HPFA Re-affirmation of Position Statement First Issued November 2014.
It is ten months since HPFA released the carefully considered position statement about our commitment to protect our valuable village asset from the ambitions of developers. Yet those developers, OCC and Manor School all seem to be in total denial about about playing fields land not being sacrificed to expand the Manor School.
At our committee meeting on 8th September 2015 we decided unanimously that the statement issued in November 2014 (see below) remains our position and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future unless anyone can give a substantial reason why it might be in conflict with the aims of our organisation as defined in the deeds of the land and incorporated into our rules and constitution.
Furthermore there is already an option to provide for education needs in Hanborough. Corpus Christi College have outline planning permission for their Church Road site and they offered 1.8 hectares to OCC for recreation or a possible new school. Manor School site is 0.9 hectares and would fetch about two million pounds if sold for housing. Using the new site would avoid the needless cost of destruction and reconstruction of existing, viable and valuable facilities. There is no evidence that OCC has explored this option. - September 2015
Disclaimer: The committee of HPFA expresses no direct view on housing development in Hanborough. Its sole concern is fulfilling the objectives defined in the organisation's constitution.
There are currently two planning applications for considerable extra housing in Hanborough. Much of the debate around these matters concerns sustainability and provision of infrastructure. One proposal is to use some of the playing fields to facilitate expansion of the neighbouring primary school. Only Savills who represent Corpus Christi College have formally approached HPFA about this matter.
HPFA has already commented on the planning application for the Church Road site but since then statements made by others indicate that there is still much misunderstanding of the situation. Therefore HPFA decided to issue a paper about its position which represents the unanimous and strongly held views of its trustees.
HPFA and its Trust Premises
HPFA control the local playing fields and village hall which are valuable community assets performing important roles in making Hanborough a vibrant parish. Title to this land is held by Hanborough Parish Council (HPC) who hold it in trust for the parish but under the terms of the conveyance HPC cannot manage the land, cannot derive an income from it and cannot sell it. HPFA has the duty to manage the land and derive an income to maintain and develop it for the purposes stated in the conveyance. HPFA cannot sell the land but if it is no longer viable to manage it for the defined purposes then HPFA can propose the land be sold, subject to approval by a meeting of residents of the parish and then only if the Charity Commission approve.
The land in question is that between the Manor School and the HPFA car park. Of this the grass area is managed by HPFA but the other areas at that level, although HPFA land, are managed by HPC as public amenities. Note: the land at lower level forming the skate park and BMX trail are not part of HPFA land.
Current land use
There are many uses for this land, some of which are not immediately obvious.
Mini football has been run in this area for some years on a Saturday morning as a mixed sport for young children.
Tractor shed and store. This building's main use was originally to house the tractor and gang mower and other outdoor equipment but over the years it has also become a store for heavy items that cannot be housed in the pavilion and it has recycling and waste bins for the areas that HPC manage.
The grass area is the most popular part of the playing fields for casual play from kick-about football using the “goal” painted on the tractor shed to just “hanging out”.
Through the year there are a number of major events with big attendance and this grass area being next to the regular car park is ideal as an overflow car park. These events provide good income for local organisations and charities as well as for HPFA
Funfair. Hatwells Funfair are a good booking for us although they could not come this year because their date clashed with construction of the new footpath. They can drive their huge heavy vehicles onto the grass and totally avoid the sport pitches. Also they can connect their caravans to our external water and power points outside the pavilion.
The adventure play ground is hugely popular and very well managed.
The tennis court/ multi-sport area is currently undergoing a major refurbishment.
With the extra housing being developed by Reily Close HPFA was asked to help ease traffic problems there. Working with HPC and Cottsway Housing Association we designed a footpath system so that pedestrians can walk safely on proper footpaths between a number of points. Previously they walked across the grass which was muddy in wet weather and could be hazardous after heavy usage like the funfair.
Access to school and playgroup from HPFA car park
Access from the village to the playing playing fields via Reily Close
Access to shops, post office, dentist recycling bins etc for residents of Roosevelt Road and Pinsley Road.
Access to Preschool for parents who also have children at Manor School
Connectivity and separation
Manor School, playgroup, preschool, adventure playground, tennis court/ multi-sport area, skate park, BMX trail, mini football and the casual play area are conveniently grouped together which parents favour for child safety. Also they are all near our car park and main entrance which makes them easily accessible.
The overflow car park is near the entrance and away from the event areas. With major events that use both the buildings and the fields the access and parking do not interfere with the running of events and all the pedestrian access routes and the social amenity areas are free of interference from any event. Even when the funfair visits it has no impact on playing cricket nor pedestrian access.
It is worth briefly describing the main sport pitches in front of the pavilion so that anyone considering changes to the layout of the playing fields better understands the main functions. Basically there are two football pitches with the cricket square between them and the larger pitch hosts most matches whilst the smaller pitch hosts the veterans and junior matches plus training. Obviously, in the cricket season both football pitches become the outfield of the cricket pitch which means parts cannot be relocated piecemeal. This has been the arrangement since the beginning over sixty years ago and is very unlikely ever to change. Major events take place in this area too and rely on being adjacent to the pavilion. Its veranda also acts as an outdoor stage.
Impact of losing land and its possible replacement
Although no firm proposal has been made to HPFA there seems to be a feeling in certain third parties that land can be exchanged. However, the replacement land apparently would be part of the field owned by Corpus Christi College. But put simply, this is in the wrong place and combined with losing the land next to the school this breaks all the connectivity and separation described above.
Replacement children's playground would be a long way from the car park. Replacing it would cost a six figure sum.
Replacement tennis court / multi sport area would be a long way from the car park. Replacing it would cost a six figure sum.
Areas currently used by children would become separated
Some children's areas would be a relatively secluded place and less safe.
Using this land for the school would block public access between the playing fields plus its environs and parts of the village.
It would remove our overflow car park making major events untenable.
Any possible replacement overflow car park in the field owned by Corpus Christi College would require access over the sport pitches/ event area. This would cause disruption to events and damage to the pitches.
Events like the funfair would become totally impossible.
Hanborough did not create this situation. But through more than sixty years our community has created a wonderful asset that continues to adapt and flourish where others fail. Many organisations base themselves at the playing fields and each year brings new achievements. Hanborough Fireworks just ran their largest event ever because other areas can no longer do it. Last year there was an initiative to start a football league for the over-50s. It went so well that the FA marked the end of the season by bringing an “England” team of veterans for a special match. The parish council just secured funding for a major improvement to the tennis court/ multi-sport area.
Our function is to protect this asset for future generations. It is not a collection of individual assets that exist in isolation but an organic body of parts that both function together and separately. Losing the area next to the school would be like an amputation. Its replacement elsewhere is like cutting off an arm and re-attaching it to the foot!
Therefore at our committee meeting on Monday 10th November 2014 our unanimous decision was that we retain the land as it is and continue with the plans we have.
HPFA Trustee Management Committee November 11th 2014
ADDENDUM November 24th 2014
We have since had chance to learn more about the parish council's position. There are two planning applications and the parish council made extensive comments on both covering all the community's concerns.
Essentially, they oppose the scale of proposed developments and argue (amongst other things) for no more than can be accommodated by an increase of the Manor School's capacity on its present site. There is no need for HPFA to concern itself with how this is done. Suffice it to say that the parish council's approach would mean no need for expansion of the school land and hence would not effect the playing fields.
Therefore HPFA has no part in any further discussions about housing development.
Any questions to us about housing development will be re-directed to the parish council. Obviously, if there is to be new housing we will have to consider how our facilities service an increase in residents but unless such plans become reality there is nothing to consider.