Minutes of a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 using the Zoom platform.
PRESENT Cllr A Barnes (Chairman), Cllrs D Brett, M Caton, J Harding, J Hudson, J Kavanagh, F Richards, Cllr D Wallace-Jarvis and T van de Bilt
Mrs R Clifford – Clerk to the Council
Mrs E Philbrick – Admin Assistant
Mrs L Azure-Marxen – Committee & Project Support Assistant
2 members of the public
1 member of the press
508 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – None
509 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – None
510 TO RECEIVE THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 20th January 2021
RESOLVED to accept the minutes of the meeting held on 20th January 2021 as a true and accurate account.
511 MATTERS ARISING AND ACTION POINTS FROM PREVIOUS MEETING
No matters arising.
Action Points not yet completed:
472 – Noticeboards are still to be ordered. The Clerk has sought advice on whether the boards should be wall or post mounted.
Post meeting note: It has been advised that a free-standing board is suitable for the Croasdaile Road location.
472 – Cllr Brett has identified certain trees on Pennington Lane which he considered suitable for TPOs. Ben Smeeden from UDC was approached but advised that although these trees were potential candidates they were not under immediate threat and, consequently, a TPO could not be ordered. Cllr Brett argued that unwanted new developments are a consistent threat and that TPOs could be used defensively. However, and, apparently, UDC cannot order a TPO before there is an application for felling. Any applications and decisions on felling will be published on the Forestry Commission’s website and UDC will be notified. Ben Smeeden has passed on the Council’s concerns to the Forestry Office, and he will notify SMPC if any felling licence is applied for.
472 – The repairs of the Skatepark cannot be done yet.
477b – Emma Barry has returned from a period of extended leave and direct communication has been established.
479a – Dan Schlanker is putting everything he can on Social Media. The PC have a new Facebook profile, so please join, like and share what you can.
479b – Dog & litter bins still to be ordered.
512 CHAIRMAN’S REPORT – See attached.
The Clerk reported that there has been some general talk concerning patches of litter seen around the village, however, she has not received any specific detail about where and how much. The Clerk asks for council members to email her directly if they have further details about this matter. Tin- Tin Azure-Marxen from Stansted in Bloom has reported finding building debris during the planting work at the High Lane junction.
If there are any volunteers from within the committee or anywhere else who want to help digging or tidying up the area, please contact Cllr Barnes, Trevor Lloyd or Tin-Tin Azure-Marxen.
Cllr Kavanagh reported fly tipping outside Pino’s by the Train Station. The Clerk will report this to Uttlesford.
a INTERMENTS: None
b EXTENSION UPDATE
Laila gave an update on the extension project – see report attached.
The Clerk asked the committee to delegate authority to her, working in conjunction with Laila and Cllr Barnes, for the choosing of the consultant firm for undertaking the first stage of the project. It is important to get an initial evaluation of the feasibility of this project started as soon as possible since the development process could be lengthy and possibly more expensive than expected. There might be a need for a revision of the budget following any decision by the Environment Agency. The results of the tier 1 study will be reported back to the committee and a decision will be needed to proceed from there. The resolution was agreed unanimously.
RESOLVED to delegate authority to officers to choose a consultant company.
a NEWMAN’S PLANTATION UPDATE
Now that the phase 1 and 2 work had been completed, planning for the replanting and ongoing maintenance of Newman’s plantation is required. Cllr Brett has suggested several native species for planting and advised that the tree canopy should be lowered so not to cause problem for the nearby houses. The Essex Forest Initiative needs an answer on species type and numbers by this summer to provide trees for planting in Autumn 2021. The Clerk asked about maintenance of the trees and Cllr Brett explained that certain species are quite tough, but there probably will be a need for the young trees to be kept hydrated over the Summer. He suggested that the residents could get involved and adopt trees to care for.
b POTENTIAL GREEN CORRIDORS
Cllr Wallace-Jarvis is overseeing this project. Green Corridors will be a part of the upcoming Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) and are designed to link managed and unmanaged areas of planting both within and outside of the village to improve biodiversity and facilitate the movement of insects and animals. They should also be visually attractive. Cllr Brett suggested Cllr Wallace-Jarvis to consult Jono Forgham for which species to include to encourage biodiversity. Cllr Barnes suggested that there could also be potential in looking to linking the green corridors with bee corridors. Cllrs Wallace-Jarvis, O’Brien and Brett were asked to reduce their draft list of potential land or reforestation for consideration at the next committee meeting.
a ELMS FARM
Cllr Barnes reported that the Elms Farm Allotments is a well-run site and a huge success with this being mainly due to Trevor Lloyd’s initial work and the enthusiasm from the plot holders. Emma will send out a newsletter reminding the plot holders of the Covid-19 rules in place and re-emphasizing the change in rules the Council introduced at the end of last year.
IT issues mean that group emails to plot holders cannot be sent out at present, hopefully, this will be sorted out in the coming week. Cllr Barnes will carry out an inspection of the Elms Farm allotment in the next few weeks.
b WALPOLE MEADOWS
Cllr Barnes reports that hedging is now in place and the borders have been mulched. The condition of the paths accessing the allotments is unsatisfactory because of continued flooding and remedial work by the developers is necessary. This observation has been sent to UDC. For action The Clerk is pressing Emma Barry for a meeting to sort out the issues and get a timeframe for the handover.
517 PLAY EQUIPMENT
a REEVE ROAD UPDATE
Laila gave an update on Reeve Road – See attachment.
Cllr Harding has met up with Chris Mortimer to discuss the reinstalment of the play equipment. They also discussed putting in a small trampoline instead of the larger play items and quotes are being sourced. Laila will be chasing up additional haulage companies quotes for the transportation of the equipment. Chris Mortimer has offered to store the play equipment free of charge before installation and he will also assess the condition of the equipment and take on any repairs needed.
b & c MOUNTFITCHET GREEN & FORESTHALL PARK
Cllr Harding and Cllr van de Bilt have both looked for quotes on new equipment for the play areas. Cllr van de Bilt is considering a trampoline or zip wire for Mountfitchet Green. Cllr Harding has been in contact with several suppliers for new play equipment for Foresthall Park and has discussed the options for Wilken’s Crescent with Chris Mortimer. Laila has been chasing up Ben Brown from UDC regarding permission to install equipment on Mountfitchet Green. Mr. Brown still needs to get a final approval from his colleagues responsible for this, but he expects there will be no issues if the SMPC take on the responsibility of ownership, maintenance and insurance. When Cllrs Harding and van de Bilt have decided on the most suitable play equipment for the sites, and have quotes, it will come back to this committee for approval. When the type of equipment has been decided on Laila will endeavour to apply for additional grant funding.
Cllr Kavanagh reported that many residents seemingly go to the new Manuden playground and it was noted to investigate what this playground offers.
The Skatepark is doing well, and the Police are happy with the operation of the facility.
There are some small cracks in the skateparks concrete which will need to be filled. Seann Thompson is aware of this and will assist our handyman in making repairs when time is right. There is a lot of litter between the park and the railway line, and the Clerk will speak to Uttlesford about this matter.
a PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY
Path 11, running from Bentfield Road along the back of Cannon’s Mead and Blythwood Gardens has been cleared. The work was probably done by Uttlesford and wood chippings have been laid on the path, making walking easier. Path 19, from High Lane to Gall End is unsafe when wet and Cllr Hudson suggest putting on wood chippings. The landowner needs to be notified. Path 11, as it comes out to the farmer’s field: The man living at the end has complained about flooding. The Clerk is aware of this and has advised him to notify the
landowner, Uttlesford and Environment Agency. Cllr Wallace-Jarvis explained that Essex is responsible for the paths and they will chase up the landowner.
b PERMISSIVE PATHS & INFORMATION BOARDS
Cllr Wallace-Jarvis is still working on the map showing PRoW and permissive paths around the village. Various amendments need to be made to the current map as Essex has renumbered some of the paths and omitted a key bridleway. The plan is for the map to be put on notice boards placed at significant locations. The cost estimate is approx. £1,000 for two boards and this can hopefully be covered by external funding.
c MAINTENANCE AND EQUIPMENT
Cllr Brett will send to the Clerk the model of the path emergency maintenance equipment he requires, and Emma will source it. Cllr. Brett expressed concerns over storing the equipment at his home, and the Clerk suggested that it could be kept either in the Council’s store or on his own premises so he can access it when he needs it for maintenance work. If the latter, Cllr Brett could sign a “keepers” document.
519 STANSTED IN BLOOM / ANGLIA IN BLOOM
Trevor Lloyd gave an update on the progress of the SiB group. The High Lane project to repair the Knight sign and provide new planting at the north entry point to the village, is well underway. Liz Lake Associates has finished the first planting phase although they struggled because of the builder’s debris left in the soil. This contamination could, potentially, be a problem for establishment of the plants. Trevor Lloyd gave thanks to the councillors who gave donations towards the restoration of the Knight sign. Cllr Barnes asked about the condition of the Knight sign at Blythwood and Trevor reported that it will be inspected but it is most likely not in need of any repairs just yet.
Anglia in Bloom (AiB) will be virtual event this year. SiB has is considering around 10 possible venues/sites to enter with entry requirement being a combination of photos and text. At the upcoming SiB meeting Julia Smith from AiB will be briefing the group further. The Stansted In Bloom competition will go ahead as last year. The judging will be in July and the group is trying to stimulate interest.
There was a general discussion on improving the South part of the village and SiB is talking to District Councillors about funding concerning what could be provided on Church Road. Cllr Caton expressed a wish to see a Knight sign at the South entrance by Bury Lodge Lane. Trevor said he will put it on the agenda for the next SiB meeting.
520 MATTERS TO BE RAISED FOR THE NEXT AGENDA
If there are any matters wished to be included in the next meeting on the 23rd of April please let the Clerk or Cllr Barnes know no later than one week before.
Other matters not on the agenda:
Cllr Barnes gave an update on the new planting strategy: The Blythwood flower bed will be replanted over the season. Currently there are 1,000 tulip bulbs in there and these will flower until May. Then the gardening contractors, GWB Horticulture, will transfer the bulbs to somewhere in Foresthall Park. GWB’s plan is to bulk up the Blythwood bed with perennials – low shrubs and lavender – and intersperse with colourful annuals. These will disappear in the Autumn and be replaced by winter plants and bulbs. The new bed design will provide more welcoming, visual impact when entering Stansted and improve the look of the area. This planting strategy will most likely be applied in the rest of the village.
Meeting closed at 8:59 pm
513 Volunteers are required for digging duties. Contact Cllr. Barnes
514b Choosing a consultant firm to do the first stages of the cemetery extension project.
515a Essex Forest Initiative needs a list of species and numbers for planting.
515b Cllrs Wallace-Jarvis, Brett and O’Brien to mark out potential green corridors.
Cllr Wallace-Jarvis to consult Jono on biodiversity planting for green corridors.
Cllrs Wallace-Jarvis, Brett and O’Brien to reduce the list of potential land for reforestation for the next neighbourhood plan meeting.
517a Laila to find additional quotes from haulage companies.
517b&c Cllrs Harding and van de Bilt to come up with suggestions on play equipment suitable for the sites, together with a cost estimate.
518b Clerk to get cost estimate on notice boards for footpath map.
518c Cllr Brett to send Clerk model of maintenance equipment so they can order.
Chair Report: Alan Barnes
I have a few points to report on that are not covered in the agenda.
- As announced by Maureen at Full Council, Jonathan Harding will be leaving the council this month as he is moving outside of the village. Jonathan has been a member of O/S since his election to SMPC and I would like to thank him for his work within this group. I am happy to tell you that Jonathan has agree to continue with his responsibility for expanding the available play equipment on FHP. The identification of equipment and sites as well as its costings is a key part of getting this initiative of the ground and I would like to thank Jonathan for his continued involvement.
- As an extension to the rabbit proofing project carried out at St Mary’s, SMPC are part funding the purchase and re-fitting of the five bar gate at the entrance to the cemetery that is used by out contractors to access the cemetery area for preparing burial sites.
- Ruth, Laila and I had a Zoom meeting with Gareth Broard of GWB to review our current maintenance and cultivating contracts. Amongst other items we discussed were new planting and landscaping on FHP, the Memorial Gardens and the planting of troughs and baskets around the village. We also discussed the planter at Blythwood Gardens and a possible new planter for the area opposite the Dog & Duck.
- I attended a meeting of SIB where we agreed a planting and repair program for the Knight sign at the top of High Lane. Funding has been provided by SM district Councillors, Sworders, lottery grants and SMPC as well as Liz Lake Associates who provide expertise and labour.
- We have had communications from Emma Barry and Ben Smeeden on S106 maters for FHP and WM and on our idea of getting TPOs placed on key trees within Stansted and in particular, Pennington lane. Both communications were less than positive.
- I would like to thank our District Councillors for their decision to donate some of their ward and other monies for the betterment of the village, specifically, the Knight sign maintenance project, maintenance of the finger post and metal direction signs and for a possible contribution to the purchase of notice boards for the PRoW and permissive parth network.
And finally, I would like to remind councillors and others that Laila is our Project Support person at SMPC and is available to undertake project based activities for O/S committee members. If you have a requirement for organisational and practical support with your projects please contact Ruth for advice. Report Ends.
Project Report: Laila Azure-Marxen
1. Cemetery Extension
We are still in the early stages of research. I have been in contact with various sources regarding the planning process, costs and timescale: Consultancies/developers, the Environment Agency, other Councils, private cemeteries and funeral home for advice on the planning process and design.
1.1. Risk assessment
Firstly, we need a ground water Risk Assessment from the Environment Agency. This is critical as we need an approval of the site for cemetery development. In best case scenario we only need a Tier 1 assessment (desk top study), which takes approx. 3 months including liaising with the EA. If Tier 1 proves to be insufficient, the Tier 2 study will be 2-3 months in best case scenario. This might include digging boreholes and sample testing and could end up being long-term monitoring of the soil, up to 6-12 months. The approximated cost for the assessments: Tier 1 £1650-2800, Tier 2 £4200-4700, with additional consulting fees for liaising with the EA.
I have received quotes on the Risk Assessments from consultant companies, some of which specialise in cemetery development from start to finish. These are potential consultants for other stages of the project, where we don’t have the knowledge or resources.
Any transfer of land is on hold until the EA approves the land for development. The Gemmill’s have been approached about additional land for development. The budget for the assessments and preliminary studies would remain the same when doubling the size of land, so acquiring additional land would be more cost effective and would provide burial space for Stansted long term.
We have been in contact with the Friends of St. Mary’s and the PCC regarding extra use of the road by the Church. The Council has offered the PCC a contribution to any future road repairs needed, as there will be additional use of the road when construction starts.
1.4. Public consultation
I have drafted a public consultation, where we seek the local opinion on what to include in the design of the cemetery. This would highlight if there is a need for specific religious interments, green burials, etc. The consultation will be put in The Link, on social media and the website with a link to an online survey, but will be on hold until we get an approval from EA.
The cemetery development will be costly and time consuming. It will probably take at least a year from the initial assessments and studies to end of construction. The cost could be more than £50.000 in worst case scenario, especially if there is need for long term soil monitoring, archaeological studies, etc.
I will be looking into potential funding schemes, but I haven’t yet come across any fitting for a cemetery development. We could look into business sponsorship and/or crowd funding.
2. New Play Equipment
2.1. Mountfitchet Green
Tom is still in the process of deciding on the type of equipment that he will recommend to go in. A zip line has been considered. Tom has met with Chris Mortimer, who specialises in playground design and installation, and discussed the possibilities of the site.
The Council needs permission to put up any new play equipment on the Green, as it is owned by Uttlesford. Ben Brown from UDC is looking into this.
2.2. Reeve Road
Cllr Jonathan Harding will be overseeing this project as well as the other play areas in Foresthall Park being considered for updating.
We are looking into moving the old equipment from South Sussex to the Stansted area. I have received one quote so far from a transport company, still waiting for a few more.
Chris Mortimer has kindly offered to store the equipment (free of charge) and make any repairs needed. Chris will be reinstalling the equipment on Reeve Road and will be quoting on this later. Jonathan will be discussing the layout/design of the play areas with Chris.
The excess Reeve Road equipment, too tall for this location, will be installed elsewhere in Foresthall Park. To be decided.
I have drafted a letter for the residents, informing them about the re-instalment. This will be handed out to the households when we have a more specific schedule for the re-instalment.
2.3. Foresthall Park
The FHP play areas considered for updating: Walson Way, Wilkins Crescent.
There is no decision yet on new equipment for these areas. Jonathan has been liaising with several play equipment suppliers but is still waiting on quotes.
Chris Mortimer has offered to source quotes from his play equipment suppliers when Jonathan and Tom have decided on the new play equipment for Foresthall Park and Mountfitchet Green. Report Ends.
SUMMONS You are summoned to attend a meeting of the OPEN SPACES COMMITTEE to be held on Wednesday 3rd March 2021 at 7.30pm using the Zoom platform.
1 To receive apologies for absence
2 To receive declarations of interest
3 To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 20th January 2021
4 Matters arising and action points from the previous meeting
5 Chairman’s Report
7 Cemetery a) Interments and memorials b) Extension update
8 Trees a) Newman’s Plantation update b) Potential Green Corridors
9 Allotments a) Elms Farm b) Walpole Meadows
10 Play Equipment
a) Reeve Road update
b) Mountfitchet Green
c) Foresthall Park
a) Public Rights of Way
b) Permissive Paths and noticeboards
c) Maintenance and Equipment
12 Stansted In Bloom/Anglia In Bloom – To receive an update
13 Matters to be raised for the next agenda
25th February 2020 – Ruth Clifford, Clerk to the Council