Shaping up for future growth

Words by:
Melanie Burton
Featured in:
October 2015

More and more local communities in Lincolnshire are striving to influence expansion and developments in their neighbourhoods and the seemingly quiet, picturesque village of Nettleham is leading the way in the fight to safeguard the future of its locality.
It is one of the first parishes in the West Lindsey district to have completed its neighbourhood plan.

If the plan is adopted it will form part of the planning consideration for the village when future planning applications are determined.

Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee, John Evans, said the plan had taken three-and-a-half years to complete and had been a major task.

“It involved a large number of residents’ surveys, assessments and public engagement work to find out what the community wanted. It is a community-led, community-driven growth plan and is very exciting.

“The whole reason for doing a neighbourhood plan was that we wanted to determine where development occurred in the community, not have it thrust upon us. It gives us a lot of clout as a small community.”

The idea of neighbourhood plans arose through The Localism Act, which received Royal Assent on 15th November 2011. It introduced new rights and powers to allow local communities to shape new developments by coming together to prepare neighbourhood plans.

“These plans are legal documents. Ours determines the future direction for Nettleham. A lot of us have lived here for a long time. We feel it is our duty to protect the village for future generations. We accept there has to be growth but it has to be in the right proportion and in the right place.”

As well as leading the team in the production of a neighbourhood plan, John was also chairman of the steering group for the Bishop’s Palace project which is now complete. Moves to turn the 1,000-year-old historic Bishop’s Palace into an amenity to benefit the whole of the community was not an easy task.

The lease was acquired by the parish council three years ago and the principal objective was to bring the heritage site into use as a public amenity and to inform and educate visitors about its remarkable history.

“It was just an overgrown field with nettles and barbed wire all round. Now we have created access to the six-acre site. We have created some gateways to it, new pathways and – in the adjacent site which is the Bishop’s Meadow – we have planted some woodland, a heritage orchard, apple trees, other fruit trees and a wildflower meadow,” said John.

The area was the site of the Manor House belonging to the wife of Edward the Confessor. In 1301, King Edward I created the title of Prince of Wales at Nettleham at the Bishop’s Palace and most of the building was wrecked during the Lincolnshire uprising of 1536. By 1640 there weren’t many buildings left standing.

The Bishop’s Palace is a scheduled ancient monument site, which means it is protected and people aren’t allowed to plant anything with roots, such as trees, because they might disrupt ancient foundations. But the meadow isn’t.

The parish council took over responsibility for the maintenance of the Bishop’s Palace site at the end of March.

“The development was completed by the end of March so the steering group handed over responsibility to the parish council. We don’t anticipate any more development on the site,” said John. “But we have completed the conversion of what was once a disused and overgrown field into a valued village heritage amenity.”

Another indicator of Nettleham’s pathfinder qualities is that its library is set to become a community hub following the judicial review into the decision to close a number of libraries in Lincolnshire.

The outcome means Nettleham gets to keep its library and also has a village centre, which is accessible for all sectors of the community.

Hub co-ordinator, Jaime Oliver said that, at the moment, there are some legalities to tie up but the aim is to be up and running later this year.

“At the moment we are going through the legalities but we are aiming to take over in November,” she said. “It is going to be purely run by volunteers and library-orientated to start with, opening for a minimum of six hours a week until we build our volunteer numbers, then our vision is to extend the opening hours to six days a week.”

A steering group has been formed to lead the project and the vision is to introduce a café once the library is up and running.

“That is probably going to be in the summer of next year. Until then our aim is to get the library up and running, and introduce community-led activities like toddlers’ groups, arts, crafts and music groups – anything that has community involvement,” said Jaime.

“Our aim is to make it as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible and for the library to turn into a community hub. We want it to become the heart of the community.”

Nettleham village lies three miles north of Lincoln, nestled in a cleft of hills on top of the Lincoln Edge. There have been settlements there since the Bronze Age.

The village centre is made up of cottages built in the local limestone and it has a village green as a focus, a monument dedicated to the heroes of both World Wars.

Another major development for the village has seen the relocation of its parish office from the old school to the former police station on Scothern Road. It has been leased to the parish council on a peppercorn rent as a contribution to the community.

Councillor John Evans said: “The old school wasn’t a very useful working environment. It was very disruptive to the clerk and wasn’t conducive to holding a confidential meeting.

“The new building has a reception and areas which will allow sensitive and confidential matters to be discussed in private.”

To offset costs, the old office is to undergo a makeover and be made available for hire for small meetings, on an ad hoc basis. It will also be used to store historical archive material.

A number of community groups in Nettleham have been celebrating special anniversaries this year.

The scout group in the village marked its 70th anniversary this summer, with a family barbecue, treasure hunt and games evening, as well as a grand camp at Walesby Forest Outdoor Adventure Activity Centre. According to records at the National Scout Centre at Gilwell Park, Nettleham scouts was first registered in July 1945, however many believe scouting in Nettleham goes back even further than that.

Nettleham Community Choir is making plans to celebrate its fifth birthday in November. Since its formation, more than 100 singers have been involved at different times and the choir has given concerts of world music for VSO and performed at venues all over Lincolnshire. It has raised more than £1,000 this year for a school in rural Malawi.

The choir not only performed at the village carnival in the summer but also at the Lincolnshire Show, on street corners, at WI groups and with its sister choir in Horncastle. It already has a full programme of Christmas performances
and is booked to sing at events in Leicester and London in 2016.

Nettleham Age UK holds a Tuesday coffee morning in the village and marked its 40th anniversary milestone earlier in the year with a party in the Old School. Regulars were joined by a few guests and a cake, made and decorated by a friend of the group, was cut by the longest-serving helper.

On a more sombre note, Nettleham CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Debt Centre is just a year old, but in that time it has seen twenty-four clients for a total of fifty-four visits and it has helped or is helping forty-nine family members.

The majority of clients live in North Lincoln but some have come from as far afield as Saxilby, Middle Rasen and Hemswell Cliff. The centre has used sixteen foodbank/community larder vouchers and has done two emergency food shops.

The village now has a community skate park located at Mulsanne Park which opened in July. The new T8 Scoot ‘n’ Skate is the final phase of a major project to bring non-traditional sports to the village.

The first parts of the project, Street Snooker (MUGA) and Basketball court, both situated next to the tennis club courts, were completed last year.

The creation of the skate park was in response to requests from youngsters in the village and includes pieces of equipment that replicate items found in the urban environment, such as handrails and kerbs, all of which can be used by skateboarders, BMXers, inline skaters and scooter riders.

The project cost more than £24,000 and has taken just over four years to complete. A new all-weather access path has also been provided and a step has been replaced with a ramp to make the area accessible to all.

The project is a fine example of teamwork. The parish council made the old and long-disused Boules court available and major funding was obtained from Veolia Environmental Trust, which awarded £16,480 through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Money also came from West Lindsey District Council, which was awarded through the Ward Councillors Initiative Fund.

Much of the village fundraising, though, was led by Cheryl Tate and her family and their efforts are reflected in the name, which is derived from modern texting shorthand – T8=Tate – in tribute to the family.

They worked with Malcolm and Tom Booth, Doug and Sally Bradley and Councillor Susan Harland as the project team, led by Councillor Joseph Siddall, for the Parish Council.

A 200-name petition in favour of the project was put together after residents were consulted on the skate park idea.

Multi-award winning practice David Burghardt Vision Care who have been providing excellence in eyecare for over 30 years are based in Nettleham. As contact lens specialists, they are seeing an increasing number of people for whom contact lenses are a great form of vision correction.

It’s a fact that almost everyone over 60 needs some sort of vision correction, it’s just a natural part of aging. The good news is there’s no reason why you can’t see clearly for years to come without having to constantly use spectacles.

From around the age of 40 most people start to notice presbyopia which is the inability to see to read and focus on other near tasks. To correct this, most people are familiar with the use of spectacles but many patients are not aware that contact lenses can correct presbyopia as well.

David says: “With people living longer and much more active lives these days the freedom that contact lens wear offers is something that can be easily provided for patients with no age restrictions – we have patients wearing contact lenses from ages 5 to 85.”

Constantly at the forefront of contact lens practice, and highly respected in their fields, David and his colleague Penny Shaw travel worldwide to attend conferences and events ensuring they are always at the cutting edge of new advancements in vision care.

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