To invite members of the public who have registered in advance of the meeting to speak to the Committee. Please note that the deadline to register to speak at this meeting is 12 noon on Tuesday 6th December 2022.
The Chair introduced the public speaking item and explained to the Committee that several public speakers had registered to speak either in person or had prepared statements to be read out before the Committee.
The Chair explained to Members that a written statement had been received from Ms. J. Lovell, made on behalf of herself and two other residents, Dr. E. Soady and Mr. I. Soady. Therefore, nine minutes would be allocated for this statement to be read out by the Democratic Services Officer present. Her statement was delivered as follows:
“I make this statement on behalf of myself, Mr and Dr. Soady and we represent the hundreds of people, including their children, who can’t be here but will be detrimentally impacted should this appropriation go ahead to allow what is a BUILD DEVELOPMENT.
Talk to anyone on social media, on the street, in the park, in the meadow, they will all say “IT’S A DONE DEAL “. And yes, it is as far as the ruling incumbent councillors are concerned. That is evidenced in their committees in pursuit and it’s no secret this is the site they want, and this is the site they shall have.
So, the officer seems to me to be saying that apart from the loss of open space no other argument is valid because they have planning permission. [ By the way that’s OUTLINE planning permission.] So as a cemetery is a topology of open space there won’t be any loss, end of.
Let us be absolutely clear on this. Let’s talk about the reality.
This is for a BUILD DEVELOPMENT of a new from scratch forever expanding operational cemetery. Entrance gates running into a large carpark area. Lanes off to accommodate the hurst. Ancillary buildings to accommodate the digging/maintenance equipment and toilets. And once it’s began other buildings associated with burials will no doubt be granted permission. The continuation of digging up of graves, with or without headstones, headstones up or down. No time to elaborate more but you will have the reality of a cemetery in your focus tonight.
Let’s be absolutely clear of what this land is now here today. A UNIQUE part of Arrow Valley Park South, part of the park given over in trust by Redditch Newtown Development Corporation for pleasure. It is an established, well-loved, and used semi natural area close to our urban homes. This has been acknowledged by a council solicitor in a response to my complaint.
As committed members of Overview and Scrutiny you will have outsourced that the high value and use of this piece of parkland for enjoyment of recreational pursuits is proven and weighted heavily.
From as high as the national government policies, including Public Heath England, and National Planning Policy Framework. Even the Inspector of State declared the council could not allocate Arrow Valley Park as land for the development of plan because of its great importance for recreational needs. Down to Worcestershire Green Infrastructure Framework to your own policies.
You will be aware of the recent allocation of 85k from the national government levelling up parks fund. This is an allocation based on the evidence that Arrow Valley Park is in one of the deprived parts of England for RECREATIONAL SPACES WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE of homes. The idea is to keep and make more not to take away!
So please question why the officer is seemingly adamant that this build development is exactly the same thing as a park.
On financial argument, is it the publics fault bereavements was allowed to go ahead to spend 60k on a planning application before public and council consultations and now use as a reason to go ahead with appropriation regardless of argument because of it being cited as a waste of public funds if not granted.?
On their land hectarage argument, question the arguments and the maths given by the officer regarding taking this park land away because there is adjacent and wider park land.
It’s not just a question of hectares. It’s a question of accessibility and quality, how it best serves the public.
Question the figure of area given for the maths against the figure on planning amended area. Why that takes in the surrounding public highways paths, woody areas which is included for planning but excluded from this appropriation with the same drawing.
Question the figures for the adjoining and whole park and used in the maths calculation.
For example, In the immediate vicinity there is the vast GKN works buildings and land, and private residences Mill cottage stables of no public assess.
We share the park with the wildlife, and they are entitled to open grass land, scrub, and ponds which are off limits to humans and rightly so and cover much land in the immediate vicinity.
Immediately below is wild goose playing fields, predominantly in use football fields and BMX/skatepark waiting for expansion.
Also, hectarage of the whole park, for example, the 2 ½ mile stretch of river runs within the park and the lakes and we cannot, as yet walk on water.
These provable points along with others I have no time to list, but you will find, will seriously change the maths, and turn in the publics favour the need of this piece of park for recreation needs.
As committed members of o and s you will have accessed the publics representations summarised in this report for fairness.
You will have found a detailed submission from a highly qualified town planning consultant which has seemingly been dismissed as irrelevant.
There is no time to mention all but for the record tonight particularly pertinent point made by this qualified open space consultant.
That the fact of the open space needs assessment has been proven as woefully out of date and inadequate for 2022 and thus renders the Public Open Space quotes in this report as unsound. Make no mistake, this piece of park is wholly valuable in provision for Matchborough ward and indeed people come from in particular Winyates, Church Hill, Woodrow, Greenlands to make use as well as visitors alike due to its regional status.
Other pertinent points made by the public, also appears missing including a record of a petition of over 400 legitimate signatures and some with comments. Also missing or dismissed much of my own, Dr and Mr Soady. What other points in public submissions have been dismissed or ignored as well?
This council, with its transient members of today, have a duty to make decisions now that will not prevent future generations from having the same opportunities.
The planning statement of Intent is relevant here. The intention of wider space allocation for each grave, of including natural burial area as well as the statutory inclusion of all faith domains and their rights of burial which includes separation allowances and open for everyone, anyone in and outside Redditch.
Also, relevant the geo report, the declaration of the parkland in this site contains bands and deposits of impenetrable siltstone. Also ground water issues in parts and environmental restraints.
These facts will seriously detrimentally skew the number of graves per hectare of land as declared by bereavements for future years’ worth of graves, which after all, GRAVES are the point, it’s already a wildlife haven...What then.? when this meadow is filled, the PRESEDENT IS SET for the taking of yet more parkland from the adjoining parkland.
This piece of our precious park will just become the gateway to the ever-consuming need for burial land as the population grows with its diversity of people’s needs and rights to burial. A park already insufficient for today’s needs, especially highlighted by Covid.
What choice will the future councillors have to justify the plus £1million this council will have spent on the gateway other than continue it?
There are alternative sites that are not parkland available now thereby not causing such major impacts on the people now and the future for their need of this park for pleasure.
And just to finish please
I believe this present council leadership will, to coin a phrase, “WILL HAVE TO BE GOING SOME” to argue in law that an operational cemetery outweighs an existing open grassland meadow, scrub, wood, and ponds in terms of wildlife, biodiversity, and climate change.
And “BE GOING SOME EVEN MORE”, to argue in law, an operational cemetery is a place of enjoyment, fun among the graves, and therefor there will be no loss of this well-loved, valued, much needed, easily accessed, high quality, historic piece of park, heavily used for enjoyment for the benefit of our mental and physical wellbeing, in recreation as is OUR RIGHT!
The Chair subsequently welcomed Mrs. E. McMahon to the meeting, who was invited to speak to the Committee.
Her speech was delivered as follows:
My name is Eileen McMahon
I would like to state my opposition to the Council’s proposed appropriation of the land at Ipsley Meadow for the purpose of a cemetery.
Ipsley Meadow as part of the Arrow Valley Park offers valuable open recreational space and to quote the Council’s website: “is protected as a green space where the management of the park is taken very seriously to ensure it is stewarded and improved for future generations.”
The Arrow Valley Park as a whole is a well loved, highly valued Community Asset, used daily throughout the seasons by the whole community and beyond.
We are all aware of the growing need for fresh air and open recreational spaces in order to support good mental health and wellbeing; places for sport, walking and other physical activities or just as an open space for social interaction. We need more spaces like Ipsley Meadow not less.
Furthermore, there needs to be good safe access for pedestrians to enter Ipsley Meadow from Ipsley Church Lane. I am very disheartened that the public footpath number 621 (C) which runs parallel to the lane has been blocked for many years, making pedestrians walk up the road with moving traffic on the steep and narrow lane. I am aware that the issue of the blocked footpath has been raised previously by Redditch Ramblers with the County Council. I am a member of the RAMBLERS’s Association.
I urge you to please protect and improve access to Ipsley Meadow for all of the reasons outlined.