TURLS HILL AND SWANBROOK VALLEY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
WOODSETTON CHARITABLE TRUST
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING – 7.30 PM, 14TH SEPTEMBER 2018
Committee Members in attendance:
Harry Brookes (Chairman: THSVR; Chairman, Trustee and Director: WCT)
David Bates (Vice Chairman: THSVR; Vice Chairman, Secretary and Trustee: WCT)
Don Davies (Trustee and Managing Director: WCT)
Colin Foster (Trustee and Director: WCT)
Alan Hunt (Treasurer: THSVR and WCT)
Viv Summers (Minutes Secretary)
Dr James Storer
Representatives from Dudley Council:
Paul Mountford, Head of Planning and Regeneration
David Holloway, Senior Planning Officer
The meeting was also attended by local Councillors Keiran Casey and Adam Aston. 82 people attended.
1. Welcome and Introduction
Harry Brookes welcomed everyone to the meeting, with especial thanks to guest speakers Paul Mountford and David Holloway, and local councillors Keiran Casey and Adam Aston. He thanked everyone on the committee for the work done, and in particular Don Davies who has obtained over ₤320,000 for projects in Swanbrook and Turls Hill.
2. Minutes of the last meeting
Copies of these were made available to attendees.
3. Approval of minutes
The minutes were taken to be a true and accurate record.
4. Matters arising
There were no matters arising.
5. Black Country Core Strategy
Paul Mountford, Head of Planning and Regeneration, explained that the public consultation calling for sites was underway and it was hoped that local residents would comment on the plans. He said that the reason for the call for sites was to identify those areas that may be suitable for housing or industrial use, and that the planning application process would have to be followed if any sites were found to be suitable.
He introduced David Holloway, Senior Planning Officer, who referred to the Black Country Core Strategy website, which shows sites identified in the local area. He emphasized that a “brownfield site first” strategy was being adopted.
He reported that a number of sites has been put forward within the Turls Hill area, however submission of a site does not mean that development will be accepted; as an example a site for housing on a field off Setton Drive was refused permission in a 1979 decision, which was upheld on appeal. If a planning application for this same area was submitted now, it would be refused without hesitation. Turls Hill is generally accepted as remaining as Green Belt due to various reasons, eg, it is a “green wedge” forming a link between Sedgley and Dudley; there is a geo trail and a conservation area.
His advice generally is that the Black Country Core Strategy website should be checked on a regular basis.
Questions were invited from the floor, as follows:
Q: Will copies of the consultation be in libraries? A: Yes, they will be in the main libraries
Q: How was the site drawn up on the plan (with reference to the Gorge area), as development has already started? A: The Planning office will look at that particular site in more detail.
Referring to the Gorge area, David Bates reported that the land there was not suitable for building, as it is subject to flooding and sometimes sewage contamination. The storm water position should determine whether houses can be built.
Q: Are developers under the same constraints as residents, ie those in a protected area are restricted to style of windows, colour, etc? A: It’s unlikely that new build housing will have the same restrictions.
Q: Are developers considering flooding risk, also traffic, which will have an impact on the general infrastructure? A: All proposals are subject to sustainability.
Q: Will the electricity network be upgraded, and other utilities be taken into account? A: The infrastructure for all utilities is a concern that will be addressed.
Q: Is it a legal requirement to carry out a review of all sites?
A: As there is currently a shortfall on housing, we have a duty to identify those areas that may be suitable for housing, and the exercise is being carried out nationally.
Q: What would be classed as ‘exceptional circumstances’ where green belt land would be developed? A: Examples may be for use as sport and recreation, or for a crematorium, or mineral exploration.
Q: Will there be Public Health representation throughout the consultation?
A: Yes, there is a Welfare group within the Planning area, looking at issues such as being active, avoiding obesity, etc.
Harry Brookes said that the green belt was very important to us, and that we should all fight to keep it, by planting trees, doing regular litterpicks, and whenever we see any vandalism, report it to the Police.
6. Woodsetton Charitable Trust to date
David Bates talked about the history of the organization, and explained the structure, and that it came into being in order to raise funds. Money has been spent on keeping the area green, providing footpaths and keeping vehicles off the area. He described the pleasure to be obtained by taking quiet walks along Swanbrook and Turls Hill.
7. Projects completed in the year
Don Davies reported on 2 projects that have taken 3 years to develop and have been completed this year:
Eve Lane access point to Swanbrook Valley – this is virtually completed but has one more refinement to be added. The cost has been ₤13,000.
Permanent wreath on the War Memorial – total cost ₤1,045, raised mainly by donations including crowdfunding, so no need to apply for grants.
8. Future Projects
George Morran referred to the fact that the Trust’s primary purpose was to conserve, protect and improve open space, but lately we have been involved in specific projects such as the War Memorial. The latest project is a monument to commemorate Woodsetton-born Abraham Darby. Work is underway, and it should be completed within 2/3 years.
George observed that with development pressures and changes, if we want to keep the green open spaces, they need to be used for the benefit of all, for example, having horses grazing. If not, they will not be looked after.
One concern is the amount of litter – on the last litterpick 20/30 bags were collected. The council will not be responsible for collecting litter, or maintaining footpaths, so there is a problem with general maintenance.
Another concern voiced by George is the change in status of the school. He said that we are hoping to develop a good working relationship with the new hierarchy at the school. He also stressed the importance of being aware of the needs of young people in the area.
9. Treasurer’s Report
Alan Hunt presented the accounts for, and informed the meeting about the financial status for both organisations.
10. Election of Officers/members
George Morran read out the names of the current officers and members, and invited anyone who wished to stand for the committee to come forward. As no-one new came forward, it was agreed by a show of hands that the current members be re-elected.
11. Any Other Business
Adam Aston thanked all the officers and members of Turls Hill and Swanbrook Valley Residents’ Association and Woodsetton Charitable Trust for the work done, which he said was really important. This was endorsed by Keiran Casey.
The raffle was drawn, and everyone had refreshments and informal chats.
Our latest major initiative focuses on the re-siting of the Swan Village war memorial, which you can read about here. Part of the wider war memorial project was to create a website recording the details of the men listed on the memorial. The website, 'Lest Woodsetton Forget', is now complete and is available at www.woodsettonmemorial.com.
Santa and his sleigh (kindly provided by The Rotary Club of Sedgley and Wombourne) recently visited the new path off Roper Way which is currently under construction. This path makes up part of the Trust's wider Swanbrook Valley project and will provide easier access for High Arcal School pupils making their way to and from school. A group of students from the school were present at the event as well as the Express and Star in anticipation of a press release. The event closed with a gathering at Kings Square's common room in Coseley where tea, coffee and mince pies were enjoyed by all. Patrick Blakey, the website editor, commissioned a video for the event, as shown below.
We were both surprised and thrilled to recently receive an anonymous donation of £100. This will go a long way in supporting the running of the Trust. We would like to thank the donor for their generosity.
Friday 1st August saw the seventh annual Dudley MBC Green Spaces Volunteer Awards at which Woodsetton Trust won an award titled 'Fundraising Pioneers' whilst Don Davies, trustee, picked up the 'Dudley's Got Talent - Friends Group Member of the Year' award. These awards recognise the fundraising of almost £100,000 which the Trust has acquired in the last year for access paths within the Swanbrook and Turls Hill areas.