Wychwood Community Group

Working as a community to stop the development of 900 homes and re-open the Gorstyhill golf course

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Wychwood Update – 25th April 2014 – Newt Survey

Many of you will have seen that there has been considerable survey activity going on recently, and we can now confirm that this is a licensed survey and that the people concerned are acting legally.

The licence held entitles the company to conduct newt and bat surveys, but nothing else. The company concerned are acting in a very professional manner and are following all protocols in their work. We expect that they will be on-site throughout the summer.

We were given incorrect information from Natural England, which has now been corrected in no small part due to the intervention of the police.

These surveys show that Haddon are most certainly not going away and the activities they are undertaking are standard pre-cursors to a planning application.

We still have to remain extremely vigilant with activities on the golf course and Country Park and would ask that you continue to alert us to anything out of the ordinary.

Please join us at our AGM on Sunday where, post the formal aspects of the meeting, you can ask questions of the committee and we will update you on all aspects of the work we are carrying out tirelessly on your behalf.

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Wychwood Update – 17th April 2014

You may spotted in the papers that the Planning Inspector have approved an appealed development in Sandbach on the basis that Cheshire East Council cannot prove they have a 5 year supply of housing, as they had previously announced. It would seem that the Inspectorate believe that not enough of the proposed developments have planning approval, therefore the chances of new homes being built within 5 years is unlikely. The council have come out fighting, immediately issuing a press statement denying this, and stating that the Inspectorate has got it wrong, and they want a full review. Whilst this could be potentially damaging short-term, providing the council provide sufficient supporting evidence to the Planning Inspector which they then agree upon, it should further protect sites like ourselves from unsustainable, opportunist development. We’ll keep you updated on this matter.

Following a number of responses from our Members, we wanted to clarify the situation with regards to the maintenance of the Country Park and Golf Course. As it stands, we must commend the Gorsty maintenance guys on-site for the exceptional work they are doing. The fields of the Country Park are regularly cut and look very smart (we love the stripe effect), the trees have all been pruned allowing them to flourish, the entrance to the village is looking much more presentable, and the Golf Course itself still resembles a Golf Course. The issues we have relate to jobs that should be done in accordance with Haddon’s legal obligations set out in the transfer of ownership documents. Such examples include hedge trimming (now the wrong season), path repairs, pond clearing/cleaning and fence repairs/painting. We believe these important jobs are being neglected and as a community, we all bought into this asset and won’t tolerate attempts to damage it. These are specialist jobs requiring specific kit, and judging by what was taken away from the maintenance hut early last year, we suspect external contractors will be needed to carry out these important tasks. Our position is that the maintenance guys are doing an exceptional job of maintaining the site with the resources they have (it is a huge site and there appears to only be 2 of them!), but we won’t allow the land owner to negate their responsibility for other key jobs, nor telling the Parish council that “any programme of works relating to the site are private and not for open discussion or disclosure. We trust this clarifies our position” when they approached the subject on our behalf.

These matters and others will be open for discussion at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Sunday 27th April; please attend if you can.

Don’t forget the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, organised by the Wychwood Wildlife Watch. It is a great opportunity for everyone to take to the Country Park footpaths and enjoy the beauty of the area surrounding us. If you’d like to join the Wildlife Group, or see anything interesting, please let us know. Happy hunting!

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Easter Saturday Egg Hunt!

Enjoy a family Easter egg hunt in the country park this Saturday (19th April).

There are 8 eggs to find. Each egg has a letter. Write down the letter (please do not remove the eggs!) then unscramble them to reveal the name of a flower.

Email your answer to us with your address and each child will receive a little chocolate Easter egg.

Have fun finding them and Happy Easter from the Wychwood Community and Wildlife Watch Groups.

If you fancy joining the Wildlife Watch Group and their many activities, please let us know.

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Statement on the 5 Year Housing Plan

Following the announcement that an appeal in Sandbach was overturned by the Inspectorate who claimed Cheshire East Council do not have a 5 year supply, Michael Jones, Leader of CEC has come out fighting:

April 15, 2014

Leader of Cheshire East Council Councillor Michael Jones has hit back at recent comments made by a Planning Inspector over the authority’s 5-year supply of housing.

He said: “This is just further example of the nonsensical and inconsistent decision-making being executed within the Planning Inspectorate at this current time.

“In October, a Planning Inspector’s decision stated that we had a 4.3 year supply including the need for a 20 per cent buffer. More recently we have had an Inspector’s decision that we need only a 5 per cent buffer. Since October we have added many thousands of houses and permissions and I find it staggering that this Inspector can be so cavalier in saying we have not got a 5-year supply. While the timing of the appeal did not allow the Council’s full updated evidence case to be presented the lack of consistency of approach is immensely frustrating.

“We have more appeals to defend in the future and on all of these we will provide a fully evidenced assessment including the National Planning Policy Guidance to ensure we are compliant.

“What is disappointing is that this Inspector seemed determined to listen to developers who have a vested interest in profit rather than the Council who have a people interest and who are committed to Cheshire East’s environment. It is most disappointing that the Inspector has backed developers and their vested interest.

“Cheshire East Council will now be exploring all options to defend the best interest of its residents. We expect similar decisions until we get an Inspector to review our evidence properly.”


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Wychwood AGM – 27th April 2014

This is formal notification of the AGM for the Wychwood Community Group, which will take place on Sunday 27th April at 3pm in the Wychwood Village Hall. The agenda of the meeting can be found here.

As has been previously notified our current Chairman, Andy Bailey, has stated his intent to step down from the role so there is a vacancy for a Chairman / Committee Member. The existing Committee proposes Trevor Sandry to step up from Vice Chairman to Chairman and Andy Lamb to become Vice Chairman. The Secretary and Treasurer have both indicated that they would be prepared to continue in their current roles, as have the other Committee members. There is no constitutional necessity to have another Committee member, but someone with the time, commitment and knowledge to contribute is always welcome, especially in the spheres of Fund Raising or a Land Agent / Surveyor would be ideal.

If there are any other nominations for the Officers or anyone would be prepared to join the Committee then please let us know.

All proposals / nominations will be voted upon at the AGM in line with the content of our constitution.

Following the formal part of the meeting, the new Committee will take part in an open forum and we will also be looking to launch the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, discussed at our previous meeting, hopefully with the support of Cheshire Police.

I look forward to seeing you all there to endorse a new Committee and continue the fight to stop any development in our wonderful neighbourhood into 2014 and beyond.

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Wychwood Update – 10th April 2014 – Newt Survey

Thanks to initial observations from residents last week, it became very clear that we were visited by people setting out Newt traps in the ponds on the golf course. A Newt survey is a planning requirement that Haddon would need to complete as part of a planning application. However, at this time, it would appear any survey is being carried out without the required license in place from Natural England (although they do seem to be following the methods described). Deliberately trapping Great Crested Newts with the intention of monitoring without a license is a criminal offense and we have notified the police who are following up.

The survey is intended to identify whether the site provides habitats for Great Crested Newts, an endangered/protected species. The type of habitat that Great Crested Newts thrive in are usually made up of a number of ponds and water courses with surrounding countryside providing cover. The European population has been on the decline for a number of years and although discovery of Great Crested Newts will not stop a development, it will stall and create significant work and cost to relocate the newts.

Of the European population, 50% of the remaining population is in the UK and 50% of the UK population can be found in Cheshire! We are aware that there has been confirmation of local populations within a few miles of Wychwood and we have seen photographs of other newt species from the Wychwood area. Therefore there is a high probability that we may have Great Crested newts given the large number of ponds and typical habitat surrounding us.

We would like to ask everyone not to disturb any traps that they may come across but to report any activity on-site to us, so we can closely monitor.

Unfortunately, this clearly demonstrates that Haddon are determined to seek planning approval to build on the site regardless of the recent non-inclusion within the local plan and other speculation concerning the site.