence on Officers’ recommendations and the Council members’ decisions by relieving the pressure to build high-density developments in residential areas in Lymington.

Southampton Road

At this very moment the Site which was so much in our minds that evening has now been refused by the NFDC and has gone for an Appeal, which is being heard at a Public Inquiry today and tomorrow. Your Committee Members have spent some time putting together their proofs of evidence in relation to this Appeal. It is a landmark Appeal. We have the disadvantage that the Council, without allowing any real input from the townspeople allowed two big developments in Avenue Road which are now built.

I think it is accepted that those approvals were a mistake. I hope and believe the Council has learnt from its mistake. However, those developments are there and we have to persuade the Inspector that those developments should not have an affect on the current application. The current Application is so gross in its size, that I hope the Inspector will dismiss it. In preparing for this Appeal I can say that the Council have now started to ask for our cooperation and support in opposing this Appeal.

The appeal is under way at the moment and Don McKenzie gave very good evidence this afternoon on the impact of the site on various factors such as need, the effect on the age balance in the community, the impact on the infrastructure, traffic problems and diversity.

I will give evidence tomorrow on the impact of the application on the overall character of the area and Ivor Johnston will talk about the impact of so many additional elderly people on the medical services in the town. I can say that the way in which the developers have approached this Appeal already is to hammer home the fact of the precedents of the two new developments on either side of Avenue Road allowed by the Council without any input from local residents. The Council are on the back foot and say that these were allowed prior to the current design standards being introduced. We however can roundly criticise the Council, as we have in the past, for allowing these buildings to be built, which we knew would give rise to this sort of application for bigger and bigger developments

One of the benefits of an independent body such as ours is that we can say things which may not be quite so politically correct as the statements that need to be made by the Council, and in doing so we can possibly more accurately reflect the real feelings of the people of Lymington. They are having to watch the character of the Town slowly but surely change from a small market town to a suburban Town into which all the modern features of urban living, including national chain stores and coffee shops, which are being drawn in by the increased population.

Whilst the Lymington Society cannot stand in the way of economic change it can try to ensure that the physical expression of that change is as much in keeping with the existing character of Lymington as possible by retaining its streetscapes. That character is retained in the Conservation Area by virtue of the Conservation Area policies, these do not apply in the surrounding urban areas. We have to be vigilant. There are other developments on the horizon which are a natural result of improvements to the Town. We now have a splendid new hospital, which has resulted in land being available for further development. That development must be in keeping with its surroundings.

Cannon Street School

Whilst we are co-operating as much as possible with the Council in encouraging them to reduce density, I have to say that one local difficulty has emerged. You are all no doubt aware of the Canon Street School Site. This was described in the Conservation Area as allowing views across to Walhampton. The Old School Building gave character to that part of Lymington and sat well with the new library which is now complemented by the new Community Hall.

However, to lose the school to another block of the modern style and dormer roof flats was to lose another part of Lymington’s character. Donald MacKenzie made our representations to the Council and attended the planning meeting in December.

We were distinctly dissatisfied with the outcome of that meeting and the way in which the decision was made for various reasons. These include the obvious interest the NFDC had in the sale price through its sister local authority the Hampshire County Council which was selling to the Swaythling Housing Association at a price based on the number of units granted.

The Planning Meeting seemed to make the decision on the number of units in the scheme itself. Permission for the demolition of the School, which was a separate application, seemed to follow without any further discussion. There has been no serious attempt to see whether the School can be retained either for community uses, as actually intended in a previous local authority document, or incorporated into a new development.

The upshot of this was that as the contractors moved in we received a barrister’s advice that there were grounds to say that the Council’s decision should be objected to under the Judicial Review process. I can say therefore that as from last Monday you as members of our committee are litigants with the New Forest District Council in the High Court.

However, before you are horrified at the prospect, can I say that we are able to continue a dialogue with the Chief Planning Officer and now the Council’s legal representative which will lead us to further meetings our respective legal advisors so that we can decide whether the Council can satisfy our legal concerns about this decision, and if not we will obviously revert to the members for a decision as to what further action we take.

At this stage the stop press news that of course during the course today the school has disappeared. The council had been aware of our position four-week and have taken no steps to prevent the contractors demolishing it. We had assumed that they would have made some representations to the contractors but possibly they’re in a position to do so. We are in no position to obtain injunction because injunction requires an undertaking to pay damages if we are wrong and we do not have the resources to pay the sort of damages that might arise from delaying a development of this nature whilst a judicial review goes through.

I intend that our barrister and the council’s barrister will meet to see whether we are satisfied whether our barrister continues to advise us that the Council’s procedures in this application were flawed. If so we will consider what other avenues are open to us.

Whilst this has been a difficult decision for the Committee to take, the Committee has been unanimous in deciding that if we do have expert planning advice to the effect that the decision is flawed, it is our duty on behalf of our members and the population of Lymington to try to take action if a significant building in the conservation area is threatened .

Webb Site

Every year I mention the Webb Site but this year it has been relatively dormant while Appeal goes through over the question of the change of use from the hotel to a care home. That Appeal is now fixed for 21st April and we will make representations on the basis that the area should not become a dormitory for old people and should have some vitality. However, our position on the Webb Site has been that we feel that the Council were going to agree to excessive density and the lack of mixed uses on the Site and that if there was an opportunity to go back to the drawing board, that would be no bad thing.

Social Events

Last year I was also able to announce the start of the regular social programme having held a couple of social meetings by the time of the last AGM. Since the last AGM we have had a full social programme which has been well supported and will be reported on by the Nigel Seth-Smith our Social Secretary.

For those of you who missed the social events or did not come to as many events as you would have liked, I hope you will attend more this year. They are extremely good value. They enable the Committee to meet the members and to gauge their feelings and to enable the members to liaise with the Committee.Our thanks go to Nigel Seth-Smith and his Committee and to those who hosted some of the events.

New Committee Member

Last year I probably caused sufficient embarrassment by naming and shaming the other members of the Committee and I will not do so again but I will repeat that this year has been an extremely active year and has been very demanding for the Committee. We have a new member, Rose Tainsh, who was very instrumental on her own behalf, and as a Society Member, in coordinating local opposition to the Bath Road Planning Application which was rightly refused on Appeal by a Planning Inspector during the course of last year.

Speaker

Finally, I am very pleased to welcome Tim Kermode as our speaker tonight. Here is another topical subject on the question of climate change and how it will affect Lymington particularly so far as rising sea levels are concerned. Tim is the Environment Agency Area Flood Risk Manager and I shall introduce him more fully in due course.

Ladies and gentleman, thank you.

Clive Sutton

Chairman Lymington Society 

Chairman’s Report for Newsletter Autumn 2006

The last Lymington Society newsletter was produced in the Spring. Since then as ever with the Society much has happened.

Waterford Lane

At the end of May two issues came together. The first was the disquiet amongst the residents of Waterford Lane and the rest of the town about the way in which planning permission had been granted for a large new development by Quantum Homes, which was notorious firstly because the fact of the ring barking of trees by the developers, and secondly for complaints against the then Town Mayor which have subsequently been dealt with by a Local Government Standards Investigation in which he has been exonerated.

Avenue Road Flats

The second was the planning application for a huge block of 29 flats at the junction of Avenue Road and Southampton Road. At that stage there was so much feeling in the Town that, following on the success of a previous public meeting over the Webb Site, the Society’s committee decided to call another public meeting.

Lymington Society on TV

Just prior to the meeting Don Mackenzie had been interviewed for local television and radio which produced considerable interest.

Public Meeting

This took place on the 21st of June in the community centre attended by more than 250 people having to take up a total of three rooms with two rooms linked by loudspeakers and microphones. Those of you who were there will no doubt remember the meeting well, but many of you may not have been able to come. For those of you who have not heard my opening speech a copy is available on the website. Due to some audio problems in one of the rooms I had to restart it halfway through but I made the point to the councillors present that it was probably a good thing for them to hear it twice.

Councillors

The meeting was well attended by District Councillors including Mel Kendall, Jeremy Heron, Tom Russell, Maureen Holding and Paul Hickman together with the Chief of Development Control Chris Elliott. Also present was County Councillor Adrian Evans and Town Councillors Elizabeth Lewis and John Smale. Unfortunately the meeting clashed with the Town Council Planning Meeting that evening.

Residents Speak

After an illustrated presentation by Don Mackenzie the meeting was opened up to contributions from the floor firstly on the planning application process for Waterford Lane and secondly more general comments relating to overdevelopment. There were wide-ranging questions and answers and no subject was out of bounds. Reply by Mel Kendall and Chris Elliott Mel Kendall replied on behalf of the councillors supported by Chris Elliott. Their contributions were well received and Chris Elliott made the point that he had not realised that when developers approach the Hampshire county council regarding highway access prior to drawing up development plans, that Hampshire county council did not pass this information on to NFDC who could take steps to protect trees in advance of potential ring barking by developers. He would take steps to rectify this. Derf Patton as a well-known local nurseryman made the comment that ring barked trees could be saved. For those of you who want to look at the detail of the meeting it was recorded and a full transcript is available to be taken off the website http://www.lymsoc.co.uk

Petition

A petition was circulated at the meeting and afterwards and has now achieved 1425 signatures. It has been presented to the NFDC and Mel Kendall, the leader of the Council, is very keen that there should be a specific meeting to deal with this petition and concerns of other amenity societies and councils in the area. A meeting is taking place at the NFDC offices on the 30th of October, when the petition will be presented to the Council. I am told that the wish will be for the Council to be able to pass this petition on up to the Secretary of State to show the strength of local views on the impact of national planning policies. Our initiative seems to have been followed up by our local communities also protesting at the amount of development in their areas and producing petitions.

Social Events

Social events have continued during the summer and I am very grateful to the Social Committee for the success of these. An ongoing programme is shown elsewhere in this website.

Planning

By the time you read this letter we will have made representations and a planning appeal on the Bath Lodge development in Bath Road, which if it is allowed will have a very detrimental effect on the character of the Bath Road at that point. We are also been involved in the concern over the demolition of a burgage plot wall at 28/29 High St without planning permission and I have given some comments on the importance of burgage plots and burgage plot walls, to the Southampton Evening Echo. Our dialogue with the council over various planning issues is ongoing. The only subject which is almost dormant at the moment is the Webb site redevelopment where the site is going through a change of ownership and at the same time an appeal to change current hotel permission to a care home use which the majority of your committee disagrees with. More and more people are realising that Lymington is under a real threat of significant change and that everything must be done to minimise the effect of change on the town’s character. Whilst obviously new homes are needed there are plenty of sites for these new homes on the Webb Site, the old Hospital Site when it becomes available and other places where dense development is not out of keeping with the locality. The problem is that developers are taking advantage of government directives encouraging density of development, to redevelop existing residential areas which do not immediately need redevelopment.

Support your local Councillor

Apparently the Councillors do not agree with the changes of character but say they need support from the local community to resist such applications. The Society’s membership has increased considerably recently because of new members wishing to be involved in that resistance. Please encourage others to join and pass their names to the Secretary for application forms. Finally your Chairman gained some satisfaction on your behalf when the Quantum Homes developers asked to be introduced at a recent party in the Town. After my initial surprise I was able to react quickly enough to ask: “And which of you ring barked the trees”. After their initial surpri

Clive Sutton

Chairman Lymington Society