The APM was held in the school hall on Thursday 14 May. It was well attended as usual.
Lydia made her report of the village through the year, reporting on the current issues and outlining future plans. This is her report
Hello and goodbye
We said goodbye to councillors Mike Read and Lorraine Penney and have welcomed councillors Charlotte Rogers and Stuart Laurie.
Our role in the planning process is purely one of consultation and advice. While we can voice our opinions and represent the opinions of village residents we have no statutary powers. However I think it is true that the planners do try to listen to what we have to say.
Our position re the Green Belt is simple: we will always oppose any kind of development on the Green Belt. It is a precious resource which helps to preserve Babraham’s rural character and prevents urban sprawl. The only exception to our position would be for affordable housing – Oak Lane is an example of that.
The planning application made by Cambridge City FC for a stadium on land next to the business park between Sawston and Babraham has been successful. Initially this was opposed not only by this PC but also Sawston PC. However, Sawston were offered some land for community use and changed their mind. This was obviously very disappointing, but, partly because of our opposition, the application was referred for a decision to the Secretary of State at DEFRA (then Eric Pickles). Together with our District Councillor Tony Orgee, we have raised serious concerns about the impact this development will have, both in its construction and use phases, on traffic through Babraham and along the Wych and will continue to campaign about this.
In July, a planning application was made for a solar farm on fields between Sawston and Babraham. We opposed this because it was on the Green Belt. Then an application was made for a smaller solar farm which we again opposed. Now the developers have lodged an appeal which will lead to a public inquiry.
At the moment the planners are busy looking at the larger picture and identifying areas for housing development. Three sites on the Babraham side of Sawston have been put forward. We oppose two of them (which would have a total of 340 houses) because they are on the Green Belt, but we do support one brownfield site for 200 houses by the business park. Housing development is inevitable in south Cambridgeshire and it is not acceptable to be NIMBY about it: the important thing is to be involved in the whole process so that development happens in the right places and for the people who need it most.
We have a plan for extensive traffic calming in the village. We applied for funding from SCDC but in January we heard that had not been successful. We are gradually building up a fund (which started with the developer uplift money from Oak Lane) which will allow us to put in a pinch point at the north end of the High Street, two small traffic islands at the broadest part of the High Street and in the longer term, imposing a weight limit (except for farm vehicles) which would deter HGVs, setting a 20mph limit in the centre of the village and altering the road where is goes past the George by extending the village green out. This would help towards our goal of making the centre of the village truly the centre of our community, which is part of our wider hopes for Babraham.
There is now a bus shelter on the Haverhill side of the A1307. Almost as soon as it was erected it became evident that its position and general suitability was far from ideal. The PC have got the traffic signs which were obscuring the view between bus and prospective passengers resited; the seating is going to be resited, protection for occupants from the weather is to be installed and repairs made.
Accidents and problems of visibility continue to dog Institute roundabout on the A1307 – Cambridgeshire County Council are investigating and have identified a problem with the camber of the road.
It seems as if the playground has dragged on for many years – indeed it has, but we hope very much to get on with it, on a new site: on the land at the back of the pub which is owned by CERN/Babraham Farms. Negotiations are underway for the PC to lease the land, which would enable us to have a new playground in the centre of the village along with an outdoor gym.
Out and about around Babraham
The Honeysuckle Lane hedge was planted at last. It is a mix of native plants and seems to be thriving on the whole. There is still an issue regarding weeds which we are trying to resolve. We also hope that the drain issue at Brick Row is now sorted out, having finally persuaded the County Highways department to jet one of the drains. Thanks to James Arnold for his patient work on our behalf.
Since February last year we’ve been trying to persuade SCDC to provide dog waste bins at Oak Lane and at the bottom of Church Lane. This has been an annoying saga – a dog bin has been installed at Oak Lane, but not down by the church. The PC has decided to buy a dog bin ourselves and a village resident has kindly offered to install it.
In May five wirework sculptures of animals and birds were installed on the Institute bank of the river. You can see them as you walk along the section of the river between the Hall and the weir. These were made by Lucy Unwin, a young local artist. There are going to be some more.. We are going to install a seat and an information board which will explain the history, ecology and archaeology of the area. This is kindly funded by the Babraham Research Campus (BRC) as the Institute is now known.
The cricket ground and school field
The PC has opened informal discussions with the relavant part of the BRC about the possibility of a lease for the cricket field and potentially the adjoining field between the school and Church Lane. Although the BRC are open to considering this it would need consent from the landowners, the UK government in the form of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, who have not yet been fully consulted.
High speed broadband
High speed broadband arrived in Babraham. It is, to say the least, extremely variable, but it IS better than the old arrangements. I got 72 down and 18 up (for those broadband buffs among you) at 4pm yesterday…
The first Babraham Rubbish Friends village litter pick will take place on Sunday 7 June. Meet at Home Farm House at 10am; bring a picnic to have there later. All equipment will be provided.
The Black Barn
Later this evening the Village Hall Committee, which is the custodian of £220K of village money, will be talking about the options for using that money. A new option, which has literally appeared in the past month, is to convert the black barn by the George into a community space. There’s a cartshed behind it which could provide a community shop, a kitchen and loos. The PC is investigating the feasibility of the project. There are some very basic plans for you to look at in the interval and of course there will be further discussion later.
Finally, I’d like to talk to you about one thing that is hard to define: a sense of community.
Babraham is a small village – there are about 200 on the electoral role – but the Parish Council aspires for it to punch above its weight. Some familiar village faces aren’t around anymore, but there are new ones and I’m really pleased to see some of you here tonight. We’ve grown in the last couple of years – now we have eleven new homes at Oak Lane. There are more young families. And I think there’s a change in the air. People are talking more about community spirit; there are more things happening, like the pop up Better Brew café and the film nights at Chalk Farm, like the regular churchyard clear ups, like the soon to be regular (I hope) village litter pick.
And although we’re small, we are full of talented people. We have builders, lawyers, designers, knitters, DIY-ers, doctors, carpenters, therapists, teachers, architects, farmers, writers, chefs, midwives, musicians, gardeners and many more. There’s so much we can do .
Community is that feeling of belonging, where everyone who is part of it feels that they are taking part in something special and worthwhile. That they matter. Where people feel they are listened to and cared about. It’s about taking responsibility, volunteering. There is only so much a small Parish Council can do – so what I’m asking you to do is to think how much Babraham means, or could mean to you, and to help us make this village a really special place for us all.
In August, our amazing clerk Margaret Badcock is retiring after seven glorious years working hard and keeping us in order. Her depth of knowledge and good humour knows no bounds.
The village is very lucky to have my fellow councillors, and I thank all of you for your continuing hard work and dedication. Ian Kime in particular, our vice-chairman, is a tower of strength. Many thanks.
Reports were also presented to bring us up to date with the activities of the School, the Bush and Bennett Charity, the Church, the Farm and the Research Campus. Our District and County Councillors presented their reports covering the last year and current issues.
The main points of these reports are :
The cycle way linking through the Research Campus is making progress albeit slowly and should be opened this year.
The Research Campus growth plans were displayed – it is hoped a digital version will be available soon.
The Headmaster reported the school was continuing to do very well, whilst recognising that demand is rising and will continue to do so.
The Bush and Bennett Charity reported that much needed conservation work was continuing. A similar position is to be found at St. Peter’s, but attendances are up and interest high.
Following the interval the Village Hall Committee held its own AGM. The current members of the committee were re-elected.
The main point of discussion was the use of their funds, currently some £230,000.
With the appearance of the opportunity to purchase the Black Barn they had decided to delay any decision regarding the use of their funds until a full feasibility study had been completed. This project is now tagged under Current Issues, following the link gives access to all the information regarding the project.
Their intention to use the money to refurbish and extend the cricket pavilion has subsequently been put on hold. Negotiations between BPC and the Institute are underway regarding the BPC taking on the lease for the land.