Bridport

Bridport  60 second survey


We want to hear your views on local issues to inform the work of our town councillors. Thank you for taking the time to fill in the survey.

We would particularly like to hear your views on our proposal to pedestrianise the top of South Street from the clock tower junction down to Gundry Lane/Folly Mill Lane.

South Street

We think this will have benefits such as:
- creating a much more pleasant and safe public space around Bucky Doo Square
- improving air quality
- reducing congestion in the town by improving the East-West flow of traffic.

For more details on the proposal click here.

(You will need to use the little slider on the right of the box to scroll down to fill in the responses.)

 

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Bridport Green Group is a local group of the West and South Dorset Green Party. We meet usually once a month, in the Snug in the George. 

Contact westandsouthdorsetgreenparty@gmail.com for more details.

We are proud to have two Green Party town councillors, Kelvin Clayton and Julian Jones.

Julian Jones and Kelvin ClaytonBridport's Green Party town councillors, Julian Jones (left) and Kelvin Clayton (right).

Elected in May 2015, they have already made an impact: the council is now committed to helping Bridport become the first Living Wage Town. And they also succeeded in passing a motion calling on the UK government to retain the Human Rights Act. You can read more about their work on the Town Council here.

And the links below will take you to Kelvin's Blog Page:

 

President Trump: to laugh or cry? - Kelvin Clayton Blog 9th November 2016

 

Newsletter 2 - February 2016

Here is a pdf version (1.9 MB) of our second Bridport Green Group newsletter. Right click on the image below and choose "Save Link As" (or similar) to download.

Newsletter

Newsletter 1 - October 2015

Here is a pdf version of our first Bridport Green Group newsletter. Right click on the image below and choose "Save Link As" (or similar) to download.

Newsletter

News

Open Letter to First Bus

Marc Reddy

First Dorset Managing Director

283 Empress Rd, Southampton,

Hampshire, SO14 0JW

15 August 2016

Industrial Dispute at Bridport and Weymouth Depots

We are writing as Bridport Town Councillors to urge an immediate end to this unnecessary dispute which is causing inconvenience and uncertainty for bus users and damaging the prospects for the future of the bus service in the area.

We totally support the justice of the driver’s case for equal pay with other depots.  Paying a meagre £8.80 an hour for a skilled and responsible job is scandalous. The drivers deserve to be paid much more than they are asking for.  Your company has tried to justify the discrimination against our local drivers on the grounds that fare revenue in this area is lower than the other areas where higher wages are paid.  Hardly the drivers’ fault – they do just the same job as colleagues elsewhere.

We find it remarkable that your company, part of the massive First Group, can conduct itself in such a short-sighted manner.  Have you never read or learnt anything about how to motivate staff, and the commercial advantages that result from a well-motivated workforce?  It seems not since your company is going to great lengths to alienate the drivers.  The union says it would cost £48,000 to settle this dispute and you say this is unaffordable yet the 2014/15 accounts of First Hampshire & Dorset show that the five directors of the company received £834,000 between them, an average of £166,800 per director. First Hampshire & Dorset’s profit after tax was £2.58 million!

With the bus network already under severe stress from cuts in DCC subsidies this dispute increases the danger that the whole system will become untenable as local people have to resort to other means of travel.  We want the bus service to not just survive but to expand as one part of a sustainable transport system for our area.   We appeal to you to see sense, settle the claim in full and start to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Julian Jones, Bridport Town Councillor - Green Party

Kelvin Clayton, Bridport Town Councillor - Green Party

 

South Street Pedestrianisation

The Green Party in Bridport are suggesting that the time has come to make the top of South Street a pedestrian zone, or more precisely a shared space where delivery, street cleaning and emergency service vehicles may enter moving at walking pace with no priority over pedestrians.  This was a missed opportunity when the bypass was created and Sea Road South built. The following points expand on the benefits and how we believe the scheme should work; the final details will of course have to be acceptable to Dorset County Council which is the Highway Authority.

 

1/ A pedestrianised zone as far south as the Gundry Lane/Folly Mill Lane junction will make the area quieter, cleaner and better suited to outdoor events and on-street seating for pubs and cafes.  The zone will provide a more civilised environment for the market and cultural attractions and link with the Tanyard and Borough Gardens, which could be more prominently signed.

 

2/  Removing turning traffic from the Town Hall junction will reduce delays to east and west bound traffic, assist reliability of bus services and make it easier for pedestrians to cross East and West Streets safely.

 

3/  A traffic free area in the centre of Bridport will help to reverse domination of the urban road network by motorised vehicles.  It will encourage more people to walk and cycle and help local people and tourists to appreciate their surroundings in safety.

 

4/  Traffic flows in the town will quickly adapt along the following lines:-

 

Drivers from the south wanting to access central, eastern and northern parts of Bridport or beyond will use Sea Road South and turn left into East Street or go ahead up Sea Road North.  Generally likely to be a faster option than using South Street.

 

Drivers from the south wanting to access western parts of Bridport or beyond will either use the bypass to Miles Cross and come in from there or drive via Skilling Hill Road, Alexandra Road and Magdalen Lane.

 

Drivers from the west and north west wanting to access southern parts of Bridport or beyond may use the above route or drive down St Michael’s Lane and up Gundry Lane which will be a one-way road in the opposite direction to its current one.

 

5/  Shop owners in the pedestrianised section of South Street may fear a decline in business but in fact the scheme is much more likely to increase their business. Delivery arrangements will be guaranteed for these businesses. It is a myth that motorists are parking on yellow lines in this section of South Street and going into shops and businesses on either side.  The South Street car park is a very short distance from all these businesses and is a perfectly adequate place from which to walk to the shops. The improved ambience of a pedestrian street will improve footfall and business; a clearly established fact from thousands of similar schemes across the UK and Europe. See for example

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0967070X93900047

 

6/  While some increased traffic flow is predictable on Skilling Hill Road, Alexandra Road and Magdalen Lane this should not significantly alter safety and amenity because there are existing low speed limits and traffic calming chicanes.  DCC could add further measures if they felt any were justified.

 

Vearse Farm – Bridport

Introduction

This site on agricultural land on the western edge of the town has been included in the Local Plan as the main area for future housing growth.  760 houses are envisaged by 2031, along with employment land, a site for a new primary school, a 60-bed care home, football pitches, play areas, a small local centre and allotments.

An outline application, quite closely matching the details in the adopted Local Plan, has been made by Hallam Land Management.  There is controversy about this and a pressure group called ADVEARSE opposes the whole principle of development on this site.  This article summarises the view of the Green party group in Bridport based on the facts as we currently know them.

Development in principle

We do not oppose further development of Bridport.  This is the second largest town in West Dorset with 14,000 inhabitants in the town council area and the linked urban areas in the surrounding parishes.  The population of the country is growing unusually quickly at present and we cannot expect to be insulated from the consequences. A combination of those born and bred plus incomers have made Bridport a thriving town, the capital of culture for west Dorset and a place with exceptional community spirit.  None of that will be lost if the town expands by 12 to 15% over the next 15 years; in fact hopefully its vitality will increase further. To put that pace of growth in context the population within the town boundary grew by 7.8% between 2001 and 2011.  These are the most up to date figures available. 

Flaws in the way development is planned

The logical and democratic way to plan for development, such as future growth of a town, is to ensure that democratically elected councils make all the key decisions without the profit motive distorting and potentially corrupting the process.  However almost the reverse applies.  An astonishingly lucrative business has grown up in which agricultural land worth £10,000 or less per acre can be converted to £1 million per acre by achieving planning permission for housing.  This feeds on and in turns feeds the housing bubble in the UK which is widening inequality and making any decent level of housing unaffordable for more and more people.

Specialist firms now speculatively buy up numerous plots all over the country (or agree options to buy should planning permission be achieved). They then devote their expertise and financial resources to persuading planning authorities to include those plots inside development boundaries if they currently lie outside.  They next apply for planning permission and can intimidate the planning authority (WDDC in our case) by the unstated threat that if permission is not granted they will appeal to central government. If they get the decision reversed the council will have to meet the very high costs of the appeal.

This is the niche that Hallam Land Management operate in.  As soon as they obtain permission they will place the site on the market, seeking a buyer from among the big construction firms who could actually build it. They then depart the scene with a large profit and turn their attention to other opportunities.  The only way to end this profit driven process would be giving councils power to compulsory purchase land deemed suitable for development, paying a small premium above agricultural prices.  Until this country elects a government willing to enact such reforms we have to operate within a deeply flawed planning system.

So what about Vearse Farm?

Provided the developers are obliged to design the scheme in a form that meets Bridport’s main priorities and aspirations it could be acceptable to see this greenfield site developed.   The location has the potential to support sustainable patterns of living.  The centre of the site is one kilometre from the centre of the town so high levels of walking and cycling to local services and employment are possible.  Bridport already has 30% of its employed residents walking or cycling to work compared to 14% in England as a whole.  The site also adjoins two reasonably high frequency bus routes and could eventually support an additional local service looping through the site.

The scheme could also be built with high standards of insulation and energy generation on site; there is no physical impediment to such standards.  It should be seen as a precondition for development, allowing the site to play a role in tackling climate change.  The site is in the AONB but so is every inch of Bridport and all its surrounding areas.  As a result the AONB designation alone cannot rule out development – a more detailed consideration of the characteristics of the site is needed.  Is it for instance an SSSI or an exceptional asset within the local landscape?  It is neither of these.  The main issues in losing this site would be loss of food growing/rearing capacity and loss of habitat for wildlife and the landscape impact of seeing buildings rather than fields.

Priorities and aspirations

It will never be possible to say unequivocally what the main priorities and aspirations of Bridport’s residents are since they are very diverse and sometimes contradictory.  The best we can do is draw on debate over the years in local organisations and the media, Local Plan consultation and the more recent results from consultation about a Neighbourhood Plan.  We also reflect Green Party principles in drawing up the following list.

1. Affordable Housing

Hallam’s Statement of Community Involvement showed that 94% of those who gave feedback on the consultation in March were in favour of affordable housing in the development.  We are clear that this is the priority community benefit that the scheme must deliver and the one that needs most improvement relative to Hallam's proposals. The term affordable housing as defined by the Government i.e. up to an 80% maximum for sale or rent relative to the open market is a complete misnomer in the Bridport context.  Those in housing need cannot afford to rent properties at 20% below current open market rates let alone buy a property at that discount. 

Wages are low and 69% of the jobs in Bridport are in low paying sectors compared to 49% in England as a whole.  Possibly a third of people in work here earn less than the Living Wage.  Only rented property at around 50% of open market rents could meet their needs.  We wish WDDC to determine the financial cost to the developer of meeting their obligation in the conventional way (35% or about 266 discounted properties) and use this sum as the basis for a similar cost expended on financing a smaller number of properties which are genuine social housing. The developer that buys the site with planning permission and actually constructs the scheme probably wouldn’t wish to be a registered social landlord so they would need to transfer the properties to the most suitable housing association or to a Community Land Trust (CLT).  These arrangements must be legally enforceable on Hallam’s successor.  Therefore Hallam and the housing association or CLT, overseen by WDDC, would need to agree the financial and legal arrangements to make that a reality.

These properties should be identical to all the other properties in their size category and should be distributed among each parcel of housing identified in the submission. They should be made available at no less than a pro-rata rate with the overall phased build.

2. Sustainability and climate change

The built environment within this development should make a positive contribution to tackling climate change.  Despite the retrograde step by the government in July to scrap the zero carbon new homes target by 2016 we believe that Hallam should be required to construct all housing development at Vearse Farm on that basis.  That was existing government policy throughout the period Hallam were planning and designing this proposal so meeting the target should have been central to their assumptions.  These houses are likely to be occupied for the rest of the 21st century and it would be irresponsible to build them to 20th century standards.

Zero carbon means that the new dwellings should generate as much energy on-site – through renewable sources, such as wind or solar power – as they would use in heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation.  So in practice at least as much electricity should be generated on site as will, on average, be consumed.  Houses and ideally other buildings should be built at or close to passivhaus standards, i.e. so well built and insulated that they require minimal heating even in winter.  An appropriate combination of ground, air or water source heat pumps should be installed so that their modest heating requirements are met from the site, supplemented by solar gain.  Much reduced energy costs for the occupants are the other major benefit.

3. Trip generation and sustainable transport

This development will generate a significant number of new trips by residents and workers and this worries people who perceive Bridport to be already clogged with traffic.  Well-planned measures are essential to make walking and cycling into Bridport easy, safe and attractive.  Commitment is needed to joint working with bus companies and funding of a local bus service looping through the site that could also run to Symondsbury and for instance Salway Ash, resolving shortfalls in the current bus network.  Parking provision for the new housing should be kept to a minimum.

At the same time Bridport Town Council, working with the district and county councils, should reconsider parking policy which is currently encouraging local people to drive into and through the town unnecessarily.  There are too many town centre car parks, the charges are too low and there is too much on street parking capacity in East, West and South Street. 

4.  Wildlife considerations, allotments, trees and green spaces

Due to modern farming techniques the fields on the site have little wildlife value.  In contrast the trees and hedgerows do and these need to be retained wherever possible.

From the Hallam illustrative master scheme we can support the green open spaces provision and the additional tree planting around the borders which will soften the visual impact and provide some screening from road noise. Plans for several wet areas which form part of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System, and the stated intention to keep as many existing trees and hedgerows as possible also seem a correct approach.  However there may be conflicting opinions on what “is possible” and we urge WDDC to put a consistent level of resource into retaining every hedgerow possible as they have a very high wildlife value.

The field designated for allotments floods not once in a hundred years but, in a wet year, several times a year. We certainly support the provision of these allotments but consider that they will need a levee encircling them.

5.  Access to the site

The two access roads from West Road cross the Symene (the eastern access) and a watercourse (the western access) that also floods badly.  The roads will need to elevated on wide bridges so that access is maintained during flooding.  Those bridges should not form a barrier to the river’s and watercourses flow.  Therefore, in line with the rural influence design approach for western parts of the site, they should follow the traditional solution such as a triple arch bridge made, if at all possible, from local stone by local craftsmen.  The overall development has an inevitable negative impact on the landscape so it is important to take opportunities to enhance the landscape at these crossings of rivers and watercourses.

6.  Employment

A four hectare area reserved for employment has the potential to be a valuable addition especially if it allows local firms to expand into larger premises and is attractive to higher paying employers who may have been deterred by lack of suitable premises locally.