News - Panel Questions - River Bank and Issues around Hicks Farm

NEW - Friday, 14th March 2014 // UPDATED - 23rd July 2014 // UPDATED - 30th July 2014 // UPDATED - 31st July 2014 // UPDATED - 15th August 2014

UPDATED - 15th August 2014

E-mail Reply from Councillor Ron Whittaker
14th August 2014
RE: Stour Valley Masterplan / Allotments etc.

Michael.

Thank you for your very detailed reply, won't spoil it by repeating some of the correspondence in 2008, it had little then to do with the new administration's plans for Hengisbury head, with all then consultation and panel meetings there was a great deal of expressions of support all to be kicked into the long grass, anyway that was then, moving on to now.

You explain the Stour Valley Master Plan has a number of ideas within it, you say some will be taken forward, others may not, it is the IDEAS THAT ONE WOULD LIKE MORE DETAILS ON.

It is naturally your final paragraph [page 2] that interests me. At this stage you say "you do not have detailed plans", has the new tenant farmer made any impute into how he sees the farm moving forward, from your reply clearly I won't be around when in 2015 [election year] it will be then up to other elected members to decide as to what they then wish to see, that will be up to hopefully councillors who will engage, you do say you will SHARE THE 2008 PLANS with Heritage Lottery Fund. It was such a brilliant scheme described then as a "DREAM COME TRUE" bordered by the river Stour and its own built in wild life corridor, a scheme that would have brought young people together, as a working farm.

Again your email refers to bring the buildings on the farm into a sustainable / suitable use, as you are aware any use must be appropriate in the countryside and green belt and more so compatible with continuing farming operations. Hence my ongoing questions over so my months.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

E-mail Reply from Michael Rowland - Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council
14th August 2014
RE: Stour Valley Masterplan / Allotments etc.

Dear Cllr Ron,

As you know the plans we developed for Hicks Farm in 2008 were not taken forward at the time, the success in developing plans for Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre took precedence due to interest from external funders, we focussed on this as our major project for Countryside and Conservation at that time. We have now significantly completed the visitor centre, although work remains to be done on improving the feel of the site as one enters along Broadway. We are now moving our focus to Stour Valley.

You're also aware that last year we had the Stour Valley Masterplan adopted, also that a large part of our Heathland Mitigation Strategy focuses on the Stour Valley corridor, where improvements will offset pressure on Heathlands locally. In September Bournemouth will take in-house the direct management of Heathland Mitigation funds to develop projects in the town, we will also be bringing in-house a new member of staff from the Urban Heaths Partnership. Tom Bennett also started last week as our new Senior Ranger for North Bournemouth.

Last year we signed a memorandum of understanding with the RSPB and are now working with them to develop events and projects in Bournemouth. From September we will be starting to work in more detail on visitor surveys and community involvement in the Stour Valley. This is all in preparation to build up an Heritage Lottery Fund bid to begin to realise our ambitions for the area.

What we are agreed on is:

  • We will develop a continuous bike/buggy/footpath trail between Hengistbury Head and Kinson, running through the Stour Valley and taking in Hicks Farm/Berry Hill/Stour Valley Nature Reserve.
  • The route will have clear gateways, interpretation and signage, plus a sculpture trail.
  • We will develop better access and visitor facilities around Hicks Farm, sensitive to the landscape and area
  • We will develop better links for local communities to the trail and link to other trails

You know that the Stour Valley Masterplan has a number of ideas within it. Some of these will be taken forward, others may not, at this stage we cannot make decisions, clearer plans will come out of involvement with the community, interest groups, partners and funders.

When we meet with Heritage Lottery Fund we will share the 2008 plans, our recent strategies and masterplans and other funding possibilities.

I would expect that over the course of the next 3-4 months we will work to submit a development grant application to Heritage Lottery Fund - this will be a modest grant to help us develop detailed plans to submit a large grant application in around 12-18 months.

Barbara will also be working on the further development of the trail, building up missing links from Hengistbury Head to Iford, alongside signage and interpretation of the trailway - all through Heathland Funds. We will also be working alongside Dorset Wildlife Trust's Great Heath Project to deliver around £30,000 of improvements in signage and interpretation across many of our nature reserves in Bournemouth. When the opportunity arises will improve the link from Hicks Farm to Throop Weir Bridge.

You asked what are our detailed plans for Hicks Farm - the answer has to be at this stage, we do not have detailed plans. Over the next three years much of the land will remain rented for grazing or grazed by our cattle, the house will be rented out too, to ensure continued income. We have reserved space to develop a link across to the weir bridge and we will reserve the ability to develop the trail from Hicks to Berry Hill (off road). Our priority beyond this will be to work on restoring buildings and bringing them into a sustainable and suitable use - which will be decided through the project development process. To decide any more at this stage would be to pre-empt the views of the community (both existing site users and those that currently don't visit), who we will engage with in the coming months.

Kind Regards,
Michael
Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council

E-mail from Councillor Ron Whittaker to Michael Rowland - Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council
12th August 2014
Stour Valley Masterplan / Allotments etc.

Michael.

Request for a full detail reply to my request on hicks farm, BUILDINGS AND LAND associated with the farm, otherwise will have to put question to full council on the 16th, September.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

UPDATED - 31st July 2014

E-mail Reply from Councillor Ron Whittaker
30th July 2014
RE: Hicks Farm

OK, but still disappointed that we won't see much happening on the path link to the new bridge.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

E-mail Reply from Michael Rowland - Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council
30th July 2014
RE: Hicks Farm

Dear Cllr Ron,

We're very early on this - our plans - simply to restore buildings to better use, bring all land into good use (we have an agreement for horses for at least 3 years already), develop a site with a heritage and landscape value in partnership with local volunteers. A long way to go yet and will need to gently engage community. I think we wait to speak to Heritage Lottery Fund in Sep and take their advice on best way forward. Can we not raise any expectations until then.

Regards,
Michael
Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council

E-mail Reply from Councillor Ron Whittaker
30th July 2014
RE: Hicks Farm

YES PLEASE Heritage Lottery Fund !!

Can I have the full assurances that horses as previous remains and the plans you refer to landscape project discussions will we see the former plans of 2008, which I doubt for an outdoor learning and working farm.

Especially for the younger generation to learn about environmental and ecological education many refer to a city farm, with rare breeds of cattle and sheep.

Know much then was directed to Hengistbury Head, but Hicks Farm and the Stour offers great opportunities which this time cannot be allowed to be missed.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

E-mail Reply from Michael Rowland - Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council
30th July 2014
RE: Hicks Farm

Dear Cllr Ron,

We're waiting for this to link up with the other side, as soon as we know they're good to go we'll organise our side to be done.

If we get to doing our Hicks Farm project before that we will go before them.

We're going to be talking to Heritage Lottery Fund about Hicks Farm as a landscape scale project in September, this will be an informal meeting to discuss possible projects, but they do have an interest. We'll keep you very much informed of progress.

Regards,
Michael
Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council

E-mail from Councillor Ron Whittaker to Michael Rowland - Parks Development Manager, Bournemouth Parks - Bournemouth Borough Council
30th July 2014
RE: Hicks Farm

Michael,

Hicks Farm, really disappointed in the reply, reference to "where we ONE DAY HOPE" to develop a path, other point the reply then makes reference, work will be undertaken as soon as our partners north of the river are ready to develop the wider links. My QUESTION WAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE NORTH OF RIVER, it was vital that the path as talked about for some time on the Bournemouth side to allow access to the new bridge and NOT over the small weir bridge. THIS NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED URGENTLY.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

UPDATED - 30th July 2014

COUNCIL MEETING - 29 JULY 2014

General Question to the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Culture: Councillor Lawrence Williams

Would the portfolio holder please tell me when and if the long held plans for improvements through Hicks Farm are likely to be carried out in view of the ongoing difficulties identified in emails from the Chairperson of the Sports Forum for the Disabled when approaching from the rear of Throop Mill path and the very tight crossing over the weir bridge?

Councillor Ron Whittaker

Reply from the Cabinet Member for Leisure, Tourism and Culture: Councillor Lawrence Williams

The Parks and Transport Teams have been working together on delivering improved access to the Stour Valley by developing a new high quality and accessible link between Berry Hill and Stour Valley Nature Reserve. This project has been funded through open space contributions and local transport plan funds.

Furthermore, the Parks Service, through Heathland Mitigation Funds, has been improving the paths between Granby Road and the fishing platform, through bank restoration works and the commissioning of a new boardwalk.

These projects complete earlier work, grant funded by the National Lottery Fund, to develop an accessible path through the Stour Valley Nature Reserve. The recent works create over 2 miles of continuous off-road trail in some of Bournemouth's most beautiful countryside.

This work follows the adoption of the Stour Valley Masterplan by Cabinet in December, a plan which sets out our ambition to create a continuous accessible link for walkers, cyclists, buggy and wheelchair users following the River Stour between Hengistbury Head and Kinson.

The link route running east of Hicks Farm down to Throop weir bridge also forms part of our plans, where we one day hope to develop a path that will allow wider access towards Hurn Forest and Bournemouth Airport. Steps have been taken to ensure that the path route on the Bournemouth side of the river is free from grazing and ready for a route to be implemented. This work will be undertaken as soon as our partners north of the river are ready to develop the wider links on the other side of the river.

29 July 2014

UPDATED - 23rd July 2014

E-mail from Councillor Ron Whittaker
22nd July 2014

John from Dorset County Council has come back. Can you please give me an update regarding access via Hick farm as we have been talking about the improvement for over a year.

Councillor Ron Whittaker

E-mail Reply from John Williamson, Senior Ranger East, Avon Heath
21st July 2014

Thank you for your email.

I will endeavour to get the river path cleared as soon as possible, hopefully it will be this week.

I will let you know once it has been done.

The damaged section will take longer to have repaired but we'll do so as quickly as we can.

Both myself and Sophia from Bournemouth are actively involved with trying to get improvements through Hicks Farm and along the river bank in question. Unfortunately these things take a long time to reach fruition but discussions are going on as I email this to you.

The work may have to be carried out in stages according to what funds we can find at any given time but I'm hopeful that bit by bit we will get there.

Kind regards,
John Williamson, Senior Ranger East, Avon Heath

Showing Completion of Ramp on New Throop Weir Bridge Crossing, Bournemouth 2

E-mail to John Williamson, Senior Ranger East, Avon Heath
21st July 2014

Hi Johnathon

Hope you are well... we are enjoying the new bridge over the River Stour and thank you again for your help in making it wheelchair friendly.

Unfortunately, we are having trouble with the extremely rough patch of stones just after the ramp coming from the Mill sluice gates and towards the new bridge. As you know, a great deal of damage was done to the path in the floods resulting in much of the top surface being washed away and the whole path is much stonier/rougher.... but it is the one particular section that is now extremely difficult for people with reduced mobility and wheelchairs.

Also, the path to the right after the new bridge is very overgrown with brambles and impassable for wheelchairs many thanks again for all your help.

NEW - Friday, 14th March 2014

Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Panel - 13 March 2014

Questions for Cabinet Members:

Cllr Ronald Whittaker to Cabinet Member for Tourism, Leisure and Culture

1. Having visited the river path with water levels near back to normal, can one ask as to a possible starting date to the cancelled works on the Stour bank? (Much of the path remains in a reasonable condition with some large muddy/boggy sections as one leaves the board walk toward the Fishermans platform).

Answer: The River Stour is currently back within its regular channel, with water levels still very high. The Stour catchment, which extends into North Dorset and Wiltshire, is still saturated and any rain immediately runs off the land putting the lower reaches of the river back into flood very quickly.

Cain Bio-Engineering (our appointed contractor) are in regular contact with the Environment Agency monitoring ground water and river levels. As soon as ground water levels drop enough to give a reasonable flood buffer they will commence works. We expect this to be in the next four weeks or so should the weather remain mainly dry.

As soon as Officers obtain a start date they will inform ward members for both Throop and Muscliff and Redhill and Northbourne.

2. Last year from November onwards I asked through emails and cabinet questions about Hicks Farm, Can one please have an update as to where we are at present? (From what I understand all horses remain).

Answer: Officers are working now to complete an agreement with a new local farm manager to take on responsibility for grazing and stabling of horses at Hicks Farm. This will initially be a three year agreement and will follow on from the existing agreements that are in place currently.

The new agreement will exclude the farmhouse, which will be let through an agent for the same period initially.

During this three year period the Council will be working with partners to develop sensitive plans to improve the current building stock in line with proposals in the recently adopted Stour Valley Masterplan.