This BLOG is dedicated to a green and pleasant Thornbury. Without your help, it may not stay that way...

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

THANKYOU to (Ex-Councillor) ROB HUDSON

We note with sadness, but with empathy too, that Rob Hudson has recently resigned as a Thornbury Town Councillor for NorthWest Thornbury Ward. Our MASSIVE thanks for all he has done to represent the concerns of local residents, in particular the huge contribution he has made to the cause of SAVE THORNBURY'S GREEN HERITAGE. Read Rob's own explanation as to why he has resigned on the NorthWestThornbury blogsite. Rob would like to make it abundantly clear that although he has resigned from TTC, he continues to work on behalf of STGH to protect our green and heritage fields from unwelcome and ill-conceived housing developemnt projects such as Barratt's at Park Farm. The fight goes on.

Meanwhile, if you live in Northwest Thornbury Ward and would like his vacant seat to be contested by an Independent candidate rather than automatically filled by another Lib-Dem party-liner, you will need to write to SGC before 12th March requesting a by-election. We plan to put our support behind a candidate who has the best interests of Thornbury, North West Thornbury and our Heritage fields at heart.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972, Section 87 (2)


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a Casual Vacancy has occurred in the office of Councillor for NORTH WEST WARD of the Council of the Town of Thornbury due to the resignation of Cllr. Rob Hudson.
An ELECTION will be held to fill the vacancy if a REQUEST IN WRITING for such an election is given to THE RETURNING OFFICER, South Gloucestershire Council, Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury, Bristol BS35 1HF, by TEN Local Government ELECTORS for the Ward by no later than 12th March 2013.
Dated:  21st February 2013
Signed:  ____________________

on behalf of STGH

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Due to the inadequacies of its own Core Strategy, SGC has come under increasing pressure from the Inspector to increase its allocation of housing development sites across the county. This will be in support of Coalition Government policy which is to build our way out of recession. No matter that people will be unable to afford housing as unemployment rises, the cost of living increases, salaries are frozen or reduced, redundancies are rife, and belts are being tightened everywhere.
The net result for Thornbury is that SGC has proposed that the Morton Way North site be added to its Core Strategy, in addition to 500 houses at Park Farm. This comes as little surprise to STGH who have continually warned that, by approving the least sustainable development site (Park Farm - heritage issues, flooding problems, lack of infrastructure, access to town centre), it renders all other sites across Thornbury vulnerable to development in the relatively near future.
It is still not certain how the Inspector will respond to this proposal by SGC. Certainly the Thornbury SGC Councillors, and a number of Thornbury Town Councillors have got themselves into a bit of a flap over this. Ironic really, when their own short-sighted actions have contributed to this state of affairs. The Inspector intends to re-open the EIP for one day only on Thursday 7th March 2013 to hear further representations on this and a few other matters. STGH will certainly be in attendance, and will report on what is discussed. There is still a final window of opportunity to send a written comment to the Inspector on this matter (FAO Inspector Crysell, c/o Kath Thorne, SGC), but this closes on Friday 8th Feb, 2013.
We have never been in favour of developing houses on our green fields, but we have always argued that the Park Farm site is the least sustainable of all proposed options. This continues to be the case. Flooding issues have come higher on the agenda following the inclement weather of the past 10 months. Access shortcomings have been highlighted with the arrival of the Alexandra Way Care Home development proposals that Barratts have recently added to the table. And the Heritage issues will never go away.
We have little confidence that any of SGC, TTC or the Inspector actually have the whole-hearted interests of Thornbury residents at the top of their agenda. We continue to represent those interests as best we can, and welcome your support.

on behalf of STGH

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


The Inspector appointed to undertake the Core Strategy's Examination has supplied the following note regarding the Examination's progression:

I have had an opportunity to consider the results of the consultation process on the draft Main Modifications to the South Gloucestershire Core Strategy. This includes the Council’s response as set out in its letter of 16 November 2012.
I have found the views put forward helpful in clarifying my views on a number of matters but I would not wish to complete my report before investigating the option mentioned by the Council of identifying an additional site capable of contributing to a 5 year housing land supply. I appreciate that this is being suggested by the Council as a last resort and should only be considered if I were to conclude it was unable to demonstrate an adequate housing supply.

If I was minded to pursue this approach I would be unwilling to settle on the Council's suggested site to the east of Morton Way at Thornbury (Appendix D of its response) without giving consideration to the other sites across the District which were brought to my attention during the examination. I would also want to allow all parties the opportunity to put forward their views on the choice of site. I intend to issue a more detailed note early in the New Year regarding the matters that I would like to examine further. Further consideration of these issues would be made without prejudice to the final conclusions I reach. 

Paul Crysell

We’ll keep you posted

In the meantime – we wish you and yours a happy Christmas. 

Gareth D
on behalf of STGH 

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Like me, you may have very recently received an invitation to attend a "Public Consultation" by  Barratt Developments PLC. It would seem that they think they have got their hands on options to develop the land that currently is the site of Alexander House Care Home for elderly people.
For your information, the "consultation" is taking place on Monday 3rd December from 2.30pm to 8.30pm at the Armstrong Hall. So, six days notice of the intention to consult, and one further week before the consultation closes on 10th December.
Since when did Barratts ever listen to the views of local residents in any meaningful way that would make a difference to their intentions to develop? But apparently, they say, "Your opinion matters."
This proposal is part and parcel of the Park Farm development project. In order to deliver the required bus link, that will render the Park Farm site even remotely more sustainable, this plot of land would appear to be the only option available to them. STGH have consistently argued that Park Farm is a ludicrous location for development, and this latest intrigue only reinforces those claims. If new housing is not beneath the floodwaters, it will be isolated and cut off from the town centre, and highly unsustainable.
If a link road was ever cut across to Alexandra Way, the Care Home would presumably have closed? Being located on public/SG land, presumably also, there would be an obligation to put the land up for open tender? Why do Barratts presume that they would win the bid? What deals have been done behind closed doors, yet again by South Gloucestershire planners and politicians, to further their own ends, rather than to serve the local residents whom they supposedly represent?
Park Farm was surrendered up to developers, against sound judgement and without local endorsement. Over 700 people represented against the decision when the Core Strategy was up for public scrutiny, but to little avail. (More  opposing representations than for any other site in South Gloucestershire.)
The latest rumours are that Morton Way North will soon follow - delivered to developers, once again against the force of local wishes.
Do you wish to have your say, and like Canute long ago, attempt to hold back the rising tide? Doors open at 2.30pm.

on behalf of STGH

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Flooding has become a hot (or should that be COLD?) topic across the country in recent years, and most especially last week.
A big thankyou to local walkers who  have been busy snapping some of the effects of flooding down at Park Farm, amongst other places. It seems difficult to credit that the Environment Agency is continuing to lend its approval to housing development on this site.
At one point, the pressure of water on the existing sewage system was forcing raw sewage out onto the fields and footpaths.
 Many house owners across the country are now finding problems obtaining house insurance, as insurers either refuse to offer cover to known flood-risk properties, or offer at exorbitent premiums.
Is this the fate that will await purchasers of Barratts soon-to-be-built Park Farm Flood Plain properties?

on behalf of STGH

Friday, 23 November 2012

Comments to Inspector

WE have once again put to paper and submitted our collective thoughts and comments on the Inspector's intial/draft findings, following on from the EIP.
You can read the whole document by clicking on THIS LINK. Unlikely it will have any impact whatsoever, when the weight of arguments already submitted have been summarily ignored!
It is terribly disappointing that, after such a major outcry from local residents who have driven a significant part of the EIP process, Thornbury has been seemingly airbrushed from Crysell's deliberations, giving the green light to SGC to hand over the future of Park Farm and the Medieval Fishponds to developers Barratts.
The repercussions will be deeply significant for Thornbury. Already there are rumblings that part of Morton Way will also be sacrificed to the sacred cow of housing development being championed by this government. More on this story to follow shortly.

on behalf of STGH

Saturday, 20 October 2012


It was with no surprise, but a great deal of regret, that we witnessed South Gloucestershire Development Control West Committee surrender up Park Farm to the machinations of Planners, without even the slightest protest.
Barratt's outline planning application for 500 houses across the green and pleasant floodplains and heritage fields of North West Thornbury has now been rubber-stamped. Those unhappy with the outcome have no right of appeal, but then what would be the point? SGC have never listened to and engaged with the arguments and objections of local people. Their idea of consultation is to give people the opportunity to make representations, collect them all in and then continue with their stated intentions, with no regard for the legitimate issues and objections that have been raised.
Thornbury Liberal Democrat Town Councillors set the standard by declaring Park Farm the "least worst" site for development in Thornbury. Such euphemistic language was somehow intended to placate local residents so they would accept the hard choices that were being made. This dreadful phrase, once unpicked, reveals the lie it is intended to conceal.  STGH has been flagging up for over two years that Park Farm is the wrong site because it:
  • will surround and impact upon the most important, nationally significant historic site in the whole of Historic Thornbury, the Medieval Fishponds and the Ancient Deer Park that provide the context and setting of Thornbury Castle.
  • will be split by a flood-plain, thereby diminishing the size of site that can actually be developed, whilst increasing the density of housing to on average 45 houses per hectare (nearly twice the density of surrounding parts of Thornbury)
  • will cause substantial harm to a number of important listed buildings in the area
  • will be unsustainable because it is too far from the town centre for people to walk and the furthest distance for driving.
  • will put lives at risk, by having its only access point into the newly-built estate leading out onto Butt Lane, a handful of metres from a dangerous S-bend.
  • may have a downstream flood-impact on neighbouring Oldbury, who have strongly objected to the development.
  • will require flood-mitigation measures that may ultimately "de-water" and destroy the archaeological heritage locked within the wetlands of the Fishponds
  • has little or no existing infrastructure to support such a scale of development
  • will significantly damage an area of high ecological and landscape value
  • and more...
The Lib Dems would somehow have us believe that this medley of problems still offers Thornbury the best option for more housing in our Town. Frankly such a view is untenable. But the implications are deeply disturbing for Thornbury. If a town offers support for housing in such an obviously bad location, and it is approved, what happens when developers start applying for housing on more sustainable sites? When you ignore the National Planning Policy Framework guidelines with respect to protecting your heritage assets and you ignore your local voice, what happens next time when there's green fields you want to protect, and only public opinion to defend them? When you give bulldozers the green light to tear up what the South Glos Conservation Officer identified as the least suitable site for development around Thornbury, it'll be a case of 'where shall we build next?'
Three Independent Town Councillors, Rob Hudson, Vincent Costello and Gareth Davies have stood alone against the tide of political opinion in the Town Council and consistently opposed this development, and we salute them for their efforts. Together with STGH, they have rallied local opposition, and spoken out for truth and transparency and a fair deal for Thornbury. It is with heavy hearts that they and we all have had to deal first with the seeming indifference of Core Strategy EIP Inspector Paul Crysell, and now with the surrender of DC (West) SG Councillors to the whims and wishes of SG Planning Department. 
AT Thursday's Committee Meeting, SG Councillors were given every opportunity to call Planners to account for a deeply flawed and biased planning process that was riding roughshod over Government Legislation, and turning a blind eye to some of its own policies and specialist officers. They gave in to it all and in the twinkling of an eye Barratts was offered a 100% vote of support for its application. Not a dissenter in the ranks. Long live the Democratic Process.
Any thoughts on a Judicial Review?

Grace D,
on behalf of STGH