It was good to see many of you at the field on Coxley Jumble Trail day in August. The trustees had spent many hours clearing a mown trail round the field, removing trip hazards, the trees and fruit bushes had all been identified, we made jams and jellies of the berries for sale, but the apples are all cider varieties, no eaters or cookers. Fun was had by all, and in total £212 was raised on the day which will go towards administrative costs, insurance, membership costs etc.
Nathan Oatley has had some sheep grazing on the field intermittently since then which has helped enormously to keep the grass down.
As we are under Lockdown, we still can’t hold a public meeting. This is not only a great pity, as we are sure the villagers would have liked to get together to celebrate the fact that Coxley Community is now the proud and grateful possessor of part of Guy and Sarah Roberts’s field, but we also want to give people a chance to ask questions, make suggestions and we want to recruit some volunteers for the next phase of work.
The skills we need in the next stages include: applying for grants, architect, surveyor, accountant, project manager, wildlife/ecology expert, fund-raising events organiser, and retail experience. Could this be you? Please get in touch if you could help and would like to get involved.
We are considering acquiring a container or two, or a portacabin, from which to run a shop and/or café asap, rather than wait until a building of bricks and mortar (or timber frame or whatever we decide upon) can be funded and constructed, which could take 2-3 years. We feel the need is urgent, but wonder whether the support is actually out there. What do you think? Also, is there anybody out there with retail experience to help get this up and running?
We are continuing our enquiries into how other community centres in the south west are constructed and run. Lots have sprung up in the last few years, on various business models and in different types of buildings, and the people who run them are all very enthusiastic and keen to share their knowledge and experience.
We need to put more time into establishing what kind of construction would be best and might be easiest to get funding for. Some options include the possibility of residents joining in with the construction (e.g. certain stages of traditional timber frame, or straw bale insulation) which would build community in the broader sense through building the building! And keep the cost down. There are many options for making it as eco-friendly, green and efficient as possible. Are we right to assume this is what residents would mostly back? Send us your views.
If you are not already on the e-list of residents and supporters, please e-mail us.
Mendip District Council held its first online virtual Planning Board last week, and on the agenda, at last, was ours for a Community Centre/shop/café and the linked development of houses at one end of the site. Quite a milestone after so many years of frustrations, delays, problems and of course scrabbling about for funding for all the pre-planning application stages.
Please note that this is Outline Planning Permission only, which means that it is about the principle of development on the field, while also covering such matters as safe access/egress, flood zones, wildlife, river bank management and the position of the proposed buildings.
It does not deal with the actual appearance of any of the buildings, nor the method of construction – that comes later under “Reserved Matters”.
The Trustees are already thinking that it would be responsible to make the building as eco-friendly as possible; but we will need lots of advice from builders and architects (when we’ve got some money to pay them with) and there will be lots of public consultation when we get to that stage.
So now we have some legal bits and bobs to do, which will take a little while including handing over the agreed price to the donors of the land – £1 – and getting it onto the Land Registry. Then as soon as we’ve got the key we can go in and start taking stock of what needs clearing first and how to do it.
For example we don’t want to damage any of the trees and fruit bushes, but we do need to be able to see them and find out exactly what’s what, so we are thinking of contacting local scythers, to do it nice and traditionally. Strimmers only to be used with extreme care. Just an idea. Watch this space.
On the financial side we can now proceed to apply for grants for ground clearance and landscaping, to pay architects and quantity surveyors, and get advice on such things as setting up a Community Share Offer so that residents can have a stake in this project. BUT there may be quite a delay in obtaining funds if providers have to prioritise helping communities suffering as a result of Covid-19.
We have quite a list of supporters in the village, but it’s still only about 85 e-mail addresses. There are plenty of new people in the village who are not on it, so could they please register? (No fee, no commitment, just means you won’t be left out of all future communications.)
There are others who for one reason or another haven’t quite got round to registering – so please DO IT NOW! Just reply to this e-mail with your real name, not an online identity, your address, and your telephone number too would be nice (useful for example if the e-mail address turns out to be wrong and we need to check it with you – that happens a lot).
All information will be stored in accordance with GDPR regulations and not used for any other purpose or shared with anyone else or any other organisation without your consent. We need e-mail addresses so that we can get away from the reliance on paper being delivered – it’s slow, inefficient, expensive and not very green.
And please, talk to your friends and neighbours about this, spread the word, ask them to e-mail us too if they want to be kept informed and possibly get involved in due course – lots of different skills will be needed as we move through the stages to eventually having the building up and running as a shop and café. I’ll put a note on Coxley Village Life Facebook too with contact details. But that’s still only 250 or so people – we will need the community to pull together if this is going to get off the ground.
Please note that this project, known at the moment as Coxley Hub for short, is entirely independent of Wookey Hub. That is a privately owned and run business. Coxley Hub (if we keep that name – we might not) will be a community venture staffed largely by volunteers.
For more background information and to see the latest draft of the Business Plan (which will evolve obviously) visit http://www.coxleyhub.org.uk/business-plan/.
From The Trustees of Coxley Community Land Trust
The Coxley Hub Project (for a café/bar, small shop & flexible function room) has taken a significant step forward!
The Trustees have submitted to Mendip District Council the Outline Planning Application (no 2019/2630) for a Hub building on land Guy Roberts is generously giving to the village. It has taken far longer than we all hoped to get to this stage because there was legal stuff to do first – forming a Community Land Trust to hold the land and drawing up the Agreement between CCLT and Guy Roberts – becoming a Co-operative Benefit Society and then preparing many different reports, surveys, ecological studies, architects plans and bits of legal advice to go with it before it could be submitted. Every change had to be agreed by both parties’ lawyers, and funding had to be found for every step of the way. That has been neither quick nor easy. The Planning Fee alone was £1,678.50. But grants for the building itself will be much easier to obtain once we have Planning Permission; there will also probably be a Community Share Offer to match other funding.
In addition CCLT lobbied MDC to re-classify that piece of land from Agricultural to Amenity Land ‘Land allocated for community facilities’ in the 2006–2029 Local Plan. The Application is due to be determined by Mendip on 23rd December. Please note that this is Outline only, and is about the principle of development on the field, while also covering such matters as safe access/egress, flood zones, wildlife, river bank management and the position of the proposed buildings. It does not deal with the actual appearance of any of the buildings, nor the method of construction – that comes later. The Trustees are already thinking that it would be responsible to make the building as eco-friendly as possible; however there will be lots of public consultation when we get to that stage.
The strength of the Application, and hence the cause for our cautious optimism that it will be approved, lies in the Survey many residents will remember, which was conducted by The Community Council for Somerset in September 2016. This survey was drawn up by professionals (in consultation with Trustees), it went to every household, and the results were also analysed by the CCS. To quote that report: “the outstanding majority supported the view that Coxley needed a flexible Community Hub building” and it was on this basis that MDC felt it appropriate to re-designate the field for Amenity use: the Survey showed clearly that there is a great need for a central building for flexible community use. It will be complimentary to well-run Coxley Memorial Hall being open all day as a pop-in centre to meet friends and get to know many of the newly arrived people in the village.
For the benefit of those who have only arrived in Coxley since the Survey, this all began when Guy and Sarah Roberts offered part of their field to the community in January 2015. They owned and ran the old pub, The Pound Inn, very successfully for many years. Having brought up their children in the village they decided to move to a new venture, the Penscott Inn in Shipham, the other side of Cheddar. They sold The Pound Inn and the owner was eventually granted permission to demolish it and redevelop the site, after a long and agonising campaign by the village to save The Pound. It was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, building in Coxley, it had great charm and character but was demolished in April 2015 and the new terrace of ten houses known as Wellsway was erected on its site.
However Mr and Mrs Roberts did not sell the field next door to the pub, the field between what is now Wellsway, and Mill Lane. It has a large number of apple trees (most of which we hope to retain, even if some may need moving) and fruit bushes on it, a small shed or pig-sty, a wide entrance splay and a farm gate (now labelled Dacha – you may have noticed it as you drive by). The River Sheppey flows round the other side of the field, separating it from Coxley Recreation Ground, so one of the aspirations of the community is that there should be a footbridge across the river, connecting the two sites. This could be very convenient for people watching training or matches on the field, which is at present leased to Well Rugby Football Club.
The land sits at the centre of Coxley, Upper Coxley and Coxley Wick and is ideally located for a community hub with the Coxley playing field and playground on the other side of the river Sheppey.
With no other land likely to become available to the community (for the princely sum of £1), there is a strong case to permit limited commercial development (known as Enabling Development) when there is a clear public benefit to be gained i.e. a community hub.
Many of those who signed up around the time of the Survey may have changed their e-mail addresses, or moved away, so please respond – do not assume that the old list will still suffice – please renew your interest and contact details, or maybe you will be signing up for the first time. We can then send you bulletins and notify you of public meetings.
A hugely impressive number of residents signed up on the Survey to volunteer for all sorts of different jobs over the coming months and years, everything from leaflet dropping and ground clearance now to helping in the café or shop, and cleaning or gardening when it’s up and running, so we will be looking to renew those requests for help and accept them as and when needed. Be sure to send us your contact details.
If you like the sound of these exciting plans for our village, please register your support with MDC on: publicaccess.mendip.gov.uk/online-applications/ enter the application number 2019/2630, click ‘Comments’, follow registration instructions and type your comment of support.
Any questions? Please contact us, the Trustees of Coxley Community Land Trust www.coxleyhub.org.uk
The Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 in the Memorial Hall, attended by about 25 people, many of them new to the village and keen to join in. See April Triangle for a very brief sketch of the background and the website www.coxleyhub.org.uk for a fuller version.
The Chairman presented the accounts, and then said that we had a problem in sourcing funding for the cost of a planning application and solicitor’s fees. As none of the many grant providers we had contacted were structured to fund fees, it was thought best to raise the money locally ourselves – approximately £3,000 was needed. About a quarter of this amount was generously pledged as donations by people present, and the balance pledged as an interest free loan.
A number of people also donated cash to cover the fee for the hire of the hall and printing costs.
The meeting discussed holding events as soon as the land transfer has gone through to raise small sums for initial projects such as ground clearance, tree pruning, hedge work and making the old pig sty usable as a tool store and simple shelter for those working on the field.
Once we have planning permission, there are many funds we could apply to for large capital sums; in all probability a consortium of several different bodies would be formed to fund it between them, with match-funding and/or a share scheme from residents.
Mark Curtis volunteered to take over the running of the website and social media, and the committee are hoping there might be residents with other skills willing to help: an architect, a solicitor, a surveyor, an accountant.... Please contact one of the committee.
There was discussion about the Playing Field now that the entire committee have resigned (the Parish Council are looking at the implications of this) and how the two pieces of ground could enhance and assist one another in their respective purposes, especially if there was a pedestrian bridge across the river linking the two.
Very few people have responded to the GDPR request (probably swamped by similar requests from many other organisations! Aren’t we all!), so there will have to be follow up or residents may find themselves cut off (probably unintentionally) from updates and notice of events.
If you want to be kept informed or would like to join the mailing list please contact Jenny Henderson 01749 671006,
Following on from the opinion survey in 2016 that showed so clearly that the village would very much like a Hub (with a café, a shop, a pub, maybe other facilities in due course, some ground around it for a garden and a link to the playing field opposite), the Trustees have attempted to proceed to Outline Planning Application.
First CCLT held discussions with Mendip Planning Officers, and as a result, the field has been reclassified in the new Local Plan as Community Amenity Land. The Local Plan states:
This is highly significant as it will facilitate getting permission to build a hub there, but protect the land from further development. CCLT would submit a joint application for The Hub and for Guy Roberts’ houses together, with each party paying their portion of the application fee.
However we have run into a bit of an impasse: it has proved impossible to get funding from any grant provider anywhere to pay for the Planning Application (£1,848.00) – one or two might have considered a grant had the land actually belonged to CCLT. (This is a common problem with similar projects throughout the country; we are not alone.) So the Trustees are considering paying the planning fees themselves as a loan to CCLT, just to move the whole project along.
With this commitment, our legal advisers recommend that a legally binding Conditional Agreement be drawn up guaranteeing that the community will be given the land for a nominal sum once planning is approved.
Meanwhile, the granting of planning permission recently for houses on the Riverside Restaurant’s field may prove to set a useful precedent for housing outside the red line (the Village Development Boundary), as Guy’s proposed houses would be, so we are optimistic that this joint application would be approved.
It is time to hold an AGM. This will be a public meeting so that any people who are new to the village can come and join in, and others who did not sign up to be kept informed originally but perhaps now wish they had can also come. So the Hall has been booked for Tuesday 22nd May 7 pm. and we look forward to seeing you then. All welcome.
It is well known that new regulations are coming into force on 25th May about organisations storing people’s personal data, so CCLT has drawn up a Privacy Statement which is displayed on this website, and also communicated with all its members about this. If you have not had your e-mail/letter or have mislaid it, or would like to join the mailing list now, please contact Jenny Henderson – contact details here.
We are longing to gain access to the field, so that we can begin to tidy it up, look after the fruit trees planted there, and call in the many volunteers who said they would like to help in various ways.
We look forward to hearing from you and to seeing you at the meeting – Tuesday 22nd 7pm in Coxley Memorial Hall – Meeting Room.
The survey of every household conducted in September has now been analysed, and the results are available on the website www.coxleyhub.org.uk. The outstanding majority of respondents feel that Coxley needs a flexible Community Hub building for use by the whole community. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the results, to review progress so far and decide on our next steps. All residents will be welcome.
Coxley Memorial Hall
Tuesday 10th January 7.30pm
During August volunteers delivered a village survey Survey to all houses in Coxley, Coxley Wick and Upper Coxley which was collected during the first half of September. These are now being analysed by the Community Council for Somerset; results will be published on this website during November.
Wells Journal, 10 August 2016. By Oliver Hulme
The Pound Inn was demolished to make way for homes. Could a new bar rise from its ashes?
A new community hub including a café, shop, bar and community garden could be built in Coxley.
Guy and Sarah Roberts former owners of The Pound Inn have offered part of their field next to the new terrace of houses now on The Pound site, to the village for community purposes.
A survey is to go to every household in the village to find out what sort of facilities people might like on this field. The Community Council for Somerset have advised on the composition of the survey and will collate and analyse the responses. This will be paid for by a grant from The Big Lottery Fund (Awards for All).
Many ideas and suggestions have been proposed for the land: from leaving it as an open green space for recreation and a Community Garden, to a “hub” building incorporating a café, small shop for basics and local produce/crafts, possibly limited post office facilities, restaurant, bar and community meeting place.
Read more here.
The Friends of The Pound Inn, the body set up in 2013 to try to save The Pound Inn from demolition, has been wound up. However a new body, Coxley Community Land Trust, has now been set up to hold, on behalf of the community, the land generously offered to the village by Mr Guy Roberts (a former owner of The Pound Inn before Terry O’Connell, the last owner, who sought to have it demolished). This is the field next to the ten houses now being built on the Pound Inn site, beside the A39, with a sign on the gate “Dacha” where at present there is only rough grazing and some fruit trees. The parish council set up a working party to look at options.
Preliminary surveys At a public meeting in the Memorial Hall on Friday 8th April, 28 villagers heard from Jane Birch of the Community Council for Somerset, and from Bob Murrell, Jenny Henderson, Jim Reeves and Caroline Cockman about the various options for use of this land, where funding could be found, and most importantly, about thorough professional surveys that would have to be done to establish village needs and aspirations. All the speakers stressed that there are no plans as such yet; they just presented ideas to the gathering, on whether the land should be kept as a green open space or as a community garden, or what a building could look like and what facilities it could possibly house.
Looking back A parallel was drawn between this project and the vision of those who saw to it that Coxley got its own church and school and later its Memorial Hall: no doubt back then some people said it was unnecessary and doomed to failure!!!
Financial Jane Birch explained that funding could be divided three ways: a local share-offer giving residents a stake in the venture, grants from various bodies, and commercial loans. She also talked about other similar projects she has been involved in which are proving very successful. Further studies would have to be undertaken to establish the viability of any plan before planning permission and any funding could be obtained.
Unconditional offer In answer to persistent questions, Mr Roberts assured the meeting that his offer was not conditional upon his getting planning permission for two houses at the southern end of the field. He genuinely wanted to make this gift to the village because he felt it badly needed something like this, and the field was at the very centre of the village. Others were critical that this meeting was being held before the land had actually been transferred into the village’s ownership; but it was felt vital to have a clear indication of enthusiasm for the project before accepting Mr Roberts’ gift.
Coxley’s young people Cllr Henderson and others expressed great concern that there were no facilities or activities for teenagers and young people in the village, and hoped that a new community hub in a central location would help to correct this. Advice, help and possibly funding could be obtained both from MDC and the Diocese.
Looking forward In a show of hands, almost all of those present indicated enthusiasm for pursuing this project, with further meetings to be announced when the next stage is reached. Residents are asked please to keep an eye out for further announcements and to register their interest, preferably by e-mail, with Jenny Henderson (contact details inside back cover of The Triangle, on SCO website and on all previous newsletters).
Public meeting; Coxley Memorial Hall – Friday 8 April 2015 – 7.30pm
Our pub, The Pound Inn, was demolished last year, but there was a strong body of opinion in the village then that Coxley needed not just a pub but a hub, somewhere that could include, for example, a shop, café, restaurant, flexible meeting/function space, hot-desk facilities, possibly changing rooms for the playing field and a communal garden/village green sort of space.
Guy Roberts, former owner of The Pound Inn (before Terry O’Connell, who sought permission to demolish it and put the ten houses now under construction on the site), retained ownership of the field next door and last year wrote to the Parish Council generously offering the greater part of it to the village community subject to certain conditions. The Council suggested forming a working party to look into it and arrange a public meeting.
Would residents like to explore what could be done with this land? And what sort of building would be acceptable both to the village and to the planners? Would you like to get involved? Many villages have got similar projects up and running – we could do it too! But not if only two people and a dog come to the meeting!
Come to the public meeting to hear about the options from Jane Birch of The Community Council for Somerset and the working party who have been looking into this for some time.