The LSPC-TMC document contains the factors that we have identified so far to deliver our vision ‘to make Limpley Stoke a safer and better village by creating a much-improved shared space between vehicles and pedestrians.’
The document will remain iterative. In addition, the delivery of some outcomes remains dependent on Wiltshire County Council traffic management staff who will continue to advise us throughout.
On Woods Hill specifically, the wellbeing and safety of all has been paramount, but we accept consensus is difficult. Throughout this period, we will ensure everyone in the village knows how to communicate their views on this matter to Wilts County Council, who, as noted previously, have the final decision on permanent closure.
Finally, our TMC remains underpinned by our desire to improve the safety and wellbeing of people. Safety for all is the overarching theme associated with all that we do, closely followed by the wellbeing of those who live here. As a Parish Council it is our duty to identify the most holistic safety solutions and to prioritise our actions accordingly.
We ask that you bear with us through this period of delivery, we are all volunteers simply striving to achieve the best outcome for all.
Monthly Parish Council Meetings include Open Forum. If you would like to book a slot to speak at Open Forum please contact the Parish Clerk Bryony Kohn.
Please see the latest LSPC Minutes for further details.
Become a PC Member!
This is a formal call to you, the residents of Limpley Stoke to add your energy and presence to the Parish Council. We are currently looking for new members for 2 distinct roles below. If you wish to become part of our exciting plans to return our village to the community, to make it a quieter, safer, more community-focused place to be, rather than just a rat-run for those passing through at speed, then please contact me directly.
Specifically, right now we are seeking:
1. Someone to lead on Environmental issues. This will be a developing role but principally aimed at identifying practical initiatives to help make Limpley Stoke as environmentally friendly as it can be and aware of those environmental initiatives that will impact us or that we can genuinely support/influence.
2. Someone to lead on delivering our plans for maintaining and developing the King George V Play Park as a part of the return of a Village Centre. This initiative is linked to a renewed Hop Pole Inn and hopefully a much safer and quieter Woods Hill area. The Park is starting to look rather sorry for itself, somewhat overgrown, with equipment and benches in need of renovation and some real need for an energetic person to drive it forward. It is a part of our drive to return our village to a community-focused environment rather than a traffic-dominated one.
More broadly, and beyond being a PC member, we need as many of you as possible to think about investing some of your time and energy to support the few PC members and the range of initiatives that we are pushing. We don’t all agree about everything of course (see below!), but we are all part of the same community and I’m sure we do agree that making this a safer, more community driven, fun and exciting place to live has to be worth some effort - surely? We need you to help - so please get in touch and add your name to our, somewhat loosely titled - ‘volunteer initiative’.
Following the PC meeting last week (we discussed in the Open Forum part of our meeting our initiative to experimentally close Woods Hill). We listened to a range of arguments - both for and against this proposal and after Open Forum, the PC members present, voted formally to proceed with the Experimental Order for Closure of Woods Hill - based principally on safety grounds and the wish to avoid serious injury or death for people using the hill - either on foot or accessing or leaving the Hill, both to or from the A36.
Whilst people cannot object to our pursuit of the Experimental Order itself, once the Hill is closed to traffic experimentally, then objections (and supporting) statements should be sent as appropriate - so, once the experimental closure is in place residents are encouraged to lodge their views with the PC or Johnny Kidney. Additionally, details and the rules for Experimental Closure Orders are in my previous posts and will be available on the website over the next week or so. As part of the Experimental Order, Wilts CC will also issue appropriate notifications and processes in due course. While there are still a couple of administrative hurdles to jump over, we hope the initial 6-month period of closure will commence in the Autumn.
During that period, we (and Wilts CC) will be monitoring the impact across the village, on the A36 and on surrounding roads. I must reiterate that this is not a stand-alone solution - it is linked to a number of initiatives:
All of these things will take time and resources, but we must strive to improve things! It is our intention to consolidate these initiatives into one area on the website and to record them coherently as part of a more easily understood and holistic LSPC Traffic Management Plan. More to follow...but please be part of that discussion by engaging discussion with us.
Hop Pole Inn.
Our offer of £218,000 inclusive of VAT was rejected by the Wellington Pub Company. However, last week I spoke to their regional manager to discuss a way ahead. It is now their intention market the Inn as a ‘pub for renovation - as a going concern, rather than a development property’. We anticipate the asking price to be in the region of £300,000 (perhaps a bit more), importantly, this price will according to Wellingtons usual business practices be exclusive of VAT - a substantially increased commitment of about £60,000 on top of the headline sale figure.
As a PC that means that we are beyond the limit of our available funds, and our ability to meet the renovation and repayment requirements through the Public Works Loan Board. The total cost at that price would be about £360,000 purchase costs plus another £150,000-£200,000 in renovation and administrative/legal charges according to our surveyor and accounting/legal advice. A total cost to us of between £510,000 and £560,000 which is beyond the maximum amount allowed under the PWLB Loans Scheme - £500,000.
It would be irresponsible of us to commit too significant a proportion of our funds to meet the repayment requirements for any lengthy period of time. Whilst we accepted that we may have needed to ask for some additional funding through the Precept (up to £50 per household per annum max) during the period the Inn underwent renovation, the current anticipated asking price and renovation costs, mean the Inn is beyond what we would feel financially comfortable to proceed with. We must be sure of our financial position and able to. Omit funds to other village requirements and projects where necessary.
However, as a small positive, Wellington have declared that they are going to fix the major structural issues prior to release for sale and hope to be marketing the Inn by the end of September, early October. As a PC we are still in the mix (and could increase our offer by the amount we had set aside in our Business Case to fix the structure (about £45000). Wellington, as a business, of course want to achieve market price - but that may end up being closer to an updated PC offer if there is little sales interest over the next few months. As a PC we have to demonstrate financial responsibility so are limited in our funding application to around £400,000 to £450,000 using the Public Works Loan Board scheme.
Of course, the best solution would be for a private landlord (with deep pockets!), to purchase, renovate and run the pub, but at this time that may be challenging.
So, we are poised to move and poised to submit our PWLB Loan Application (another hurdle but we have a sound and well-received Business Case so would hope to be successful here), if the opportunity arises. We will await movements over the next few months, but could be more proactive if someone has time to commit to leading a fund-raising charge.
So......specifically with regard to the Hop Pole. If someone in the village is prepared to volunteer to lead a fundraising charge then we would welcome the effort and add them to the LSPC-HPISC (LSPC - Hop Pole Inn Sub-Committee). That would allow us to increase our offer, reduce the risk to PC finances and perhaps secure the Hop Pole Inn for our future. Wouldn’t that be truly fantastic!
And finally. There are lots of voices in the village that want to be heard. It would help a lot to turn some of those voices into supporting action. We all have our opinions of course, and we don’t all agree about everything or about the right way to do things - that’s just life.... but, if you want to genuinely get things done, then more of us need to volunteer some of our time, rather than just the few. Please get involved.
All the very best
I thought I would give you all an update on recent happenings. I will keep it as short as I can, but there is a lot going on across the village that requires our time and attention, despite the ongoing pandemic across the globe and our support of LiFERAFT locally.
Clearly my update does not cover all of the detail of every single issue but I can assure you that all of our business is thoroughly researched by the PC members. In the case of the Hop Pole we are being supported superbly by the great volunteers from the community that are a part of the Limpley Stoke Parish Council-Hop Pole Inn Sub-Committee (LSPC-HPISC)). I want to thank them all for their help.
Hop Pole Inn:
Following the lack of any volunteers to lead the charge to secure the Inn for the village at the start of the year, the Parish Council took on the challenge and has worked hard to put us in a good place to make an offer for the Inn. We have now submitted our bid to purchase the Hop Pole Inn via Criterion Asset Management Group, who are the agents acting for Wellington Pub Company. Our bid was based on the facts underpinning our extensive business case and was set at a maximum of £218,000 including VAT. Unfortunately, our offer has been rejected by Wellington Pub Company who have suggested that we need to make a significantly higher offer to be successful. However, we are neither able nor willing, to make a significantly higher offer for the reasons outlined below, but we will leave our offer of £218,000 inclusive of VAT ‘on the table’.
In support of our bid we have developed a thorough Hop Pole Inn Business Case (BC). This is now 95% complete and the latest draft has been endorsed by the County Secretary, who stated that it was an excellent and professional piece of work and if we were to apply for a Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) loan from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) that our application would likely be successful. Once finalised, the BC will be made available on the website ifwe pursue the purchase further. In addition to the purchase cost - our surveyor has estimated that repair and renovation costs will be in the region of £200,000 to £250,000, and allowing for a sensible contingency on top of that, our offer places us near to the limit of that allowed under the PWLB scheme (£500,000). Our costs are underpinned by the requirements to ensure all renovations meet Listed Building Status requirements (as required by law); refitting the Inn to a suitably high quality to ensure its attractiveness to customers; updating the internal accommodation to allow a tenant to live in; and ensuring the long term viability of both the building and the business going forward. It is now Wellington’s intention to offer the Inn as a freehold pub for sale after 24th July; they have stated that they want over £300,000 for the Hop Pole. We are unsure whether anyone will pay that much when they will face the same costs and challenges to deal with legal requirements for listed buildings status and to make the Inn viable again. However, if someone will buy it and run it as a pub, our objective has been accomplished and I’m sure that we will all happily provide our support!
As a Council, we have received huge support for the purchase of the Inn (97.3% from 183 residents) and also for any possible increase in the Parish Precept if that were ever necessary (also 97.3% from 183 residents). We have set any increase in the Precept at a maximum of £50 per annum, but even if we were successful in securing the Inn we would try to avoid any increase. I reiterate that any increase will only be necessary in exceptional circumstances.
Finally, the Inn remains under the protection of an Asset of Community Value (ACV) listing that we the PC secured last year. We will continue to object strongly to any moves that may lead to attempts to sell it on for redevelopment either now or in the future.
We have submitted our application to Wilts CC for a 6-month experimental closure of Woods Hill - experimental closure periods allow the impact on traffic to be measured and views to be aired by those affected prior to permanent closure. In addition, we are applying for Wilts CC funding support from what is known as Category G (Cat G) funding. If we achieve Cat G funding that means that Wilts CC will pay for half of the cost of the experimental closure. If we do not get the funding (it is limited) we will have to pay for the closure ourselves. Of note, Wilts CC road works are taking much longer than normal and we cannot commence the work ourselves. However, we are currently anticipating a decision from Wilts CC on the works to begin in the Autumn. The experimental closure will mean Woods Hill will be closed to through traffic for a period of 6 months. In addition to the assessments outlined above, the closure will allow us to assess the impact on other areas of the village and plan for appropriate mitigation’s in the future. Due to the essential safety issues and threat to life associated with Woods Hill traffic movements we are planning to make the closure permanent at the end of the experimental closure. Woods Hill is our number-one roads priority.
Other actions in ‘Roads’ are:
1. The establishment of iron bollards along the edge of the pavement in Lower Stoke by the old railway station to stop cars using the pavement as a road and improved ‘passing place’ signage and markings.2. Village ‘gateways’ - we are aiming to install two Gateways on the A36; one gateway at the Midford Lane entrance to Upper Stoke; and one gateway at the B3108/Lower Stoke junction entrance. These are designed not only to highlight village entrances (Midford and A36) but to show areas of traffic calming (20mph limits) (B3108/Lower Stoke junction).3. In addition we have asked our local Wilts CC Councillor, Johnny Kidney, to push Wilts CC/Highways England to improve the ‘Not suitable for HGV’ sign on the A36 that is intended to discourage heavy traffic from using the B3108.4. We are also continuing to pursue a reduced speed limit (from 40mph to 30mph) on the A36 through Limpley Stoke (as discussed with our MP Michelle Donelan at the beginning of the year). 5. We are also pursuing additional signage to remind drivers that the houses on the B3108 are an integral part of the village and that speed limits must be observed.6. Finally, in the village....in an attempt to stop inconsiderate and sometimes dangerous parking we are seeking to place ‘No Parking, by Order Limpley Stoke Parish Council’ signs (or similar) in those places where people (both local and visitors) continue to park without due consideration for others. If this doesn’t work we will be forced to consider double-yellow lines in some places if this were supported by residents.
More widely, we are aware that double-yellow lines are due to be placed on Winsley Hill to stop cars parking on and destroying the grass verge and that ‘planters’ are being considered to stop people parking on the new pavement by the bridge.
Call for Councillors:
As a Parish Council we have started a significant range of initiatives since I took over as Chairman just over a year ago, but we have had to take on a larger range of responsibilities with less than the ideal number of councillors. So, I am asking for volunteers to join the Council to carry forward some of our plans and to allow us to give the appropriate time and resources to all of the issues we face. Currently we are seeking:
King George V Play Park Lead: to include Annual Safety Report actions, maintenance management, improvements (pagoda lighting, pizza oven), access and restriction policy, and liaison over landscaping and tree plans.
Environment lead: to include developing the Council’s Environment Theme in support of the Neighbourhood Plan, identifying practical solutions to local environmental issues (in concert with Freshford PC where appropriate) and updating the Council members on initiatives that may be worth investigating.
If you are interested in applying please contact me directly.
There are a number of other initiatives that we are continuing to support:
Well, I tried to keep it short and failed! As you can see there is a lot going on. Please stay in touch - contact our Councillors on issues that matter via the website or directly as necessary - but please be patient if we don’t reply immediately! Most of us are continuing to work full-time, have been doing home-schooling and generally, like everyone else having to deal with the impact of a global pandemic. I would ask that you continue to support us, if something matters to you please get in touch to check the latest situation rather than just speculating. Most of all if you want to help then volunteer to do so - actions always speak louder than whispers.
I wish you all well - keep safe, keep distance and keep smiling
Limpley Stoke Parish Council
You can subscribe to regular email updates by using the SUBSCRIBE button on the Home Page.
Well, quite a lot, is the answer to that question! Having been in the Chairman’s seat for six months now, I thought I should update everybody on what’s happened in that time and show that we are being really proactive in our pursuit of a better village.
First, we have expanded our council members to support a two-year plan I proposed in late summer, which is centred around three key themes: Community, Environment and Traffic, all of which support the Freshford and Limpley Stoke Neighbourhood Plan (2014-
Our new membership includes Georgina Taylor (Events); Denise Barnes (Environment) and Ian Barnes (Roads). They join the existing team of Francis Firmstone (Vice-Chairman and Planning), Alan MacDougall (Pathways and Bridleways), Ed Elias (Local Business and Tourism), Nicky Boulton (Freshford Liaison), and our excellent Parish Clerk, Bryony Kohn.
In addition, we have met with our fellow councillors in Freshford and Winsley to ensure we act both coherently and as a joint force on bigger area issues.
To support our Traffic theme, I proposed a new approach to traffic in October and, alongside [Wiltshire Councillor] Johnny Kidney and Francis Firmstone, had meetings with [local MP] Michelle Donelan, Wiltshire Council and Highways England to garner support. Our plans include:
• significantly reducing through-traffic on Woods Hill, which sees over 700 vehicles a day going up and down the hill, often far too quickly;
• coupling that with no parking on lower Woods Hill, and prioritisation and calming of traffic along Lower Stoke by the old station, will allow us to create a village centre in front of the Hop Pole;
• establishing village entrance signs: at Midford Lane from Midford; on the A36 at Midford Lane; at the Lower Stoke viaduct, and on the A36 before Woods Hill from Bath;
• implementing better traffic calming along Midford Lane, Middle Stoke and Crowe Hill/Crowe Lane;
• improving A36 crossings
from Upper to Middle Stoke;
• proposing that Highways England support a 30mph A36 ‘village’ speed limit from Midford Lane to Brassknocker traffic lights and support our request to improve the time allowed to turn right to Winsley.
HOP POLE. Sadly, it appears that Joe Abbott is no longer taking on the pub. It remains a listed Asset of Community Value (ACV) until 2023 but, without a viable landlord proposition, is likely to remain empty. So, action is needed and, if no solution is forthcoming from The Wellington Pub Company early in 2020, we will consider more concrete options to secure the pub’s usage for our village.
“We are being really proactive in our pursuit of a better village”
In our Community and Environment themes we have lots of exciting initiatives and information coming in 2020. As we go forward with real positivity, I want to thank a few people. First, my wife Jo for running the LSPC website and taking a role on the Village Hall Management Committee. And, of course, the Parish Council team who, as volunteers, all strive to make Limpley Stoke a better place to live.
Please take the time to read our Minutes and Actions List (https://limpleystoke.org/parish- council) as we try to be as informative as possible. Do say hello if you see me out and about and feel free to contact me, or any PC member, via our details on the website link above. More news next month.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!
Anthony Gennard, Chairman, Limpley Stoke Parish Council