Category Archives: Conservation area

Cowslip Meadow project – August 2017

Latest updates:

October 2017

Unfortunately The Borough have not had the grass cut yet and tell me they have a three year contract for cutting so we have to wait to try to change the regime. I hope it will get baled but i have my doubts

In the meantime we can continue to cut paths now it is dry at least for a bit

I am busy all this week but will try next week but if anyone can arrange to get the mower out it would be good
There is better news in the churchyard extension it has been cut and cleared of most of the grass
I have purchased some flower seed and plant plugs so we can go ahead and get these in some time soon
I hope to arrange a work aftenoon in the churchyard to scarify and plant plugs and seed

Chris

August 2017
The rubble has been removed so the entrance looks a lot better

We are getting another estimate for grass cutting.
I hope to meet on that this week but may have to go with the usual arrangement again this year
I will also once again get estimates for some fencing for behind the nettles and a wooden gate to the right of the metal gate.
We can then tidy the nettle bed
We could also have a seat put there perhaps in memory of Steven
Still trying to get the churchyard grass cut slow progress as it needs to be DRY

Chris

April 2017
There is a meeting in the meadow for all interested at 10am on Friday May 12th.

We will be discussing with The Borough how we can manage the meadow as a community group.
Cutting paths, interpretation, improving the entrance and managing the field as a hay meadow are amoung the items for what we hope will be a fairly light regime
A management plan has been written
We hope the local schools might be able to take an interest
We have already cleared much of the ragwort but there is more to do

Chris Jones

March 2017
The borough are happy to meet up to discuss the start of a Cowslip meadow project and to consider our plans

I think we should meet in the barn some time
Maybe a day and evening session and get it into the Mag and The blog so that we make an impact
We already have the new mower
The Borough will help us with much good advice
I will try to find a suitable date probably in the week of Monday May 12th @ 10 – 11 am

click for details:  Cowslip Meadow Management Plan 2017 v1

December 2016

the Cowslip Meadow is cut …

5x4a4913e 5x4a4911-2e 5x4a4917e 5x4a4915e 5x4a4914e

18th October:
The grass in the cowslip meadow should be cut next week by Ray the farmer

This will include the churchyard extension grass
The PC have the money for the mower so i will go and order it this week
Then there will be training for the mower and strimmer to cover the PC insurance
The next thing is to tidy up the churchyard shed for putting the mower in–will let you know
Once Ray has cut the grass he should be along to bale it and we can discuss where they go with him!
Then I hope we can proceed with some ideas at a meeting.
We are on the Biddenham blog and the new web site when it goes live.
Best wishes, Chris

21st September:

Hello all – Sorry to have been quiet again

I think The Borough are about to get the meadow grass cut having been through their tendering process. I will phone/email them about it tomorrow
The PC hopefully are proceeding with buying the mower to use in the meadow.
When we have the mower I will call for vols and arrange training with The Borough
I have the list of plants in the meadow from David G.
We need then to look at ideas for a display panel in the entrance and an improved look to the gateway
Ron has put us on The Biddenham blog and we should be on the revised Biddenham Website via Joe Warren
The pond team are unlikely to want to extend their work into the meadow but i will ask informally at the next pond Committee meeting
Chris

7th September:

Hello all
The Parish Council are right behind our ideas for managing the cowslip meadow, I am pleased to say after the meeting tonight

Next step is to proceed to purchase the mower so we can be trained to use it and the strimmer by the Borough
I will also try to get the grass cutting by the contractor moved on apace
I will try to put a note together for the show on Sunday to give out
You will find me mostly on the pond stand.
Thank you for your support
Please pass this on and i will need to start compiling a supporters list
Chris

20th August:

A meeting was held with Bedford Borough staff in the field when a group of us met to plan the way ahead

The Borough who own the field are quite prepared for a community group to manage the field with wildlife objectives in mind but need clear plans from us

To that end a group of us have successfully removed much of the ragwort growth. If there is ragwort in a field there is no chance ever of moving the grass as a hay crop and thus helping to maintain biodiversity

The next stage is to meet with the borough volunteer officer to discuss how we could apply to set up a friends group.

To do that you will need to register your support so there should shortly be a page on the Biddenham village web site for you to do that with an email address

Look out for the date and time of a meeting in September when you can come along to ask questions or register your interest. Details will be posted on the Biddenham Blog the web site and in the notice boards

There are various models for Friends conservation groups which we can discuss at the meeting

The field is quite safe from housing development but without management input would probably revert to scrub then dense woodland in a few years thus reducing rather than enhancing biodiversity

Chris Jones

10th August 2016

Thanks to those who came to the field meeting.
We decided to try to remove ragwort from the Cowslip meadow and will assemble to make a start on this  Saturday the 13th at 2pm see how far we get. We have the backing of the Borough in this if we clear some parts at least in the future we can have a look at a cutting regime for parts of the site.

To keep paths clear it might be an idea to take up the offer of a Mower from John and Roger. This can be kept in the church shed I hope by agreement with the PCC and used elsewhere as can the strimmer training on each to be organized

We will set up another meeting with the Borough volunteers coordinator to discuss further where we go next. Meeting probably  in early Sept

We hope the grass will get cut again and baled but it is unlikely to be removed. The Borough will clear the entrance and put a barrier back

See some of you on Saturday
Please pass on, Chris

28th July 2016

 ragwort
Ragwort


Next Friday (5th August) I have a meeting with the Borough in the meadow at 10am please come if you can.
Thanks to those who came to help remove ragwort from the churchyard extension.  I am trying to arrange a conservation cut. To cut the cowslip meadow will entail removal of the barriers at the entrance as well as another ragwort session.
Please pass this on, Chris

19th July 2016

I have been trying to establish whose responsibility the field is at the Borough.  Until then we cannot go ragwort pulling or make any other plans. I have been on the phone again to Simon Fisher who seems to be in charge. The lack of communication is blamed on the river festival. I also want to get arrangements on the go to cut the grass in the meadow at some point. if we can remove the ragwort we might be more likely to get the grass/hay moved off

I have two quotes for a grass mower which i will pass on when we can arrange a meeting with the Borough
In the meantime we should practice by pulling the ragwort that has got into the churchyard extension. I am away until Monday and busy most of next week but suggest any volunteers meet at the new churchyard on Wed July 27th at 10am – it shouldn’t take long there isn’t much.
Thanks to all for your interest
Advertisements

The Biddenham Society – response to 2035 Local Plan Consultation

The Biddenham Society

        (founded 1965)

Local Plan 2035 Consultation Planning Policy Team
Borough Hall
Bedford MK42 9AP
30 May 2017

 RESPONSE TO BEDFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL’S 2035 LOCAL PLAN CONSULTATION

 Introduction
The Biddenham Society compliments the authors of the Local Plan 2035 on addressing in a thorough and even-handed way the wide range of complex issues involved in determining the possible locations of the additional 8,103 houses it is suggested are required in the borough. We are pleased that the proposals do not bring forward several of the Biddenham sites submitted by developers, and we look forward to continuing our constructive involvement in ensuring these remain free of development in the future.

The society is, however, disappointed that sites 691 & 29 (Gold Lane) and 25 (Land to the rear of 94-122 Bromham Road) have been suggested as suitable for development, and we give below a number of reasons why we hope the borough will reconsider these two recommendations and remove them from the proposals.

Open Spaces
In the late 1980s the open spaces within the current Biddenham settlement area represented approximately 30% of the village land area.  In 2017, less than 30 years later, the comparable figure is just over 4%. This rapid erosion has been the result of creating the Deep Spinney Estate to the south of Bromham Road, coupled with granting change of use to housing for many of the village’s paddocks.  Sites 691 & 29 together with the remaining fields west of Gold Lane provide essential counterbalancing open space along the western boundary which helps to offset some of this loss.

Biddenham’s heritage
From 1086 to the twentieth century Biddenham was largely a farming and rural community, with six farms still existing in the early 1900s. By the end of the 20th Century, all the farmhouses and outbuildings had either been demolished or converted to modern residential accommodation, mostly in sympathy with their original purpose, so they continue to contribute positively to the overall character of the village.  The farmland between Gold Lane and the western by-pass is now the only working link to Biddenham’s heritage, and the loss of any portion of this to housing would be detrimental to the character and history of this beautiful village.

Other factors
The proposed development of sites 691 & 29 will remove part of the natural break between Biddenham and the Bromham by-pass.  Site 25 lies in the flood plain of the river and if developed will reduce the gap between the Biddenham and Bromham settlements.  Safe vehicular access to and from both sites could well prove problematic, especially for site 25 where, on the basis of two cars per household, over 50 vehicles could regularly use the narrow semi-blind access to Bromham Road, the splay of which cannot easily be increased owing to the private ownership of the adjacent land.

The society is concerned about the consequences for local schools of increasing the population of Biddenham by a further 187 dwellings, especially for the proposed St James’ CE Primary School. There could also be repercussions for the village’s historic 300-year-old pond from properties constructed on the Gold Lane site. The pond relies on run-off from the surrounding fields to maintain the water levels necessary to support wildlife, and if these proposals are implemented its survival could be threatened.

Over-development
During the last 30 years the area inside the Biddenham Loop has contributed more than its fair share towards successive borough building targets, resulting in the loss of vast tracts of agricultural land and open amenity spaces. The Deep Spinney Estate and the on-going Great Denham development will together have added in excess of 2000 dwellings when the latter is completed, with the construction of a further 1300 or so properties recently started north of Bromham Road.

This is a housing contribution of substantial significance which has had a considerable effect on the character and nature of what was originally a rural village.  In this context, it would seem a small but important gesture of recognition for the borough to relocate the 187 dwellings proposed for Biddenham in this consultation, and thereby help preserve its beauty and character for future generations to enjoy.

In the spirit of giving constructive feedback, the society has suggested (see Appendix) some amendments to the published document.  These include alternative proposed sites for the 187 dwellings currently allocated to Biddenham.  We would also urge the borough to re-examine the basis of its calculation that a total of 19,000 new homes will be required in the borough by 2035, an assumption which leads to the suggested 8,103 shortfall quoted in this consultation.  To the society this appears a considerable over-estimate of need when taking into account the many factors involved. Reducing this total to a more realistic figure would relieve some of the pressure on areas like Biddenham which have already made a major contribution towards housing growth.

Green space
The Society is concerned that only a single site from the several submitted for Biddenham has been accepted for designation as a Green Space.  We would respectfully question whether the deciding criteria have been correctly applied in all cases, and would urge the council to offer the facility for any applicant village to submit further evidence in support of a particular site if it is felt an injustice has occurred. This issue is particularly important for Biddenham in view of the very few open spaces remaining in the village. We can confirm that to varying degrees all spaces submitted support:

  1. the continuation of Biddenham as a semi-rural village as demonstrated by trees, open grass areas, wildlife and its local community spirit;
  2. the provision of space for the community’s residents and families for play, leisure and relaxation;
  3. a natural break in the ever-increasing presence of housing; and
  4. protection against continued over-development.

Summary
The Biddenham Society is generally supportive of the content of the consultative document, and of the methodologies adopted in reaching its recommendations.

However, we believe the time is now right for the borough to recognise the significant contribution made by the parish of Biddenham over the last 30 years towards the borough’s successive housing targets, and the detrimental effects this has had on the open and amenity spaces of what was formerly a rural village.

These effects have been compounded by the on-going construction of thousands of new dwellings to the south and north of the village.  Despite this, Biddenham has managed to retain many valued aspects of its heritage – celebrated in 2015 by the creation of a heritage trail funded by the national lottery –  which are enjoyed and appreciated by residents and visitors alike.  The village is truly a jewel in the crown of the Borough of Bedford, and we wish it to remain so.

The number of new dwellings proposed for Biddenham in the consultative document will make only a small contribution towards the borough’s residual new-build targets but –  in the case of areas 691 & 29 in particular – will result in large negative consequences for the village following the reclassification of specific fields from agricultural to residential use.

We therefore ask for the stated Biddenham sites to be declassified from the plan as potential development areas.

Dr Tony Wood

Chairman
34 Church End
Biddenham
Bedford
MK40 4AR

 APPENDIX

Site amendments

Having examined the sustainability and other listed factors for the various sites listed in the document, the Society suggests the borough may wish to consider the following site amendments.

  1. To extend the number of houses in the new developments at Lee Farm Sharnbrook (site 622), Thurleigh Airfield (site 630), Land at Twinwoods (site 608 listed under Milton Ernest) and Wyboston Garden Village (site 659) to make up for the 187 houses removed from the Biddenham sites.
  2. To include the areas of either 133 or 134. The exclusion of these areas was to enable sport facilities that “are supposed to be provided” with concerns about access. The Biddenham Society recommends that the allocation of one of these sites, adjacent to an area already developed in Great Denham, would leave the other to be developed for sport. Access is available from the roundabout on the A428 towards the bottom of Figure 1 below.

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 – Access to sites 133 and 134

 

 

3.  To extend the proposed developments at other sites which are already included for large scale development at Bromham, Salph End, Sharnbrook, Clapham (Opt.2) and Roxton.

Bedford Local Plan 2035

Bedford Borough Council is preparing a local plan that will set out how much growth there should be in the borough in coming years (housing, jobs and associated infrastructure) and where it should take place. Current planning policy documents look up to 2021 and the new local plan will extend that period up to 2035. It will also include policies that will be used to make decisions on planning applications.

The Council has asked for comments on the consultation paper it has issued about the new plan, together with a number of supporting evidence documents. The consultation period ends on 9 June 2017.

In the Borough Council’s consultation paper an area of land off Gold Lane, Biddenham, and within sites numbered 29 and 691 in the documentation is shown as a potential development area at this stage: that area of land is not immediately adjacent to the village pond. But in a supporting document, the current draft Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA), the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691 is shown as being suitable, available and achievable for development.

Our village pond is not served by streams or springs and relies on precipitation and run off from adjacent fields for its water, and importantly the entire area surrounding the pond is currently wildlife friendly. Developing all the land in sites 29 and 691, particularly the field to the north of and by the side of the village pond, between the pond and Duck End Lane, would have a significant and substantial practical and aesthetic impact on the pond.

It would threaten the pond’s very survival and the survival of the wide range of wildlife it supports, including rare and protected species, by adversely impacting both run off water to the pond and also the pond’s setting in the presently attractive open and wildlife friendly landscape around it, thereby reducing the scope for and ability of wildlife to migrate to and from the pond and thus the opportunity for sustainable healthy breeding through genetic diversity with other populations.

The Friends has submitted comments, in a letter to the Borough Council, concluding that given the need to protect and conserve our natural environment, not least species protected by the law, wildlife corridors, and sites of local importance, and to safeguard the future of the village pond, its wildlife and the open wildlife friendly landscape in which the pond sits, it is seeking:

  • at the very minimum, the removal from the threat of development of the field by the side of and to the north of the pond and its retention as open space, that is to its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development (as was categorised land to the west of that field at Stage 2 of the availability assessment); and
  • more substantially, the removal from the threat of development of the whole of the land in sites 29 and 691, south of the A4280, and its retention as open space, and similarly therefore its reassessment and recategorisation as land not suitable, available and achievable for development.

Please do support your village pond by writing to the Borough Council’s Planning Department with your comments. You can send your comments by email to planningforthefuture@bedford.gov.uk or by post to:

Local Plan 2035 consultation
Planning Policy Team
Bedford Borough Council
Borough Hall
Bedford
MK42 9AP

Thank you.

Biddenham Society opposes Church End application

Application 16/03531/FUL seeks approval for a radical re-shaping of the 1930’s detached house at 33 Church End to include one and two storey front, side and rear extensions.

The Biddenham Society has lodged an objection to this proposal on the following grounds:

  1. the volume, massing and detail of the proposed alterations have little regard for the special character and visual qualities of the Conservation Area;
  2. the relationship of the proposed alterations to adjacent buildings is not contextually appropriate, virtually infilling the site with the loss of through views and open space and resulting in considerable impact on the Conservation Area;
  3. the exclusively traditional subservient roof forms which characterise Church End have been ignored;
  4. the 3D image presented showing the crown roof loses the massing of the roof in the low perspective view point, which would not be the case at eye level travelling along Church End in either direction;
  5. the positive contribution made by the original building to the Conservation Area has been subsumed and cannot be identified; and
  6. no reference is made to the boundary treatment in the plans as an element which has been identified as contributing to the Conservation Area.

A decision on the application is awaited.

To access plans and comments on applications

  1. Go to http://www.bedford.gov.uk/searchplans
  2. Click on the link ‘To view and comment on Planning Applications’
  3. Type in the application reference number.
  4. Click Search
                 Documents
                 View associated documents
Update – 29th June 2017
The application was subsequently refused by the planning authority.

Celebrations of our Queens 90th Birthday

Bedford – April 21st 2016
To celebrate our Queen’s milestone birthday, more than a thousand beacons were lit across the country, the Queen starting events by lighting the first beacon at 7pm outside Windsor Castle

Around the country, councils were are set to follow suit. In Bedford the Mayor (and local dignitaries) also lit the Bedford beacon on the Mound at 7pm

 

[photos courtesy of Bedford Borough Council, Communications and Marketing]

Restoration … or is it?

Biddenhamites jealously guard their heritage. So we were very excited when we heard, within hours of posting ‘Destruction and desecration’, that work had already been undertaken to restore the Coffin Path.

We rushed down to see. Hmmm. We couldn’t really spot the difference.

We do hope that there is more to be done yet to restore the paths, because can what has been done so far conceivably be acceptable as complying with the obligations of the Rights of Way Act 1990?

You may spot a hazy, vague impression of the paths in some distance shots but as you progress through the field, still trying to avoid spraining an ankle or two, of paths there appears to be nothing.

Apparently, barley has been sown in the field, and the good news is if the barley grows over where the paths should be we are entitled to cut it back. We’d better warn the DIY stores there could be a run on scythes later in the year?

Let’s hope the Borough Council will tell us there is still more restoration work to be done to bring the Coffin Path and footpath 10 back into obvious being and at appropriate widths. We don’t want another ‘dovecote moment’.

This whole saga does bring out the importance of communication. Had villagers known in advance that work was due to be done affecting a right of way, particularly in such a sensitive area and on a path so significant to the village’s heritage, there could perhaps have been proper discussion and agreed action before the event. We have heard there was some discussion between the Borough Council and the Estate last December. If that is the case was any effort made to communicate with Biddenham?

So in the meantime keep on trampling and look out those recipes that make good use of barley.

Destruction and desecration

Villagers were up in arms this week about the landowner’s “scorched earth” attack on the field to the west of the village pond which wiped out a substantial stretch of the ancient Coffin Path.

Parish and local councillors were inundated with calls for action from concerned villagers outraged at the destruction and desecration of the village’s heritage. In the meantime, at the risk of sprained ankles, villagers continued to walk the line the path had for centuries followed.

Whilst there is a statutory right for the occupier of land to plough or otherwise disturb a right of way under the Rights of Way Act 1990, the occupier must thereafter make good the surface to not less than its minimum width and indicate the line of the path.

Villagers were heartened to hear on Friday that following representations to the Borough Council the landowner had been instructed to fulfil those obligations for the Coffin Path (footpath 13). Similar action needs also to be taken to restore the section of footpath 10 which has been destroyed.

And, of course, villagers must remain vigilant in the event the  landowner may prevaricate or may mount another attack on these paths or other paths in the future. The landowner has been asked to contact the Borough Council if they intended to cultivate any more Public Rights of Way in the area in order that they can be advised of locations and widths. 

Watch out too for the Conservation Area report due to be issued for consultation  sometime this year, which will be an opportunity once more to stress the importance of the preservation of the Coffin Path as part of the village’s heritage, and hopefully that can then be enshrined in conservation requirements to be observed in the future.