Preservation Society News

Frenchay Preservation Society

Annual Report for 2020; in lieu of an AGM due to Covid

If like me, you had an ‘I-spy’ book when you were a kid, then this edition of FCN, with contributions from most of the ‘Frenchay Members’ on Winterbourne Parish Council (WPC) is worth noting. So, I would like to start by recording our thanks to Charlie Watkins who has already written rather more than his 1,000 words by holding the various authorities to account on such issues as outstanding land registrations on the voluntary village green, querying various apparent short-falls of legally identified expenditure from S106 monies in Frenchay and doing valuable research on alleged breaches of planning conditions.

As you may know, Charlie is also involved with the village hall and has successfully made the case to WPC for some overdue maintenance and repairs to walls and landscapes in that neck of the woods. We also have a regular monthly report from our South Glos colleagues, Ben Burton and James Griffith, who are ex-officio members of FPS committee. Recent editions of FCN have reported that Jon Hunt, our third Councillor, has had to stand down but this is my first opportunity to add thanks and best wishes from FPS.

FPS – Nov’19 AGM: The minutes were drafted soon after and noted by your committee at its February meeting. Apologies for the delay in getting a copy onto the website due to the Covid-19 lockdown, which also caused the cancellation of our June half-year public meeting.

Final legal transfer of the Voluntary Village Green: Unfortunately, the “law’s delay’s” – in the shape of a ‘Certificate A’ (which can only be issued by South Glos Council when all works have been completed by the current landowner / developer) have once again caused a postponement of this long awaited event. When it does eventually happen, it will be a significant opportunity to start a long-term plan of works for ‘Frenchay Parklands’ in conjunction with Winterbourne Parish Council and hopefully with the support of a ‘Friends Group’ which received unanimous approval at last year’s AGM. Meanwhile, as reported elsewhere, all the green spaces in Frenchay have been very well used and appreciated this year, despite or perhaps because of, the Covid pandemic restrictions and the need to ‘stay local’. Unfortunately, apart from the initial advice from Page Park, I have not been able to make as much progress with the planning and preparation for a Friends Group in Frenchay as I would have hoped. Jon Hunt offered to introduce me to the Friends Group at King George V Field but Covid intervened. I look forward to the time when we can hold a public display and consultation in Frenchay to confirm the long term interest.

Planning matters: The WPC planning committee has continued to meet every fortnight on ‘zoom’ and the applications have covered Tree-Works, house extensions and redevelopment of individual plots. Two of the more notable applications have been Malmains Field and the first phase of Land East of Harry Stoke / south of the railway line. (Yes, this is also part of ‘Frenchay’ for planning purposes!) An on-line seminar on ‘planning enforcement’ organised by South Glos was very well received by Councillors and extremely helpful for identifying and reporting potential breaches for further investigation! Some niggles remain to be clarified on the redevelopment of the former hospital site and Redrow’s final phases.

Old school building: Following a lot of uncertainty this time last year, there is now an extensive update in the current FRA report by Adrian Collins. I have been representing FPS on a small working group.

Western end of Lime Tree Avenue: Adrian has mentioned the much-improved general vistas and I have been keeping a watching brief on detailed proposals for the new road access to ‘highway standards’ from the mini-roundabout, proposed future uses for the car park by the Museum and, indeed, a second planning application for a proposed extension to the Museum.

I have also taken the lead in reminding South Glos Council (SGC) of the need for public toilets near the new play area and tennis courts. Unfortunately, despite the obvious public health risks associated with a well-used children’s play area, there is no allocated funding for public toilets. Many local residents have asked me how / why this was overlooked at the original planning stage, bearing mind that the cricket pitch has also been reinstated. So, we will keep pressing SGC for suitable funds to be identified – possibly from a ‘sports budget’… In my opinion, a public toilet is now a matter of some urgency!

FPS finances: These are relatively modest but remain in credit. Expenditure on room bookings has been minimal due to Covid-19 and Carol Thorne, our Treasurer reports a bank balance of c. £750 at the time of writing, which includes the annual grant from WPC. Donations are always welcome – and we are still looking for someone to take over the Treasurer’s role from Carol, as mentioned at last year’s AGM. Please make contact if you are interested.

Other matters; such as traffic, speeding and litter are covered elsewhere in FCN, so I will avoid repetition.

Frenchay Community News Update: recent AGMs of FPS have included a report from Kate Davison, Chair of FCN, and this year I have received the following note from her:

“First, huge thanks to all those who have contributed to the work of FCN this year. It really is a Community endeavour, made possible by those who contribute articles, the tremendous work of Edna Cause as Editor, and all those who make sure distribution runs smoothly – to nearly 1400 homes this month, not to mention those who work with our advertisers to ensure that we remain financially viable, and also to Redrow who currently sponsor us.

“Alongside FCN we have the Frenchay Community Website, ably set up and looked after by Katherine Kinlocke, though she would now like to step down once we find a suitable successor.

“Incredibly, we only stopped production for two months when Coronavirus hit. In these last few months it has been more important than ever that we all work together and communicate our news as clearly and widely as possible.”

Finally, may I add my good wishes for staying safe & well in these strange and difficult times. A daily walk, run or cycle around Frenchay, with some late-autumn colours can be very healthy and enjoyable!

Hugh Whatley (Chair, FPS)