Stapleford REC Playground Renovation Plans

Stapleford Parish Council and a local working group are developing plans to renovate the playground at the Rec. The aim is to add new items, replace selected older ones and refurbish others. At its most ambitious, the scope of work provides facilities for 50 children to enjoy the playground at one time, using up to 25 play features. It is important to us that all facilities are sustainable and ‘ability inclusive’. We would love to be able to install a double-width slide on the small hill, a trampoline and turning bars, refurbish the existing cradle and older child swings, and replace other equipment, surfacing and benches. Just imagine what a wonderful asset something like this could be for our community (NB: for illustrative purposes only)!

But, let’s not get carried away too quickly… Although three contractor quotes for a full programme of works from specialist outdoor play equipment firms have now been received, we recognise that what we are actually able to deliver will depend upon additional funding available from the Parish Council (which has already committed £20,000), plus grants and private contributions. It is also possible that the playground will evolve over time, rather than being renovated in one go, as more money becomes available.

We hope to start playground renovation later this year. Work will take around one month to complete, including groundwork, equipment installation, surfacing, waste removal and post-installation inspection. Planning permission will not be required because we will not be increasing the height of the play equipment or the overall footprint.

If any parishioners have suggestions for how we can raise more funds, grants we can access, are employed by organisations which donate to this kind of community scheme, or would like to make a private contribution, please contact the Parish Council Clerk via clerk@staplefordparishcouncil.gov.uk.

Update on Stapleford Highways Issues

Who is responsible for what when it comes to highways-related issues is not always as clear cut as you might think. Combine this with budget availability, the degree of perceived risk/urgency associated with individual issues, turnover of key contacts within relevant local council teams, whether problems are reported, etc, and you can begin to see why small problems can turn into larger ones and become a focus of local annoyance. This is not a defence of the system, so much as an attempt to explain some of its imperfections.

In very general terms, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) is responsible for maintaining highways, pavements and lighting; South Cambridgeshire District Council is responsible for street cleaning and litter; Stapleford Parish Council is responsible for protecting public rights of way, maintaining roadside verges, path lighting, and maintaining path signs and way posts.

Stapleford Parish Council is building stronger relationships with CCC’s Highways team in a bid to resolve some long-standing problems in the village. We are starting with Councillors surveying the main roads, pavements, footpaths and bridleways in the village to identify and report medium- to high-risk hazards. Reporting is being done via the Highways online tool and also directly to a key contact within the Highways team.

There are no quick fixes here and we will continue to live with existing problems for some time. Often, problems may be extensive and unsightly but they do not constitute a hazard to road/pavement/path users. As such, rather than requiring urgent attention they fall into consideration as part of CCC’s three-year improvement plan.

BUT! There is some positive progress to report. The following are relatively minor repairs and reflect the availability of CCC budget at the end of the financial year, but they are better than nothing and hopefully mark the beginning of more action moving forward. Within the next 3 months, the following should be addressed:

  • Outside 41 Bar Lane – loose 90cm length of kerbstone
  • Outside 43 Bar Lane – deep pavement depression
  • Outside 46 Bar Lane – loose 90cm length of kerbstone
  • Bar Lane – central white lines to be repainted
  • At Bar Lane/Bury Rd junction – give way lines to be repainted
  • School Keep Clear markings to be repainted outside primary school
  • Damage to traditional kerbstones in Church St Conservation Area
  • Gog Magog Way – 4 potholes covering almost entire width of road to be filled (NB: this repair has now been done)
  • Gog Magog Way – drain to be cleared and soakaway channels to be dug as a temporary fix to flooding on path by horse fields; permanent fix to be done in next financial year.

Stapleford Parish Council extends its thanks to a Gog Magog Way resident for pursuing the last of these issues over a very long period of time.

We will endeavour to keep parishioners informed if or when we receive notification of future highways work.

MUGA Contract Signed

Just a brief update to let the village know that the contract for the Multi Use Games Area has been reviewed, amended and now signed by both sides. This means we have everything in place to get this project rolling once the weather improves. Attached is the high level plan for the project which gives us an initial overview that, all going well, this could take around 6 weeks to complete in late April. Note that the ground-work cannot take place until a sustained minimum temperature has been achieved or the adhesives for the artificial MatchPlay2 surface will not adhere properly. The project will complete with the planting of some evergreen laurels parallel to the road facing edge of the courts. This was mandated by the local authority so as to reduce light spilling onto the road from the new Tweener Light System. Any questions on this please contact Cllr McPhater.

The MUGA Plan

Tweener Lighting System

Stapleford Conservation Area

Your opportunity to comment:

GCP opens informal consultation on its proposed changes to Stapleford’s Conservation Area

Overview
• On 18th January 2021, Stapleford Parish Council was invited by Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service (GCP) to comment on its Draft Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan for Stapleford.
• Proposals appear to earmark around 20% of the existing Conservation Area for exclusion.
• The draft appraisal is open for comment from until Monday 15th February 2021.
• The Parish Council will be submitting its own thoughts and encourages individual parishioners to do the same.

What are Conservation Areas?
Conservation Areas exist to protect the special architectural and historic interest of a place or, in other words, the features that make it unique and distinctive. Conservation Area appraisals describe the character and significance of Conservation Areas and give
recommendations for their maintenance and enhancement. Appraisals are reviewed periodically. The Conservation Area in Stapleford has not previously had an appraisal so it requires an update, which is being done by GCP’s Historic Environment Team.

Cambridge City Council has 17 Conservation Areas, whilst South Cambridgeshire District Council has 84.

Where is Stapleford’s Conservation Area?
Stapleford’s Conservation Area was originally designated in 1989. It centres around the Church and the junction between Church St, Mingle Lane and Gog Magog Way, which is the historic core of the village. GCP’s draft appraisal describes the Conservation Area as “quiet and sylvan, and its character is that of a nineteenth and twentieth-century residential area, with glimpses of the surrounding countryside, through gaps between houses.” As such, the Conservation Area has a more strongly rural character than the remainder of Stapleford.

Houses here are large and distinctive, set back from the curving streets in big, well-spaced plots and enclosed by tall hedgerows and mature trees, many of which are protected. Kerbs are composed of traditional materials, verges are green, and long views extend from the churchyard and between houses across rising chalk downs to the north. Small heritage assets include traditional signposts, the village sign, post box and railings.

Landmark buildings and key views within Stapleford’s Conservation Area include St Andrew’s Church, Johnson Memorial Hall, 25 Church St, and views east and west along Mingle Lane from the Church and towards the Church from Gog Magog Way.

Is development permitted within the Conservation Area?
Although Conservation Areas have some extra planning controls and considerations, these exist to protect the historic and architectural elements which make a place special. They are  most likely to affect owners who want to work on the outside of their building or any trees on their property.

Development is generally limited to domestic extensions. A particular challenge to the Conservation Area is the subdivision of existing large plots or replacement of existing houses by new ones. Any such new development is required to be set well back from the street and adhere to the scale of existing development, whilst contributing to the strongly sylvan quality of the area.

What changes to the Conservation Area does GCP propose?
GCP proposes a number of boundary changes to Stapleford’s Conservation Area, deleting the following from inclusion:
• entirety of land belonging to 23 Church Street
• entirety of land belonging to 5 Finch’s Close
• entirety of land belonging to 1 and 2a Dukes Meadow, and the highway between them
• entirety of land belonging to 7, 9, 11 and 13 Gog Magog Way.

Despite the length of GCP’s draft Conservation Area appraisal, its proposed changes are mentioned only at the very end of the document and no explanation is provided for excluding the aforementioned tracts of land other than that they do not meet the criteria
for Conservation Areas set out in national legislation. Based on a map within the document, the Parish Council estimates that around 20% of Stapleford’s existing Conservation Area is earmarked for exclusion, as the figure below illustrates.

Image

Building owners affected by the boundary changes will be informed by GCP.

Where can I find out more and how can I comment?
The draft appraisal is open for informal comment (this is not a statutory consultation) from 18th January to 15th February 2021. All comments received will help to shape the final document which will be put forward for adoption.

GCP’s draft plan for Stapleford is available here.

The consultation itself is very straightforward to answer and is available here.

National guidance on Conservation Areas falls within the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and is available here.

Historic England’s advice notice, ‘Conservation Area Appraisal, Designation and Management’, is available here.

The Countryside Code – a reminder whilst under tier 4 restrictions

There have been reports to the Parish council of increased litter and failure of dog owners to pick up after their animals around the village; this is especially prevalent in areas where people congregate, including the cemetery, the recreation ground and the jubilee pavilion, Wandlebury and Gog Magog Down.

Therefore, such that everyone can continue to enjoy their local environment whilst we are restricted to essential journeys only and encouraged to stay local for exercising, please could we be considerate and either dispose of our litter and dog waste in the appropriate receptacles or take it home to dispose of. Many thanks.