Minutes of the Conservation meeting of

2014-01-20 at 19:30 in The Stocks

[The last amendment to these minutes was made on 2014-01-30.

Comments on these minutes can be sent to JP on http://conservation.ecclesfieldgroups.com/james.gif.

Letters refer to standing items, and numbers new items, in the Agenda of the same date at conservation.ecclesfieldgroups.com/minutes ].

A. Chair: Ian Deans (ID) chaired this meeting.

B. Attendance: ID JP, CT, MM, BS, LS, RT, KM, JH, PB signed into the meeting. SP attended but did not sign in. Apologies were received from KF. A total of 36 people receive emailed agendas and minutes.

Ongoing matters, or "things still to be done"

Z. The next meeting will be in The Stocks on Wednesday 19th February 2014 at 7:00 pm.

1) We decided to ask the Bloom Group if they wanted to apply for the grant for the Village Christmas tree this year. [Since our meeting, KF has referred this to the next in-Bloom meeting, which is in March. See ecclesfieldinbloom.co.uk - JP]

2a) ID recounted the history of our involvement in the sycamore tree on Stocks Hill/Yew Lane. This started when a member of the public contacted us after our November meeting to say that he had seen a sign on a sycamore tree. The sign gave 14 days notice to register concerns. Unfortunately, we took action on the day before the notice expired and Amey had already felled most of the tree.

ID then asked for and got a meeting at the depot. At this meeting, it appeared that Amey did not know that the tree was in the Ecclesfield Conservation Area. This information was apparently not on their geographical information system. This ID said was a retrograde step. Something of this might have been accepted by Amey, giving some hope of improvement; however our other points did not seem to be accepted. In particular, it became clear that Amey’s approach was only to provide information on their works, and did not allow for consultation. Other considerations seemed to be missing as well. There could have been bats living in the tree. This also did not appear to have been checked.

ID then had a meeting with senior managers on site, where alternatives were discussed. ID asked for and it was agreed that any replacement trees should be in the Conservation Area, but the site meeting failed to find any suitable locations. Nearby verges for example, were very narrow. Amey left the meeting agreeing to come up with a solution and promised to share this with the Group. However there has been no response. There was therefore a need to escalate the matter, and emails were copied in to Cllr. Jack Scott “Cabinet Member for the Environment, Recycling and Street scene”.

ID noted that the problem with street trees was Sheffield wide. Other people have complained, prompting Councillor Scott to write to the Sheffield Telegraph saying that notices were placed on a tree at least 2 weeks before any action was taken, and that Amey share information with others. However other letters, and our experience, indicates that all is not OK.

ID also circulated a photograph of the tree showing it as it was, and JP said that there was another photograph of the tree on our web site.

2b) Amey are carrying out an appraisal of all street trees as part of Sheffield City Council’s “Streets Ahead” work programme. The result will be a list which we think Amey will deliver to the Council in February.

ID Asked what members thought we should do about this. How direct for instance, do people want us to be? ID mentioned what Councillor Scott had said about consulting on trees [ http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/getting-to-the-root-of-street-trees-problem-1-6299452 I think] and asked whether members supported our making the issue more public. The meeting agreed to do this without objection. JP said that our website was available for this, and other members thought that as our MP, Angela Smith, should be informed also.

2c) Both ID and JP reported on their visits to the road show. This was extremely well attended. JP had gone down to discuss another tree that a couple of people had mentioned to him, and indeed which appeared to be giving trouble. Before doing this however, Amey explained their procedures. JP reported to the meeting that as he understood these procedures, once initiated, Amey would make an expert assessment of the tree concerned. However this would be a purely technical assessment, and once made it could not be changed. Furthermore, although Amey informed, they did not consult. They did not even knock on doors or take the views of the people most directly affected into account.

JP told the meeting that he had worked for private firms, and could understand a culture in which it did not occur to a private contractor to consult a third party. Indeed it might be quite wrong for them to deviate from what their contract instructed them to do. The one hopeful thing said, was that in the case of a tree, before felling it, Amey would inform Sheffield City Council. JP suggested that if we can establish a line of communication to the Council, then we might be informed of, and perhaps be able to give people a say in, what is happening.

ID then asked what action members wanted him to take regarding other aspects of the Streets Ahead work programme for Ecclesfield. He had already asked for a separate meeting with Amey on this and was awaiting their response. Members agreed that he should pursue this further. PB mentioned the need for preservation of the cobbles on Priory Road, now partly covered by tarmac.

3) ID told us that he had an appointment with Denis Wyatt ( Highways Enforcement Officer at SCC, at 10:00 the next day, on the proposed site of the planter on Church Street / Chapeltown Road. There would, ID said, have to be a Section 142 Licence to allow the planter to be placed on a roadside verge. To finalize this, we might have to approve the terms of the licence as a group, at a subsequent meeting of the Group.

4) After a debate, ID was asked to submit the draft submission to the HS2 consultation [This is now on conservation.ecclesfieldgroups.com. Just click on comments - JP].

A summary of the debate appears below…

ID reminded us that at the last meeting, he had promised to draft a number of points in response to the consultation on HS2. If we wanted on behalf of the group, these would need to be approved tonight. ID distributed copies of the document, which the meeting then discussed. A number of points were emphasized. These included the ancient woodland aspects, the 4km, 22 metre high embankment that would be needed, the six lanes of railway at Meadowhall, and how it would affect the Trans-Pennine Trail.

The construction phase was mentioned as a particular concern, including the effect on wildlife, and Blackburn brook, which now had trout in it, and therefore the River Don.

ID also noted that only one route past Ecclesfield was being proposed, with no other options being suggested. Also, it seemed to him that there had been little attempt to liaise with local groups or land owners, for instance with regard to the disruption to local access.

On the other hand, PB mentioned some positive effects, saying that he had found the high speed trains in Australia very good, and it was great to be able to get on a train for Barnsley at Meadowhall. There was a debate on the beneficial aspects of HS2, including on journey times.

The conversation then turned to the infrastructure problems that passengers were likely to experience at the ends of their journey. Also, ID told us of an analysis of the benefits to Sheffield, which concluded that these would be small, partly since HS2 through trains would not stop here, and partly because the proposed terminus was well outside the centre of Sheffield.

5) JP said that the Friends of Ecclesfield Library were continuing their dialogue with the library review team. In light of this, members decided unanimously to withdraw the Conservation Group’s own registration of interest in Ecclesfield Library, in favour of the Friends. [The Friends are inviting people to their meeting at 17:30 on 12th Feb (Wednesday) to work on ways of keeping the library open. See library.ecclesfieldgroups.com –JP]

Members also expressed support for what the Friends were doing, and said that they would be happy to allow Library volunteers to work on the Conservation Group’s archive if they wished to do so. [The Friends are starting by showing off our archive and demonstrating how to edit scanned photographs from 10:00 on 8th Feb (Saturday). – JP]

6) The proposal to change the meeting date to Wednesday, so that we could meet when the Lounge bar was less busy. It was decided to try this at the February meeting and see if members preferred it, but to meet at the slightly earlier time of 19:00.

X. Planning: The Methodist Chapel was mentioned, and it was agreed that ID should send a letter complimenting the developers on the final appearance of their building.

X. Planning: It was decided to contact the applicants for the planning permission to the rear of 135 Church Street, to ask them if they wanted to ask the Council to extend the Ecclesfield Conservation Area out to include the Dam. This would probably not affect the planning application itself, but would be arranged to come into force while the properties were being built, so that the owners could sell them as being in the Conservation Area and looking on to the protected area of the Dam [An email has now been sent to the agent – JP].

X. Planning: On another planning matter, RT expressed concern about any weakening of the protection currently given to green belt land, and other members also expressed concern. ID said that currently, green belt land is only supposed to be used in special circumstances. BS cautioned us about some properties which had been built on Nether Lane, which he thought was green belt [If you email me some more details, I will find out. E.g. Was it “97/01436/FUL | OFF NETHER LANE, ECCLESFIELD, 35 - ERECTION OF 27 DWELLINGHOUSES AND GARAGES | Land To The East Of 31 Mellor Lea Farm Drive Ecclesfield Sheffield” - JP]

X. Planning: Members asked about developments at Whitely Hall, but nobody could add to what we had been told in the email to us [If anybody hears anything, please me know – JP]

Y. Correspondence: The enquiry from Artbeat ltd., to use pictures they had selected from the archive was discussed. Members spoke in favour of asking people enquiring about commercial use for a substantial financial donation to the Group. However each enquiry was to be considered on its merits, depending on the application and the donors.

Y. Any Other Business: PB said that the graveyards in St. Mary’s Church were or had been surveyed, and suggested that we get in touch with them about this.

Completed matters or "things we have now done"

1) MM said that She had received a thank you for our contribution to the Christmas Tree festival at St. Mary’s Church, and handed round a certificate saying “To thank you for taking part in the Christmas tree festival and for making it a great success”. Apparently the money raised is going to be split between two charities. ID said that the trees looked beautiful.

X. Planning: There was no news on the proposal motorway service station on Smithy Wood, and JP said that he had looked and was unable to find a planning application for it.

Click to go to conservation.ecclesfieldgroups.com/