Welcome to the Rudloe and environs website.
Here you will find news, articles and photos of an area that straddles the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire.
Contributions in the form of articles or photos are welcome. Even those with completely contrary views to mine!
Thanks to the website builder 1&1 and Rob Brown for the original idea.
Rudloescene now, in January 2014, has a sister, academic rather than anarchic, website about Box history here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/
It contains thoroughly professional, well-researched articles about Box and its people.
Contact rudloescene through the 'Contact' page.
Tree Preservation Order for woodland and other trees in Leafy Lane Playing Fields (see February 2015 article)
4th June 2021 - the new owner of Leafy Lane Wood met up with representatives of the Cotswold Wardens (regional tree and flower experts and a local trailblazer) to discuss the establishment of a native hedge along the line of the new fence that separates the 'woodland' from the playing fields. Another significant subject was the formation of a wildflower meadow in the existing meadow commonly, but incorrectly, known as 'the glade'. This area will become the burial site. A track has been cut along the length of the meadow with a spur into the woodland (see photos in the gallery below) at a halfway point - this constitutes an initial framework for visitors to appreciate the environment.
Aaron's (the new owner, in shorts in the photo) heart certainly seems to be in the right place and he appears to be another man happy in his realm (ref 'another', see the final photo here final photo of Bodge City article). A concern (for me) and others (Emma Fisher, a Wiltshire County ecologist) is the possible 'sanitisation' (my words) or 'urbanisation' (Emma's words) of the woodland. Today's visitors expressed delight and wonderment at the nature of the wood as it is.
Certainly, work needs to be done; for example many larches are leaning, supported only by their neighbours. But Emma (and yours truly) is concerned at the proposed "overmanagement" of the woodland when she says "the principal driver for the tree works is likely one of insurance/liability matters rather than woodland management"*. For me, this is typified by the proposals by the environmental consultants (Johns Associates, whose reports**, by the way, leave much to be desired) who propose removal of ivy to enable (worthless) tree inspections. It might be worth stating here that Oliver Rackham, the doyen of British trees and woodland, said in his book Trees & Woodland in the British Landscape "Many a tree that would have been pronounced 'dangerous', through having been 'weakened' by decay, withstood the great storm of October 1987 while its young, sound neighbours collapsed all around" (p 12). A good example of this may be seen in the wood, when two apparently healthy beeches fell within weeks of each other - see the 8th December 2017, 4th January 2018 and 20th May 2019 articles below.
* Wiltshire County ecologist's report (December 2020 - this was the 'final word' on the ecological impact of planning application 19/05832/FUL from Wiltshire Council with specific reference to bats). A statement of significance in this document is: "Although it may be the case that some management of the woodland would be of ecological benefit, it is evident that the tree works have not been proposed solely for the benefit of the woodland and biodiversity because there are numerous references throughout the reporting to health and safety and making the site safe for the proposed use."
** see my initial representation on the application as a whole here: P Turner's representation on 19/05832/FUL and the specific representation on the ecological management plan here:PT's representation on the ecological management plan. Alternatively, these documents may be viewed via the .pdf files to be found in the 22nd July 2019 (with later updates) article below.
The 'delight' and 'wonderment' of the woodland may be seen through the gallery below.
14th May 2021 - surreptitious goings-on in Leafy Lane Wood with tree work being undertaken during the nesting season. But not only that, natural pathways through the wood have been blocked by branches from the 'pruned' trees and a significant amount of material has been tossed onto the woodland floor on top of wild plants.
The photo at left shows one of the blocked pathways, further photos may be seen in the gallery below.
I had expected better from the new owners of the woodland.
12th March 2021 - the Woodland Telegraph reveals that the seal has finally been put on the transfer of ownership of Leafy Lane Wood and associated meadow from the LLPF organisation to Aaron & Johnathan Bewley.
Still concerning that the last ecology report continues to 'obsess' over risk to the public (from those damned, threatening trees). As indicated in previous articles, the risk in driving to and from the woodland is, by orders of magnitude, greater.
The arboricultural report recommends the removal of non-native trees/saplings (including the felling of at least 13 trees) but Oliver Rackham states that there are subtle reasons why conservationists should be cautious about planting native trees, as much of the value of wild trees depends on their variation (Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape, p204). And having just read Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake, it seems that the mycorrhizal network (the support network between fungi and plants, including trees) is far more important that we ever imagined (see the 20th May 2019 article below regarding the two lost beeches).
Rackham's book states that a management plan for a wood should not be a bald list of biological features and prescriptions but should set out all that is now valued especially what is rare and wonderful and has meaning. I'm troubled that the stuff that has meaning is the stuff that is overlooked in a modern management plan. For example, the fallen deciduous branches in the photograph (taken on Christmas Day 2020) with the fungus Peniophora quercina (probably) - would they be cleared along with the ecologically valuable tree ivy (this proposal simply to enable rather worthless tree inspections)?
The final sentence in Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape is "Conservation is all about letting trees be trees not gateposts with leaves".
1st February 2020 - inconsiderate (to say the least) parking in Leafy Lane by parents of youngsters taking part in a busy Saturday AFC Corsham fixture list (seven matches apparently) brought about some traffic chaos. In my case, I was exiting Springfield Close with someone in front of me, who did not make a move into Leafy Lane when the opportunity arose, put on his hazard warning lights and just stopped there at the junction forcing me to exit on the wrong side. Let's use a bit of a football analogy - what did these people think they were playing at?
Northbound vehicles were forced onto the wrong side right up to the bend adjacent to Rudloe House when southbound vehicles, rounding the bend, could have found (and did find) someone directly in front of them. But not only that, local residents have planted many daffodils and crocuses in this verge, plants which have now been crushed just before they were due to come into flower. Quite often in these pages, the phrase 'Forgive them Lord ... ' is used and I guess it is appropriate here once more ... people not knowing, or caring, about the consequences of their actions.
22nd July 2019 - a representation on planning application 19/05832/FUL (natural burial site in the small meadow adjacent to Leafy Lane Wood) has been made by yours truly and may be found in the .pdf file below (below the photograph). It will also be able to be found, in due course, on the Wiltshire Council planning pages. 9th August 2019 update - note that, for reasons unexplained (I have asked), on Wiltshire Council's planning pages the 'Consultation expiry' on this planning application has been extended to Wednesday 14th August 2019 while the 'Target date for decision' remains at Friday 9th August 2019 - clearly illogical so the target date will, presumably, be updated shortly. So you (yes you, the one rudloescene reader) still have the opportunity to comment on this application. 21st December 2019 update - a long-awaited Wiltshire Council ecology report was produced on 11th October 2019 - the report goes into great detail with regard to the local (Bath and Bradford-on-Avon) Special Area of Conservation (ref bats) and the (Box Mine) Site of Special Scientific Interest (again, bats are the focus) but, as with the county ecologist's initial thoughts on the application, she concludes that this is not an appropriate location for a natural burial site - the report may be found here: https://unidoc.wiltshire.gov.uk/UniDoc/Document/Search/DSA,900985. 18th March 2020 update - following the 11th October 2019 Wiltshire Council ecology report, the applicant's ecology experts produced three updated reports which concentrated more on the efforts that would be made towards the protection and enhancement of the woodland environment to the benefit of bats. The new reports, dated December 2019, were added to the Council webpages on 7th January 2020 and may be found at the link given above (4 lines up). However (did you sense this coming) these reports still leave a lot to be desired, so much so that yours truly has produced a 6-page analysis of them which may be found in the .pdf file below (and on the Council webpages if and when they get around to it).
8th July 2019 - the planning application for a proposed natural burial site in the small meadow adjacent to Leafy Lane Wood was lodged with Wiltshire Council a week or two ago so rudloescene is, unfortunately, more than a tad late in reporting the event. The application, from Aaron & Jonathon Bewley Funeral Directors has received the Wiltshire Council designation 19/05832/FUL and may be found on the Council's website through this link 19/05832/FUL.
Perhaps surprisingly, the responsible Council planning officer has stated, inter alia, "... I do not consider that this is a suitable location for the proposed use" in a pre-application response.
For what it's worth and also surprisingly, I have found myself at odds with a considerable amount of material in the application documentation. I sense a multi-page representation in the offing!
The deadline for representations is, according to the Council webpage, Tuesday 23rd July 2019.
20th May 2019 - the fallen beeches in Leafy Lane Wood were discussed in articles on this webpage dated 8th December 2017 and 4th January 2018. The latter article mentioned, a bit tongue in cheek, the notion of communication between the trees (the second having given up the ghost following the loss of the first).
During a 'family' discussion this week, the subject of mycorrhiza came up (as it does). The diagram (at left) demonstrates the mutualistic relationship between plants and their mycorrhiza, which is a fungus that helps plants take in key nutrients. The left side of this diagram shows the plant pathway of this relationship, where the host plant transfers between 4% to 20% of its photosynthetically fixed carbon, which is labeled “G” because it represents glucose, to the mycorrhiza. In the centre of the diagram, the arbuscular mycorrhiza pathway, the black, branched structure which branches off from the plant root, provides the plant with nutrients, including phosphate and nitrate (text, amended, from Wikipedia).
Outside the root, ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium forms an extensive network within the soil and leaf litter. Recent research into ectomycorrhizal plants in boreal forests has indicated that mycorrhizal fungi and plants have a relationship that may be more complex than simply mutualistic (text again from Wikipedia) and, guess what, beech is ectomycorrhizal! So it turns out that the tongue in cheek remark in the 4th January 2018 article did, by chance, have an element of the science/biology behind plant communication/nutrition.
26th April 2019 - a public consultation event, for a proposed natural burial site at Leafy Lane Wood, by Aaron & Jonathon Bewley Funeral Directors took place on Tuesday 23rd April 2019 from 4-7pm. Attendees were invited to complete a questionnaire with their thoughts but, no doubt, the upcoming planning application will provide the full spectrum of information. The small meadow, the location of the event and of the proposed burial site, has often been used in the past for late-night carousing and impromptu barbeques with the 'remains' having to be cleared up by responsible (who me?) adults over the following days. However, we found with this event that the meadow was a great spot for a cultured bash under canvas (gazebo) with Tea & Sympathy providing a bit of a spread. See photos below ...
The plan above indicates that at 2 and 3 vehicle entrances will be introduced. There is already a five-bar gate at 2 and a gap in the fence at 3 which vehicles could make use of, however hard (soft in fact) standing will be put in place for vehicles. Some care will have to be taken with this as both these spots, but particularly 2, are sites of winter aconites which flower in February (see pictures in the Localities, Rudloe section but a photo of the aconites at 2 is reproduced below for ease of reference).
22nd July 2018 - this is not strictly Leafy Lane news but as it relates to right of way 107A, the article fits here. Overnight (21st/22nd July) some bright sparks removed the capping concrete on the dry stone wall at the Boxfields Road access to right of way 107A in an apparent attempt to block the entrance. Perhaps I am letting my imagination run away but, as with the dismantling of the adjacent stile (see 12th September 2016 article below), rather than a mindless act of vandalism, this appears to be a calculated act as it would take (at least) two people to lift the concrete slab and place it across the entrance. See this morning's photos in the gallery below:
29th April 2018 - all the rights of way finger posts for footpaths designated 107A, B & C through Leafy Lane Wood to Boxfields Road have now been installed by the Cotswold Wardens (see text at the foot of Around Rudloe - Apr 2018). Below we see the 107A finger post adjacent to the sub-station in Leafy Lane.
29th January 2018 - the Planning Inspectorate decides in favour of Leafy Lane paths 107A, B &C
In an Order Decision dated 24th January 2018, the planning inspector has confirmed, with modification, the Order made by Wiltshire Council on 1st September 2016 known as 'The Wiltshire Council Parish of Box Paths 107A, 107B and 107C Rights of Way Modification Order 2016'.
The modification is simply to add "and stile" after "Squeeze Gap" in the final line of the first description in Part 2 of the Order Schedule. (This refers to the entrance/exit to the pathway at point A in Boxfields Road).
So Box now has three new rights of way on the Definitive Map of Wiltshire Rights of Way. This is an important step as unlike Box with its Rec, Box Hill with its Common and Corsham with its Rec and Park, Rudloe has no Common land for its substantial population to enjoy. A next step now may be, having established 20 years use 'as of right', to apply for Village Green status through the Open Spaces Society.
The Order Decision may be found in the file below.
4th January 2018 - the Conspiracy of the Trees. Another beech, adjacent to the one that fell on 8th December, fell in Leafy Lane Wood last night. Strange that after the best part of 100 years two adjacent trees should fall in the same north-south direction. As I said, this must be a conspiracy - through Judi Dench's 'My Passion for Trees' programme we 'learnt' that trees can communicate through the underground fungal mycelium network. Perhaps this second beech, having found that its mate was gone, gave up the ghost. Or maybe it was the waterlogged ground.
8th December 2017 - on the day following the Leafy Lane Wood rights of way Public Inquiry (second day of) and the site visit by the Planning Inspector, this beech (or hornbeam?) came down across the principal path of the woodland. It has easily identifiable beech and hornbeam neighbours but identification of this tree is difficult as the bark is neither smooth (beech) nor distinctively ridged (hornbeam) - it has oak-like bark (see close-up picture below) but I think we'll assume it's a beech for the moment. It came down at 12:30 pm and its fall was witnessed by Mike Canham as he passed by in Leafy Lane.
This was a strange event as the tree doesn't appear diseased, the day was calm and there were no other trees involved. However, beeches are notoriously shallow-rooted and according to the Woodland Trust website are sometimes susceptible to root rot from a variety of fungal pathogens, including Phytophthora. So maybe this was the case here.
Having had another look, the third photo below shows the leaf and seed detritus around the root of the tree - this clearly shows beech mast (and presumably beech leaves) thus confirming (?) a beech with slightly ridged bark. The fourth photo shows some of the white, milky sap-like 'stuff' on the roots of the tree; in other areas there is what looks like a network of white filaments. This may be indicative of Phytophthora root rot mentioned above.
The fifth photo shows that the roots are dry and apparently rotted - the RHS website, amongst others, with regard to Phytophthora, says "Some or all of the larger roots will also show evidence of decay – they will be brown or black internally, softer than normal and may break easily".
Thanks to all the locals who attended the Inquiry and particular thanks to those who gave evidence thus subjecting themselves to cross-examination. Following the Planning Inspector's deliberations and report production, the results of the Inquiry may be available towards the end of January.
30th June 2017 - Modification Order for rights of way 107A, 107B & 107C - public inquiry
Those people who completed evidence forms regarding usage of the footpaths in Leafy Lane Wood will (or should) already know that the Planning Inspectorate has set a date/time/location of Tuesday, 5th December 2017 at 10:00 at Box Multi Sport, Youth & Community Pavilion, Valens Terrace, Box SN13 8NT for the public inquiry.
The inquiry is scheduled to last 1 day and it is open to anyone who has made a representation and anyone else with an interest in the Order to attend the inquiry.
The Inspector will ask the 'audience' at the start of the inquiry whether anyone wishes to give evidence. This is the chance for anyone who wants to tell the inspector about their use of the paths to put their hand up. This does not necessarily have to be someone who has filled in a user evidence form - anyone can give evidence..
Please let Paul Turner (via the 'Contact' page on this website) know as soon as possible if you would like to give evidence of your usage of these paths to the inquiry. The Planning Inspectorate has asked if 'we' could let them know as soon as possible how many witnesses there will be (I would imagine for planning/timing purposes).
15th February 2017 – the Northern Area Planning Committee meeting was attended, I would estimate, by more than sixty locals in support of the Wiltshire Council rights of way Modification Order for footpaths 107A, B & C through Leafy Lane Wood and across to Boxfields Road.
Anne Cleverley, David Wright and Paul Turner spoke in support of the Modification Order (MO) which the committee approved unanimously.
The final decision on the MO will now be in the hands of the Secretary of State for the Environment through the Planning Inspectorate. It is expected that there will be a Public Inquiry which will take place towards the end of the year.
Apart from the pathways through the wood which are extensively used by walkers, it is clear that the woodland itself is used by the community, for example through enjoyment of the flora and fauna, children building dens, the bear hunts of Snapdragons Nursery and so on.
However the Planning Inspectorate will take no account of community value and will simply take evidence of the use of the pathways by walkers. I believe that the local community and Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd could, and perhaps should, try to reach an accord which would benefit both parties.
6th February 2017 - weirder and weirder
Overnight, the lower hinge on the pedestrian gate at Leafy Lane Wood was once again (as it was on 24th November 2016) removed. I say 'overnight' as myself and others passed this way yesterday (Sunday) afternoon and the gate was still in place.
But not only that, the two tree trunks that had been placed against the gates last Thursday (2nd Feb) had been shifted a couple of yards! Has the Incredible Hulk relocated to North Wiltshire?
What may have been an individual affair previously in removing gate hinges has now morphed into a team operation - shifting tree trunks! This could not have been a five-minute exercise.
Once again, LLPF has been informed and, as I was in the Leafy Lane cafe this morning, I asked the MoD police, who were having a cuppa there, if any of their patrols had seen anything. Apparently not but they would request that the patrols keep an eye out (for the Incredible Hulk!).
2nd February 2017 - artful goings-on in Leafy Lane
Following the damage caused to the stile in Boxfields Road (reported in the 12th September 2016 article below), we now have a series of, perhaps related, events in Leafy Lane.
Subsequent to Wiltshire Council's Rights of Way Modification Order of 1st September 2016 for Leafy Lane Wood footpaths 107A, 107B and 107C, on 2nd November 2016 the Leafy Lane Playing Fields (LLPF) organisation took it upon themselves to padlock the 'middle' entrance (the small gate) to Leafy Lane Wood (shown as point C on the Modification Order Plan). No one (apart from LLPF) knows why this was done.
On 24th November 2016, someone removed this 'middle' gate from its hinges. Being a responsible organisation, the Springfield & Clift Residents Association (SCRA) reported this issue to LLPF.
This week, sometime on Monday evening (30th January) it seems, the 5-bar gate at the same location was taken off its hinges and left wide open. Again, why anyone would want to do this is a mystery as there are two other entrances (B and D, on the Modification Order Plan) which are widely used (particularly entrance B by the substation). And, as before, SCRA reported this issue to LLPF.
Then, on Thursday morning (2nd February), LLPF (presumably) employed someone with a JCB and chainsaw to shift tree trunks from the playing field to the middle entrance (as shown in the photograph).
Ostensibly I suppose that this could be seen as LLPF stopping access to the woodland but, as stated above, there are two other entrances so this hurried exercise in fact achieved nothing. But not only that ... see photos below ...
... LLPF was in such a hurry to block the middle entrance that it made an almighty mess of the playing fields (as shown above and below) which was to be expected in such inclement weather. What could possibly be the reason that LLPF was in such a hurry? As indicated above, these gates have been in place, and the entrance used, for decades so why create all this commotion now?
The Northern Area Planning Meeting (see 12th and 23rd January articles below) will be held on 15th February at three o'clock at the Council offices in Monkton Park, Chippenham and the Planning Inspectorate Inquiry will be held at a place and time yet to be determined.
23rd January 2017 - with regard to the information given in the 12th January article below, please note that the Wiltshire Council Northern Area Planning Committee (NAPC) meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, 25th January, has been cancelled. The Leafy Lane Wood rights of way application will now be on the agenda for the NAPC meeting, at the same location and time, on Wednesday 15th February.
12th January 2017 - Leafy Lane Wood and Wiltshire Council Paths 107A, 107B and 107C Rights of Way Modification Order
Wiltshire Council Rights of Way Team, in a letter dated 6th January 2017, has stated that the above Order has received one objection (from the landowner, Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd (LLPF) through its solicitor, Foot Anstey). This means that the Order and all accompanying paperwork must be sent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who, through the offices of the Planning Inspectorate, will determine the Order. There will, therefore, be a Planning Inquiry chaired by a Planning Inspector where both 'sides' will be invited to give evidence. This will likely be sometime in February.
In the meantime, Wiltshire Council must consider whether it supports or opposes the Order made by its own Rights of Way Team! The matter will be considered by the Northern Area Planning Committee at a meeting to be held on Wednesday 25th January 2017 in the Council Chamber at the Council Offices, Monkton Park, Chippenham at 15:00. Note that whatever the outcome of this decision-making process, the Planning Inspectorate Public Inquiry will still go ahead. Also note that as January is a 'slow' month for planning applications, if there are insufficient items to fill the agenda, this meeting may well be cancelled.
The Decision Report and LLPF's objection may be found in the 7th September 2016 article below.
12th September 2016 - Wiltshire Council's Decision Report reference 2015/10 on the Leafy Lane Wood to Boxfields Road footpath application has revealed what appears to be some surreptitious goings-on. The first photograph in part 7.0 of the report shows the stile and 'squeeze gap' at the Boxfields Road end of the claimed footpath. Earlier this year, a foolish attempt was made to remove evidence of the stile; however the perpetrator simply left evidence of his or her mentality and possible motive. The first photograph below shows the stile as it was at the time of the Wiltshire Council officer's site visit in November 2015 and the second shows the stile as it is today (September 2016) with the top rail and the two steps removed (clearly by someone who came equipped for the job). Some might call this ... wanton vandalism. Locals noticed the damage to the stile in May this year.
7th September 2016 - Wiltshire Council has determined the application from Springfield & Clift Residents Association for the principal pathways in Leafy Lane Wood to be declared rights of way as follows:
Recommendation: That Wiltshire Council makes an Order under s.53(3)(c)(i) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to record the paths detailed in the application as public footpaths in the definitive map and statement and that if no objections or representations are made that the Order is confirmed.
Thanks to the forty-two Rudloe residents who completed evidence forms regarding their use of the footpaths over the years. However, note that the covering letter from Wiltshire Council Rights of Way Team includes the following:
The order will be advertised in the local press and on site for a period of at least 42 days. If no duly made objections or representations are received the Council may confirm the order and the ways will be added to the definitive map and statement. If however objections and representations are received the Council may no longer confirm the order and this must be passed to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for determination.
This means that should objections be received the outcome will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate, most likely through a public inquiry with cross-examination of witnesses amongst other things.
The Decision Report, which is forty-eight pages long, is in the public domain (i.e. available from Wiltshire Council) and is given as a file 'link' below this article. The Report's appendices are also in the public domain but contain what I would consider to be sensitive data (names, addresses) so I will desist from publishing all of them here. I do however append below the representation from Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd (LLPF) and the 48-page response from the Springfield & Clift Residents Association (SCRA) which form part of the appendices.
16th August 2016 - notice of proposal to sell Leafy Lane Wood and small meadow
Ridiculously late in publishing this on rudloescene as the notice, which is posted at one of the entrances to the wood, is dated 19th July 2016. Note that representations are requested be made to Mr Mullins of the Leafy Lane Playing Fields organisation by 22nd August. A representation from the Springfield and Clift Residents Association is imminent and will, in due course, be posted below (the representation may be found, from today, 21st August, using the file 'link' below the image of the poster; this representation was sent to Mr Mullins, the Charity Commission and Messrs Strakers by first-class post on 17th August). Readers will, of course, note that the sale notified in the 30th January 2016 article below must have fallen through.
30th January 2016 - Leafy Lane Wood sold
Locals will have noticed that the 'For Sale' sign has been taken down and the Strakers website indicates that the wood has been 'sold subject to contract'.
This is a most disappointing result as, as has been reported previously on rudloescene, this sale contravenes the stated charitable aims of Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd (LLPF) which were, from its Companies Act Certificate of Incorporation and Memorandum of Association document dated 24th October 1996: "To advance and improve the education and physical, mental and social well-being of the community by the provision of sporting and recreation amenities, grounds and facilities of all kinds". This was confirmed by an LLPF Extraordinary General Meeting 'Special Resolution' dated 7th April 1997 which stated "That the objects of the company be amended by specifically including the following additional paragraph:- To provide for the inhabitants of Corsham and surrounding areas in the interests of social welfare facilities for recreation and leisure time occupation with the object of improving their conditions of life".
LLPF's actions fly in the face of these charitable aims. I should remind readers of the ultimate sentence in the 21st September 2015 article below which stated: "Neither the community nor indeed the general public is aware whether the decision to sell the wood (or in fact, any decision) was made at a quorate trustee meeting as no minutes or any other details of Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd meetings are published".
In spite of the fact that this organisation was enabled through grants, including grants from public funds, it appears that LLPF is not being run as an open, accessible, charitable organisation but, effectively, as a secret society. The local, and wider, community should be aware of who is making decisions and why.
23rd December 2015 - status of the application to add Leafy Lane Wood footpaths to the definitive map
As the forty-two locals who completed the eight-page evidence form will know, Wiltshire Council is now processing the application initiated by the Springfield and Clift Residents Association to have footpaths in Leafy Lane Wood added to the definitive map of public rights of way.
The initial consultation papers have been sent to Box Parish Council, Corsham Town Council, Wiltshire Councillor Dick Tonge and the landowner (Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd) as well as the forty-two individuals mentioned above.
The consultation letter states "The Council must investigate all relevant evidence made available to it and accordingly invites any further evidence that you may have. I would be especially grateful for any information relating to signage (for example - what did the, now yellow, signs at Leafy Lane Wood entrances say?) and use prior to 1996 (including perhaps photographs taken on the routes)". Responses should be sent to Sally Madgwick, Rights of Way and Countryside, Waste and Environment, County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge BA14 8JN by the end of January 2016.
Sally's contact details are: direct line 01225 713392; email: Sally.email@example.com
4th October 2015 - another mature tree felled in Leafy Lane
A mature Leafy Lane ash, beyond the telephone pole at left of picture was felled in late September 2015. It would be beneficial for the local community to know who authorises tree fellings and why. The purpose of and responsibility for the felling of the sycamore adjacent to the Portal Avenue bus stop remains a mystery (see article 'The mystery of the disappearing tree below') in spite of a number of enquiries to the local council and Wiltshire Council.
It will be interesting to see if the ash coppices but it isn't likely as the felling has taken place at the wrong time of year. If an ash tree is felled in late winter or early spring the stump will stay dormant all through that year and only sprout coppice the following year. It will appear dead, but it isn't!
Certainly the purpose of the sycamore felling appears to have been to have a bare stump where once a tree stood as all sprouting coppice was continuously removed. As indicated above, the local community should be aware of the perpetrators of and rationale for such environmental abuse.
Eventually, Leafy Lane will be renamed Tarmac Lane.
21st September 2015 - Leafy Lane Wood 'not sold' at auction
Leafy Lane Wood remained unsold at the 17th September auction. Strakers are now asking for "offers" on the wood but this course of action, as with the proposed sale of the wood in the first place,
is contentious. Section 119 of the Charities Act 2011 says the following:
119 Requirements for dispositions other than certain leases
(1)The requirements mentioned in section 117(2)(b) are that the charity trustees must, before entering into an agreement for the sale, or (as the case may be) for a lease or other disposition, of the land—
(a) obtain and consider a written report on the proposed disposition from a qualified surveyor instructed by the trustees and acting exclusively for the charity,
(b) advertise the proposed disposition for such period and in such manner as is advised in the surveyor's report (unless it advises that it would not be in the best interests of the charity to advertise the proposed disposition), and
(c) decide that they are satisfied, having considered the surveyor's report, that the terms on which the disposition is proposed to be made are the best that can reasonably be obtained for the charity.
This indicates that Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd cannot simply take 'offers' on the Wood, they must obtain the 'market price' as designated by a qualified surveyor in order, as indicated in the Act, to obtain the best terms for the charity.
In addition, the Charity Commission has stated, in a written response:
Provided decisions are reached in accordance with the requirements of the charity's governing document, at quorate Trustee or Membership meetings by the required majority vote, then those decisions remain valid until and unless overturned by a subsequent majority vote at a later quorate Trustee/Membership meeting.
20th August 2015 - the auction notice for Leafy Lane Wood from Strakers, estate agents, is now online and may be viewed via the 'button' below. Detail from the auction notice is also shown below.
Property Auction on Thursday 17 September 2015 at 19:00
Being held at The Corn Exchange, Devizes
Woodland at Leafy Lane, Corsham, Wiltshire, SN13 0JY
Level parcel of woodland on the outskirts of the town adjoining residential properties. Long road frontage. In all about 5.75 acres.
Guide Price £50,000+
Situation and Description
This level parcel of woodland is located on the Bath edge of Corsham and adjoins the Leafy Lane Playing Fields to one side and residential houses to the other. Corsham is an historic town which has had a lot of development over the last few years. It has a good range of shopping and amenities and is within easy reach of the City of Bath.
The woodland, which has a long road frontage of about 630ft (190m) and then tapers to a point at the rear, is shown coloured pink for identification purposes only on plan and measures in total about 5.75 acres. It is full of mature trees with small glades and pathways and it is in a conservation area. It could be used for a variety of uses such as amenity space, picnic area and den building.
From Corsham proceed on the A4 towards Bath and at Rudloe Manor turn left signposted Neston into Leafy Lane and the woodland is along on the right.
Energy Performance Certificate
01249 765 200
18th August 2015 - a 'public notice' shown below, dated 13th August 2015, from Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd (LLPF) regarding the proposed sale of Leafy Lane Wood has been posted on the less well-used entrance opposite Rudloe House. This notice is, as indicated, an attempt to comply with section 121 of the Charities Act 2011, however it fails to do so. The Act says the following:
(2)The land must not be conveyed, transferred, leased or otherwise disposed of unless the charity trustees have before the relevant time —
(a)given public notice of the proposed disposition, inviting representations to be made to them within a time specified in the notice, which must be not less than one month from the date of the notice, and
(b)taken into consideration any representations made to them within that time about the proposed disposition
The discerning Rudloe reader will know that the land has already been offered for sale, by auction, in May 2015 (this sale was postponed) and is now to be offered at a Devizes auction on 17th September 2015. So the land has been and is being offered for sale before any public notice has been given. The date of the notice, 13th August 2015 does not allow sufficient time for LLPF to "consider" representations. The notice would appear therefore to be a rather feeble attempt to comply with the Act. LLPF should have posted this notice, taken representations into account and then made a decision on whether to offer the wood for sale. LLPF should also have notified the parish council, at least, of its intentions. The current notice fails to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Notwithstanding the above, your representations/comments should still be made to LLPF at the address given on the notice. Alternatively, as I have LLPF's email address, representations could be made via this website (see the 'Contact' page) and I will forward them.
29th July 2015 - rights of way evidence form for Leafy Lane Wood
The 10-page rights of way evidence form is provided in the file link below. An approximate guide to the Leafy Lane Wood paths, the major routes of which have been used by local people over the past fifty years, is provided in the other file link.
The form will, of course, have to be printed and completed. Paper copies of the forms are available if required - please use the 'contact' form on this website, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call/text (07803 295291) if you need one. The completed form should be returned to me as I have to complete three overall 'covering' forms but if you prefer you could send your form direct to Barbara Burke, Unit 9, Ascot Court, White Horse Business Park, North Bradley, Trowbridge BA14 0XA and she will 'hold' it until other forms are received.
If you require more information, please 'contact', email or call/text.
26th July 2015 - community asset bid rejected by Wilts Council
The Springfield and Clift Residents Association (SCRA) bid, on behalf of the Rudloe community, to have Leafy Lane Wood declared a community asset has been rejected by Wiltshire Council. The 'rejection letter' may be found in the first file 'link' below. In a subsequent series of emails, to be found in the second file 'link' below, between the SCRA and Wiltshire Council's Community Asset Team, this decision has been appealed. The reasons for the appeal are made clear (hopefully) in SCRA's 26th July email.The 'owner's' (Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd, in the guise of a Mr Robert Mullins) opposition to the bid makes very interesting reading (if you like horror stories) - this long representation may also be found in the penultimate file 'link' below. SCRA's response to this "disgraceful" representation may be found in the last file 'link' below.
Separately, SCRA has begun the process of having the main footpaths through the wood declared, through Wiltshire Council's Rights of Way department, as public rights of way as these have been used by the Rudloe community for over fifty years. 'Evidence forms' for anyone wishing to declare that they have used Leafy Lane Wood footpaths over any period, long or short, are available from Paul Turner through his 'contact' details on this website. (The evidence form will be available, also through a file 'link' in the near future - the near future has arrived - see 29th July article and its attachments).
29th May 2015 - Box Parish Council supports the community bid for Leafy Lane Wood at Council meeting on 28th May
Following a presentation by members of the Springfield and Clift Residents Association (SCRA) to Box Parish Council Policy and Finance Committee on 11th May, the full Council meeting on 28th May agreed to support the SCRA bid, to Wiltshire Council, to have Leafy Lane Wood declared a community asset. Two councillors, Mrs Hartless and Mr Barstow, were nominated to liaise between SCRA and Box Parish Council.
It will be some weeks before we know if this bid has been accepted. If it is accepted then SCRA will have, initially, a 6-week period in which to express an interest in purchasing the Wood. Following this expression of interest, SCRA will have 6-months in which to determine how the purchase will be financed and to submit a financial bid for the Wood.
Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd would be under no obligation to accept the community bid but one would hope that given SCRA's aim to maintain the woodland for the benefit of the local community, SCRA would be given preference over any other bids that might be received perhaps from outside the community.
The SCRA bid is shown in the following file 'link':
9th May 2015 - proposed sale of Leafy Lane Wood postponed
Perhaps through representations made by the local community who were not consulted about the proposal, the sale of Leafy Lane Wood has been postponed until the first week of August.
This will give the community time to make representations to Box Parish Council and others and to the Leafy Lane Playing Fields (LLPF) organisation itself regarding the future of the wood.
Ideally the 'ownership' of the wood and its management, should be in the hands of local people who have enjoyed its recreation 'facilities' (footpaths, flora, fauna) for generations. This could, perhaps, be achieved through organisations such as Wiltshire Wildlife Trust or the Small Woods Association. Management of the wood is something that, in general, LLPF has not had the resources to undertake.
A group of locals, representing a local residents association, hopes to put forward proposals to Box Parish Council Policy and Finance Committee which meets on Monday 11th May.
16th April 2015 - Leafy Lane Wood to be sold at auction
The Leafy Lane Playing Fields (LLPF) organisation has instructed Strakers, the estate agent, to sell Leafy Lane Wood by auction. The auction will take place on Thursday, 14th May 2015, at the Steam museum, Swindon at 19:30.
Strakers webpage for Leafy Lane Wood may be found here: http://www.strakers.co.uk/lotlisting.html?lid=34096&ClientID=48
As you may see, the guide price is £40,000 (anyone up for it?) but whilst the blurb states "This level parcel of woodland is located on the Bath edge of Corsham and adjoins the Leafy Lane playing fields to one side and residential houses to the other. Corsham is an historic town which has had a lot of development over the last few years. It has a good range of shopping and amenities and is within easy reach of the City of Bath" as if this was a piece of development land, it fails to mention that the wood has a blanket tree preservation order or that it is at the south-eastern edge of the Cotswold AONB.
February 2015. A rudloescene reader has asked for the Tree Preservation Order information for Leafy Lane Playing Fields to be published as most local people are unaware of it. The files below show the order itself dated 1995 (also shown in the title picture above) and the two schedules, one for the woodland and the other for individual trees (note that 2 No. poplars in line G1 are misidentified - they are whitebeams).
The requirement to publish has come about as Leafy Lane Playing Fields Ltd in early February 2015, has been removing scrub in the line of trees labelled G1 on the TPO. Unfortunately, during this removal work six of the hawthorns in the 'individual tree' schedule have, effectively, also been removed. Locals who were involved in the setting up of the TPO through the Rudloe Action Group (RAG) in 1995 were now (in 2015) bound to involve Wiltshire Council (the enforcement organisation) in order to try to put a halt to the removals.
Contact details for the Wiltshire Council officer responsible are as follows:
phone: 0300 4560100 ext. 16762
Another useful contact is/are 'Wiltshire tree wardens' here: http://www.wiltshiretreewardens.co.uk/contact.html
The mystery of the disappearing tree
Over the autumn/winter/spring 2012/13, this sycamore in Leafy Lane (perhaps eventually to be renamed Tarmac Lane) has been cut down and the growth from its stump treated with herbicide. It's still struggling to survive though. I have made enquiries with Wilts CC over many months about who may be responsible for the tree and its demise but, unfortunately, have drawn a blank. My next port-of-call will probably be Defence Estates (as the tree is at the entrance to Park Lane).
As you may see, it made a fine sight but this area is now a piece of bare verge with stump. Whilst sycamores can be regarded as 'weed' trees because they propogate quite readily (although, given the number of ash saplings in our garden, I would say that this is more true of ash), they are, I believe, very attractive, particularly the bark (ref Richard Inchbold's painting 'In Early Spring' shown on page 267 of Richard Mabey's Flora Brittanica).
So, who cut down this tree and why? Please make contact if you have any information.