Why do we need a Rode Village Plan?
Over the past decade Rode has experienced an exceptional amount of housing development. Rode’s housing stock has increased by more than 20%, which is three times the national average. A District Council survey of East Mendip Community Partnership Villages has also shown that more houses were built in Rode in the period 2002 – 2008 than in any other village, more than 6 times as many as in either Beckington or Norton St Philip. In fact, in this period, nearly 50% more houses had been built in Rode than in the next highest village.
The government strategy is to encourage house building and they have set targets for local authorities for the twenty years from 2006 to 2026. To address this, Mendip District Council is preparing a Local Development Framework (LDF), to replace the present District Local Plan. An important part of the new document is the Core Strategy.
The Mendip Core Strategy shows that, for the period 2006-2026, Mendip will need to provide around 9,100 new homes. Most of the development will be focused on the main towns, however Rode, which has been classified by Mendip as a “primary village”, has a commitment to build 65 new homes over the 20 year period from 2006.
28 of these have already been built or received planning consent, leaving around 37 dwellings to be built in the next 15 years. Some of these are likely to be in small scale developments within present village boundaries, but it may be desirable or necessary to use sites outside and adjacent to the current development boundaries.
The Objective of Rode Parish Council
- To identify areas of Rode that residents feel are suitable, or not suitable, for Land Development and areas of Rode that should be permanently protected for the future.
- To reflect and communicate the findings of the Rode Village Survey 2011 to Mendip Council and relevant land owners in order to meet the needs of the village.
- To coordinate the housing demands of the Government Framework & Mendip’s Core Strategy 2006 – 2026, with the needs of the village.
- To produce a completed Parish Plan to incorporate:-
- Housing, Infrastructure, Business/Employment, Water & Sewage, Schools, Parking, Telecommunications (In particular Fibre Optics) & Village Amenities.
The Village Response
The postal survey of the Village achieved an exceptional response. Postal surveys typically expect a return of 5-10% but the final count of the Rode Village survey shows a return of almost 50% with completed surveys received from 211 dwellings. This is statistically a highly significant response and reflects the real passion felt by the Village over the issue of all further development. See graph 1 level of response in conjunction with Rode Village Map.
It was not just that the quantity of the returns that were significant, the quality of the comments was highly informative with many adding 1 or 2 pages of really helpful information. These comments will form part of the completed Parish Plan.
The results from the survey show the need for some development, but in areas of the village which will make the least visual impact.
The turnout for the “drop-in” meeting on Wednesday 30th November 2011 at Rode School where the results of the village survey were presented and discussed was exceptionally well supported. Feedback from this meeting has also been invaluable. A big thank you to Rode School for hosting the evening and a thank you to Andy Fussell for attending and putting his point of view.
Browns Ground is seen as an area of special visual amenity and is considered not suitable for development and should be protected. There were more responses regarding Browns Ground (182) than any other area of Rode. See graph 2 For & Against Development & graph 3 Land that should be Protected. Of the vast majority (87%) who oppose development in Browns Ground, the general desire is to retain an area of unique, unspoilt, natural beauty. With 3600 views across the whole area, described as the “lung” of Rode, there is a lot of passion and interest to retain this area as a visual public amenity.
Major concerns were expressed over the springs and poor drainage from the ground into Nutts Lane, Marsh Road & Church Lane with the significant risk of flooding if housing development is permitted.
Any increased access into Church Lane is considered very hazardous; the road is already single track in places, has limited narrow footpaths and is often congested at peak times.
The building of ‘affordable’ houses in isolation is totally against the whole ethos of the village being one of inclusion and not separation.
Church Farm Development
The response regarding the development of Church Farm was extremely high with the support for this development being mixed; a small majority (51.72%) are in favour of development. However there is a constant theme from the respondents for fewer homes, reduced density, bungalows and not houses, consideration of parking, garages and gardens and significantly, the inclusion of affordable homes.
Limit the building to 37 homes maximum, which must include a mix of conventional and affordable housing.
Drainage & sewage is a concern with overflow occurring typically three times per year. Serious attention needs to be given prior to planning approval.
Concern over the traffic safety and access to the A361 is high. Any development should include improved and safe pedestrian access to the village centre.
There were also comments highlighting that in previous village developments, building conditions / promises were not always adhered to and that Mendip Planning Department must be more vigilant.
The feedback was clear. Any ‘affordable’ housing should be built amongst conventional dwellings and meet the identified needs of the village and not of an opportunist developer. Concerns were expressed in terms such as “Them & Us” and segregation, were repeated often and summed up in the term “housing apartheid”.
From the survey (67.12%) were against the building of such a “large” wind turbine. The majority of comments were on the significant negative visual impact with the benefit only to the business and not to the village as a whole. Alternative, less impacting energy solutions should be considered.
There is a requirement to consider small housing infill and to complete already planned development, i.e. finish development on Lower Street etc. The view was that the Village needed and should encourage a mix of house styles/types. Allowing development of 2-3 houses per year would easily achieve the Mendip Plan for future housing for the village.
Fussell Business Development
There was a marginally negative response (56%) for moving the Fussell Business to a “Green Field” site.
Overriding suggestions from the comments received felt that this industrial business should be relocated into local industrial areas, for example Frome Flyer Industrial Estate where there are vacant facilities with easy access for large vehicles.
A feeling that “Greenfield” sites should not be used for industrial development; that industrial units and a haulage business will spoil the approach to our beautiful village.
Respondents’ comments focused on the already overstretched infrastructure in the village including the School and road network. Drainage & sewage, parking, electricity telephony & internet were of concern and the Parish Council will need to address all these issues.
Undoubtedly there is huge concern on the impact of more vehicles on the A361 and within the village; especially High St, the School, Church Lane and Rode Hill where safety, parking and speed are seen as a problem.
Parking is becoming a serious issue within the village and consideration of adequate parking for any new housing development would need to be addressed, as would improved footpaths, cycle tracks and traffic calming systems.
School & Pre-School
Rode Methodist First School is a vibrant village school and has seen a positive growth as a result of an Outstanding Ofsted Report. On the one hand this growth in numbers is welcome as it assures the future viability of our village school but it also creates the challenge of too few teaching spaces and problems of increased traffic and parking at drop off and pick-up times.
Rode Methodist VC First School is a small school for children aged 4-9. The School’s objective is to work together in the community in a sensitive and responsible way. To create a happy, secure, stimulating and safe environment which enables everyone to develop as individuals in all aspects of life.
Pre-school has its own challenges, principally a sustainable location with the relevant facilities. It is felt that either a purpose built building or imaginative sharing facility should be put into place.
The huge interest and passion within the village about the development in Rode is clear from the results from the survey. Whilst a small majority of respondents were supportive of the proposed Church Farm Development, it is also clear that allowing careful development of 2-3 houses per year would also easily achieve the Mendip plans for the future housing needs of the village.
Browns Ground is seen as an area of special visual amenity and is considered not suitable for development (87%) and should be permanently protected.
The building of ‘affordable’ houses in isolation is totally against the whole ethos of the village being one of inclusion and not segregation.
The many other needs of the village as highlighted in this report will need careful thought and attention. The village plan, supporting data and any further development will be published in the Link and eventually also included on the Rode Village Website at www.rodevillage.com
The message from the village is to maintain the character and special community feel that Rode Village has to offer. The village is protected for a reason.
Rode Parish Council