The Plan – May 2017
At a meeting on 11th May 2017 at Woodacott Chapel, Keith Hutchings, the Chair of Thornbury Parish Council, outlined the plans for a new village hall for Thornbury. After describing the long legal and administrative journey necessary to get this far, he told the meeting that the plan was to demolish the old hall / school building near The Priory, and use funds from the sale of the plot and the resulting erection of two 3 bedroom houses to kick-start the new hall. Funds would then be sought from various bodies and local initiatives, to make the plan a reality.
In parallel, a plot has been identified at Windy Cross, where it is proposed to erect a new hall, with parking for 60 cars. The size of the hall would be similar to the one at Pancrasweek, which members of the council have inspected and believe is of an appropriate scale for Thornbury’s needs.
Outline planning permission for the above has been submitted, and residents can view the plans online at Torridge Planning portal, using the links below:
Points were raised by the audience, including access to the site, disturbance late at night and due to headlights etc, and the Council will consult further during the detailed planning stage, to ensure concerns are addressed.
District Councillor Philip Hackett commented that this would be a “community resource”, as a focal point for the area. Councillor Gaye Tabor echoed this message, saying that it would help to bring together the five hamlets that comprise Thornbury parish. The Parish Plan survey found at more than 50% of residents believed that a village hall is needed, and this initiative addresses that request.
The Application – July 2017
At a meeting of the Torridge District Council Plans Committee on 6th July 2017 the application from Thornbury Hamlets Parish Council for outline planning permission to demolish the old school / hall building and replace it with two houses was refused, as being contrary to planning policy. Similarly, the outline planning application to build a new hall on a site at Windy Cross was also refused for the same reason. You can find links to both applications and the relevant decision documents at the links above.
Keith Hutchings, Chair of Thornbury Hamlets Parish Council commented “This is obviously not the result we were seeking, and the Parish Council will meet soon to decide on our next steps. We continue to believe that Thornbury needs, and deserves to have, its own hall for local events. We will keep residents fully informed of any decisions.”
Complaints Update: August 2017 – Keith Hutchings
“I am sure that you are well aware that Torridge District Council Plans Committee refused the two applications which had been submitted by the Parish Council. The most bizarre of these decisions being the refusal to grant the application to build a new village hall at Windy Cross. If we can’t build on a predominately brown field site, then where can we build one? This field was the site of a small army camp during the war and then a lorry park for a haulage firm: it’s a good job Winston Churchill didn’t have to deal with the **** at Torridge. As for their assertion that the old hall could be repaired and re-used, well, my reply is best not printed!
Interestingly, despite having the support of our Conservative District Councillor and our MP Geoffrey Cox, not one Conservative District Councillor supported our application. So if you believe in small rural communities thriving, probably best not to vote Conservative at District Council elections. Since the Plans Committee vote, I have had a District Councillor tell me that TDC planning policy is not fit for purpose: I think that I would go further and say that TDC is not fit for purpose!
The Parish Council working group have met since the Plans Committee vote and have unanimously decided to appeal against their decision to refuse our planning applications. We will be meeting with our planning consultant and other stakeholders in the early Autumn to discuss the best way to do this. We will of course keep you informed when an appeal has been lodged.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express the Parish Council’s gratitude to all the parishioners who have supported the village in our efforts to build a new village hall. We know that we have the support of the majority of the parishioners and the offers of help both verbal and written has been much appreciated.
I would particularly like to thank Lisa Pinno ((Parish Plans Committee, Chair), Paul Taylor (Co-Editor of the parish magazine), David Whitehead (Treasurer of the Parish Church), and Philip Hackett (District Councillor) for speaking in favour of the developments at the Plans Committee meeting. We will get there!”
Here are the letters sent to Torridge DC’s Chief Executive, and their response:
Since our complaints have not been taken up and investigated, further formal complaints have been raised with TDC: