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The first Consultation Draft of the Plan

The first Consultation Draft of the Neighbourhood Plan is now complete. 

We have spent a year or so gathering data and opinions on all the aspects of the Plan. With the help of an expert we have built the first draft of a Plan based on all this. It is written to a standard planning format in several sections each about a different topic. Every section follows the same format;

1 An introduction arguing why plan policies are needed
2 Plan policies, usually in several topics within each section
3 An explanation and elaboration of how the policies will be applied.

You will probably see that there are many gaps, many areas that are not clear, and possibly some mistakes.  We need help to improve it.

Please help by going to the draft download page where you can download either the whole plan or a particular section that is of most interest.  Comments can be made by email to info@martockplan.co.uk, or via the contact page of this site.

Or you can publish your comment on any of the comment pages in the menu bar – click the ‘Leave a reply’ link.  Please allow day or so for publication (anti-spam)

Andrew Clegg

Floods in 1992 and 1993

Water Street was flooded in both 1992 and 1993. Weather reports from these dates suggest that floods happen in Martock more frequently than the occurrence of major national weather events and that the causes are not always the same.

These two photographs show Water Street in October 1993 and in December 1992.

These floods occurred on 12th December 1992 and 13th October 1993. As with the 1979 flood, both these floods coincided, to within two days, with a spring tide in the channel. Although spring tides are periods of both the highest and lowest tides, it is probably that the natural flow of the Parrett to the sea will have been impeded more than normal. In both cases also the wind would have been in the west and it is likely that low pressure over the Bristol Channel will have raised the sea level by possibly as much as a metre. All this slows the flow down the Parrett.

But here the similarity between the two floods ends

December 1992 was generally wet but the amount of rain falling at the time of the flood does not seem to have been particularly unusual although the heaviest rain was early in the month. But it fell on land already saturated by continuous rain at the end of November. This increases run-off from the hills but more importantly, stops flood water being absorbed in the valley along Stoke Road.

The flood in October 1993 seems to have had a rather different cause. This month countrywide generally experienced odd weather including the infamous tornados in the midlands. This flood followed a day after some exceptionally heavy storms in the middle of what was a generally dry month. It seems likely that it was a sudden flash flood; indeed, it seems that getting on for the monthly average rainfall for the whole month fell around 12th October; probably twice as much as experienced in the 1992 flood.

I cannot find out whether the Levels were significantly affected on these dates.

Andrew Clegg

The great 1979 flood


Lots of interesting discussions and memories about floods at the Neighbourhood Plan Farmers’ Market stall last Saturday (10 June).

Particularly about the great flood of May 1979, which sounded like the biggest thing since Noah.

Thanks for all the memories and the photos. Pity there was no photo of the wheelbarrow that floated gently down Water Street outside the Ironmongers (now the Picture Gallery). Whose was it and what happened to it? Does anyone know?

The great thing about this flood is that we had the exact date (almost) because it was the Bath and West weekend where they had to tow parked cars out of the field with tractors. This probably put the flood on or around Thursday 31st May 1979. So I searched online and came up with a few details:

1 There is a flow gauge on the Parrett at Chiselborough. It measures the flow of water from its upper catchment area of about 30 square miles, only about 4% of the total flow down the river. It usually records about 42 cubic feet a second. On 30th May 1979 it recorded the highest ever flow rate of 6100 cubic feet/second. Thats about 150 times normal!

2 In May 1979 the Yeovilton weather station recorded the third wettest month ever with 171 mm (7 inches) for rain. The normal May fall is about 2 inches. I cant find on what days the rain fell but the records show that May 1979 was an odd month with quite a bit of snow the first week and a lot of rain at the end. It looks as though most of the 7 inches fell in the last week.

3 People told me that they had had quite a lot of continuous drizzle before the 30th and then one huge storm. This seems typical of floods here – a sharp storm falling on saturated ground.

4 The spring tide down at the Bridgewater end of the Parrett was on 26th May, just a few days earlier. This is important because it means that the sluice gates that stop the sea coming in (and the Parrett flowing out) will have been closed for longer than normal.

5 The sea level will have been even higher than a normal spring tide because of the low air pressure of the storm system coming in from the west. This means that the air presses down less on the sea so the sea level rises. By a surprising amount; about 1cm for a drop of 1 millibar. If the storm was as big as reported the sea level could have been 30 cm higher than normal just because of low air pressure.

6 Everyone reported that the water came from upstream rather suddenly. Rumour said that a sluice gate may have been opened for safety reasons upstream but nobody knew exactly where. What was clear from the accounts was that the water not only ran through the front doors but went quickly round the back and flooded kitchens as well. Presumably there was so much water downstream in the Parrett by then that it backed up so there was nowhere for the Martock water to go.

7 Then, in the afternoon it suddenly went down. Low tide at Bridgewater everyone agreed. And of course it is a low spring tide which is lower than normal.

8 The Environment Agency recorded a major Levels flood in June 1979. presumably in the first week of June.

Thanks again to everyone who left their memories and stories and photographs. They were all very useful. In the next post I will try and summarise the lessons learned from these that can translate into possible Neighbourhood Plan Policies.

Andrew Clegg

Footpaths – where people walk around Martock

Thanks to everyone who talked to us at the Farmer’s market on 8th April about where they like walking. Here is the map you completed

At this stage in the Neighbourhood Plan we are collecting and recording evidence. This suggests that the countryside around Martock is all equally valued and people use all the footpaths.

The Village Survey that was completed last month will give us more evidence that we will add to the map.

We also asked about how often people walk. Of the 34 responses, 18 reported daily, 11 weekly and 5 monthly.

Andrew Clegg

Martock Plan at the Farmers’ Market, 11th March

Thanks to all who came to the Neighbourhood Plan stall at today’s farmers market.  As you may expect, the great majority indicated that we should keep the numbers of new houses down to the ‘minimum’ number in the SSDC local plan.

This minimum was (helpfully) defined as a ‘guideline’ by the Lavers Oak planning inspector.  He, and the Ringwell inspector, said that the number should not be significantly exceeded and the Ringwell inspector indicated that a 32% excess (which Ringwell would have created) was ‘well beyond the broad level of housing envisaged for Martock’.

In order to keep numbers to this level we must be able to persuade the SSDC planners and our SSDC Area North representatives to stick to this guideline when planning applications are considered.

The result of the Farmers Market vote was:

First Choice           150  31votes, 150+ 16 votes,  300  2 votes
Second Choice      150  10 votes,  150+ 20 votes,  300  3 votes
Third Choice          150   0 votes,   150+  3 votes,  300, 29 votes
Not everyone cast all three votes.

Farmers' Market consultation

Farmers’ Market consultation

We hope to have a stall at all the Markets this year

Andrew Clegg

Views around Martock

Thanks to all who came to the Martock Neighbourhood Plan meeting last Saturday. Good to see so many.

Many people were very interested in the maps from the Martock Peripheral Landscape Study that we had on display. These showed where the important views are and where the finest landscapes are around the village. This is a very useful publication. It will help us plan where future housing and business development should, and should not, be.

The Landscape Study is now on the website, and can be downloaded, at http://www.martockplan.org.uk/Environment/Landscape.html.

It would be good to follow this up by building up a collection of pictures and descriptions of the parts of the Martock Landscape that you walk through and like.  The more contributions we have the easier it will be to protect the it and the views from it.

I live at Bower Hinton, just a short walk from the circle of low hills, Ringwell Hill, Hallett Hill and Cripple Hill.  From these we can see as far as the Mendips northwards and the Levels westwards.  The gap in the hedge below shows the back of Sparrows Works, the church tower in the centre and the Mendips not quite visible in the hazy distance

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Below is a landmark that is noted in the Landscape Study.  Almost every view looking south from Martock will have this row of oaks that mark the top of Hallett Hill.

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It would be good to build up a record of the places and views people like around the village.  Let us know here (click ‘leave a reply’ above) or upload pictures to the Martock Neighbourhood Plan Facebook Page

Andrew Clegg 15/3/16

Martock Neighbourhood Plan – A chance to have your say in our future

From Bob Horton, Chair, Martock Plan development group.

Published in the Leveller
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Many of you will be only too well aware of the proliferation of new housing developments now being planned or, indeed, approved in the areas surrounding Martock. This is primarily the result of changes in national planning guidelines that are detailed in a Government document called the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). In effect, these new rules are very much in the favour of developers and land that would, hitherto, be considered as a “no go area” for housing is now deemed to be fair game provided that the applicant can prove that the proposed development is “sustainable”. Exactly what sustainable means is open to interpretation as this is not well defined in the NPPF document. The overall result is that the green fields surrounding villages up and down the country are now subject to predatory land grabs by developers who may not have the best interests of local residents at heart.
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Although we will probably be faced with a barrage of housing applications around our village, we do have an opportunity to at least have a say in what we want and where we would like it. This is by the construction of a Neighbourhood Plan (NP). NPs form an integral part of the Government’s planning policy and they were first introduced in the Localism Act of 2011. Whilst the NP is not a solution for all issues, it does provide the opportunity for a community to define how they want their settlement to grow and, in some way, influence the nature and character of their neighbourhood in the future. In effect, we have a choice, either, we can keep the status quo and simply allow the developers to continue building where and when they want and accept the adverse consequences this may have on village life; or, we can formulate a plan for the whole community that will help to temper the rate, size and location of future developments. Once drafted, the NP would be subject to a neighbourhood wide referendum and, if accepted, it will have statutory powers.

I should point out that a NP will have no effect on existing development applications; it only applies to the future because the plan will take circa 18 months to be accepted. Additionally, the NP is not a “no development” document. We must accept that any community will have a certain amount of expansion and this is healthy because all communities must be allowed to thrive and grow. The importance of the NP is that we, the people of Martock, have a say in what is allowed. It is also worth stating that the NP must comply with the requirements of national policy (the NPPF) and the South Somerset Local Plan.

Martock Parish Council have decided that it is in the best interests of our community to formulate a NP and, as such, they have established a working group to achieve this important objective. The NP will cover the entire Parish area and its primary objective will be to provide a sustainable and controlled development of our community into the future. This includes the protection of our green spaces, identification of suitable housing areas and hopefully addressing some of the current infrastructure issues. Before you ask, no, this will not solve the traffic problems in North Street and Bower Hinton. Unfortunately, these issues are beyond the remit of the NP. We have only just formed our steering group and the task in hand is quite involved. With this in mind, I would be very grateful if anyone would be interested in joining the group. All local people would be welcome, in particular, those with a knowledge of rural/urban planning, flood control and drainage, urban design, energy conservation, environmental conservation and land use would be of huge value. If you feel that you might not have the time for a full commitment to the group, we would still be very happy to invite you to attend on an ad-hoc basis.

National guidelines indicate that any NP must be constructed by canvassing opinion of the people affected by its implementation and community involvement is an absolute priority. With this in mind, we intend to hold an open day on Saturday 12th March 2016 from 1000 to 1500. We will be delighted if you would come along to the Market House where a team of volunteers will be on hand to explain what the NP is all about and also to ask you what you would like to be included. We are very keen to hear your views on all issues including:

•    Do you want the character of Martock to be preserved in the future?
•    What is it that makes Martock unique?
•    What rate and type of expansion would preserve Martock’s identity?
•    Should we concentrate more on business development to provide better employment opportunities?
•    What do you like about living in Martock and what would you like to change?
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The above list of questions is not exhaustive and it is very important that we are allowed to gather a full understanding of the needs and aspirations of the community. Without this sort of information, it would be impossible to draft a document that meets the majority viewpoint. With this in mind, please consider attending our initial open day. This is your first opportunity to have a say in our future.

In order to facilitate community involvement in our NP, we will be using Social Media (Facebook) and also a link to a dedicated web page will soon be in place on the existing Martock On Line site. All of you can access these sites where we will do our best to keep you up to speed on what is happening. Additionally, leaflets and questionnaires will be available in the Post Office and Library for ten days after the first public event on 12th March.

Facebook page: Martock Neighbourhood Plan (we need friends!!)

The Taunton to Yeovil railway

I’m writing this post mainly to test the system. It should appear only in the ‘getting around category and be accessed only by the ‘getting around’ menu.

The railway ran seven trains a day in both directions reaching Yeovil at Yeovil Town station, now demolished, where Bradfords yard now is. The route is now the A3088. It was closed by the Beeching axe in the sixties.

There is a link in the right column of the ‘Getting around’ information page to a splendid west of England railway enthusiasts website which has a number of interesting photographs, including the one of Martock Station.

Andrew Clegg

Welcome

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