This application contains a large number of details changes to the Lowfield plans. Some were submitted as long ago as August but have not been subject to local consultation. Many are minor in nature or will have little impact on the existing local community. Some are more far reaching including a proposal to remove the existing perimeter metal railings and replace with a wooden boarded fence.. Leaving aside the additional costs involved in such a proposal, the railings are valued by some neighbouring house owners as they offer good security. They also allow wild animals such as hedgehogs to move freely around the neighbourhood. We think that individual neighbours should have been consulted on these changes.
Extensive conservation work is taking place on the Bachelor Hill amenity area this week.
Wild flowers were planted on the area a few years ago.
An section of Bachelor Hill is now managed as a wildflower grassland. The Council leaves it through the growing season to flower and set seed.
Cutting and removing the arisings takes place in late summer/autumn to maintain low nutrients (which promotes species diversity).
The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) were there today cutting and are returning tomorrow to remove the arisings.
We’ve suggested that bark or wood chippings be put down at the Askham Lane entrance to the area to ensure that access is possible in wet weather. The weeds and grass also need to be strimmed from the gate.
The similar path at the Tennent Road entrance (see below) seems to be working well.
Bark path needed at Askham Lane entrance to Bachelor Hill
Residents had petitioned the Council to secure the rear entrance snickets which serve their properties. The request followed years of problems with anti-social behaviour in the area (although the report from officials claimed that there had been no recent reports to the police). The snickets are not short cuts and can only, legitimately, be used to gain access to adjacent properties. Requests for prompt action were rejected this week, although the site will join the list, with dozens of other locations where action may be taken at a later date.
Each centre will receive a grant of £4000 a year. Although an improvement on what was on offer from the last Council (zero!) it will not be enough to allow the centres to re-employ a part time caretaker. In turn, this means that opening hours will continue to be dependent on the availability of volunteers. The Council have, however, identified a specific fund which will be used to keep the buildings in good structural condition (although, as they own the buildings, they pretty much had to do that anyway).
There are growing concerns that the Council is being unrealistic in expecting volunteers to take on an increasing burden in maintaining local community facilities. Sadly so far the Council have chosen not to consult residents on the options that they are considering. Sources within the Council suggest that it plans to reduce still further the standard of maintenance of public open spaces and that it is expecting local people to fill the gap. We doubt that will happen particularly at a time when the Council continues to waste money on “free” newspapers, “free” bus travel for under 18’s etc while continuing to rack up the amount that it borrows (and hence the interest charges that it must pay each month).
Cornlands Road park
The Council has agreed to close off one of the entrances to the Cornlands Road park. However the area remains insecure and needs further investment if it is to become a well used community asset.
The decline in the appearance of Bachelor Hill which started in 2012 seems to have accelerated recently.
3 years ago the Council promised a new abundance of wild grasses and flowers when they began transporting material from a development site in Poppleton.
Detritus pilled up at Tennent Road entrance
For a while a local friends of Bachelor Hill group struggled to keep the area tidy, but now it is strewn with litter and cans.
The access gates at both the Tennent Road and Askham Lane entrances are broken and obstructed by vegetation.
Bottles cans and litter blight what was to have been a nature conservation area
Footpaths and access steps have been eroded.
In 2013 the Council said that wildflowers would start to germinate that spring. They promised to maintain the area and would continue to cut most of the grass.
In winter a pond usually develops on part of the site.
Askham Lane entrance gate broken
We don’t think that the Councils policy of benign neglect is working. There are still security issues on parts of the boundary which need to be addressed while the wildflower meadow is a bit of a let down.