Chairman’s report – April 2016

Cllr Mrs Anne Prior writes: The Annual Parish meeting, held in the Village Hall on March 8th, was well attended with over 60 residents present. There were displays (pictured right) from the Reminiscence Project, the Youth Service, Chedham’s Yard, Neighbourhood Watch, Wellesbourne in Bloom and the Village Hall. All these groups received grants from the Parish Council in 2015.

Displays from groups awarded grants by WWPC

Following my welcome to everyone, we had interesting talks from representatives of Orbit Housing, Stratford District Council and Wellesbourne’s Neighbourhood Plan.

Mark Brown, Orbit Housing

The first three of our speakers were from Orbit Housing. Mark Brown who is the Sustainability Project Manager, talked about the work that has been done insulating houses. So far 68 properties have been insulated. The external cladding work has made a saving for householders of approximately £100 per year. Funding was provided by British Gas. A number of private owners, attracted by the grants, also had the cladding done. Orbit is committed to bringing all its properties up to the same insulation standards.

Ettington Park extra care facility

Lorraine Mansfield and Anthony Holt then talked about the extra care facility planned for the Ettington Park development. Anthony began by saying that Orbit owned 428 properties in Wellesbourne and 98 sheltered flats. They are currently in the process of buying further properties from Miller Homes on the development by the airfield, Ettington Park and on the Persimmon Homes development behind Oxford Way on the Dovehouse estate.

Anthony Holt (Orbit Housing)

Anthony Holt explained that they have experienced difficulties with the development of the care facility on Ettington Park. It has been delayed due to an insufficient electricity supply which has necessitated the provision of a new supply into Wellesbourne. This delay has cost them £300,000- £400,000 in extra build costs. As a result, there will be a few changes to the plans already submitted in an attempt to recoup some of these extra costs but the development will still provide 10 bungalows and 40 apartments.

Options for empty properties

The next speaker was Sheree Johansen, the Empty Homes Officer from Stratford District Council. Her role is to identify unoccupied properties, establish who owns them and then encourage the owners to discuss with the council the options available to them to bring the properties back into use.

There are many reasons why a property may become empty and an empty property can bring problems for residents living close by.

Sheree Johansen, the Empty Homes Officer

The work done by the Empty Homes Officer came as quite a surprise. I think it is true to say that we knew very little about it until the meeting. Sheree Johansen (pictured left) explained that the District Council can offer financial assistance and provide advice on how to bring a property back into use. If the owner fails to discuss the matter, the property can be taken over by the Council, even compulsorily purchased and sold by the Council if there is a debt owed to them. If you know of an empty property near you, please do let Stratford District Council know just in case the Council isn’t aware of it.

Neighbourhood Plan progress

John Hargis, the Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Group, then briefly outlined the progress made so far. The report is currently with Stratford District Council for comment. It will come to WWPC on the 19th April, with any final amendments, for the Council's approval. After that it will be available, probably in May, for residents to make their comments. It will then go to an independent examiner to ensure it complies with policies and then back to the Council before eventually going to a referendum for final adoption. It is expected that this will be completed in the first quarter of 2017.

Question time

The opportunity then arose for members of the Parish to ask questions about the Annual Report. These ranged through parking, traffic in the village, planning, sewers to what is the number of residents (answer: 6500 approximately).

Residents at the meeting

During the meeting, I reported that the Core Strategy has been declared sound by the inspector with some modifications. These will go out to consultation at the end of March for a six-week period. It is hoped that the Core Strategy will be agreed by June/ July time. One sentence may be of interest to you and that is: “Retain and support the enhancement of the established flying functions and aviation related facilities at Wellesbourne Airfield.”

Cllr Close commented that in the report the 880 houses have already been agreed for Wellesbourne but that is the minimum number for the plan period up to 2031. Once we have a Neighbourhood Plan, we will have more say on what happens and where any further houses should be built. However, if you do not want any more houses you need to make your point in response to the consultation on the Core Strategy.

I also reported that I had recently written to SWCCG (the NHS body that will decide the level of funding for the Medical Centre) on behalf of the Parish Council. The “stop” has been taken off the medical centre and now SWCCG recognises there is a case for a new medical centre in Wellesbourne. What now has to be agreed is the level of funding provided by SWCCG. In response to my letter, Anna Hargrave, from SWCCG, stated that the expected date for the decision is by June.

We are grateful for the support you have shown through the 3000 signatures on the petition and the letters you have written. There is no doubt that this has had an effect on SWCCG. We will keep you posted on developments.

Cllr Anne Prior

The final report I made was that Councillor Close and I recently met representatives from Warwick University. They had invited us to meet them to talk about their plans for the Wellesbourne Campus site. It was very reassuring to hear that they have no plans to sell the site. In fact, they intend to develop the scientific and educational purposes of it particularly in the area of food research. They also wish to expand the technology based businesses on the site. Currently 25 businesses lease space in the buildings for their work. We felt it was a positive meeting and they promised to keep us updated with their plans.

The meeting closed at 9pm. The Parish Council would like to thank everyone who came and thanks also to those who raised questions. The meeting is the Parish’s meeting; the Council reports on what it has done and residents can question and comment on it.

Anne Prior, Chairman, Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council

Pictures: Cllr Eric Lawley