Wiv Soc Wrap

And so what is on the collective minds of the good folk of the Wivenhoe Society as we wave goodbye to 2012 and welcome in the New Year?

Local Lists, Planning and the Phillip Road Centre.

Same as it ever was.

Oh – and the Wiv Soc Late Late Post-Christmas Party, taking place at the William Loveless Hall [where else?] closer to Valentine’s Day than the 25th December.

A dozen red roses are already on order.

Ahh – but who for?

Perhaps for the secretive Wiv Sic Newsletter deliverer, who never fails to… deliver.

Yep, the December Wiv Soc Newsletter is out. It’s not exactly yer hyperlocal Heat magazine – and thank the chuffers for that. But it is another detailed read of the ever changing local landscape that Wiv Soc takes a principled interest in.

Let’s start with the Wivenhoe Local List.

This isn’t a collection of local takeaway menus, but a formal submission to Colchester Borough Council outlining buildings of historical importance. Little legal clout is carried by the List. It is however a polite prod in the ribs of the esteemed members of the CBC Planning Committee, should any of the buildings ever come up for planning consideration.

Jane Black pens another thoughtful piece looking at planning issues over recent months. In particular Jane is keen to highlight how developers can seemingly:

“cherry-pick which bits of permitted building they actually carry out.”

Ouch.

This is in reference of course to the bodged attempt by Realise Health Ltd to build a bonkers Health Centre down by the Colne Barrier.

“The new owners, Lexden Restorations, are no longer negotiating with RHL given the opposition to putting the Health Centre on the site. The intention is to ask for a change of use to allow a 50 cover restaurant on the ground floor with offices above.”

Elsewhere and Jane looks at the digester tanks down at the Hythe (approved after revised landscaping proposals – TREES) St John Ambulance Hall (demolition refused) and Pearl Walk (proposal to convert three commercial units to residential use.)

Oh – and the Tendring Local Plan has finally been submitted.

Here lies the paradox of Planning. Any self-respecting local authority (even Tendring) needs a Local Plan to outline agreeable developments. No Local Plan leads to the developers parking their diggers on your green and pleasant land.

But what if y’know – you don’t want to develop…?

This is a question that Essex County Council will soon need to be asking back at the Phillip Road Centre. Jane Black writes another brilliant piece in the Wiv Soc Newsletter, explaining how the ECC owned building is ripe for a Right to Bid project as permitted in the Localism Act.

At a national level and that nice Eric Pickles is keen to empower communities.

Or something.

That nice Eric Pickles is also keen to empower any cash-strapped local authorities that he is slashing the budget from, to offload any assets that they can now no longer afford to keep.

See where the solution lies, Comrades?

You call it Big Society, I / we (and most definitely NOT wearing a day job hat here – phew) call it an opportunity to do it yourself, once the local authority walks away from their responsibility.

Right to Bid is an open book for any community to take control of community assets and put in place a legacy [URGH] for generations to come. Here in Wivenhoe we have some expert help on the ground, combined with the will to make this happen.

The Wiv Soc meeting with Annemarie Naylor, the Head of Assets at Locality (and Greyhound drinker) at The Nottage could be crucial in moving the Phillip Road project forward.

Jane Black concludes:

“Do we collectively have the will to take on the challenge and contribute cash, or, if not cash, help with fundraising and grant scrounging? Self-interest might also be invoked.

Is it better for children to have a youth club than to be hanging around the Co-op? Do we want the site to be given over to yet more houses served by a narrow road off the High Street?”

…or do we want a mixed use community hub, providing desk space during the day and leisure and learning opportunities in the evening?

One to ponder as you scoff the last of the mince pies.

Elsewhere in the Wiv Soc Newsletter and the continued success of the Colne Cleanup is celebrated. Forty folk volunteered for the spring session. Some might even say *shhh* Big Society.

Any mucky pups wanting to wade around the muddy banks of the Colne should have the morning of 17th March free in their 2013 diaries.

The ACE effort in Wivenhoe Scouts and Guides managing to mobilise folk online and offline to obtain a £5,000 Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund is also mentioned.

Wine tasting at The Legion gets a glass half full outlook, as does a call for any tree experts to step forward to help map what can be found on the hyperlocal landscape.

A new Chair is also required come the Wiv Soc AGM on 27th March.

Wiv Soc: Planning and parties.

Perfect.

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