NOTE: The OCR software had a lot of trouble with this Newsletter so the text needs cleaning up.
HITCHAM AND TAPLOW
NEWS LETTER No. 4
The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Astor
Mr. Victor Williams, J.P. C.C.
Mr. E. F. J. Perkins
Mr. J. Martineau
Mr. A. J. Page, M.P.
Lt. Col. B. Morton, O.B.E., J.P.
Dr. M. A. T. Rogers, Ph.D.
Mrs. L. Miall
Mr. R. C. F. Besch
Mr. W. J. Garrard
Dr. H. Jaques
Miss E. V. Matthews
Mr. J. Morrison
Mr. A. J. C. Paines
Mr. J. M. Taylor
Mr. A. Wallis
All communications should be addressed to:—
The Hon. Secretary:
Mrs. L. Miall, Maryfield, Taplow, BUCKS.
In submitting our Fourth New Letter, a little over twelve months since the formation of the Society, I thought it would be helpful on this occasion if we dealt with our main problems in greater detail. I realise that there are both advantages and disadvantages in doing so; some people like to have a facile summary, others are quite naturally more inquisitive, but from time to time I think it might be helpful to issue a longer letter. Your Committee would be most interested to have the reactions of members not only on this point, but upon any matter to which their attention may be drama. and on which we could act with, we hope, success.
There has been rather a curious attitude adopted by some people whom we have approached with a view to becoming members. They have taken the view that whatever we do is quite useless in face of Local Government bureaucracy and “all these Preservation Societies are a waste of time”. I cannot believe that the subscription of 2/— a year is the obstacle, so it must be mere apathy, and a feeling that they do not wish to be associated with even a healthy battle.
I am quite conscious of the fact that this Society has not achieved anything SPECTACULAR and no one on your Committee ever expected it – but to be under the impression that nothing at all has been achieved is entirely wrong. Not only is this Society making its presence felt in a variety of ways, but We know that it havihg a deterring effect against evils which would undoubtedly have emerged had it not been for the activities of the Society. The following News Letter will illustrate what I mean — indeed the news on page 2 can almost be called spectacular.
This is no apologia; I am trying to present some arguments to
pass on to prospective, but doubting, members to that our numbers may
be increased from the present figure of 118.
Your Committee is willing and anxious to help the Local Authorities in their difficult work, but when we meet obstructiveness we intend to fight it. For this purpose we want as much help as we can get.
M. A. T. ROGERS,
The Poplar Farm site continues to deteriorate through inaction by Contractors, but largely through the efforts of the Society the threat to dig no less than 90 acres — 18 ft. deep – and some of our most beautiful acres too – from three sites between Taplow Village and Taplow Common Road has been averted for the time being. We are ready for the next threat.
It seems that the Council “estate” of 38 houses will in fact be built, just North of Taplow. The Society’s attitude to this is referred to.
At the A.G.M. the County Council Planning Officer invited our (co—operation in drawing up a Village Plan for Taplow, to preserve its character. We welcomed the offer, but have heard nothing further.
The owner has rejectea or ignored two proposals for the future use of the Barn, and. it is falling further into decay. The next move must come from the County Council.
GRAVEL — POPLAR FARM.
The scene of utter desolation has been aptly described by .a mem‘oe‘r oi}: the Parish Council as resembling the surfaoe’of’ the Moon.
The Contractors moved their machinery away on January 6th, and at the time of writing this (mid—February) nothing further has been done ‘ since the; Autmnn, towards restoration or levelling. Vast pits ﬂnJJ. of water and heajp’sfof “‘oVerburden’-*cover most of the Western end of the:
\ site. ,At the South—East corner, which. has been roughly-levelled I , and some topsoil spread, there has been a lake for five months, and it \ is” anticipated that this corner will always be liable to flooding.
a i Will the ContraCtor-s ever properly restore the site?
The County Council, and only the County Council, can bring pressure to‘bear on them. ‘ What is their record in this matter to date? ‘ V’ Theanswer is that the County Council appear to have condoned every action taken by the Contractors in defiance of the Conditions ‘ which they themselves imposed, -in spite of the assuranoe given to ‘ those who, doubted the practical value ofrthe Conditions” that they – g the County Council— would enforce them. “The chaotic method of . working, the failure to adhere to the conditions laid: down (all but fourout ofi‘thirteen Conditions have been broken) indicates extreme toleratiron on the part of thé~County Planning Committee — one might say appeasement. . When we point iout that the Contractors are? dumping rubbish on the site, though no‘Planning permission has been given to do: so, we are unable to get an assurance that it’will be stopped. When we” protest that the
land will never befit for agriculture again the way things are going, we are, told that there is‘nothing’.in the
2% Conditions about the depth of top—soil! True, there is not, and the
‘ County Council is much to blame that there is not; but we .‘did .get the Local Authority to agree, on July 14th, 1960, that it would get the hﬁnistry of Agriculture to give an opinion as to what is a reasonable depth‘ofitopesoil. ‘Weaknow that advice has been given on this» i matter, but’t‘he Local Anthoriltyde’clines to pass the information on to net” Perhaps they reflect that if’they did so we shonld‘ nndoubtedly be on hand to watch and-see that the work was carried omit ”property and
to report ‘any failure on. the ‘part of the Contractors. ‘ ‘ ‘ ”
Your Committee will continue tofu-ass Ithe hocalAgthority to
‘redress”this-“scandalous. state ’of affairs. NEW GRAVEL THREATS. (See sketch map)
_ LastéAutumniheEar-nham Stone Co. and the Rugeley Stone (’19,; . *’ (associated firms), applied forpermission to dig no less than 90 acres
. 18 ft. deep at Hunts Wood, the corner cf Hill Farm Road and- . Hitcham Lane, and The Horse Show field (Poplar Farm is 37 acres, and the authorised depth 10 ft.) ‘ Members who have seen the Poplar Farm working will _be able to form same sortI of picture of the. desolation which such workings would bring to some of the most attractive rural part of our county.
The Hunts ‘Jood area is owned by the Forestry Commission. This body exists, one would have thought, to grow and care for trees. Yet it seems that it was prepared to take a quick financial gain at the expense of local amenities. Young trees would have been uprooted and replanting delayed by many years. ‘ But the Forestry Commission , apps rs to have been ready to accept all this for the quickI profit it could get from the sale ofI gravel. , . i ,
believe that these threats are now averted. We understand that the Ministry of Housing and Local GoVernment has agreed that, for the Slough Bypass at least, the Contractors will not be permitted to go around making tempting offers to the Forestry Commissioners or
’ private landowners. Contractors are to be instructed that all the two million yards of gravel (the amount required for the Slough Bypass) must come from sites already planned,I and even the route, they must use for the haul has been- laid down. >~ – – ‘
‘ Your Committee believes that the Hitcham and. Taplow Preservation ISooiety ’-h’as been. largely instrumental in this decision. Your backing and support has made it possible for us to tip the scales.
‘It remains to be seen whether these new rules will apply to the Eton relief road, and perhaps to the High Wycombe Hypass — which will come very Close to us. > . .
A member called our attention to the new drilling of holes which was going on in Taplow last summer. This drilling is probably illegal anyway, because drilling is. an engineering operation, and requires Planning permission. Up to the present, Contractors- have found. that they can get away without this permission, but with a view to putting a“ stop to: the practice, w ave written to the ‘Eto‘n Rural ” District Council on the matter. If our point is taken we shall haVe the advantage of longer warning of similar threats in the future.
Your Society does NOT stand for the preservation of slums. It C does NOT oppose all new building and the improvement of existing ones.
What it does oppose is a building policy which destroys just those very features hioh lead people to want to live in and near a village like Taplow. ‘
. “We believe that the principle of the Green Belt is sound and pre icable. _ It ,i the official poliCy. of both, the Government and- the OprSition. .. . , . . -.
, The group of congested house and. flats to be erected to- the North of Teplow is in direct defiance of this policy. The whole matter was pushed through without a local enquiry by the R. D. C. for whathe can only describe as. political reasons. It has, of course, the ‘nppor’t of the County, and of the liinistry, for no better reason,
a we think, than reluctance to see the Local Authorities lose face, and perhaps the necessity to pay. compensation for the loss of planning ‘ rights to the owner if the permission was revoked.
Your Society was formed after Planning permission had been granted. There was nothing we could do except protest, and support: our Vice— 9 President, Mr._ A. J. Page, M P.,_ and our own Member, Mr. Ronald Bell, M. P., in their approaches to the Minister. These efforts.- have apparently failed. to persuade the Mnister to reverse his decision for the “one given above. ., » ‘-
V We are now hoping that we may be able to’se‘e the plans fonthe estate, and that we shall be able to restrain the authorities from perpetrating some at least. :of‘ the -Worst characteristics of Council Est e designr – – – .
VILLAGE PLAN 0 –
i Q Your committee is kept informed of proposals to build by one of ‘ its members going once a month to the Council Offices in Slough and looking through the Register of new Planning Applications. That is
the beginning and the end of our rights, which is no more or less the
right of any citizenn We have asked the Local Authority “to posit ’-
When an application is lodged, it _is sent to the Area Planning Officer for his observations and recoMendations, and a very large number is rejected as a result. But by the time we get a chance to know what is in the wind there is very little time to find out (if we can) what- really is proposed and, if necessary, object. a We have no clear light to object, but. if sufficient objection is lodged with the R. ,GL. they are under an obligation to refer the matter to adju—, dicatiOn by Public Enquiry. . Only then do we get the: chance to . ,-
ei’press our views as a right. Our objective, in trying to oppose an application, is to secure an inquiry, which, in our view, really is ; idipartial.
So we are in effect fighting a rear-guard action most of “the time. True, the County and Town Planning maps (issued every five years or -‘ xthereabouts) are helpful and we can argue, for example, the general case of the Green Belt, without a specific proposal in view. But these maps deal only with the broad. picture, and do not go into much detail, such as density, type and layout of houses to be built. ’
Your Committee have discussed this problem in some detail, but could see no way in which we could operate other than by the existing 5‘1 machinery. ‘.‘1e raised the problem as one of general importance with – the Civic Trust, but they (with the best will in the world) were unable to, help.
Nevertheless, members who attended our A. G. 1-11. will have heard the very interesting news which Mr. Pooley (the County Planning Officer) gave us. He said that he had been much impressed with the beauty of Taplow, and that, along with two other villages in Bucks. , it had been chosen for a new experiment. The County Authorities are to draw up a Village Plan,“ and when this is completed your Committee is 1 51:1: be asked to discuss and agree it. It has, however, not yet arrived. ,.
This semi—official recognition of the merits of our district is heartening, and we shall co—operate with the L. A. fully when the time comes. With such a plan we think it very improbable that a Council- Estate which would increase the size of Taplow village by,. say, 50% ‘ :, could happen again. In other words, we should be forearmedvand g forewarned. ‘ , ». I ” “ ‘ i. – 1- NY:
We will report progress in our next News Letter.
TITHE BARN, HITCHAM.
It Will be remembered that the owner wanted to pull down the magnificent 17th Century barn which stands by Hitcham Church. Your – Society was represented at a Public Enquiry, the result of which was , that the preservation order was confirmed. ‘
‘ Since then the Barn has remained untouched by the owner; Its roof is leaking, its tiles falling off and its timbers rotting. No doubt a further claim for permission to demolish it will soon be made, probably on the grounds that, it is unsafe to paSsers—by on the road, and indeed before long there will not be anything left to preserve,
Members should know that last Autumn an Architect found. a client who was interested in turning the Barn into a house with careful preservation of its appearance, and approached the owner. The owner replied, through his agent, saying that he had no intention of selling, or letting, the Barn. Furthermore, your Society has also written to the owner, offering to discuss with him a proposal that a local Charitable Trust should be set up to take over the barn, with its liabilities, and so relieve the owner of further responsibilities. A letter on these lines sent in October was acknowledged, but a follow—up letter sent in January has not been answered. at all.
It is interesting to note that, at the enquiry, the County Flaming Officer said that if the Barn were to be demolished, the County would not give permission forpnew buildings to be erected on the spot. ‘
We have called the attention of the County Council Planning Committee to the situation.
Members may reCall the account given by Mr. Betjeman in‘a reprint which we sent out with the A.G.M. papers concerning progress of old buildings of this sort through decay to demolition, despite preser— vation orders. We shall try to contrive that in this case the story has a happier ending.
Rubbish Dump near Taplow Horse Show Field. We have written to the Sanitary Dept. of Eton R.D‘.C—.‘ asking- that this eyesore should be cleared up and the dumping stopped. In consequence, the area has been wire—fenced off. So far, however, the enclosure is as untidy as ever, but at least dumping has been stopped. We acknowledge the oovoperative attitude of the Leeal Authority and are pressing for further improvement. ‘ ‘
Caravans on Ah. A member has objected to the nuisance of the caravans which are often found in the lay-by just East of the Railway Bridge on M. Even when the caravans are moved on, the litter left behind is deplorable. shall give our support to the many other bodies which, we understand, have tried to tackle this problem, which is primarily a police matter. Under .the existing law the maximum ‘ penalty is quite a small fine.
V South Taplow.- Apart from watching carefully the planning proposals before the R. D’,’ G. (such as the proposal to erect near— skyscraper flats by Skindle‘s) we feel We have not been able to do much yet for South Taplow. Members living South of the Bath Road
are particularly asked to let us know of matters in which they think we might help.
. Holylmrt Preservation Society. This newly formed Society has handsomely acknowledged the inspiration which this Society gave
towards its formation. We wish it all success.
Would any member be prepared to help with typing and other .- seoretarial duties?
Reverting to the gritty subject of Poplaerarm, we have received the following from an anonymous oontributor:— , –
w A Lament
Bury me under the Higgs, deep in’ the side of the Hill – ‘ , ., Down, deep down, in the thirty foot holes that no one ‘ seems willing to fill. ‘
I spent four years in the Flanders mud, – ‘ – 5 Where shells scattered gravel, and good British blood; : – ‘ Passohendaele, Ypres, Cambrai, Mons —- V
Those ghastly graves of Empire’s sons;
And now I am seeing it all again ——
– » The trenches, the craters, the dust (and the rain), And what is the purpose? What forbodes? The birth of another Colossus of Roads.
Bury me under the Higgs, deep in the side of the Hill, Down, deep down, in the thirty foot holes-that no one seems willing to fill.
(Note: Higgs: an old Buohnghamshire word meaning Depression)