Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Thursday, May 21, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise it’s Thursday 21st May and this is Adrian Dale with the Daily Podcast.

Feedback from yesterday’s podcast came in very quickly! We had three lady Aitchs – Brenda, Wendy and Shirley. All called into question my date for the shop closing. As soon as I said 1987, I knew I must be wrong as we moved here then. Brenda moved here in 1989 and remembers her kids meeting with friends on the green and buying sweets in the shop. Shirley moved here in 1993 and the shop was definitely open then.

Wendy was even more specific, the shop closed at Easter 1994 just before Ben’s first birthday. She used to help in the shop and used to sit Ben on the counter.

Thank you all ladies, I misread Mark’s Parish timeline!

There was lots of other feedback. Adrian Jeffs remembers the conversations about play areas when his kids were small. They have now left the Village too.

Tongue in cheek, he suggested that we should go whole hog for the Retirement Village idea – perhaps now is time for a bowling green. Vanessa agreed but also wanted a couple of tennis courts and a croquet lawn.

And so the suggestions came in, more outlandish each time. Of course our Pete then chipped in, “let’s go the whole 9 yards he say and have a Naturist Reserve like the one near Riseley. Had I read this right? Apparently yes, the Blackthorns Sun Club is a centre for Naturists in a wildlife reserve

Pete suggested that the area near the ford could be turned into a beach for nude bathing so that residents could take a dip when they got too hot.

Now if you walk down Water Lane, you’ll know that Chad and Steph keep a blackboard on which they note all the local wild life sightings. I suggested that they could then add a beached whale or two the list. Quick as a flash Pete was back suggesting that you might also see great tits in the summer or even blue tits in the winter. Pete, calm down Charlie Dimmock was Monday’s podcast.

More seriously though, you might be forgiven for thinking that the Parish Council had abandoned children’s facilities in favour of the active retired. That’s certainly not the case, we just needed to be more creative.

In 2010, the housing at the former American base was sold to William Pears Group a London based landlord. They had approached the Parish Council to see how we would react to them creating a community of rental accommodation in the Parish. We reacted favourably as we were looking to find ways of bringing in new young families into affordable accommodation. We needed to broaden the mix of ages, backgrounds and occupations in the Village. Mixed communities are more sustainable and more vibrant than those with just one type of family.

The Parish Council helped with the refurbishment plans and arranged to take on the street lighting once it was upgraded. We also saw the opportunity to take on the play area for use by the whole Parish. We knew from the American days that it was rarely used locally and felt that a wider audience would get more use. We arranged 2 parking spaces for visiting residents and the paperwork was drawn up to transfer ownership to the Council. The Council paid for repairs and maintenance in preparation for the transfer.

A few months in, and William Pears Group started receiving enquiries from people who wanted to rent and not buy. When they had the houses valued, they realised that they were sitting on a fortune. They asked the Council if we minded a mixed community of ownership and rental properties. Actually, that suited us even better. Residents who own a property tend to stay longer and would provide the anchor for the community.

Sales took off and William Pears Group quickly changed tack. When we came to do the Neighbourhood Plan, they submitted proposals to build 70 houses on the playing field. However, the Council had also got its eye on that area for long term acquisition, as well as the messy plot in the corner, owned by the Allen Family from the Irthlingborough caravan site. We wanted a sports field for use by the whole Village.

However, William Pears Group then made the transfer of the play area to the Council conditional on the granting of the 70 house proposal and sweetened the proposal by saying that they would finance a footpath down to Caldecott.

The Council just doesn’t do “deals” like this. The proposal was put to a Parish vote and was overwhelmingly rejected. The proposed housing would have changed the character of the Chelston Rise and overwhelmed the emerging community. The Parish Council knows that our communities can expand at 1-2% per annum on average, whilst still retaining that friendly neighbourhood feel. Faster than this and people become strangers. The Neighbourhood plan at Chelston Rise specifies a maximum of 9 new houses between 2016 and 2031, with development preferably not starting until 2021. This is what is happening.

As a consequence of losing this battle William Pears Group sold the remaining houses, terminating the leases of some long term tenants, and they then pulled out of the site. The transfer of the play area and the footpath never happened.

However, the long term aspiration has to be something along those lines, including the reacquisition of the site in the corner. My hope would be that Chelston Rise residents, who collectively own the estate will join the Parish Council and will shape the future development of Chelston Rise themselves.

But as I said yesterday . . . over to you!

Thank you