Annual Parish Meeting 14 May 2015 – summary

The APM was held in the school hall on Thursday 14 May. It was well attended as usual.

Lydia made her report of the village through the year, reporting on the current issues and outlining future plans. This is her report

Hello and goodbye
We said goodbye to councillors Mike Read and Lorraine Penney and have welcomed councillors Charlotte Rogers and Stuart Laurie.

Planning
Our role in the planning process is purely one of consultation and advice. While we can voice our opinions and represent the opinions of village residents we have no statutary powers. However I think it is true that the planners do try to listen to what we have to say.

Our position re the Green Belt is simple: we will always oppose any kind of development on the Green Belt. It is a precious resource which helps to preserve Babraham’s rural character and prevents urban sprawl. The only exception to our position would be for affordable housing – Oak Lane is an example of that.

The planning application made by Cambridge City FC for a stadium on land next to the business park between Sawston and Babraham has been successful. Initially this was opposed not only by this PC but also Sawston PC. However, Sawston were offered some land for community use and changed their mind. This was obviously very disappointing, but, partly because of our opposition, the application was referred for a decision to the Secretary of State at DEFRA (then Eric Pickles). Together with our District Councillor Tony Orgee, we have raised serious concerns about the impact this development will have, both in its construction and use phases, on traffic through Babraham and along the Wych and will continue to campaign about this.

In July, a planning application was made for a solar farm on fields between Sawston and Babraham. We opposed this because it was on the Green Belt. Then an application was made for a smaller solar farm which we again opposed. Now the developers have lodged an appeal which will lead to a public inquiry.

At the moment the planners are busy looking at the larger picture and identifying areas for housing development. Three sites on the Babraham side of Sawston have been put forward. We oppose two of them (which would have a total of 340 houses) because they are on the Green Belt, but we do support one brownfield site for 200 houses by the business park. Housing development is inevitable in south Cambridgeshire and it is not acceptable to be NIMBY about it: the important thing is to be involved in the whole process so that development happens in the right places and for the people who need it most.

Traffic calming
We have a plan for extensive traffic calming in the village. We applied for funding from SCDC but in January we heard that had not been successful. We are gradually building up a fund (which started with the developer uplift money from Oak Lane) which will allow us to put in a pinch point at the north end of the High Street, two small traffic islands at the broadest part of the High Street and in the longer term, imposing a weight limit (except for farm vehicles) which would deter HGVs, setting a 20mph limit in the centre of the village and altering the road where is goes past the George by extending the village green out. This would help towards our goal of making the centre of the village truly the centre of our community, which is part of our wider hopes for Babraham.

Roads etc
There is now a bus shelter on the Haverhill side of the A1307. Almost as soon as it was erected it became evident that its position and general suitability was far from ideal. The PC have got the traffic signs which were obscuring the view between bus and prospective passengers resited; the seating is going to be resited, protection for occupants from the weather is to be installed and repairs made.

Accidents and problems of visibility continue to dog Institute roundabout on the A1307 – Cambridgeshire County Council are investigating and have identified a problem with the camber of the road.

Playground
It seems as if the playground has dragged on for many years – indeed it has, but we hope very much to get on with it, on a new site: on the land at the back of the pub which is owned by CERN/Babraham Farms. Negotiations are underway for the PC to lease the land, which would enable us to have a new playground in the centre of the village along with an outdoor gym.

Out and about around Babraham
The Honeysuckle Lane hedge was planted at last. It is a mix of native plants and seems to be thriving on the whole. There is still an issue regarding weeds which we are trying to resolve. We also hope that the drain issue at Brick Row is now sorted out, having finally persuaded the County Highways department to jet one of the drains. Thanks to James Arnold for his patient work on our behalf.

Since February last year we’ve been trying to persuade SCDC to provide dog waste bins at Oak Lane and at the bottom of Church Lane. This has been an annoying saga – a dog bin has been installed at Oak Lane, but not down by the church. The PC has decided to buy a dog bin ourselves and a village resident has kindly offered to install it.

In May five wirework sculptures of animals and birds were installed on the Institute bank of the river. You can see them as you walk along the section of the river between the Hall and the weir. These were made by Lucy Unwin, a young local artist. There are going to be some more.. We are going to install a seat and an information board which will explain the history, ecology and archaeology of the area. This is kindly funded by the Babraham Research Campus (BRC) as the Institute is now known.

The cricket ground and school field
The PC has opened informal discussions with the relavant part of the BRC about the possibility of a lease for the cricket field and potentially the adjoining field between the school and Church Lane. Although the BRC are open to considering this it would need consent from the landowners, the UK government in the form of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who have not yet been fully consulted.

High speed broadband
High speed broadband arrived in Babraham. It is, to say the least, extremely variable, but it IS better than the old arrangements. I got 72 down and 18 up (for those broadband buffs among you) at 4pm yesterday…

Rubbish Friends
The first Babraham Rubbish Friends village litter pick will take place on Sunday 7 June. Meet at Home Farm House at 10am; bring a picnic to have there later. All equipment will be provided.

The Black Barn
Later this evening the Village Hall Committee, which is the custodian of £220K of village money, will be talking about the options for using that money. A new option, which has literally appeared in the past month, is to convert the black barn by the George into a community space. There’s a cartshed behind it which could provide a community shop, a kitchen and loos. The PC is investigating the feasibility of the project. There are some very basic plans for you to look at in the interval and of course there will be further discussion later.

Finally, I’d like to talk to you about one thing that is hard to define: a sense of community.

Babraham is a small village – there are about 200 on the electoral role – but the Parish Council aspires for it to punch above its weight. Some familiar village faces aren’t around anymore, but there are new ones and I’m really pleased to see some of you here tonight. We’ve grown in the last couple of years – now we have eleven new homes at Oak Lane. There are more young families. And I think there’s a change in the air. People are talking more about community spirit; there are more things happening, like the pop up Better Brew café and the film nights at Chalk Farm, like the regular churchyard clear ups, like the soon to be regular (I hope) village litter pick.

And although we’re small, we are full of talented people. We have builders, lawyers, designers, knitters, DIY-ers, doctors, carpenters, therapists, teachers, architects, farmers, writers, chefs, midwives, musicians, gardeners and many more. There’s so much we can do .

Community is that feeling of belonging, where everyone who is part of it feels that they are taking part in something special and worthwhile. That they matter. Where people feel they are listened to and cared about. It’s about taking responsibility, volunteering. There is only so much a small Parish Council can do – so what I’m asking you to do is to think how much Babraham means, or could mean to you, and to help us make this village a really special place for us all.

Acknowledgements
In August, our amazing clerk Margaret Badcock is retiring after seven glorious years working hard and keeping us in order. Her depth of knowledge and good humour knows no bounds.

The village is very lucky to have my fellow councillors, and I thank all of you for your continuing hard work and dedication. Ian Kime in particular, our vice-chairman, is a tower of strength. Many thanks.

Reports were also presented to bring us up to date with the activities of the School, the Bush and Bennett Charity, the Church, the Farm and the Research Campus. Our District and County Councillors presented their reports covering the last year and current issues.

The main points of these reports are :
The cycle way linking through the Research Campus is making progress albeit slowly and should be opened this year.
The Research Campus growth plans were displayed – it is hoped a digital version will be available soon.

The Headmaster reported the school was continuing to do very well, whilst recognising that demand is rising and will continue to do so.

The Bush and Bennett Charity reported that much needed conservation work was continuing. A similar position is to be found at St. Peter’s, but attendances are up and interest high.

Following the interval the Village Hall Committee held its own AGM. The current members of the committee were re-elected.

The main point of discussion was the use of their funds, currently some £230,000.
With the appearance of the opportunity to purchase the Black Barn they had decided to delay any decision regarding the use of their funds until a full feasibility study had been completed. This project is now tagged under Current Issues, following the link gives access to all the information regarding the project.

Their intention to use the money to refurbish and extend the cricket pavilion has subsequently been put on hold. Negotiations between BPC and the Institute are underway regarding the BPC taking on the lease for the land.

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Black Barn

An opportunity has arisen for the village to purchase the Black Barn, and adjoining cart sheds, adjacent to the George. It is currently owned by Babraham Farms.

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Whilst clearly decrepit and unused for at least 35 years it is an opportunity that BPC and the Village Hall Committee believe should be thoroughly investigated. The council has begun a detailed, professional feasibility study to determine whether it can be successfully and economically converted to a community facility.

Initial sketches have been produced by a local firm of architects and a request for pre-planning advice made to SCDC planners and listed building officers. The initial architects report and sketches can be seen here

The feasibility study is to be completed by 2 July. If the study shows the scheme feasible and affordable then the VHC/BPC will put the scheme to the village seeking approval and commitment. The freehold will, if sufficient community support is forthcoming, be purchased and donated by a benefactor. It is the intention that the VHC funds will be used to return the building to a safe and secure state, and to complete as much of the conversion as can be afforded. Clearly it is an expensive project and will require additional fund raising and a considerable amount of community participation, help and involvement.

Both BPC and VHC believe that the benefit to the village now and for the future is considerable. Having a community hall with meeting rooms and with space for a shop etc. right in the centre of the village will be very valuable, but not at any cost.

This section of the web site will publish details of the plans and ideas, will note progress as it is being made and will be a forum for opinion.

Key areas of the feasibility study.

  • 1: Architects and Structural Engineers are preparing a full technical feasibility assessment with expected costings detailed as far as is possible.
  • 2: SCDC planners and conservation officers have been consulted as to their opinion regarding the conversion. They are expected to issue a design brief that will determine how the building can be used whilst conserving its historic significance.
  • 3: Local landowners and neighbours are being consulted as to their opinions, concerns etc.
  • 4: As the available funds are unlikely to be enough to fully complete the project BPC are looking at how we may beg, borrow or obtain what otherwise be expensive fittings and fixtures. These will include kitchen fittings, lighting, tables and chairs and anything else we can get that will be useful.
  • 5: Other sources of funding and grant aid are being investigated, their likelihood of success being assessed.
  • 6: An estimation of the amount and degree of local support will need to be made. This project will not succeed unless the village as a whole is committed and gets involved.

The window of opportunity we have is limited so the feasibility study is progressing with all speed. The village will be fully consulted before any decision is taken on the go ahead or not of the project. If in the meantime you have an opinion or have anything to say then please contact the council directly by following this email link or use this sites contact form.

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14 May 2015

Agenda : Minutes

Summary
This brief meeting was the Annual Parish Council Meeting at which the Chairman and Vice-Chairman are elected for the coming year. Before that could take place the Council co-opted Stuart Laurie as a councillor. The council now has 5 members again.

Lydia Macpherson was again elected as Chairman, with Denise Dear being Vice-Chairman. Stuart Laurie is to be the BPC representative on the Village Hall Committee. Other representative positions will be filled on an as required basis through the year.

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Annual Parish Meeting 14 May

You are invited to the Annual Parish Meeting, 7.30pm in the School Hall on Thursday 14 May.

This is your chance to hear what the Parish Council and other village groups have been doing over the past year, and what we hope to achieve this coming year. We like to hear your views, so feel free to ask us questions during the meeting. It’s a fairly informal affair and is a great opportunity to catch up with your neighbours. We provide wine, beer, soft drinks and crisps. There’s also a super soaraway prize draw!

The Agenda is

1. Apologies for absence
2. Report from the Chairman of the Parish Council
3. Financial report
4. Report from Babraham Research Campus
5. Report from Babraham Primary School
6. Report from the Bush and Bennett Charity
7. Report from Babraham Farms
8. Report from the local police
9. Report from County Councillor Peter Topping
10. Report from District Councillor Tony Orgee
Interval: refreshments and prize draw
11. Report and AGM, Village Hall Committee
12. Any other business

Details of the PC finances are presented at the meeting, a summary is available to download by clicking this link

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16 April 2015

Agenda : Minutes

Summary
The 9 April Meeting was postponed to the 16th.
The meeting heard that the 4 people who stood for election to the PC have been returned. This leaves one vacancy, a position that can be filled by co-option following the 7 May election. The elected councillors are, Lydia McPherson, Ian Kime, Denise Dear and Charlotte Rogers.
Annual accounts for the PC were presented and approved and will now be sent for audit.
A report of the latest meeting of the Village Hall Committee was presented and discussed.

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Meeting Schedule 2015

The Parish Council will meet on these dates in 2015. They are subject to change depending on circumstance and the availability of Councillors. Please check here and in the Agendas and Minutes section for any changes. Clicking on a date gives access to the Agenda and Minutes of that meeting.

  • 8 January 2015
  • 12 February 2015
  • 12 March 2015
  • 9 April 2015
  • 14 May 2015 (followed by the Annual Parish Meeting)
  • 11 June 2015
  • 9 July 2015
  • No meeting in August 2105
  • 10 September 2015
  • 8 October 2015
  • 12 November 2015
  • 10 December 2015 (if needed)
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