Agricultural Discussion Society
Newsletter April 1998
February 7th......Supper Meeting
We held our annual supper meeting in the village hall, as usual, but this year it was on a Saturday because the hall is so fully booked during the week it was proving difficult to fit us in without disrupting the regular users. For most people this was an advantage because we did not need to get up for work the next morning, but there are some who lead such a hectic social life that they were unable to keep that Saturday clear so we were slightly down on numbers. Nevertheless we still had over 100 of us to enjoy a fine meal and an exceptional talk by our guest speaker; Mr. Villar, who is a surgeon at Addenbrooks but has also served with the SAS and done charity work in many of the worlds ‘trouble spots’. John Suckling came to know Mr. Villar when he put his hip back together last year for him. Good speakers are not easy to find but Mr. Villar was really great so that proves "It is an ill wind that blows no good".
March 2nd........John Grayson (Uttlesford District Council)
John Grayson is Deputy Director of Planning at Uttlesford D.C. and gave us a talk on planning policy and procedures as they affect farmers. It was very good to hear that the planners of Uttlesford are keen for employment to be maintained in rural areas and they realise that farmers and farm diversification can play a vital part in this objective. Light industrial and business use of redundant farm buildings is considered much more favourably than conversion to houses because of the employment implications.
We learnt that, as the planning authority, they have to juggle many conflicting points of view when they consider such developments, such as increased traffic, noise and the views of neighbours. We also learnt that once approval is given, it is only the start, because there are many other hurdles to be negotiated. Considerable amounts of money may need to be spent before an old shed is suitable for use as an office or workshop, and then a tenant has to be found. It would appear that these can often prove to be more insurmountable than the planning hurdle because Uttlesford has got many such permissions that have been given in the past but not taken to completion yet.
The question and answer period was very interesting and informative when we could ask questions that related to our own farms without the formality of an official visit to the planning office. I think that the meeting was mutually beneficial because we learnt alot but also Mr. Grayson showed us that the planning department has got a human face and is very understanding of the need to keep the countryside at work.
Our AGM on the 6th April will be preceded by a short talk form Mr. Norton of Anglian water about some new bylaws relating to water supply that are coming into force later this year. We will also be looking for a new treasurer because we are losing Douglas Grose who has served our society so well over the years. He has been both secretary and treasurer and he has done both exceptionally well. We will be very sorry to see him go!
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