Shaftesbury Town Council has agreed what it would like Persimmon to do with undeveloped land on The Maltings, before the open space is handed over to the council for community use.
Last night, members amended their previous proposal for a six-foot-high barrier around the land in favour of farm-style wooden fencing, which will preserve countryside views.
Councillor Peter Yeo explained which specific parcel of land will be transferred. “It is land near Mampitts Square in the Spar shop area,” explained Cllr Yeo, who lives opposite. “There is a green where kids play on the grass. Beyond that, there are trees with a rope swing and behind that is a very rough field.” The field will be given to the council.
Councillors were shown pictures of what is currently wasteland. The plot is pockmarked with bumps and dips and is considered to be in poor condition, riddled with ragwort and other weeds.
Councillors were asked to state what they want Persimmon to do to the land before handover. “It will be levelled off beyond the trees and smoothed off with topsoil and grassed. It will be a nice field next year after it becomes our property,” said Peter.
Councillors could see no sense in pursuing their previous proposal of erecting a six-foot deer fence around this space. They resolved to ask Persimmon to place ‘post and rail’ wooden fencing alongside the Maple Road-facing edge and also on the eastern side of the site.
“We don’t want to prevent access. We want a fence that kids can climb over to play football,” said Peter. “It’ll be a nice fence with views of the countryside and it will enable that field to be used as a grass field to play on, until future projects, such as a possible community hall or other ideas happen,” added Cllr Yeo, who was keen to remind residents that he wants a consultation on the use of this soon-to-be community-owned space. Peter believes that section 106 money secured from the estate developer should be used.
Cllr George Hall suggested adding a metal sheep-net, a larger version of chicken wire consisting of six-inch squares, to restrict movement of vermin. “Why would we want to stop small animals going through it anyway? They will just go through the hedge,” said Cllr Yeo, adding, “The fencing will allow wildlife to wander around as it does at the moment. I get badgers going past my house every night.”
Whilst Cllr Yeo welcomes wildlife, he and Cllr Hall were keen to thwart travellers’ attempts to settle there. The fence could prevent an encampment, councillors felt.
The hedge and embankment will be retained along the Mampitts Lane boundary without any additional fencing. Cllr Andy Hollingshead said the ridge would prevent vehicles entering the space. “You would need a tank to get over that earth barricade,” he said.
Two five-bar gates, allowing council workmen access through the northwest and southwest corners of the site, would be requested of Persimmon. Cllr Hollingshead addressed concerns that those entry points could be breached. “The police would become quickly involved as that would be criminal damage,” he advised.
Persimmon intend to undertake a site survey of the land before its handover. The results will advise the depth of topsoil to be added. Peter says if all goes to plan, the land should be transferred to the council in 2020. “This time of year is not a good time to start doing soil movements, when the ground is wet. The levelling off won’t happen until the next year,” he said.
The Town Council also resolved to talk with Dorset Waste Partnership about that body taking on the litterbin emptying arrangements in this area. Currently Persimmon pay the Hilltop Litter Pickers to provide this service.