Alvechurch Parish Council Newsletter Winter 2014

Illegal encampments by travellers:

In a follow-up meeting with Sajid Javid MP, he suggested West Mercia police should speak to other forces about their approach: he would look at possible changes in the law of trespass. On Mr Javid’s invitation, the PC chairman and a local resident met in Westminster in November with Minister for Housing and Planning Brandon Lewis. The need for more consistent guidelines for dealing with illegal encampments was agreed, and revised Home Office Guidelines should lead police forces to take more decisive action. Principal councils like Bromsgrove should be more active in using current legislation to address problems quickly. Parish Councils should be able to play a part in this.

Land behind 2 Birmingham Road Alvechurch:

A specialist in housing for older people has made a preliminary proposal for a development on this land. The old veterinary house has planning consent for conversion into flats, but this proposal is a larger development of apartments for older people, with some shared facilities, and a few houses or bungalows. The developer would also enhance the adjacent cricket club with new changing rooms, allowing for use for Wiggin-based sports as well. There would be parking for the apartments and for the public, including those using the Wiggin for sports. The PC discussed this in depth at several meetings, attended many briefings and talked and listened to local residents. The problem is that part of the site is on Green Belt, despite being very near the village centre. The law allows for specific exceptions like affordable housing and sports facilities in Green Belt. Councillors also questioned the developers about appropriate design, so near to the Conservation Area. The PC supports the need for housing for older people, and would welcome enhanced sports facilities with parking. However, they are aware of the need to protect the Green Belt. There will be a review by the District Council which will take some land out of Green Belt, but not for some years. The PC produced a summary of their reservations about the development, and its opportunities for the community. A full planning application is likely soon.

The Wiggin meadows:

Youth football has returned to the drained and resurfaced pitch, and the teams are very appreciative. The PC noted there are still problems with parking, and are looking at how to solve this. The area around the fallen black poplar sculpture and picnic area will be laid with felt and bark chippings. The sculpture, by local artist Andy DeComyn, is much liked and visited. New play equipment for children up to 12 will soon be provided by BDC to replace most of the current play area. The scheme will be funded by money from developers, and the PC is talking to potential suppliers about a design suiting the local environment.

Railway improvements:

The Council has learned that the resurfacing of the car-park will take some time, but is planned to happen by March 2015. The footpath from the railway across the field to the canal has been reopened and a ticket machine has been installed. Network Rail have apologised for over-running their expected time on night work. Sajid Javid MP recently visited the station with the PC chairman. A suggestion for the haul road to become a cycle track will not be taken up as the landowners are not in favour.

Community health issues:

Members of the PC have met the Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group to discuss the anomalies caused by the Alvechurch Medical Practice being attached to the South Central Birmingham CCG. RBCCG agreed to look at solutions which would give Alvechurch residents better access to local community services.
The PC has approached their District Councillors to request the use of grant money available to them for a defibrillator in Alvechurch and a hearing loop at Hopwood Community Centre.

Festivals:

A local arts promoter, Ken Banks, outlined to the PC a proposed Alvechurch Arts Festival to take place in July 2015. He will co-ordinate it, working with the schools and local residents. The PC supported the idea. Ken is already promoting arts events in Alvechurch and was involved in the sculpture project in the Wiggin. The Picnic in the Park group has already started planning for next May.

Local Heritage Listing:

The Neighbourhood Planning group heard from Mary Worsfold, the Bromsgrove District heritage officer, about a new list of sites of special local heritage interest, about to be compiled. They can be, for example, groups of houses, which are not suitable to be individually Listed Buildings or a Conservation Area, but which merit some protection. Alvechurch will be the first Parish involved because much work has been done here already.