FORSE - Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment

View across Lighthorne quarry looking towards Lighthorne Heath - site where 200 houses are planned

Field adjacent to Gaydon junction roundabout where industrial estatent area is planned. Chesterton Wood in the far distance.

B4100 close to the turn into Lighthorne Heath

The Old Gated Road looking towards the B4100 junction with Chesterton Wood on the right

Lighthorne village. It will become a rat run for people wanting to get across the district to and from the new town

News

OPEN LETTER TO SDC
23rd April 2014

Laura Steele, Chair of FORSE, sent this letter to the Chief Executive of Stratford District Council today (Wednesday 23 April), demanding they change their inaccurate figures and rankings!
 

Dear Paul,
 
I am writing in an open letter on behalf of FORSE and its members in relation to your published figures “ranking” the 5 options from the recent “consultation” exercise. To be absolutely clear, we insist that SDC publicly retracts the current figures and publishes recalculated figures as an addendum to the papers going before the Cabinet next week.

I make this demand on the grounds that any process which results in 333 votes (ie 22%) being rejected would be dismissed by an Inspector or a judge as being fatally flawed. The risk you run is that he or she would then almost certainly rule that no meaningful consultation had taken place at all and throw out the entire CSP, setting Stratford District back 12 months or more and leaving us all even more vulnerable to ‘rapacious developers’.
 
We are utterly dismayed at the way the figures have been managed. The only conclusion we can draw is that they have been deliberately skewed to produce a desired result. Even on your own figures, from votes cast within the district, but without including the discounted 206 votes from our area, GLH should have been ranked 2nd and not 1st. Had the “missing 206" been included, on any realistic assessment of the data, GLH would have come third.

Repeated emails from myself asking for ‘drop-ins’ for our communities by your representatives to give advice on the consultation process were dismissed.

Nowhere did you advise that all five options had to be ranked and that any responses which did not do so would be rejected. It was only when one of our members went to a Bishops Itchington PC meeting, two-thirds of the way through the “consultation” process, that we heard Dave Nash say that all five boxes must be ranked and we amended our guidance to those relying on us for assistance.

Following the Bishops Itchington meeting, my FORSE deputy, Peter Reading, wrote to Dave Nash, on March 1, 2014, seeking reassurance that forms where not all five options were ranked would still be valid. His reply, dated March 3, 2014, promised “an alternative way of reporting them”. Had we realised that this would amount to counting them up and rejecting them, we would have had them redone. Rejecting these responses in this way is also unlikely to stand up to legal scrutiny.

Our mathematicians spent Easter weekend running the numbers and producing various methodologies which could fairly include the rejected 206 from GLH, which might save the “consultation” process as a meaningful exercise and avoid the delays no-one wants. Our experts stand ready to come to Elizabeth House and work with your team, provided the figures can be redone in time to inform the cabinet before next Monday.

We are still awaiting the raw data figures requested of yourself and Dave Nash on Thursday 17th April - to which request we have received neither a response nor an acknowledgement.

Time now being short, I would ask for a response to this note by 4 pm today (Wednesday).
 
I hope that a satisfactory and truthfully representative account of the figures can be published in advance of Cabinet. It is nobody’s interest, least of all the residents of Stratford District, that a decision is made on the basis of inaccurate and misleading information.
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
 
Chair FORSE
 

FUNDRAISING NEWS
4th April 2014

A huge thank you to everyone who donated prizes, helped to organise and came along to the Grand Auction of Promises. The night was brilliant fun and we managed to raise thousands of pounds for FORSE

Why not book now for one or both of the next two fundraising events?
 
CLUB PARADISO QUIZ PARTY
Friday 25th April in Lighthorne Village Hall.
Teams of up to 6. Really excellent quiz and a handsome Ploughmans Supper for £7.50 per person. Bar opens 7.30pm, quiz starts 8.00pm. Entries to Russell Douglas 01926 651439 russell.douglas@btinternet.com 
 
 
WALK AND TALK
Saturday 26th April 10.00am
Would you like to be able to recognise the birdsong you hear or the birds or flowers that you see?
Alwyn Knapton, a local enthusiast, will be sharing his knowledge of the wildlife, flora and fauna to be found in our beautiful local countryside. Alwyn is well known for the creation of the Lighthorne Village Wildlife Centre in the red telephone box in Church Lane.
Meet at Lighthorne Village Hall at 10.00am for a guided nature ramble around the Lighthorne area followed by fresh coffee and homemade cakes in the Village Hall. Numbers for the walk will be limited. Or join us at 11.30am for cakes and coffee. Alwyn will then give a talk using his own beautiful photographs for illustration.
£5.00 for Adults, £2.00 for children, £12.00 for a family of four for Walk and Talk (Not suitable for dogs or pushchairs.)
Talk only £4.00 for Adults, £1.00 for children.
 
All or part of the morning can be attended. Please wear suitable attire for the walk, and bring your binoculars and cameras.
For further information, and to book your tickets, contact Sally Dick on 01926 650078 or email sally.dick100@gmail.com
 
 
And remember to book early for the BOLLYHORNE CURRY CLUB on Thursday 1st May. Choice of 6 curries and a great evening out, all for £10 per head, bring your own booze. To book, email Lesley on thornton.lj@btinternet.com or phone 01926 651599.
 


Maybe you have a good fundraising idea? If so we would love to hear from you, please contact Carol on 01926 650333 or car.schofield@btinternet.com
 
We are of course still accepting donations. For all those who have made a donation, a big THANK YOU from FORSE – you will have already seen how it has helped with our campaign. For those who haven’t and would still like to, you can make a donation either by sending cash or a cheque to our fundraising team at The Gallery, Church Hill Court, Lighthorne, Warwickshire CV35 0AR or through this site via PayPal. Cheques should be made payable to FORSE and your name and address written  on the back of the cheque. All donations are treated in the strictest confidence.

 
 
 

NEW PRESS RELEASE
13th March 2014

The final nail has been driven into the plan to build a new town at Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath, campaigners claimed yesterday.

A sound survey carried out across the site by a firm of internationally-respected acousticians found that almost all of it is noise-polluted, as defined by government guidelines.

Experts commissioned by FORSE (Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment - FORSE.org.uk)  also challenged noise-reduction claims made by the developers in glossy brochures as "wildly ambitious" and a sound contour map produced by developers as "scientifically impossible".

Cllr Laura Steele, FORSE chairman, said yesterday:"This scientific study confirms what we have been saying now for more than eight months - G/LH would be an extremely unhealthy place to live. We must surely be able to do better than this in finding homes for our future generations."

To read more, click here.

DOWNLOAD CONSULTATION RESPONSE DOCUMENTS
9th March 2014

DON'T FORGET! The current consultation period ends at 5pm on Friday 14 March

Time is marching on and we are getting closer to the deadline. All of the FORSE booklets have been distributed to the four parishes and it is imperative that we now ensure as many responses as possible.  Remember that all members of the household can respond, including children, provided that they are capable of signing their name on the document.

If you have already made your response – THANK YOU VERY MUCH. If not – get on with it!

For those who helped by delivering the FORSE information pack, thank you so much. Now is the time to follow up – this means knocking on the doors where you delivered the pack, asking whether they have made their response and offering help. We know that’s not an easy thing to do, but don’t be put off – every vote counts! 
 
SDC keep moving the goalposts but, if filling in the complete form, FORSE policy would be to score Option A,  Fuller Dispersal, as Preference One and Option B, Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath as Preference Five. For the avoidance of doubt it might be wise to fill in the other three Options in order of your choice.  For your guidance:
 
Option C: Long Marston Airfield. Brownfield Site. Restorable rail line adjacent. Free £20 million ring road section on offer from developers.
Option D: South-East Stratford. Integration within the existing community of Stratford-upon-Avon. Possibility of another Avon crossing at least part-funded by developers.
Option E: Brownfield site at Southam North. Benefactor’s vision of genuine Bourneville-style garden village at Stoneythorpe.
 
However, to make things a bit easier, and following a request from Gaydon residents at their meeting on 18th Feb, we have produced a one page document summarising the main reasons why Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath is the least preferable place. You can download this here.

This has already proven to be very successful in eliciting a response from the hard to reach folks. This could be a mix of apathy, a feeling that it wasn’t worth responding, good intentions about objecting but little time, or simply that there was too much information to digest - we know that lots of folks feel uncomfortable about filling in forms. All the individual has to do is to complete their name and address, sign it and hand over to a FORSE supporter for delivery to SDC – and remember every member of the household can complete it. You may want to use this to help you or to help others.

We know that residents affected by the other development options under consideration are beginning to galvanise support – see the report about Long Marston in the Stratford Herald of 27th Feb. This is not surprising – the good news is that FORSE is already on the case and we have all of you as supporters, but it demonstrates that we need to make sure that we get many more objections than the other areas. 
 
Responses can be made on-line using the link above, by email to planning.policy@stratford-dc.gov.uk or by post to Stratford-on-Avon District Council, FREEPOST CV2468, Chief Executive's Unit, Elizabeth House, Church Street, STRATFORD-UPON-AVON CV37 6BR.

You can download the consultation response documents here

Consultation news

You may have heard already or seen reported in the Stratford Herald that Gaydon Lighthorne Heath (GLH) has emerged as no 1 of the five options considered under the six week public consultation exercise. Long Marston came a close second on the list with Southam/Stoneythorpe third, dispersal around the region was fourth, and South East Stratford ranked as fifth.  This is not a recommendation by SDC, simply their analysis of the 'ranking of sites by the public' you were all asked to get involved in. 

The report on the outcome of the consultation was issued on 16th April by SDC and will be presented at a special meeting of SDC’s Cabinet on 28th April. The council’s planning officials are making no specific recommendations to the cabinet – they will let the politicians make the decision. Whatever that decision is will be presented to a full council meeting on 12th May.

We have already made it clear to SDC and the wider public that we will fight the scheme until it goes away for ever.

On 16th April FORSE committee members commenced a detailed analysis of the report and have already discovered inaccuracies in the way the results have been scored and presented. The full report demonstrates clearly the range and depth of resistance to GLH  and the valid reasons behind that resistance. Unfortunately residents from across the district were given the impossible job of ranking development options without the depth of knowledge required to make a valid judgement. Unsurprisingly most voted against development near their locality.

Whatever happens it is now down to SDC’s cabinet members and councillors. FORSE has already been playing the long game by mailing copies of reports and information to every member of the council. We know this is making a difference. We shall continue with this and will be present at the Cabinet meeting on 28th to ask questions. Only today we were informed that Cllr Alan Scorer (who represents our ward) has finally jumped off the very wide fence he has been sitting on for months, to declare that he will not be voting for GLH but instead for Long Marston as a preference. He has also committed to lobby his colleagues to do the same!

Remember the four tiny communities we represent came within a whisker of outvoting the whole of Stratford. SDC officers in their report have told councillors they must take account of that fact. There is everything still to play for. The final decision is now hanging in the balance. We are redoubling our efforts and striving with every sinew over the next few critical weeks to win the hearts and minds of councillors who will make the ultimate decision.

What can you do to help?

Help us to keep on making a big noise. Letters to the Stratford Herald and to councillors are great ways of demonstrating that we are determined to go on fighting.

You can find all of the councillors contact details on the SDC website follow this link 

What’s happening?

Stratford District Council is planning to use 300 hectares of rural land in south Warwickshire to build a new town of 3,000 homes. The area designated for development also includes 100 hectares of land for expansion of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). 

The site would stretch between the B4100 and M40, from Lighthorne, through Lighthorne Heath and onto Gaydon. This development will impact the whole of south Warwickshire, in particular residents of nearby villages such as Kineton, Bishop’s Itchington, Chesterton, Moreton Morrell, Bishop’s Tachbrook, Harbury and Wellesbourne.

FORSE (Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment) is the action group established by local residents concerned about the proposals. We believe this development is neither appropriate nor sustainable and would have a extremely negative impact on life in the local area.

Stratford District Council performed a six-week consultation on the Core Strategy, which ended on Friday 14 March 2014. It consulted on three key issues, which were:

  • changing the plan period to 2011-2031
  • changing the housing requirement to 10,800 homes over this period; and
  • various development site options for meeting the proposed increase in the housing requirement.

What will the impact be?

Increased traffic and congestion

The traffic associated with an additional 3,000 homes and the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover would put extreme pressure on a road network that is already stretched at peak times.

Pollution

The proposed new town, which would be situated between the M40 and the B4100, would create additional noise and air pollution. The location poses a considerable threat to health and to children in particular.

Damage to rural life

We all accept the new homes need to be built, but believe development should be proportionate to the existing scale of local, rural communities. A new town of this size would effectively merge the villages of Lighthorne, Lighthorne Heath and Gaydon, fundamentally changing their character. The village of Chesterton and Chesterton Windmill - a Grade One Listed Building and nationally-recognised landmark - would be completely overwhelmed.

Loss of wildlife

The area is a haven for wildlife. The site includes a number of recognised Local Wildlife Sites, which are core areas for nature conservation, as well as bordering an Ancient Woodland. This development would have a considerable negative impact on biodiversity.

What's Next?

  • The current consultation period will end at 5pm on Friday 14 March 2014.
  • SDC expect that a report on the proposed Core Strategy Plan (CSP) will be ready for April 2014, to be followed by a consultation on soundness, with a final report to Cabinet by July.
  • The CSP will then be submitted to the Secretary of State in August 2014 (if it gets that far!) Bear in mind these timescales/dates are chosen by SDC and could be changed at will.

What can you do?

  1. Letters to the press keep the campaign in the forefront of the news. Please help to keep up the pressure by writing to the papers.
  2. Letters to all of the SDC councillors will also make sure they are aware of the level of resistance to the development proposals. You can find their details on the SDC website https://democracy.stratford.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx
  3. Support our fundraising events.
  4. Make a donation. Send cash or a cheque to our fundraising team at The Gallery, Church Hill Court, Lighthorne, Warwickshire CV35 0AR, or online by visiting our donate page.
  5. Write to our MP, Jeremy Wright MP:, House of Commons, London, SW1A 1AA email:jeremy.wright.mp@parliament.uk
  6. Write to Nick Boles, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Planning: Nick Boles MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 1AA email: nick.boles.mp@parliament.uk
  7. Write to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: Eric Pickles MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 1AA email: eric.pickles@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Keep on spreading the word. Follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FORSEgroup and Twitter at@FORSEgroup