Glebe Field update

Bury Parish Council recently reported that the council had agreed to meet the cost of a surveyor’s report requested by the Diocese in connection with the possible sale of their part of the Glebe Field.

By way of some further background, since the 1970s, there have been Bury Parish Council resolutions to secure the Glebe Field as a permanent open and green space at the heart of the village by acquisition should the opportunity arise.

The recent news from Wisborough Green that Chichester Diocese is willing to sell a similar Glebe Field, integral to the character of that village and adjacent to their Grade1 listed church is alarming – the proposed development of 25 new houses on the site is obviously viewed as a tremendous threat to their village.

In the Bury Neighbourhood Plan, the Glebe Field is designated as a Local Green Space and therefore enjoys a high degree of protection from development – however it is not without precedent for the provisions of a Neighbourhood Plan to be challenged, if necessary at appeal/enquiry stage, by determined developers backed by planning consultants and with pressure on the planning system and the need of local authorities to meet housing targets, such assaults have been known to succeed.

Obviously, the Diocese is free to sell the space to whoever they wish but the protection afforded to the Glebe Field would be even more certain if the land could be acquired by BPC. We are therefore talking to the Diocese about the potential purchase of their half of the Glebe Field. A survey has been carried out by the Diocese to ascertain the covenants on the field, the use we would put it to and the willingness of the Diocese to sell and it seems that they may be open to moving a conversation forward with Bury Parish Council. There has been no discussion on terms as that will depend on the outcome of the investigations and consultations that are now underway.

The Chair of the Parish Council at Wisborough Green has appealed to us for our help to object online to the proposals for their Glebe Field. He believes they now have a hard fight ahead to stop a planning disaster being successful. His advice to us is that if we should explore every avenue and do all we can to acquire our Glebe Field for the Parish and to secure it in perpetuity as a village green space. BPC will therefore continue to explore any possibility that is for the benefit of the village and we will, of course, report back with news as it develops.

The Glebe Field: an update from BPC

Bury Parish Council has been asked by some parishioners to elucidate on current BPC thinking with regard to the Glebe Field and we are happy to do so.

The Glebe Field is of strategic and significant importance within our parish and Bury Parish Council recently approached the Diocese of Chichester to see if there is any potential for the Church-owned half of this field to come into Parish Council ownership.

In recent times, various parcels of land have come up for sale within Bury and West Burton and there are now a number of potential new development sites within the parish. There is no doubt that increasingly local planning authorities are coming under pressure from developers seeking to deliver the Government’s drive for many thousands of new homes.

It is BPC view that the Glebe Field needs to be protected from any such threat and placing it within community ownership would have the effect of preserving it as a cherished green space at the heart of our village for perpetuity.

The Diocese has indicated that it might be prepared to consider selling its half of the Glebe Field. To further explore this possibility, BPC has agreed to pay a fee for a surveyor’s report by the Diocese, without which there can be no forward movement.

The position at this stage remains exploratory and we do not yet know if it would be possible to buy nor at what price. Once a clearer picture emerges and if a purchase remains an option, BPC will report back fully to the community and undertake a full consultation exercise to seek parishioners’ views. In all matters, BPC adheres to a simple principle: seeking results that are in the best interests of the community as a whole.

In addition, BPC has begun exploratory discussions with the Burrows family to ascertain whether there are any circumstances in which it might be possible for the Parish Council to acquire the other half of the Glebe Field which is currently in their ownership. These discussions are only in initial stages and there are no proposals on the table. Once again, if and when any firm proposals emerge, it will be BPC’s priority to report those in detail to the community and to seek parishioners’ views via a full and transparent consultation process.

Finally, in the currently remote possibility that BPC were to acquire both halves of the Glebe Field to preserve it as a green space at the centre of our community, parish councillors intend to explore the possibility of utilising that space as a recreation ground which can be easily and safely accessed and is located within the heart of the village and close to the village hall.

In the absence, because of Covid-19 restrictions, of an annual village meeting once again this year, BPC will be issuing a magazine in May updating parishioners on a range of BPC matters and the latest position on the Glebe Field will be included in that document. As already stated, any firm proposals that may emerge with regard to the Glebe Field will be the subject of comprehensive and transparent consultation processes in order to ascertain the views of the community.