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Sixty four solar panels for Green Belt field in AONB?

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Freshford Village plan 64 Solar Panels in field Ha Ha?

The BANES planning application is 10/03483/FUL for the application by Freshford and Limpley Stoke Community Association (FLiSCA) to supply power to the new Galleries shop from a bank of 64 solar panels located in a field in the green belt and in an AONB. You can't be serious? Yes they can! 
 After doing a little research I can understand why the new shop could not have been equipped with solar panels at the time it was built,  the surrounding trees and orientation of the shop rules them out. The Ha Ha in the title of this article is the key to why this proposed project is serious and merits support. The ha ha being a ditch and bank that can be used to conceal the solar panels from being an eyesore. When I first heard of the plan I thought the panels could be hidden by suitable hedging. The ha ha idea is even better and some hedging still needs to be used. The following link provides direct access to the project and provides an argument for its acceptance. Design and Access Statement. (pdf)  To read all documents: Freshford Village Shop Solar Power Project application  

 There are also plans to replace the ageing Freshford Village Memorial Hall. Any new building in the 21st Century should if possible use a sustainable source of energy. Bearing in mind that it surely makes more sense to plan the installation of solar panels to serve both the shop and the new village hall I think that this application should perhaps be revised to provide more energy -as long as it can be totally hidden!

The benefits of using solar power and possible heat pumps to power a village hall can be read about here Great Barton Village Hall. The Great Barton Village Hall project used the services of the Solar Energy Alliance I have uploaded a copy of their PV Information pack which provides an excellent guide to the subject.

Is this application just one step in a slippery slope to widespread development in the green belt as some suggest? I don't think so, but then I'm not an expert on these matters. The planning process and public consultation seems to provide protection from such development and I suppose there is still an appeal process.  What do you think?

Unfortunately, the new Freshford Parish Council website has not been able to provide public access to its minutes for September, October and November 2010.  This has meant that many residents would not have known that the BANES Development committee were due to decide the issue in December last.  Even if one had managed to access the minutes by logging on to their Google account (if they have one) one could quite easily think that the decision could be due to be made in December 2011! 

Development in the green belt is not just a local parish issue. Freshford consists of residents who also live in Wiltshire. In this particular case I think that the decision to permit it, which has been made a couple of days ago is the right one. The issue of the End of Oil is very real and only the unhindered growth in the world population is a greater threat to our sustainability. That is why this project although small in scale is important. However, couldn't these solar panels be erected elsewhere and connected to the grid?  Does it harm us if there is something alien concealed in our countryside, even if only a trespasser can see it?

This might be thought of as a green and pleasant land but unfortunately, a lot of it is not. Roads and other developments supposedly constructed to to meet a greater need, like the proposed high speed train link to Birmingham threaten the very nature of these small islands.  What is truly green and pleasant needs to be protected and fiercely as otherwise people will say this was a green and pleasant land!

Westwood Post Office and Shop

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Westwood Post Office and Shop

I just thought that I should remind people that the Westwood shop is under new management. A planning application has been submitted, which the Parish Council and residents support, to extend the shop. The extension will mean that the shop will be able to offer more goods and this will also help to keep prices low. The shop belongs to a Cost Cutter network and the benefits are that goods may be priced at supermarket levels.

The shop is open from 8am till 8pm, Monday to Sunday. Freshford residents could easily find these times convenient, particularly at weekends when our local shop closes at midday. There are also many residents who can't use the Freshford shop in the week as they get home too late. Also remember that Sainsbury's supermarket closes at 8pm during the week and 4pm on Sundays.

Update: the planning application has been approved. The shop will be extended into the forecourt area.


Westwood shop and post office

Freshford Village Community Shop letter to residents

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Dear Resident,


 If you visit the Freshford Memorial Hall any time soon you will see that building has started on our Galleries Community Shop!  Detailed planning application was granted in early November, tenders went out and quotes from four builders were received in early December and a building contract was awarded in January to Ken Biggs Contractors - who are already on site.  They plan to take 22 weeks to complete the building, so we hope to open the shop for business in the summer of 2009.


The building will look like this - with a pantile roof and stone-rendered walls.  It will be light and airy.  It will be very well insulated and ventilated so that there should be no need for heating or air conditioning. 


There will be a small caf� section inside, and tables and chairs outside during the summer. 


We have put a set of planning drawings on the Freshford website at - although they have changed a little in final discussions with our builders.

 We are happy with Ken Biggs Contractors who came in with the lowest tender as they have a good reputation and we are confident that they will work hard on the villages' behalf to complete on time and budget.

 However, at £245,000 the building is costing more than we had anticipated and we will need to embark on another intensive fundraising drive in the near future to finance the fitting out, a stock control system, initial stocks, and working capital.  This will happen as soon as we know the outcome of our application for charitable status which is not yet resolved

 The building start could not wait as one of our sources of finance, our £90,000 Rural Renaissance Grant, needs to be spent by the end of March or we lose it.  But we are confident that we can cover the shortfall in time.


 We are now forming the Management Committee for the shop and this will have a good mix of skills and talents, selected from those of you who have already expressed interest. 

 We will also be recruiting a full-time paid manager and a Job Description will be available in mid-February.  

 Please contact us if you are interested in becoming the shop manager! 

 The shop management committee will carry out the promised detailed survey to ensure that our opening stock is as close a match as possible to what people in our villages actually want to see on the shelves. 


 Given the higher-than-anticipated cost of the building we will want to make use of all the volunteer do-it-yourself offers residents have made on those commitment forms we asked you all to fill in.  If you are someone who can help with carpentry or any other practical work in fitting out the shop and haven't yet told us, please contact us!


 Our written update in October to all households, our request for further shopping, help and financial commitments, and our public meeting with presentation and local food and drink tasting took us very much closer to our targets.  (You can still see the presentation we gave on the Freshford website at  For example, we now have the names of 47 individuals who are happy to do volunteer shifts in the shop.  We have signed up,  in some form or another, support from almost half the households in our two villages, and our committee has been strengthened by extra representation from Limpley Stoke as well as representatives from both parish councils, in the form of Stuart Campbell and Adrian Kennedy.  

 Please contact us if you would like further information or want to help in any way! Contact Form

  Gitte Dawson

Chair, Freshford & Limpley Stoke Community Association (FLiSCA).

Freshford Village Community Shop

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One welcome new development in the village is the community shop. Work is well under way. Plans including computer generated perspective views can be seen by downloading a PDF from the <A href="" target=_self>Parish Council website</A>

Village Shop Location Videos

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Videos of the location of the propsed Freshford village community shop can be viewed here: Shop Location Video Views Although this has been posted before I am posting the link again for ease of access.

I have also noted that the proposed ash tree planting may cause undesirable shade. The Google map used to provide links to the video films quite clearly shows shade and if large trees were to be planted that shade would affect the car park and access land to the children's playground. At present there are no trees adjoining the section of wall.

I can't see any need for the trees because as can be observed from the video films the location of the proposed community shop is not visible from any of the viewpoints unless one was standing at the top of Galleries field (which is private land anyway) or on the footpath by The Glebe. The proposed trees would reduce the sunny aspect close to the Memorial Hall and children's playground and possibly encourage moss and make the ground slippery. Why not have some mixed hedging or smaller trees?


Esso Fuel Station & Shop A36

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The  Esso Service station on the A36 will still be open during the road closure but will have a very difficult time with the road being closed.  I intend to only buy my fuel there, even if its inconvenient, whilst the A36 is closed.  I will also make sure that I also make a point of doing some shopping there.

We all need to support local services as much as possible -the posible closure of the fuel station is very real. I believe that we can all help to keep it open. Local supermarkets can afford to lose our custom for several weeks but in a time when fuel stations are becoming even fewer we can't afford to lose this one.

Bath & North East Somerset Planning and Freshford

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Apparently according to B&NES Planning Freshford Village Memorial Hall is not in Freshford. 

 Apparently some councillors at the meeting of the Development Control Committee in Bath yesterday were not able to view my video films of every conceiveable place from which to view the proposed site of our new community shop. Even though a DVD copy of the videos was sent to B&NES Planning.

So I must presume that my evidence, which is undeniable, that the existing Freshford Memorial Hall is not or hardly visible (and the location of the proposed shop) from any location other than almost directly in front of it was not allowed to be viewed by the committee members. And did those that are not in favour of the proposal actually go on a site visit?  If they did I wouldn't have thought they would have worn suitable footware to view the site from the footpaths.

Perhaps I should have emailed the committee members with the link to this website or post them a copy of the videos on DVD.

Shop Location

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Development Control: Support Application:  07/03529/OUT

Further to my last comment on this application I would like to add that I have taken a video camera up to the proposed location of our village shop and post office. The reason that I decided it was necessary to use a video camera is because I was surprised to read the adverse comments made on the application by the Landscape Architect and Conservation officer. In particular that by the conservation officer: "that a building of this size cannot fail to have an impact on the open character of this area"

I disagree. I have found that the existing village hall is either invisible or hardly visible from a number of locations that are open to the public: the footpaths to and from this part of Freshford lane and most of Freshford Lane. Since the proposed location of the shop is by the corner of Galleries field immediately adjoining Freshford Memorial Hall car park, it follows that if the hall is not visible, then surely the proposed shop would be also, certainly that corner of Galleries field is either invisible or hardly visible. Unless of course if one was immediately in front of it. The videos may accessed at:    Videos of location of Shop

I shall also post a DVD containing the ten videos to Planning.

Geoff Edwards

Letter in Support of Village Shop Planning Application

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I have published my comments on the planning application below:

Although a Wilsthire resident I live closer to Freshford village centre than to Westwood. To save fuel I would prefer to shop in Freshford as it is only a short walk away. The proposed application does provide parking for those who need to do more shopping and who are dropping off or collecting children from the school. This will reduce the congestion along Freshford Lane.  As the proposed shop is located adjoining the Freshford Memorial Hall and is close to a children's playground the shop will foster community relations and reduce the risk to children from traffic. I don't think that the location  of the shop would detract from the appearance of the neighbourhood.

Village Shop Fresh Food

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Where ever the proposed village shop needs to be, it does need to be large enough to provide the range of goods that we need and at reasonable prices. The combined shop and post office at Winsley is a good example.

I am concerned that there should always be a range of fresh vegetables available. There is a danger that because there is not much profit on fresh produce this part of the produce for sale will be neglected and disappointed shoppers will just go to Bradford On Avon. 

One of the great things about supermarkets are that it is unusual to not to be able to buy what you need, whatever the time of day. And often, whatever the time of day there are usually bargains.

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