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.
Rudloe Estate and Social Club - Christmas 1999
6th August 2020 and it is time to stop beating about the bush and call out lies that have pervaded the local narrative for the last few years. In this article, I am accusing Box Parish Council (BPC) of lying about the monies (now called Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), formerly S106) amounting to £38,000 due from the Dickens Gate development for 'Leisure facilities within the vicinity of the development'. BPC has consistently stated that at the time of the apportioning of the monies due from this development, it was agreed that the £38k was to be spent on the Pavilion on the Rec. They stated that this agreement could not be changed. As late as 30th July 2020, BPC said the following in an email: "... a S106 agreement was drawn up in which it was agreed that the contribution would come to Box Parish Council for use on the Pavilion".
This was and is a lie - Lie No 1. There was never any such agreement. In an email dated 18th August 2018, the Wiltshire Council S106 and Community Infrastructure Officer reported to me as follows: "The £38,000 leisure contribution within the S106 agreement dated 02/04/2015 is to be used for leisure facilities within the vicinity of the development. The agreement does not specify an exact location for this contribution. When the contribution is received, it will be paid into the Leisure code on the S106 element of the balance sheet and I will let Colin Brown (Leisure) know it is there and a conversation can be had to establish location / best use of money etc".
We see from BPC Planning Committee minutes that the draft (note, draft) agreement was reported as received at the 14th October 2019 meeting and then was reported as signed at the Planning Committee meeting on 11th November 2019. So it was not signed and agreed "at that time" but sometime between 14/10/2019 and 11/11/2019. It appears that prior to 14th October 2019, that 'conversation' between Colin Brown and BPC had taken place and only then had BPC directed the money towards the Pavilion with an agreement then being drawn up between the two parties.
Lie No 2. At the 19th December 2019 full parish council meeting, we heard that Box Parish Council (BPC) had not been given the opportunity, by Wiltshire Council, to look at the possibilities for the future of Rudloe Community Centre (RCC) following its closure in 2017. This continued the disinformation found in the Parish Council's statement in its News column in October's (2019) Box Parish magazine regarding Rudloe Green and Community Centre that "The Parish Council have not had the option from Wiltshire Council to purchase the building ...". However, a letter to Box Parish Council from Wiltshire Council's agents Lambert Smith Hampton dated 31st August 2017 gave details of the proposed lease/sale of Rudloe Community Centre under the terms of either a full repairing and insuring lease for a rent and term of years to be agreed or sale on a long leasehold basis for a term of 125 years with a premium required along with a peppercorn rent for the duration of the lease.
The future of Rudloe Estate has been determined by these lies. What should have happened is that BPC take responsibility for this 'leisure facility within the vicinity of the development' (ie Rudloe Community Centre) and use the £38k CIL monies to facilitate required repairs/improvements. (The cost of such repairs/improvements had been grossly overestimated by Wiltshire Council at £66k whereas a sensible figure has been calculated at £22k which would include the addition of a 'wet' central heating system from a reputable local company).
Readers (plural?) will know that the current initiative for Rudloe Community Centre (RCC) and Green coming from the GreenSquare organisation will bring about the demolition of the former and the probable laying waste to the latter - laughably designated Rudloe Regeneration. GreenSquare proposes a small replacement for RCC adjoined to flats (this, in itself, would be a recipe for conflict) but in the current, and likely future, Covid climate large premises like RCC will have greater utility for the now extremely important social distancing.
So what do our local authorities give us to make up for the loss of RCC and the Green (and the shop) and the increased density that 'Regeneration' will bring about? It's a posh sign that proclaims 'Rudloe' as some kind of model village. (The following 'article' is repeated from this month's (August 2020) 'Litter' page).
The text below the sign further says that it was funded by Box Parish Council, Wiltshire Council and the GreenSquare Group and the design, manufacture and installation was by members of the Brunel
Shed. A fine sign it is and congratulations to all those involved in its creation but ... (did you sense this coming?) why give Rudloe Estate such an ornate 'village' sign when renowned villages such
as Lacock and Castle Combe do not have them? Rudloe Estate was the original (prefab) estate at Rudloe but wasn't the first 'bricks and mortar' estate - this claim to fame goes to the RAF estates off
Leafy Lane. And Rudloe Estate is not Rudloe; Rudloe now takes in the other Leafy Lane estates: Springfield Close/Clift Close, Kidston Way/Highlands Close and Ashwood Road/Pine Close.
Communities (or villages) are not created by installing posh signs. Look behind the sign and you will see Rudloe Community Centre completed in 2002 at a cost not far short of £1 million and which that same GreenSquare organisation that part-funded the sign proposes to demolish. How's that for a deal? We will raze your £1 million community centre to the ground and give you a fancy sign that makes you look like a village. Also, the 'green' in front of the Community Centre is, effectively, a village green. It has been here for generations, since the days of the prefab estate, and was designated as Public Open Space in the North Wilts Open Space Study. One-hundred-and-four local people supported the application for Village Green status for the green in 2019. Now the GreenSquare organisation is threatening to build on the 'traditional' green whilst offering the sop of a replacement elsewhere. Another deal! We will build on your traditional green and give you a fancy sign that makes you look like a village.
And the sign was designed and produced by children from Broadwood School ... wait a minute, this school is in what now seems to be Rudloe Village (formerly Rudloe Estate) at Rudloe so why isn't it called Rudloe School or Corsham School, Rudloe Site? Would anyone out there care to speculate as to why this is?
28th May 2020 and in spite of the plethora of new homes creating the west Corsham conurbation, GreenSquare continues to impose a fraudulent narrative regarding the brightest future for Rudloe Estate. Apart from Redcliffe’s 170 Bradford Road homes and Bellway’s 88-home Dickens Gate development, we have Bellway’s 100-home Copenacre development and their 168-home Westwells Road application. In addition, the Planning Inquiry for the Gladman 150-home proposal ‘north of the A4’ is due to resume in July. And now that the slope shaft for Hartham Quarry at Rudloe Firs has been approved, the 15-acre field in the Bradford Road which was the previously-proposed site for this shaft will also now be available for development (this was an undisclosed corollary of the Rudloe Firs application) – so at least another 100 homes will be proposed here. And on a smaller scale, the Neston Gardens development (which is in Hawthorn, not Neston) has brought a further 12 homes. This brings us to a figure of close to 800 new homes built, under construction or proposed in west Corsham.
And yet GreenSquare wants to bring the worst of all worlds by increasing the density of Rudloe Estate. If they receive planning permission for this, then normal life on the estate will be disrupted for years. The 88-home Dickens Gate development has been under construction since October 2018 and best estimates indicate that completion will not be for another 18 months. Can you imagine this in the middle of Rudloe Estate - heavy building site traffic - JCBs, trucks, pile drivers, earth movers and noise, dust, constant reversing beepers, nowhere for the children to play ... for years! And after all this, the upshot will be flats looking out upon flats - a dystopian scene and all to satisfy not the best interests of the people of Rudloe but the business interests of GreenSquare.
We had a precursor of this today when a geotechnology company with a French name (Integral Geotechhique) from Cardiff visited to take samples of earth in the form of approx 1-metre cores. It's hard to see what could be discerned from such cores (see pics below - click on the icon with inward-pointing arrows for full-screen images).
31st December 2019 - twas the night before New Year and time for an update on the Rudloe Estate situation. Misinformation and disinformation (take your pick) continues to be spread by those who should know better. At the full Box Parish Council meeting on 19th December, we heard no end of tosh from a councillor and from the officials. Some of the tosh is to be found in the Box Parish Council NEWS in the parish magazine and this is what has prompted this article. I was so incensed by the misinformation repeated at the meeting (where visitors are not, of course, allowed to take part in discussions) that I had to put pen to paper (email) on the following day. Similarly, I sent an email to the editor of the parish magazine today. The content of these emails is reproduced below.
I appreciate that you can only publish the information you receive from the parish council but, if you have the time, you may wish to read the email below sent to Box Parish Council following the December full council meeting on Thursday 19th December.
The email makes plain the Rudloe Estate/Green/Community Centre situation. This is information that members of the Steering Group (and the Council itself) should know and understand but it is clear that this is, worryingly, not the case.
You may see, from the email, that a proposed replacement Rudloe community hall is a quarter (internal) or a fifth (external) of the size of the existing centre and not the same size as reported in Box Parish Council NEWS in your magazine. It is also worrying that the implications of the Green being moved are not understood or appreciated by certain members of the Steering Group or by the Council itself.
From: Paul Turner <email@example.com>
Sent: 20 December 2019 10:57
To: Box Parish Council
Subject: Rudloe Community Centre & GreenSquare's Plans
Thanks for the festive offering at the Council meeting last night.
With regard to Rudloe Community Centre, I appreciate Box Parish Council's current position that the matter is now in the hands of Wiltshire Council and GreenSquare, however ...
Much misinformation (indeed, at times, this appears to be disinformation) continues to be repeated by councillors and officials. As a member of the public sitting in at meetings, it is frustrating that a discussion cannot be had with councillors/officials when such misinformation/disinformation is peddled and I can appreciate our councillor's (Rob Davies) frustration at the continuation of this state of affairs over many months.
It is also frustrating to be, effectively, lectured (by Councillor Whitford) about the decisions made at the Wiltshire Council Cabinet meeting at Salisbury in June 2018 when both myself and Frances Tristram of Camomile Cafe were present at this meeting and spoke in support of the retention of the Community Centre and the possibilities of its future with Camomile (Camomile's Mike Tristram was also there).
There were a number of things mentioned last night which were simply not true.
Firstly, it was said that Box Parish Council (BPC) had not been given the opportunity, by Wiltshire Council, to look at the possibilities for the future of Rudloe Community Centre (RCC) following its closure in 2017. This continued the misinformation (we'll be kind here) found in the Parish Council's statement in its News column in October's Box Parish magazine regarding Rudloe Green and Community Centre that "The Parish Council have not had the option from Wiltshire Council to purchase the building ...". However, you will know that a letter to Box Parish Council from Wiltshire Council's agents Lambert Smith Hampton dated 31st August 2017 gave details of the proposed lease/sale of Rudloe Community Centre under the terms of either a full repairing and insuring lease for a rent and term of years to be agreed or sale on a long leasehold basis for a term of 125 years with a premium required along with a peppercorn rent for the duration of the lease.
Secondly, it was stated by Councillor Whitford with confirmation from Chairman Parker that the roof of RCC was leaking or had been leaking and that this information was given by the former Centre manager, Kathy McCarron. I don't know how many times 'we' (myself and Councillor Davies) have to repeat this but Mrs McCarron has informed us that the Centre roof has never leaked and no leak has ever been reported.
Thirdly, it was stated and confirmed by messrs Whitford and Parker that the proposed replacement community hall would be the same 'size' (square footage) as RCC. I have attached two maps, one which shows the external footprint of the existing centre at 677 sq metres (the internal area has been calculated from a detailed, internal plan at 525 sq metres). The second shows GreenSquare's Option A with their proposed replacement hall with red stripes (just to the left of the Green); it will be seen that the size of this hall is somewhat smaller than, for example, the disabled person's bungalow at no. 1 Leylands Road which, using online tools for area calculation, is about 135 sq metres. The proposed hall then would be of the order of 125 sq metres which, as will be clearly seen, is less than a quarter of the internal size of RCC or much less than one fifth of the external size.
Fourthly, Mr Whitford gave great store to GreenSquare's proposal of a replacement green of the same size as the existing Green should GreenSquare options B or C be adopted (from discussions with GreenSquare's project manager, Mr Cox, at the 3rd December consultation event, it seems that option B is GreenSquare's preferred option). However, Mr Whitford and others forget that the existing Green is designated Public Open Space by Wiltshire Council. I have attached the North Wilts Open Space Study which designates Rudloe Green as Public Open Space (specifically a Local Park in para 4.41, table 8) within an area, Corsham and Rudloe, “where the deficiencies of Public Open Space are most acute” (para 4.76). Also, the Wiltshire Open Spaces Study 2015 – 2026, which can be found here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/wiltshire-open-space-study-draft.pdf, in section 8.1.3 (Existing provision to be protected), states that the starting point of any policy adopted by the Council should be that all open space should be afforded protection unless it can be proved it is not required’. Further, 104 local people made representations towards the designation of Rudloe Green as a Village Green in April this year; without exception, all stated that Rudloe Green is important to the community where it stands and where it has stood for generations!
Continuing with this fourth point, Mr Whitford (and others) conveniently overlook the fact that if the existing Green is built on then the children of Rudloe Estate will be deprived of any play space for up to two years (in year one, new flats/houses will be built on the existing Green; in year two, residents will be moved to the new homes and the old homes and other infrastructure will be demolished). How would Box residents feel if they were denied access to and use of the Rec for two years? No doubt, there would be a riot. This is just one example of how Rudloe issues are not given the same consideration as those of Box itself.
In addition, whilst the exaggerated cost of £66k has been mentioned with regard to getting RCC back into working order ('we' have quotes for roof, heating and electrics which put the figure at, at most, a third of this figure), no mention has been made of the cost of demolition of RCC and the building of a new hall. I would imagine that this would be a substantial six-figure sum (probably £200k+). If GreenSquare's regeneration were to go ahead, then the best option, surely, would be their 'A' but with the retention of the existing community centre (saving demolition and building costs). This option is further reinforced by having Camomile Family, a successful Corsham business, champing at the bit to take on RCC thus enabling their expansion and providing many facilities for the local community. Contrast this with GreenSquare's proposed hall which would be too small for Camomile, would have flats beside and above it thus creating potential conflicts due to noise etc AND, importantly, having no one to manage it (Rudloe Community Association tried to find people willing to take on the management of RCC before its closure without success).
I trust that if and when the subject of RCC comes up at future Box Parish Council meetings the canards listed above will not go on being repeated.
12th November 2019 - Sex, Lies and Videotape
The headline was designed to capture attention. This article has nothing to do with sex or videotape but please keep reading anyway.
Notice that I didn't mention 'lies' in the paragraph above. Let us concentrate on lies - but in order to be politically correct, let's call lies by an alternative name - 'disinformation'.
The table at left gives the official Wiltshire Council affordable housing requirement for the Corsham Community Area, which includes Corsham itself, Rudloe, Gastard and Neston, as at 24th July 2018. The requirements for Box, Colerne and Lacock are shown separately in the table. The article shown below from the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald of 3rd July 2018 contains a plethora of disinformation but perhaps we should be kind and call it shoddy reporting (or, in the current climate, 'fake news'!).
Let's start with "Residents have urged councillors during a cabinet meeting to ensure community spaces and popular parking spaces at the building in Leylands Road, that has been closed since last July, are not lost if the development goes ahead" - there were no Rudloe Estate residents present at this 12th June 2018 Cabinet meeing in Salisbury. The only local people (apart from councillors) who spoke were yours truly and Frances Tristram of Camomile Cafe (now Camomile Family) and we said nothing of the sort - we urged, inter alia, against housing development.
As far as I am aware, no one, whether councillor or a GreenSquare representative, called the Community Centre a 'disaster zone' or 'the epitome of rural deprivation'; this is pure sensationalism designed, as with this article's 'Sex, Lies etc', to grab attention. But if (if!) Councillor Sturgis did use the term 'disaster zone' (it is certainly not in the meeting's minutes) he was wrong and nothing could be further from the truth. For example, in times of trouble, the community came together (and will again) to support any of its members who had fallen on hard times. Over the winter of 2012/13 when the community came to hear of one of our own, Martin O'Shea, falling prey to motor neurone disease, a fund-raising evening was organised, which Martin attended along with his family, in spite of his dreadful disability. £1,200 was raised, a cheque for which amount was presented to North Wiltshire Motor Neurone Disease Association by Phil Beattie.
Coming to more mundane aspects of the Gazette & Herald disinformation, their article states "The council currently has 74 people registered in need of affordable housing in Rudloe". As the reader may see from the table shown above, the official Wiltshire Council figure in July 2018 was 73 for the whole of the Corsham Community Area, not for Rudloe!
I could go on (of course!) but why bring up this 16-month-old material now, in November 2019? The reason is that the disinformation continues e.g. the Community Centre having been the target of anti-social behaviour (not true), the Centre requiring £60k of spending to bring it into habitable condition (not true), access to the Centre is not possible for 'health and safety' reasons (not true), the £38k S106 monies from the Dickens Gate development for 'liesure facilities in the vicinity of the development' having to be spent on the Box Pavilion (not true), the roof is leaking (not true).
The reader should know that this disinformation ('fake news' in modern parlance) is being spread by those whose interests are not those of the Rudloe community.
27th October 2019 - eighty-seven responses thus far (29th October update - now ninety-five responses; a milestone passed - one-hundred-and-one responses by the morning of 1st November) to the 'Brighter future for Rudloe' campaign which aims to fulfil the desire of the community to create an activity hub for all age groups (see the 11th October article below) at Rudloe Community Centre.
Many heartfelt views were given (and may still be given - this is a continuing campaign) via the 'Your own views' page of the brochure (again, see the 11th October article below) some of which may be found in this .pdf file:
The requirement for a shop, also given in the 'Your views' page of the brochure, saw the following desires expressed: 58% for a 'separate' shop (perhaps in the former shop premises); 42% for a small 'shop' within the Community Centre for everyday essentials.
Support for the Community Centre and Green has come from an unexpected quarter. Can you (the rudloescene reader) guess who said this: "We are looking beyond building more homes. In the long term we are interested in improving the very centre of Rudloe - the community centre, the shop, the green and parking, to make the estate a better place to live". Need another clue? Well, how about this: "The areas valued most by people are the green space and community centre. There was more emphasis on improving what is there already than on new development". Got it yet? This was GreenSquare in their 'Rudloe Update' of May 2013 - see the .pdf file below:
Here we are, six years on, in the 'long term', and GreenSquare's 2019 'improvements' include the demolition of the community centre and shop and the likely building of houses/flats on the Green. To paraphrase a 1970s dictum about President Nixon, "Would you buy a used car from this organisation?" It seems not - GreenSquare, I am sorry to say, is an organisation that cannot be trusted to "make the estate a better place to live".
But in any case, as stated by Wiltshire Council planners in their refusal of the Donkey Field development in September, 'The indicative remaining requirement for the Corsham Community Area (CCA) remainder is zero. This proposal is not required as part of housing supply'. So the very basis for GreenSquare's 'Rudloe Regeneration' proposal to increase the density of Rudloe Estate through building in the central area is false. The housing requirement for the Corsham Community Area has been fulfilled.
And with regard to 'affordable housing', the Bellway 'Dickens Gate' development alone is providing 35 affordable homes (see the thirty-five pink and blue dots indicating affordable housing for shared ownership and rent on the Planning Layout here: Dickens Gate affordable homes). But not only that, a further fifty affordable homes will become available through the Bromford housing association in the Redcliffe Park Place development - see the photo below advertising shared ownership homes.
As indicated above, GreenSquare's 'Rudloe Regeneration' which aims to increase the density of Rudloe Estate because of a supposed requirement for affordable housing is a fiction. But attempting to do this to the detriment of the community by demolishing the community centre and shop and building on the Green is an outrage.
11th October 2019 - the 8-page brochure below (and in the .pdf file further below) was distributed to all 242 homes on Rudloe Estate, and other homes on other estates, on Tuesday, 8th October. The response pages (7 & 8) of the brochure should be completed as requested by as many people as possible as, as with the Village Green application, this will provide a real indication of the needs of the Rudloe community. Don't forget, 104 people (plus other family members) stated, categorically, that Rudloe Green was, and is, a tremendously important community facility. This gives great weight to the argument for the protection of the Green. Similarly, a good response to the brochure regarding the retention of the Community Centre (and shop) cannot be ignored by those 'in power'.
John Harrill who has lived at Rudloe for 47 years has provided a succinct, germane view in his response; John says: "The Camomile Family proposal would seem a lifeline for old and young alike, with a little shop for everyday essentials and so many different interest groups catered for. Let's all hope for the future!"
5th September 2019 - GreenSquare has produced a September Rudloe Update leaflet which has been distributed to selected homes at Rudloe and is reproduced below.
If this were a court of law, counsel would be reprimanded for asking leading questions. So there were 41 completed questionnaires; that sounds reasonable until you recall that there were 104 submissions on saving Rudloe Green through the Village Green application (see articles below) earlier this year. So, local people do not want this so-called 'regeneration' which is simply a deception designed to suit the corporate objectives of GreenSquare. Clearly, in spite of the disinformation (yes, disinformation not misinformation - the dictionary definition of disinformation is: deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda). Disinformation is revealed in the paragraph on 'green space/open areas' which says: "Residents agreed that green space should be mainly kept, however there were varying opinions on where the final location should be"! I rest my case m'lud - "mainly kept" and "where the final location should be" demonstrates a deliberate misrepresentation of the true situation - 104 people (plus other family members I should add) stated that the Green was tremendously important in its present location (particularly to the occupants of the 81 flats) and has been for generations. So "mainly kept" and "where the final location should be" are fabrications brought about by asking leading questions.
1st July 2019 - GreenSquare has organised a 'consultation event' at the Broadwood Avenue school from 4pm to 6:30pm on Thursday (4th July) regarding its supposed regeneration of Rudloe Estate. For those who would care to reflect on the facts, there follows an analysis of the current Rudloe Green and Rudloe Community Centre situation followed by a 'Case for a brighter future for Rudloe Estate'. The text is also available in a .pdf file below.
Rudloe Green and Community Centre
Why would Corsham councillor Philip Whalley, who has no particular housing remit and who has fought tooth and nail against development in Corsham, make a representation at Wiltshire Council’s Cabinet meeting in Salisbury in June 2018 in support of the ‘regeneration’ of Rudloe Estate which would see the demolition of Rudloe Community Centre and the loss of Rudloe Green?
It seems that Wiltshire Council’s slogan ‘Where Everybody Matters’ should be qualified with ‘But Some Matter More Than Others’. Would this councillor give over Corsham Recreation Ground on Meriton Avenue to ‘regeneration’? The answer is, of course, no. But, in his eyes, sanctioning the loss of Rudloe Green (Rudloe’s recreation ground) and Rudloe Community Centre is alright.
The upshot of the Cabinet meeting was that Wiltshire Council’s assets (including the Community Centre and the Green) at Rudloe be given over to the GreenSquare organisation on terms to be agreed.
It should be noted that those terms have not yet been agreed and there is a far brighter, more prosperous future for Rudloe outside this agreement. That brighter future sees the
Community Centre and Green becoming the first Rudloe assets of Box Parish Council, the Community Centre becoming a family centre for therapies and other activities under the auspices of Camomile
Family, a successful organisation already operating in Corsham, and the Green remaining a de facto village green as it has been for the past 75 years. See the case for this in the file ‘Case for a
brighter future for Rudloe Estate’ in the accompanying paper.
GreenSquare’s proposed ‘regeneration’ will be illustrated through options at the public consultation event on 4th July at Corsham School, Broadwood Avenue (4pm-6:30pm). But all these options will involve the demolition of Rudloe Community Centre and the 1970s homes at the ‘top end’ of the estate’s central ‘island’ and the loss of the precious Green. Writers Iain Sinclair and Jonathan Meades describe regeneration as ‘an incipient threat’, ‘a payday without end for the demolition community’ and ‘an outright fib’.
The outright regeneration fib is supported by the associated fibs a. that the outcome of deliberations by the, yet to be constituted, Steering Group will be anything other than one of the preordained outcomes required by GreenSquare and b. that the Community Centre is beyond repair and must be demolished and c. that the houses at the ‘top’ of the estate’s central island have problems and also must be demolished.
With regard to fib a., it will be interesting to note the full constitution of the Steering Group, its minutes (which, I would hope, will be available to the public) and how much attention is given to those who require the brighter future of a successful Community Centre and vibrant Rudloe Green.
Regarding fib b., there are no major problems with the Community Centre that would require its demolition. Demolition would only be required because the Centre interferes with GreenSquare’s plans. Confirmation of the state of the Centre could be achieved through examination by a structural (or other) engineer. In order to reveal the fib, I will institute and pay for such an examination.
Fib c. is extraordinary. If you had a problem with some aspect of your house, would any of the possible solutions be ‘demolish the house’? A rumour is that damp is the problem, but our (myself and her majesty) first house, in an old terrace in Corsham, had a significant damp problem which was remedied through a modern (chemical) solution. Also, renovation is far more cost effective and environmentally friendly than demolition and rebuilding.
And if, god forbid, GreenSquare does manage to get its way by playing the trump cards of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘affordable housing’ can you imagine the disruption, apart from the loss of the Community Centre and the Green, that will be caused to the life of the estate. The Bellway development across the Bradford Road started last October. Nine months on and every day brings a cacophony of noise, vehicle movements both on- and off-site, traffic disruption and so on. And this site will probably not be completed until sometime in 2021 or perhaps 2022. Such loss of the normal amenity of everyday life on Rudloe Estate, with no Green for the kids to play on for the best part of two years (and the rump of a proposed green beyond that), would be disastrous for the community. And the proposed Rudloe Estate ‘regeneration’ would involve demolition before construction.
It should not be forgotten how we arrived at this state of affairs. It was through a previous ‘regeneration’ at the turn of the century when North Wilts District Council made the disastrous decision to demolish the old, successful Club and replace it with the current £1 million (best part of) offering which was, not long after, declared ‘not fit for purpose’. And the houses built in place of the Club (Club Row) are completely out of character with the estate. So here we go again - piling miserable decision on miserable decision at the expense of the taxpayer/ratepayer.
It is worth repeating here a paragraph from the 17th April 2019 article on this webpage: ‘The North Wilts Open Space Study, here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/northwiltsopen_space_study.pdf, designates Rudloe Green as Public Open Space (specifically a Local Park in para 4.41, table 8) within an area, Corsham and Rudloe, “where the deficiencies of Public Open Space are most acute” (para 4.76). Also, the Wiltshire Open Spaces Study 2015 – 2026, which can be found here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/wiltshire-open-space-study-draft.pdf, in section 8.1.3 (Existing provision to be protected), states that the starting point of any policy adopted by the Council should be that all open space should be afforded protection unless it can be proved it is not required’.
So Wiltshire Council’s records state that Rudloe Green is Public Open Space and must be protected. But we have forgotten that Rudloe Estate is seen as a place (see first two paras above) where the slogan ‘Where Everybody Matters’ is conveniently forgotten and previous, important designations (protected Public Open Space) can be pushed aside. Forget GreenSquare’s 4th July public consultation - the people have already spoken. They have confirmed that Rudloe Green must be protected. The one-hundred-and-four representations made by local people in the Village Green application of April this year affirm the importance of the Green in the life of the estate.
What is now required is that Box Parish Council take the initiative on this matter, not just through its Neighbourhood Plan which should confirm the importance of and requirement for Rudloe Green and Rudloe Community Centre but through immediate action on an alternative to GreenSquare’s disastrous proposals. A proposed plan for a bright, prosperous future for the Green and Centre is given in the accompanying paper ‘Case for a brighter future for Rudloe Estate’.
Case for a brighter future for Rudloe Estate
According to statistics published on the Box Parish website, at the time of a 2011 survey of Box residents, there were 1,755 households in the parish. Through recent research, we find that there
are currently (in 2019) 658 households at Rudloe which is 37% of the Box Parish total.
From Box Parish Accounts 2018-19, we find that Box Parish Council’s fixed assets (the value of all the property owned) is almost £18 million. The value of assets at Rudloe is nil, £0.
This state of affairs illustrates that the Parish Council’s support is completely skewed to Box village itself; it is therefore about time that the Parish Council undertook to support significant community assets at Rudloe - Rudloe Community Centre and Rudloe Green.
The Parish Council should know that the Centre and Green are owned by Wiltshire Council and following a decision at its Cabinet meeting in June 2018, it was decided that these ‘assets’ would be handed over to GreenSquare subject to a formal agreement. That agreement has not yet come to fruition.
It is common knowledge, through a plan published in 2015, that GreenSquare proposes to demolish the Community Centre and all the houses (except one which is privately owned) built in the late 70s in the central ‘island’ of the estate. GreenSquare would then massively increase the density of the estate by building all over this newly-created ‘bombsite’. The 30th June 2019 article on this webpage (and a number of earlier articles) discusses what a disaster this would bring about for the Rudloe community.
One-hundred-and-four representations were made by the people of Rudloe in support of the April 2019 Village Green application. The representations indicated what a vital role Rudloe Green had played over their and, in many cases, their children’s and grandchildren’s lifetimes. Rudloe Green has been a de facto village green for 75 years and should remain so. Those children and grandchildren would never forgive Wiltshire Council and GreenSquare if the Green is built on.
There could be a bright future ahead for the Community Centre. Camomile Family (formerly Camomile Cafe), now a Community Interest Company, runs a successful enterprise in Corsham High Street (see http://camomilecafe.com/). The company is thriving so much that it needs to expand but cannot do so in its current location. Rudloe Community Centre would provide an ideal location with its substantial spaces, accessible toilets, a dedicated car park, bus stops close by and access to green space. Camomile pleaded their case at the Wiltshire Council Cabinet meeting in June 2018 but the proposition failed to find a sympathetic ear.
Being now a Community Interest Company and with its aims of family support, including not just children but parents and grandparents also, Camomile is in an ideal position to procure funding from different, perhaps charitable organisations. Notwithstanding this potential support, Box Parish Council could, with Wiltshire Council’s support, take on the freehold (or perhaps have a leasing arrangement) of Rudloe Community Centre (the Parish Council’s first asset at Rudloe!). Some of the Parish Council’s ‘cash in hand’ (£183,000 as at April 2019) along with investment from other quarters (substantial Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) payments from the Bellway and proposed ex-RAF Rudloe site in Westwells Road are, or are proposed to be, spent elsewhere, not in Rudloe!) could be used to reconfigure/refurbish the Centre (although, actually, no significant alterations are required).
Camomile pays a substantial five-figure sum in rental alone for its High Street property. If Box Parish Council invested in this project, as the new ‘landlord’ of Rudloe Community Centre, it would, no doubt, be able to come to an agreement with Camomile on the rental rate. Assuming a suitable rate could be agreed, this would be a win-win situation for both parties. In addition, other organisations, clubs etc that have used the Centre in the past (eg karate, choir, bingo etc) could negotiate a return to the Centre with Camomile and/or Box Parish Council.
The Camomile enterprise seems an ideal fit not just for the building but for the Rudloe Community also. Its website highlights ‘Babies & Children’, ‘Baby Massage’, ‘Hypnobirthing’, ‘Mums & Dads’, ‘Delicious Food’, ‘Shop’ and much more besides. This project would offer a bright, prosperous future for the Rudloe community.
17th June 2019 - as expected, the Rudloe village green application has been rejected as a 'trigger event' has supposedly occurred. Prior to the application, we were told that such a trigger event was a planning application involving the subject land; there was no such planning application. However, Wiltshire Council was fighting a village green case in the Court of Appeal the result of which would determine whether the subject land (in this case in Wootton Bassett) was within a defined development area (a potential development area anyway) which would also, apparently, constitute a trigger event (the Court of Appeal judgement documents may be found below).
The judgement, in some respects, appears to be nonsense (but what do us mere mortals know) as the interpretation of it by Wiltshire Council (and presumably by all other councils) is that if a village green application is for land within a settlement boundary it will be rejected. But by their very nature, most if not all village greens would be in the centre of a village, at the heart of village life. What would be the point of a village green if it was outside the village?
The settlement boundaries for the Corsham area are shown in the Corsham Inset Map in the Wiltshire Core Strategy (2015) here:
In this map, Rudloe and its green are shown within the 'Rudloe Settlement Framework' so fall foul of this new Appeal Court ruling. Wiltshire Council's rejection letter, dated 11th June 2019, and a subsequent email exchange between Sally Madgwick, Definitive Map and Highway Records Manager, and yours truly are given in the files below:
In the email exchange, I query why the complete village green application (the application form itself including the 6-page case (which, for interest, may be found in the file immediately above), 6 appendices and 104 representations from local people) has been returned as I thought that this should be registered in Wiltshire Council's files for 'posterity' (if anyone searches the files in future for a village green application for Rudloe Green, none would be found). The answer is given in Wiltshire Council's email.
So what now? I hypothesize some possibilities in my email to Sally Madgwick (Wiltshire Council) but I didn't mention the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL formerly known as Section 106 payments) which is imposed on all major new developments. These are not insubstantial sums - for example the levy imposed on the as yet only outline development at the ex-RAF Rudloe No. 2 Site in Westwells Road will be the best part of £1 million and that imposed on the 88-home Bellway 'Dickens Gate' development was over £700,000.
With the 242 homes on the original Rudloe Estate, the further 400+ homes on other Rudloe estates, the 170 homes (including 50 affordable) on the new Redcliffe 'Park Place' development, the 88 homes (including 35 affordable) on the Bellway 'Dickens Gate' development and the 180 homes (including perhaps 60 affordable) on the outline ex-RAF Rudloe Westwells Road development, the Rudloe/ Bradford Road/Hawthorn communities will constitute about 1,100 homes which, with average occupation from the 2011 census of 2.3 per household, gives the extended Rudloe community a population of over 2,500. A significant 'community' with no community centre or village green!
But not a single penny of the £1,700,000 CIL monies (not including the perhaps further £1 million from the Redcliffe development) has been proposed to enable local community hubs such as Rudloe Community Centre and Rudloe Green to provide for the existing or new communities. But the proposal for Rudloe Community Centre from Camomile Cafe and the saving of the Green (in one way or another) would secure a prosperous future for the Rudloe communities. Camomile Cafe, through its recently initiated Community Interest Company, along with local activists and councillors will continue to pursue this objective.
17th April 2019 - the village green application for Rudloe Green was delivered to the Rights of Way department (who also deal with village green matters) at County Hall, Trowbridge yesterday. The application consisted of the 9-page form 44 application countersigned by a local solicitor (thanks Matthew), a 6-page full case with 6 appendices, a list of the 103 people/families who provided evidence of use over the years and the evidence forms/emails themselves - so quite a weighty bundle (but all documents were also provided on CD)!
I must admit that I'm not overly optimistic that the application will get across the first hurdle which is its passage through the Wiltshire Council Planning department. In order to proceed, there should not have been a 'trigger event'. This would normally be a planning application on the subject land. In our case, there has been no planning application but, as the reader may know, GreenSquare has, over the years, proposed redevelopment of Rudloe Estate's central island including the building of homes (flats?) on the Green.
The ongoing threat of development should not constitute a trigger event but at the Wiltshire Council Cabinet meeting in Salisbury in June 2018, a decision was made regarding the future of Rudloe Community Centre and other Council-owned assets (including the Green) in the central island. That decision was to 'Engage in negotiations with a view to a transfer of the Council's freehold land and property holding to GreenSquare on terms to be agreed, for a regeneration scheme of affordable housing'. This decision might be seen as a trigger event.
However, that decision was made by Council Cabinet officers (and unfortunately supported by Councillor Whalley of Corsham) without any consultation with local people. The decision may be seen as unreasonable, ill-advised and invalid for a number of reasons - see below.
Firstly, a proposal with business case for the Community Centre was made by Camomile Cafe, a successful Corsham business with year-on-year increasing custom. Camomile Cafe's (CC) business plan was rejected by Wiltshire Council Estates departmental; CC also made an impassioned representation at the Cabinet meeting but to no avail. CC's initiative should have been seen as a valid, positive proposal to enhance the life of the community (5 locals and 2 councillors continue to work on this initiative).
Secondly, there is no requirement to increase the density of Rudloe Estate with further 'affordable' housing. The two closest new developments across the Bradford Road, Redcliffe's Park Place with 170 homes and Bellway's Dickens Gate with 88 homes, will include 85 affordable homes (50 at Park Place and 35 at Dickens Gate).
Thirdly, in an undated (but possibly 2011) study/paper, the North Wilts Open Space Study, here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/northwiltsopen_space_study.pdf, Rudloe Green is designated as Public Open Space (specifically a Local Park in para 4.41, table 8) within an area, Corsham and Rudloe, “where the deficiencies of Public Open Space are most acute” (para 4.76). Also, the Wiltshire Open Spaces Study 2015 – 2026, which can be found here: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/wiltshire-open-space-study-draft.pdf, in section 8.1.3 (Existing provision to be protected), states that the starting point of any policy adopted by the Council should be that all open space should be afforded protection unless it can be proved it is not required.
Fourthly, when local people are consulted, it is absolutely clear that the Rudloe Green has been and continues to be a vital part of the life of the estate's residents, particularly for the occupants of the 81 flats who have no garden space of their own. The 103 evidence statements bear witness to this; one example being the words of the Genery family "the Green has been an integral part of our lives".
So how could Wiltshire Council's Cabinet (unfortunately supported by Councillor Whalley) possibly come to a conclusion that this part (or any part) of the well-planned Rudloe Estate should be "regenerated" (this of course is a misnomer, a euphemism which actually means that more development will be forced upon Rudloe Estate as it would not be countenanced in other areas like Corsham town or Box village)? As stated above, this decision should be seen as unreasonable, ill-advised and invalid.
Anyway, we live in hope regarding the acceptance of the Village Green application which, if accepted, would mean that the Green could never be 'regenerated'.
30th March 2019 and the Rudloe community gathers for a picnic on the Green. Having realised that the Green could (could!) be lost if (if!) the GreenSquare Steering Group (see the 14th March 2019 article below) decides to adopt a plan similar to that proposed in 2015, the residents decided to show how important the Green is in the life of the Estate by holding this first picnic of the year and by completing around a hundred evidence forms on the use of the Green over the past 55 years or so.
GreenSquare's 2015 plan for the redevelopment of the central 'island' of Rudloe Estate (above): the Green and the Community Centre are replaced by housing (probably flats); the 1976 housing is demolished and replaced by some further housing (flats?) and a replacement (much smaller) 'green' with, inappropriately, a play park in the middle. A small community centre may be seen (in blue) at centre-left. A shop (in purple) and car park are proposed at the entrance to the estate.
The passion for the Green's continued survival was demonstrated not only by current residents of the Estate but also by former denizens, one of whom undertook a 30-mile pilgrimage across Salisbury Plain to lend support. But I was particularly impressed by a young teenager who had clearly been thinking deeply about what the Green means in the life of the community; at the prompting of her mother she articulated her thoughts to me and others.
14th March 2019 - Rudloe Community Centre and the 'Green'. A group of Rudloe residents along with Camomile Cafe (Corsham) is in the process of trying to form a Community Interest Company (see government link: CICs and the Wiki link: CICs) based at Rudloe Community Centre which remains, at present, in the hands of Wiltshire Council. The Council has come to an interim agreement with the GreenSquare organisation which through a proposed Steering Group is looking into the future of the whole of the central area of Rudloe Estate, including the Community Centre and the 'Green'. The proposed CIC and Village Green (see below) could be seen as an alternative plan to the 'formal' GreenSquare/Steering Group activity.
The 'formal' GreenSquare/Steering Group could (note 'could') come to a conclusion that would see the Community Centre demolished and the Green given over to housing. However, the CIC group will endeavour to save the Community Centre and the Green for the community and, through rudloescene, keep locals up-to-date with events.
With regard to the Green, there will be a leaflet drop over the weekend 16th/17th March 2019 asking for people's experiences of using the Green over the 55 years since the construction of the Estate. These experiences could be for just short periods at any time in the life of the Estate, from the 60s through to the present day or longer experiences over the whole life of the Estate. And the experiences could be from childhood (for pastimes or playing football or other games) and/or from teenage years through to adulthood (picnics, firework displays etc). The gathering of these experiences is an important first step in trying to gain Village Green status for the Green which would mean that it could never be built on.
The text of the Rudloe Green leaflet is shown below and is given in .pdf format further below. If the reader wishes to complete a form via this website, please print and complete a form and bring or send it to the address given or send it electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org (this address is also given on the form). Understandably, the reader may have many questions so please feel free to make contact via the 'Contact' page on this website or by email to email@example.com or by phone to 07803 295291.
23rd September 2018 - the future of Rudloe Social Club and its environs has been placed, by Wiltshire Council, in the hands of a steering group. Councillor Ben Anderson is the 'sponsor' of the Steering Group and Phil Bowley, Strategic Estates Manager of Greensquare Housing Association, is the project manager. The Steering Group will be responsible for producing a proposal for the future of the whole central area between Leylands Road, Priestley Wood Road and Westwood Road.
Not too long after this new, unecessary (the old Club was popular, well-used and had a wide variety of spaces for different uses), £850,000 Community Centre was built at the turn of the century it was described as 'not fit for purpose' by the very body (Wiltshire Council) that created it. Wiltshire Council has now 'transferred' the Centre from its books to GreenSquare for the princely sum of £1.
This debacle is a local example of the worthlessness of governments and councils whose ignorance is borne of a lack of knowledge (bit of tautology here ref ignorance/lack of knowledge but it emphasises the point!) of the issues on which they pass judgement.
Wiltshire Council's Estates team has assessed business plans for the Centre over the past six months and all were rejected. However, if the bids already considered, and others, were taken in combination then this might well provide an ideal opportunity for local groups to continue in operation. The two groups whose bids were rejected (individually) were Rudloe Pre-school and Camomile Cafe (which already has a premises in Corsham and would offer, inter alia, therapy sessions for both young and old which would provide an ideal adjunct to pre-school activities). The third group could be the Magic Dragon pre-school group which has lost its home in Box and is looking for new premises.
Anyway, GreenSquare now presides over the future of the central part of Rudloe Estate through the Steering Group which will be further composed of members of Box Parish Council and local (Rudloe) residents. With regard to the Community Centre, the in-combination use by the three groups mentioned above should be one of the first items on the Steering Group's agenda.
12th June 2018 - Wiltshire Council's Cabinet meeting in Salisbury decides on the 'Future of Wiltshire Council's Freehold Assets in Rudloe' (Rudloe Community Centre)
The proposal put to Cabinet by Councillor Toby Sturgis regarding Rudloe Community Centre was 'To support the recommendation on the preferred option to engage in negotiations with GreenSquare with a view to a transfer to GreenSquare the Council’s freehold interest required for their regeneration scheme within an agreed timescale, potentially at an under-value and on terms to be agreed'. Following representations from councillors Ben Anderson, Brian Matthew, Ruth Hopkinson and Phillip Whalley, the principal of Camomile Cafe (Corsham) and yours truly, the proposal was, effectively, put through 'on the nod' by the Cabinet.
Our local councillors, Ben and Brian, put forward positive views and proposals regarding the future of the Centre. I wish I could say the same for Corsham councillors Hopkinson and Whalley who, whilst fighting Corsham development tooth and nail, are happy to throw Rudloe to the wolves. The Camomile Cafe rep (whose name, unfortunately, slips my mind) made an impassioned plea for a social/therapy centre for both young and old. My three-minutesworth can be found in the .pdf file below the photo of the old Club.
The meeting agenda and reports can be found in the file link, again below the photograph. The pages of interest on the Rudloe Community Centre are 213 - 228.
A well-considered report of the Cabinet meeting, with regard to the Rudloe Community Centre and the traffic issues in Westwood Road and Leafy Lane, from Ben Anderson can be found in the final .pdf file below.
31st July 2017 sees the 'final' closure of Rudloe Community Centre after 75 years. Most of that 75 years was, of course, in the 'old' but successful and well-used social club (shown in the title picture and elsewhere on this website) but 'official' intervention brought about the demolition of the club and the construction of a £1 million white elephant which, just a few years after its construction, was described as "not fit for purpose" by the very body that created it.
A lesson from this debacle? Beware of government, whether national or local, and their 'projects'. Billions are wasted on unnecessary and/or unsuccessful projects and the Rudloe Community Centre is a prime, local, example.
'The Village on the Hill' across the By Brook Valley, Colerne, a village of about 3,000 souls supports two pubs (The Fox and Hounds, The Six Bells), two clubs (the Liberal and Conservative clubs), a community centre, two shops and a Post Office. Contrast Rudloe/Hawthorn, a community of similar size, which has lost its shops (Rudloe and Hawthorn), its Post Office and now its community centre (although there is a 'community centre'/cafe in Leafy Lane). So what's the difference?
I would say that Colerne is a 'proper' village, one that has grown organically wheras Rudloe, with the demise of the generation that arrived, largely from Ireland, for the war (WWII) work and the continued work at MoD establishments, has lost its soul. Thousands of people but no community. And with the 'official' (again) sanctioning of 700 new homes in west Corsham (Redrow's 150 at Pickwick, Bellway's 100 at Copenacre, Redcliffe's 170 at Bradford Road, Hannick's 88 at Rudloe, Framptons' 180 at ex RAF Rudloe No. 2 site) 'we' will simply be a dormitory conurbation for activities which take place elsewhere.
So what now? Our local councillor, Ben Anderson, states "Following a period of informally advertising the Centre, an agent has now been appointed to formally advertise it to potential new users. The Centre will be advertised for ‘All enquiries’ and the current plan is for it to be advertised for up to 6 months. Any organisations interested in leasing or buying the building will be asked to provide a business plan showing how they will viably run the Centre. There is at least one charity currently being spoken to that may bring forward a business plan. Once the outcome of advertising is known, Wiltshire Council will make a decision on which of the options to pursue."
The following response to the above article is from Rudloe resident Carl Wadkin-Snaith:
Thank you for the link to the story about the demise of the community centre. I have to say I disagree with quite a bit of what you say, and particularly with ‘thousands of people and
no community’ claim.
I don’t think it is possible to compare Rudloe with Colerne in that way: Colerne is a typically twee Wiltshire village where most of the original working class inhabitants have been replaced by those who can afford to live in a supposed rural idyl (as long as the church bells are not too loud.)
Rudloe, as we know, is a late 20th century satellite estate of Corsham, and those who chose to live in Colerne would more than likely never dream of purchasing a house in Rudloe. Furthermore, access to retail facilities of any type from Colerne is pretty difficult and would help to explain the survival of it’s shops. Whilst in contrast, it’s hardly a chore to drive into Corsham from Rudloe. The demographic differences alone would have a bearing on the survival of Colerne’s shops and pubs too.
There is a great community in Rudloe with people helping one another out, but crucially not interfering or prying in other’s affairs. It is in fact, the nicest place Sharon and I have ever lived. And as I mentioned to you once before; the contrast between the residents of Rudloe and Neston is quite marked, and I know which I prefer. Despite the fact that Rudloe is still spoken of in disparaging tones by those who live elsewhere.
As far as the community centre is concerned, perhaps the usefulness of such an edifice in the community is past it’s sell by date? The digital revolution has transformed the way people occupy their leisure time and perhaps the demographic mix in Rudloe is not interested so much in the facilities on offer. I don’t know enough about use of the centre as it is, though I recall some local people campaigned for the new building at the time. Perhaps the ‘not fit for purpose’ claims back then were spurious and in fact demand for the building was faltering.
Oh well I’ve had my pennyworth, please don’t knock the community of Rudloe, they make it a great place to live.
6th February 2017 - the Green Square developments of eleven new homes, eight in Long Close Avenue and three in Sandy Lea Avenue, along with their twenty-two private parking spaces (two for each house) are nearing completion - see the gallery below.
Allocating twenty-two spaces for Green Square's new homes is all very well but what about parking for the other Estate residents? The 19th February 2014 and 18th January 2015 articles below propounded that these developments skewed available parking to the advantage of the owners/tenants of these new homes and to the disadvantage of existing residents.
This has proved to be the case. When we visit a relative in this area we have to park in the 'main' road (Leylands Road) and block someone's drive. Steve, at no. 70 Leylands had someone block his drive all day some weeks ago and could not get out to go to work.
As indicated in the 2014 and 2015 articles, this situation was entirely predictable and unnecessary. This early-60s estate was well-planned by the Council with green space and an eye to the scale of future car ownership. This 'squeezing' of more houses (and people and cars) into the estate is mimicking all late-20th and 21st-century developments and is not the way we should be living.
29th January 2017 - Rudloe Estate play park - an update (of sorts) ...
There was a Corsham Area Board meeting on 19th January at which a Box councillor said that Box Parish Council has finally agreed to talk to Wiltshire Council about Rudloe play area. Box Council are now looking at the details of the play area, such as how much it costs to run and replace broken play equipment (although, in fact, there is no broken equipment ... and I never did receive a copy of the putative safety inspection - see 25th October 2016 article below). Box Council hasn't yet agreed to take on the play area but it's a step in the right direction. Storms, teacups!
25th October 2016 - the children's play area is, apparently, threatened with closure following Rudloe's move from Corsham parish to Box parish next April. A leaflet from Ben Anderson has brought this situation to the attention of local residents after his door-to-door drop earlier this week. Clearly Ben has very strong feelings about this as the leaflet production and drop must have taken quite some time and effort.
At one of their September meetings Box parish councillors made a vote of some sort (twelve for and one abstention so I am told) regarding the play area and the requirement for Wiltshire Council (which owns the area) to make sure that it is in a good state of repair before Box takes over its maintenance (from Corsham). This seems reasonable and I can't see any reason why Wiltshire Council would not do this. However, this does seem to be a storm in a teacup.
Box Parish Council (BPC) has told me that a safety inspection highlighted a number of issues with the area which is now sixteen years old. I have asked BPC to send me a copy of this report as two big kids inspected the area today and found just four minor issues - see the photos below.
There are no substantial problems with this play area. Children are at far greater risk of crossing the road to get here than they are from any play area issues. It seems that 'we' continue to fall prey to the 'litigation culture' that has so damaged what we used to know as everyday life.
Would you say that the brand new Corsham play area adjacent to the community campus is absolutely safe? Well, our grandson missed his hold on the bar on the zip-wire there, fell to ground and bashed his head. Safety inspection? Claim against the Council?
What about the play area on Box Rec - is this up to standard? It is not fenced like the Rudloe area so children could fall prey to any savage dog that might be roaming on the Rec. Fence the play area on the Rec? Put up a sign warning of potential dog attacks?
Let us please get a sense of proportion in all this. Fine, request that Wiltshire Council fix the minor problems with the Rudloe play area (which I'm sure they will) but let's not have any melodramas about closing play areas because of minor problems.
28th January 2016 - GreenSquare plans (or not?) for Rudloe Estate
The following is an email exchange between myself and GreenSquare:
Dear Mr Turner,
Simon Henstock has brought your message below to my attention. I am the development manager leading on the Rudloe regeneration project so I can help you with your enquiries – my apologies that it has taken a little while for us to respond to you.
We currently have planning permission to develop eight new homes on the garage site off Long Close Avenue and to develop three new homes on the garage site off Sandy Lea Avenue. We're pleased to say that we will be starting on site to build these new properties very soon. They will all be for affordable rent.
At present, this is the extent of the activity we have going ahead in Rudloe and we don't currently have firm plans to develop any further beyond these two sites. However, we are keen to invest more in the area, so we will continue to look into how we might be able to regenerate the wider estate. Please be assured that we won’t take forward any plans without first carrying out consultations with local people.
If you have any other questions about our plans, please do get in touch.
John Owen | Development Manager, GreenSquare Group
tel: 01793 602798, mob: 07810 860755 | Barbury House, Swindon SN5 7HB
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.greensquaregroup.com
From: Paul Turner [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 18 January 2016 21:13
Subject: GreenSquare Proposals for Rudloe
For the attention of Simon Henstock
Reference my email of 22nd December 2015 below, are you yet in a position to respond?
For the attention of Simon Henstock
Greetings from darkest Rudloe. For my sins, I run the rudloescene website which, hopefully, gives local people some insight into the goings-on in our beloved environment.
Many locals have mentioned the grand proposals that GreenSquare has for the Rudloe Estate. These proposals have, apparently, been mentioned at (personal) meetings with GreenSquare officials. However, I can find no mention of any such scheme(s) on the GreenSquare website. I have heard that GreenSquare would propose to:
There is a 'News' section on the rudloescene website where such significant proposals should/could be reported but as I can find no mention of the proposals on your website, such reporting would, at present, be solely on the basis of hearsay.
Could you point me in the direction of a document or webpage where I may find some substance regarding GreenSquare's plans? Even if no concrete proposals yet exist, I presume that there must be a 'green paper' (pardon the pun) on the subject which locals should know about (rather than being left in the dark).
18th January 2015 - planning application 14/04484/FUL - 8 homes at Long Close Avenue
The GreenSquare planning application for eight new homes at Long Close Avenue, Rudloe has been approved by Wiltshire Council planners. This is the 'sister' application to 14/04482/FUL (see 31st December 2014 and 19th February 2014 articles).
Whilst these homes will each have two parking spaces, there are no spaces provided for existing residents thus creating a significant parking problem.
Both the Sandy Lea Avenue and Long Close Avenue applications may be viewed using the 'buttons' below:
And here's a 'link' to the supposed design rationale, from GreenSquare, for the Long Close Avenue development:
The rationale, with regard to parking, states that because of the substantial increase in vehicle ownership, there is parking 'misuse' (on the roads) around Long Close Avenue and Kingslea Avenue. GreenSquare's solution? To provide two parking spaces, including a visitor's space (ref Wiltshire Council's Car Parking Strategy of 2011), for its proposed homes. A corollary of this is (of course) to deny parking to existing owners, tenants and their visitors! My wife, sister-in-law and myself regularly visit a house around this location; we used always to park off-road in the garage area. With GreenSquare's already identified parking problems, where does their 'rationale' now propose that we park? Without the garage area, we will have to park in Leylands Road, potentially obstructing buses (and perhaps other large vehicles) that use the Westwood Road/Leylands Road route. As Jim Royle would say "rationale my ****".
31st December 2014 - planning permission granted for increased density at Sandy Lea Avenue
The 19th February 2014 article discusses the issues associated with increasing housing density at Rudloe. However, in spite of the problems highlighted, Green Square is pushing ahead with its so-called 'Rudloe Renaissance'. This hyperbole is typical of modern life - in this case, glossing over the state of the British housing stock (the smallest in Europe) with slogans. This is not so much a renaissance as a backstreet density increase, stealing the open spaces that 60s planners (in their wisdom) granted necessary for a decent standard of communal life.
And here's a 'link' to the supposed design rationale, from GreenSquare, for the Sandy Lea Avenue development:
The Wilts County Council planning approval notification, taken from their 'Applications determined for w/e 19th December 2014' follows:
Application Number: 14/04482/FUL
Site Location: Garage site adj. Sandy Lea Avenue Rudloe SN13 0LT
Grid Ref: 384607 170075
Proposal: Erection of 3 Dwellings & Parking (Following Demolition of Existing Garages)
Case Officer: Chris Marsh Direct Line: 01249 706657
Registration Date: 06/05/2014
Decision: Approve with Conditions
Decision Date: 15/12/2014
19th February 2014 - Rudloe development
In March 2013, Wiltshire County Council published its 14-page Rudloe Housing Needs Survey. This document may be found in the file ‘link’ at the foot of this article.
The survey’s findings were based on questionnaires delivered to every one of the 565 households in Rudloe. Just 30% of the questionnaires were completed and returned.
The conclusion/recommendation of this survey was that ten new subsidised homes and one new sheltered home were needed in Rudloe over the next three years.
In 2013, the housing association GreenSquare conducted its own consultations with Rudloe residents on the subject of Rudloe Estate development. In May 2013, its Rudloe Update (file ‘links’ at the foot of this article) stated that “residents had identified the garage areas as underused spaces that were dumping grounds for waste and attracted vandalism” and “this feedback was our starting point for considering redevelopment”.
These statements were presented without evidence. Indeed, local residents have told me that there is no such problem. For example, two residents (names supplied on request) who have lived in houses backing onto the garages for 40 and 50 years have said that the only incidents over all this time had been the odd vehicle ‘dumped’ there – owners could, however, always be traced through a vehicle’s number plate. It appears then that GreenSquare’s “starting point” has been contrived.
“Garages underused”? Given the £44 per month rental, it's hardly surprising that residents have chosen to park their vehicles in the roadways. With the impending demolition of garages with just three weeks' notice (which GreenSquare describes as “making things easier”) after 50 years of occupation, Rudloe Estate’s roadways will be more congested and more difficult to negotiate.
The occupants of houses in Northcroft Road, Prestley Wood Road and Leylands Road have been able to park their vehicles in and around the garages at the rear of their properties for fifty years. However garage sites, including forecourts and access roads, are GreenSquare property and GreenSquare has informed me that there is no extant permission for any parking in the garage areas. See the result of removing a vehicle from its usual parking spot in the garage area to the only available option, the roadway in front of a Leylands Road house, in the picture above. Buses, emergency vehicles, delivery trucks etc cannot negotiate the roadways. This is called ‘Not thinking things through’.
Increasing density and expansion are becoming endemic to west Corsham: Royal Arthur – 221 homes, Copenacre – 120 homes, RAF Rudloe in Westwells Road – 100 homes (estimated), speculative Hannick development – 88 homes, speculative Gladman development – 150 homes, speculative Redcliffe development – 170 homes, Flamingo development – 14 homes, West Point development – 39 homes; a total of over 900 homes if all developments are approved. Most, if not all, of these developments will include a ‘40% social housing’ requirement – so, 360 social homes in west Corsham. Even if just the Hannick development is approved along with Copenacre and RAF Rudloe, Westwells Road, this will provide 300 new homes including 120 ‘social’ homes. And GreenSquare wants to increase the housing density of Rudloe Estate through demolishing garages and building social housing! This is called 'A lack of joined-up thinking'.
The Hannick speculative development of 88 houses just across the B3109 from Rudloe Estate, which looks the most likely to be approved (but not if we can help it - three locals will speak at the Wilts CC planning meeting on 12th March), includes about 200 parking spaces. So, on one side of the B3109 we have a proposed development with ample parking and on the other side developments drastically reducing parking. This is called 'Another lack of joined-up thinking'.
And, of course, the local academy is in on the act – the Corsham Primary November 2013 News announced: “Many friends and families will know that there are various plans to build new houses in and around Broadwood—most recently we heard some great news that GreenSquare is also planning to build some new family housing on the Rudloe Estate. We have been in discussions with some of the developers and it appears money (called Section 106) is made available to improve the school facilities which is great news for Broadwood”. This organisation appears to have a mercenary interest in all new developments to the extent that it contemptuously and audaciously importunes “discussions with the developers”. Never mind the loss of pastureland, the brownfield/greenfield issue, the lack of services at Rudloe etc - just give us the 106 monies.
Sixty years ago, the Rudloe/Boxfields prefab estates had a school, community centre, doctor’s surgery, library, grocer, butcher, fish & chip shop, cobbler and coal merchant. Now, for the 565-home Rudloe estates, just the school, the "not fit for purpose" community centre and a small, very limited convenience store remain. Listen carefully, I will say this only once: “Rudloe does not need or want increased density or greenfield development – it needs and wants services”.