Glastonbury Town Council has launched a new website to promote engagement with our residents, retailers, and business owners on how our town will continue to develop and grow.
The website is part of the community engagement strategy developed by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee; Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Planning Officer, Gerard Tucker explains: “Put simply, the Neighbourhood Plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development of Glastonbury; Glastonbury Town Council and in particular the Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group is expected to provide a robust and thorough consultation exercise. Yet there is one missing ingredient – YOU! We really do need your help, so please get involved when asked for your thoughts either at consultation events or questionnaires.
“Our ambition is to research the plan during the remainder of 2016, assess the responses and engage again with residents in early 2017, before writing the plan for presentation to Mendip District Council and an independent examiner. If all goes well, we hope to provide an opportunity for residents to vote at a referendum in early 2018.”
To see Glastonbury’s new Neighbourhood Plan Website for yourself, please click HERE.
All eyes seem to be on Glastonbury this week! A week when thousands of people from all over the country celebrate our flair for the unusual, for the unconventional, for the unorthodox!
It’s a week when those visiting the extraordinary Glastonbury Festival find themselves re-imagining – even for a short time – what it is to have a home… many living in a tent, or a yurt, or a tipi for the week; others arriving in the multitude of live-in vehicles, converted buses, campervans, gypsy vardos, and – this year – possibly a house boat or two!
It’s a week when a mass of modern-day pilgrims converge upon our Green and Pleasant Land ; many of them purveying off-grid life-styles – especially those in The Green Fields – generating energy with solar panels, wind-turbines, vegetable oil, and even pedal-power! It’s certainly a week when we can consider ‘the alternative’…
Having a home is a big issue in Glastonbury; there seems to be more people wishing to live in our town than houses available! It’s an issue compounded by the physical constraints of the landscape… We are, after all, an island – a fact highlighted by the regular flooding of the levels and moors that surround us!
Housing is not only a big issue; it’s also an emotive subject! I have listened to many residents who feel there is a genuine social housing need in Glastonbury. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that there are a lot of people – not just incomers, but those born-and-bred – who struggle with high rents in this town; who need affordable homes (and by that, I mean truly affordable) – not just houses for sale, but decent homes to rent (for an unarguable fair rent!).
The perceived problem is that many of the new builds don’t seem to address our local housing need. Rather, they’re commercial developments, primarily for sale; to maximise profit for the developer. Many appear to be sold to new people who want to come and live in the town, or to those who buy-to-let… and we’ve all witnessed the worst-case scenario of private landlords in the local press – headlines such as: ‘Glastonbury woman left homeless after being forced to choose between eviction or electrocution’…
Of course, Glastonbury needs new homes; new people to bring fresh ideas and energy into our community… but – surely – our new developments must address Glastonbury’s actual housing need, not just compound it! To this end, one of the first things Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan hopes to undertake is a Housing Needs Assessment, to verify any previous primary research and establish a methodological survey of the situation.
That being said, there’s already a number of Glastonbury residents interested in ‘the alternative’; in addressing the lack of affordable/social housing in imaginative and creative ways. People willing to explore and consider the potential of small scale community-led housing developments in the town – perhaps through the creation of a Community Land Trustor Housing Co-operative; perhaps by using the evidence collected during the Neighbourhood Planning process to prepare a Community Right to Build order.
SCS’s Alex Lawrie spoke about the event recently saying: “Imagine a form of housing with no mortgage hanging over you, and no landlord ripping you off. Whether you want to live in the town or country, as a family or single occupants, co-operatives can offer a good deal. Together, create new homes by extending existing properties or building from scratch. Find the mix of rent and investment that suits your members. Come along to find out more! ”
If you’re interested in the unusual, the unconventional, the unorthodox – in truly imaginative and creative housing solutions – in ‘the alternative’, then why not join us?
Further support for Community-led Housing:
Locality’s Early Stage Support programme – funded by the Nationwide Foundation – offers expert mentoring and small grants to help affordable community-led housing projects get started. Find out more HERE
Glastonbury’s community-led Neighbourhood Plan – to guide the future development and conservation of our local area – formally gets underway this month, with Mendip District Council holding a consultation on the physical area that the plan will cover.
On 26th May 2016, Glastonbury Town Council formally applied to Mendip District Council to designate the Neighbourhood Plan area – which is to be the existing parish boundary of the Town Council’s four wards.
Mendip District Council are now undertaking a public consultation on Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan application – from Tuesday 7th June to Tuesday 19th July 2016 – notifying ‘potentially affected parties’ on the area the plan will cover and inviting comments; “to seek views from people who live and work in the community as to whether the area identified is considered to be appropriate.”
Mendip’s website states: “At this stage, views on the content of the Neighbourhood Plan are not being sought, as these will be gathered in consultation exercises organised by the town council during production of the plan… We would urge local residents to respond to the consultation if they think the boundaries being used should be different from what is being proposed.”
If you wish to make a comment on whether the proposed neighbourhood plan area (which follows the parish boundary) is appropriate you can do so either:
By emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Or by writing to: Planning Policy Team, Mendip District Council, Cannards Grave Road, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5BT
Please submit your comments by 5 pm on Tuesday 19th July 2016.
Please note that at Mendip district Council are not asking for comments on the potential content of Glastonbury’s Neighbourhood Plan, only whether the proposed area it will have an effect on is appropriate.
For more information on neighbourhood planning please visit National Planning Policy Framework for England’s Planning Practice Guidance.
If you have any questions regarding the area designation process then please contact Natasha Durham by email: email@example.com or telephone: 01749 341 316.
One thing I have learnt over the past six months or so is that Neighbourhood Planning is not a quick process – but perhaps that’s only to be expected when undertaking something that truly needs to involve as many people as possible; that will – eventually – become part of the statutory policies for the future development of our area; something with real legal force!
So – as David Bowie might say – “where are we now? ”
I couldn’t start this blog without mentioning the amazing Paul Sander-Jackson, who has been a major force-for-good on Glastonbury Town Council in support of the Neighbourhood Plan. Elected in May 2015, Paul became Chair of Glastonbury’s Planning Committee and oversaw the initial Neighbourhood Planning steering group meetings – which researched the process and recommended that the council proceed with a Neighbourhood Plan.
Sadly, Paul had to stand down from the council at the end of March due to ill health. His expertise, mindfulness, and congenial nature will be sorely missed; his time as an elected member may have been short, but it leaves our community the opportunity to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan as its legacy.
As part of that legacy, I am delighted to report that in February, Glastonbury Town Council advertised the post of Neighbourhood Planning Officer – a post ‘responsible for all aspects of the neighbourhood planning process’ – and in March, recruited Gerard Tucker!
Gerard began working for Glastonbury on 3rd May, and has already begun developing Glastonbury’s very own Neighbourhood Plan ‘road map’ – to help our community set out a positive vision for how we want Glastonbury to flourish and develop over the next twenty years!
The first item on the agenda is the town’s official application to Mendip District Council to designate Glastonbury as a ‘Neighbourhood Area’, which will be followed by a period of publicity and consultation by the Planning Authority.
As the ‘Qualifying Body’, the Town Council has already begun to gather baseline information and evidence which will help determine the scope and complexity of the plan – such as housing need data, development viability considerations, environmental designations, and flood risk assessments.
In addition, I have provided Gerard with a whole host of Neighbourhood Planning material and information provided through the COM fund, and the considerable amount of data arising from my work on the Local Plan Part II consultation – which contains the main strategic policies for the district in general and Glastonbury in particular.
Once the Neighbourhood Area has been approved by Mendip – and the scope agreed – then it’s full steam ahead into the real purpose of the plan: to engage and consult with you; the people living and working in Glastonbury!
This will involve a whole host of activities, ranging from formal consultation events to questionnaires to the stalwart of all good community organising – knocking on doors and listening…
“Lloyds Bank is committed to the industry wide Access to Banking Protocol introduced by the British Bankers’ Association in May 2015. Before we made the decision to close the Glastonbury branch we carried out a thorough review to assess the impact of the closure on customers and the wider community.”
On Tuesday 5th April, despite a huge effort by the local community to keep it open, Glastonbury last bank – Lloyds – closed for the final time…
Marking the event in Glastonbury’s own inimitable way, the Last Bank Standing community group organised a fourth ‘Flash Mob’ – A ‘Wild South West’ funeral procession to mourn the demise of ‘Crazy Horse’!
A hand drawn funeral-bier, carrying the Black Horse’s coffin (its legs sticking out the top!), was pulled through the packed streets by the town’s Deputy, ‘Undertaker’, and chief mourners.
The procession was met outside Lloyds Bank (in the High Street) by the Town Crier, the town’s Mayor, the Member of Parliament, and many of the 6,000 residents who had signed the petition to keep the bank open!
Last Bank Standing Chair, Paul Manning told reporters: “I fully agree that people are banking online, but [Lloyds] are not thinking of their customers, because 30% of them don’t. Particularly the elderly and the more socially-disadvantaged who won’t, or can’t use the internet.”
Lloyds Bank published this statement: “Following our review and period of contact with local customers and key members of the local community, we have decided to proceed with the closure of the Glastonbury branch on 5 April 2016.”
Glastonbury’s community replies: “WATCH THIS SPACE ! ”
Glastonbury’s branch of Barclays Bank closed its doors for the last time on Friday 4th March 2016. Glastonbury’s community turned out en masse to demonstrate how they felt about it; cameras from ITV and BBC were there to capture the town’s third Flash Mob protest organised by the Last Bank Standing.
Glastonbury’s response to the expected closure of all the town’s banks has been hailed as an inspiration by other communities facing the same fate; has caught the attention of the national press – and even prompted acknowledgment at Prime Minister’s Questions, when the MP for Glastonbury, James Heappey, asked David Cameron if he would encourage the banks “to think again”.
The Barclays’ Flash Mob follows hot on the heals of the hugely successful ‘Crazy Horse’ – developed into a spoof ‘Spaghetti Western’, which has received over 2,000 views on YouTube!
More community action is planned for 5th April – the date when Lloyds Bank threaten to close Glastonbury’s last bank for good… It could very well end with a ‘show down’ between the Deputy and the Black Horse !!!
Last Bank Standing’s Paul Manning told ITV: “There’s still a chance Lloyds could change their minds, but I think it’s also sending a message out there, to the banks, that they’ve really got to live up to the promises that they’re making to their customers! ”
Transition Glastonbury emerged “in the manner of violets coming to light in early spring”. I recall a number of different people coming to see me, over a week or two in the summer of 2006, all excited about “what’s going on in Totnes!”
In 2006, Glastonbury’s community was a receptive and fertile place for the new ‘Transition Town’ concept, which was founded on the principles of Permaculture, with the key aim of addressing two issues:
1) what response – if any – can we as communities make to tackle climate change?
2) how do we prepare for a future where the world’s finite fossil fuels become exhausted… ?
There was already a ‘Climate Action Now’ group, and my own organising work had led to the development of the ‘Glastonbury United’ campaign, which was about getting more people registered to vote and more engagement with local politics.
Key to Transition was the idea of ‘local resilience’ – the ability of a community to cope with ‘shock’; the shock of increasingly unpredictable, more extreme weather conditions; the inevitable shock of living through the depletion of oil, and the unavoidable ‘energy descent’ that would follow.
By 2007, two prominent Transitioners, community activist Linda Hull and straw-bale house pioneer Caroline Barry, had been elected onto the Town Council under the ‘Glastonbury United’ banner, and a vibrant Transition Glastonbury was engrossed in an attempt to fathom a fundamental, Maslowian question: “could Glastonbury feed itself?”
Volunteers were mapping local food production in a 30 mile radius of the town – to establish just how resilient Glastonbury could be if the oil supply was turned off; if transport systems broke down; if we had to rely solely on local producers to feed 9,000 local people…
At the same time, all the local food suppliers, cafés, and retailers were asked where they sourced their products…
The results were analysed, collated, and Glastonbury’s local food directory ‘A Celebration of Local Food’ was published.
The answer to the question, “could Glastonbury feed itself?” was a bit of a shock for all concerned; for – although there were certainly a good number of meat and dairy producers in the vicinity of the town, and Sharpham Park could provide enough grains – the local farms were not producing anywhere near enough vegetables to meet the needs of the town… Indeed, the nearest vegetable producer of any size was over 20 miles away!
It became very clear that Glastonbury needed to begin to ‘grow its own’, and people started to set up food initiatives in earnest, with one of the first being ‘Torganics’, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at Paddington Farm, just north-east of the Tor.
The latest is Plotgate Community Supported Agriculture (Plotgate CSA) – a new co-operative aiming to “grow local food for local people, and sharing the fun of farming.”
On Saturday, 12th March, Plotgate will be formally launching its business with an evening of “informing and enthusing about fresh, local and seasonal vegetables that are sustainably produced and ecologically enhancing” – to be held at Barton St David Village Hall, just outside Glastonbury.
Supported by the Just Growth Programme, Plotgate CSA will be using Community Shares to raise finance for their venture. Their pioneer share offer opens on the evening of the launch; providing an opportunity for local people to join the CSA and invest in the project.