Because of meeting restrictions, the Committee hasn’t met since February, but we are in regular contact with each other and we are busy. Some of the work we have done is listed below.
Joined Hampshire Archives Trust – this is a grant-making group of other local history societies.
The Local Plan – we have considered responses to the Borough of Basingstoke and Deane’s local plan.
The government has issued a White paper on reform of the planning system in England and Wales. The paper aims to reduce local council powers to manage planning approvals or refusals. For instance, a business which wants to take over a business premises has to apply for a Change of Use, for instance fast-food takeaway to Gaming premises. The Paper proposes to remove this, and it would become what is called Permitted Development. These are very often things which we comment on in the top of town particularly. We are working up some responses to the White Paper which will be through our M.P.
We responded to the Old Basing Conservation area Appraisal Review insofar as it proposed extending in 2 areas which have remains of the canal - an area behind Cavalier Road and the garages on the A30 and the other on Redbridge Lane, where the canal route was. Although our comments are normally only about the unparished areas of Basingstoke, we have always had an interest in the Basingstoke Canal. We have welcomed these extensions to the conservation area in Old Basing.
The WW2 Whiteditch building. We know what it is and we now know when it was built. We think further research will be helpful and have decided to get expert help. A professional researcher will do research at the Public Record Office at Kew when access etc permits. We have agreed documents which he has suggested which might be helpful and we have agreed a price. We think this is worth it.
Our Tree Wardens continue look at planning applications which affect trees and hedgerows in the town, and we comment using their advice. It was one of our Tree Wardens who spotted that one of the 3 trees we had bought for the town’s three main parks was the wrong tree. ‘Our’ tree – a Liquidamber – had been put in Oakridge Road near the little Tesco where it will look lovely. Where it should have gone - in Eastrop Park - is a Pawlownia. The council will get us the Liquidamber when the time is right for planting it and put it in Eastrop Park.
The Great Western Hotel will soon see a planning application to preserve the pub but add apartments to it. It’s a sorry site at the moment and although there will be disagreements about the design of the newbuild, it certainly needs something to be done.
Planning Applications. These continue to come in – Chris looks at the list every week and sorts out all that affect Conservation Areas as well as other areas within the town. We then share these and look at the plans and then if necessary, comment.
We commented on an application from Network Rail which we thought would mean that old track from the surviving bit of the Alton Light Railway spur would be taken up. We also asked the Conservation officer to look at this. We have been successful as Network Rail now recognise the historic interest of this piece of rail, which we had proposed successfully for the Local List some time ago.
The Bluecoat Boy. We know that this still lacks a couple of tiles. Champion Group have said that they will fix it but nothing gets done at the moment.