2 January 2014

Prince Charles and David Vagg invited for a cuppa with Shepton Mallet Town Councillor

So, I've been a Town Councillor in Shepton Mallet, for less than a month and I find myself immersed in a cause that I feel passionately about, working together with other Councillors on the team, from all the parties but especially +Garfield Kennedy who got me involved in this whole thing, in the first place!

Shepton Mallet Town Council and several residents from Tadley Acres have teamed up to oppose the building of over 40 houses on a gorgeous piece of green land, enjoyed by the community for several years and promised to the residents as being earmarked for community use.

This is the story of Tadley Place, as I understand it, so far:

Once upon a time, a beautiful housing development was designed and then created, the people involved in creating the ethos and ideals of this 'Village within a Town' concept, worked intensely hard on creating the dream and bringing it to fruition.

The Prince of Wales' Duchy Estates, our local farmer David Vagg and Bloor Homes, were just some of the stakeholders in this project and it was their hard work and collaboration that created a new housing development with soul and a strong sense of community. This article in Shepton Mallet Journal, 2011, states that, ' More than 90 per cent of the land on which the estate has been developed was owned by local farmer David Vagg.

The rest of the property belonged to the Duchy of Cornwall, headed by Prince Charles.

The site was planned meticulously, with frequent consultations between the Vagg family and the Duchy.

Back in 2001 Robert Adam, project architect for the Duchy of Cornwall, was reported in this newspaper saying: "David Vagg and his family wanted to give something to Shepton Mallet that they could be proud of in years to come.'

In the centre of this amazing. award-winning development, there was a glorious patch of green space, which the residents have enjoyed ever since they first moved in and continue to enjoy this day. This green space was a very special green space as it was contractually agreed that it would be used to build a school, a community centre, or other community asset, or it would not be built on at all!

Unfortunately, promises and contractual agreements seem to have been forgotten when Somerset County Council stated that the site would no longer be required, as no school would be built, as reported in this edition of The Shepton Mallet Journal, in October 2013. The article states that in a meeting on September 10th, a spokesman for CG Fry & Son said: "The site was originally reserved for a new primary school as part of the planning permission and Section 106 Agreement for the wider housing development.

"Somerset County Council has recently confirmed that the site is not now required, so the landowners have quite properly considered alternative uses with a land value to them."

Surely Somerset County Council have made a big mistake, didn't they need to say that the land needed to be kept for community use? This was stated in brochures at the time and residents have told me that they have this land reserved for community use, mentioned in their household deeds!

And look at the website of the Architect Robert Adam, where a village green, new school and community building are all mentioned.

Frustration is now building (did you like that?) for the residents of Tadley Acre, where stones with hardly visible signs on saying 'Private Land' have suddenly appeared and CG Fry & Son, want to push through plans to build 40+ houses on the site, that was originally earmarked for community use. Residents affectionately refer to this area of green land which they have collectively enjoyed for several years as Tadley Place and you can help their campaign by liking their Tadley Place Facebook Page and following Tadley Place on Twitter.

I personally feel the 'Private Land' signs should be replaced with ones saying 'Tadley Place' as in the picture above and have a wonderful picture in my mind of Prince Charles and David Vagg unveiling the new signs, happy that their original vision hasn't been destroyed!

Do you know Prince Charles, or David Vagg? I really would like to have a chat with them both. I was thinking that it would be nice to discuss over afternoon tea.

So, here is my invitation to Prince Charles and David Vagg.

Dear Prince Charles and David Vagg, you are both cordially invited to enjoy a cup of tea with me, maybe even more than one, if we get on well!

I'll provide the fair trade organic Yogi Tea.
Prince Charles, please bring some Duchy Originals biscuits for us to enjoy.
David, I'd like you to provide the milk.

Time and Date to be decided between us.

Location, Either somewhere really posh where Prince Charles is the host, maybe in a farmhouse David, or you could both come along to my little Shepton Mallet coffee and health food shop, if you wish.

Failing that, we could meet at Tadley Place but it might be a bit cold for that.

I look forward to speaking to you both about Tadley Acres and making sure that your vision for a gorgeous community, village-like development is NOT destroyed by building on the green known affectionately by residents as Tadley Place.

RSVP: cllr.k.mercer@sheptonmallet.info

Thank you. xx

If you know how to get this invite to Prince Charles and David Vagg, please do present it to them and let me know.

Are you battling against developers too, what have you managed to do to keep your treasured green spaces?

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