HURST MEADOWS ADVISORY GROUP Meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday 2nd February 2021 via Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing.
Present: Cllrs Stephen Hand (Chair) (SH), Allan Brown (AB), Claire Majsai (CM), Malcolm Llewellyn (ML) Stephen Baldey (SB), Michael Nailard (MN), George Judd (GJ), Tony Whitbread (TW), Martin Sadler (MS), Helen Brangwyn (HB), Rachel Felton (RF), Patrick Howarth (PH), Sonia McDavitt (SD), Donna Willis (DW), Hamish Raby (HR), Stephen Witchell (SW) & Sarah Groom (SG).
- Apologies for absence: Apologies for absence were received from David Evans.
- Declarations of interest: The Chair felt this item was not relevant to this agenda but asked if anyone has any financial interests in matters discussed, they should declare it at the time.
- Minutes of the meeting of the Group 27 August 2020
The minutes of the meeting held on 27 August 2020 were agreed. With no additional notes.
- Hurst Meadows Update Report
The Chair noted the increased use of Hurst Meadows.
AB noted that he is still in talks with Bovis to resolve ditch issues around the site.
- Hurst Meadows Management Plans
5i The Draft Hurst Meadow Management Plan for comments and observations:
SH and all the councillors would like to thank George Judd for all her hard work in producing a fantastic piece of work. He added that it will form the basis for the future maintenance of the site by working groups and PC and future meetings.
TW added that the Management plan was very well structured and easy to navigate and felt it brought the site alive.
GJ noted that the management plan is a long-term project which are broken down into phases, not everything needs to be done at once. It will also help with enquiries.
Grassland and Meadows
GJ noted that most of the areas will be left to encourage natural regeneration. Buckwilly will be the starting point for sowing wildflowers and that it will be a long-term project.
AB noted that we would be experimenting with the other meadows, with cutting programs.
SB noted it is important to get the right balance between public access and protecting Fauna and fauna. Due to the present wet conditions and pandemic the site is getting lots of usage. The built-up paths are wearing around flooded areas and it is highlighting other areas that may benefit from a solid path. SB suggested a solid path around the perimeter of Walnut & 15 acres. SH stated this was open to further discussion.
ML noted as there is a PROW running through the site, this could be one of the paths we ask WSCC to improve.
SB noted the access upgrades conducted by WSCC on Latchetts Lane running north from St Georges Lane includes two kissing gates which do not allow access to prams and Wheelchairs. ML added that WSCC approved the upgrades with the entry points not having gates, however this land is privately owned and the land owner insisted on them. The PC has not given up seeking fully inclusive access on that route.
SB noted the seating within HM could still be improved as there are only two new benches within Fifteen acre. Hurst Society would be willing to contribute to the purchase and installation of perch seats as it would be good to have resting points for the elderly.
It was agreed that site development should not be rushed regarding paths and seating. There is a good case for the installation of more hard surfaces, the last 12 months have seen extreme conditions with a large number of visitors to the site during lockdown and people stepping off paths for social distancing. It would be good to compare the site outside of the pandemic. Some hedges will be left to grow out intentionally as well. It is also important to remember that this is a conservation site and not a park.
SB noted the access by 66 College road to the orchard in Buckwilly and the issue of hedge row ownership. ML stated that enabling access is the landowner’s decision. Further work is required.
There were expressions of cautions over using Volunteers, and the importance to set realistic targets for the working groups. Everyone was optimistic that it would be achievable, with the possibility of encouraging younger people to be trained to work on the land.
PH has a list of volunteers that have helped with the Millennium Garden and he will reach out to them and believe the prospect of more volunteers is good.
GJ – tasks will be well thought through and well planned. It was agreed that a work plan would be agreed by the next meeting.
GJ noted we will be looking for more funding, grants have not been investigated yet and any good idea would be welcome.
It has been agreed that once GJ has added some last-minute items (apple names) this Management plan will would be recorded as version 1.
Once the document has been finalised with version controls, this group will be notified, and the management plan will be released into the public domain.
5ii Woodlands: Ancient Tree Assessment and Management Plan
AB introduced the Lost Woods Project in partnership with the Woodland Trust. Petra Billings had produced the ancient tree assessment and management plan reports. The Felling license for The Wilderness and Tilley’s Copse has been applied for from the Forestry Commission, this is a 10-year license which will allow us to fell identified species in the woodland, we will be able to fell less that stated but not more.
It was suggested that a post and rail fence be erected at the Marchant Close end of the Wilderness to restrict and deter public access into the site. This will be discussed further as part of the Lost
Woods project. Previous attempts to fence in the woods have been damaged. The signage protects the Parish Council against claims, unless we have been negligent.
It was suggested to concentrate on a Health and Safety point of view, making safe Ash die back trees within public access areas first. It was suggested to leave other diseased trees in inaccessible areas, as they are good habitats.
Tilley’s Copse has been identified for shading works, this would thin the tree cover and encourage bluebells and other species to thrive.
Deer, Foxes and Badgers have been sighted in the woodland, meaning that any unauthorised access has not scared them away.
GL advised that one of the first jobs to achieve in the woodlands would be to remove invasive weeds, which would be in the spring, depending on government guidelines. After this the next jobs would be in the Autumn.
SH agreed that if there was an ease in the lockdown, the PC would be happy to procced with work parties.
- Supporting Local Forest Schools
CM reported that the task force had met in September and walked the Meadows.
HB – The preschool forest school has been running throughout lockdown, even though the ground is wet, it is not as bad as last year, but she does have concerns over compaction. She had met with the new St Lawrence Primary School Head who was keen for their children to use the Meadows and interact with the Pre-School children.
The task force are keen to move forward with using Hovel field South (Fat Pony Field) but would be one of several sites used in Hurst meadow and would not be used 12 months a year.
This site has no public access and can not be used by dog walkers, which reduces the risk of dog waste.
There is the possibility of a building site to the south of this area which should be taking into consideration when decision is made.
Hurst festival believed to be in the last two weeks of September. SG to confirm the dates but believed to be around the 13th September. The Parish Council are expected to Sponsor Super Sunday 2021.
CM has called for Volunteers to lead walks or talks for Hurst Festival 2021, GJ is Happy to do something and will discuss with other members to work out what they can do to help. CM would like some ideas or volunteers for events for adults as well as children if possible. There is a deadline if you think you can help email CM for more details.
- Matters for information or inclusion on next agenda
No matters raised.
- Date of Next Meeting: The next meeting will be held 13th April 2021 at 1930.