Old Sarum “Country Park”

There is a fairly large area of ground at the north-eastern end of the Old Sarum site which has been understood (until recently!) to be reserved as public open space, known as the “Country Park”. There is some archaeology buried under some of this land, a probable Bronze Age burial barrow I believe, and Persimmon decided originally it would be too expensive to go through the necessary investigations prior to developing the land, and generously left it for us to walk on instead. They have always made much of hte fact that the area of this land was larger than the total which they were obliged to provide. And recently they revoked part of their promise and applied to build houses on a third of the land (Area 12). I hope lots more residents get round to objecting before the deadline of 7th February (oops! haven’t done it myself yet!).

Anyway, that’s not what I was thinking about today, rather the intriguing fact that the boundary fence around the Country Park has been removed in the last few days. What does this mean? Presumably the public are now allowed to access the land if they choose? Mysterious marker stakes still litter the site, and although the “public art feature” of the grass mound was sculpted by bulldozers some months ago, the planned landscaping of the site is far from complete, the grass is very rough and there are no proper access points until the paths are built. Has it been transferred to the Council or not? Who knows! I don’t think I’ll be strolling over the land at present, as there will be lots of sharp weed stalks where they were mowed off with a tractor a few weeks back. But I wonder if there is any possibility that a feature for the community is on track to be delivered soon?!


School gets first Ofsted report

Old Sarum Primary School received their first Ofsted inspection just before Christmas, and the results were published today.

There are some very encouraging views expressed by the inspector, who mentions that “pupils’ behaviour is good in lessons and when at play” also “the school provides a very safe and secure environment for pupils” and “pupils enjoy school“.

To me as a prospective parent, those three statements give me such reassurance about the experience that OldSarumGirl would enjoy if she’s successful in getting a place there.

Sadly, the overall category the school received was “Requires improvement”, rather than “Outstanding” or even “Good”. It should be noted that  however good a school may be, they cannot achieve a high grade in Ofsted until they have three years’ worth of records to prove pupil achievement etc… obviously Old Sarum has not been open long enough to provide that!

Some weaknesses are highlighted in the report, but they are mainly specific to a couple of teaching points in certain years. The only wholesale “failure” was on the part of the original governing body, and they have superseded by the current governors, who are excellent and highly engaged with the school. Head teacher John Jones also comes in for lots of praise, which from all I have heard is well-deserved.

I am sure by the time another Ofsted rolls around, there will be a higher grade for Old Sarum, and in the meantime they seem to be off to a very solid start.

Visit to Old Sarum Primary School

OldSarumGirl will be starting school next September, so OldSarumDad and I went over to look around Old Sarum School recently. We have watched the plans, building and opening of the school with great interest since we moved here, as we hope it will be where our children go.

Even knowing lots of background to the school, there was still lots to discover on our tour, for instance they have a kitchen and cook and there are proper hot dinners, an increasing rarity in schools nowadays!

The Reception classroom and facilities are very impressive indeed and the atmosphere is calm and happy. Not only is the building shiny and new, it has obviously been planned to an extremely high standard with a great layout and feel to it.

We had already been in the hall for various community events, and it was nice to see more of the school.

A few words from Wiltshire Councillor Ian McLennan

Ian McLennan was kind enough to email me after stumbling across this blog, and thought it unfair that I portrayed his predominance in Old Sarum affairs in a sinister light. He kindly took the time to fill in some background as to why he “has his finger in all the pies”. He has agreed that I can publish his email here, so any relative new-comers like myself can learn some of his history in the area:

“I am very proud to have represented Old sarum since 1995 as one of the two Salisbury District Councillors and then was elected as the only Wiltshire Councillor when they sadly did away with SDC in 2009. In 2005 we had the last Local Plan and with the support of the local residents, who wanted and needed facilities and infrastructure, 630 houses were agreed via persimmon (who were nice to us all back then!). My colleague cllr at the time, Frank Bissington and I, both said that the MOD pitches should be included in the development and not fenced off, as MOD had stated. The cost was another 44 dwellings but we got some youth facilities and a pitch left!. That’s what is being ‘consulted’ at present (Pegasus/persimmon).
Together with the Laverstock & Ford Parish Council and the then residents association, we both tried very hard to get lots of extras and did succeed. That is why I appear to know a lot about the history and what lies behind it all. It’s etched on my memory.
My recent “pie making” has only been surrounding the school and the nursery. The school was put in the plan at the start of the development by me and Frank. Unbeknown to us, the County Council, who were responsible for education, made a different agreement with the developer and did not tell anyone. That’s why, when they said that the existing local children could not be part of the school, I became a governor and rounded up others who would ensure that all Old sarum children got a chance to attend. I am no longer a school governor, as the school has been open a year and I have done what was necessary. One less pie!
Back last November, the school head teacher informed the governors that he would not be opening the nursery in January and it would probably be after April….meaning that the start up grant from Wiltshire Council would be lost. I offered to help him open before April, as the governors had promised the residents. He agreed and a small band got the project underway. Cutting a long story short, we formed a company and registered as a charity (as requested by Wilts Council) and passed the Ofsted pre-opening inspection. Opened 20th February and got the grant! I expect you know, we were mornings only until Easter and then went full time, which was a miracle. The nursery had a fabulous Ofsted in the Summer, thanks to the management team and is well set this year. I am still the chairman of the Trustees at the moment but will step down in January, so Old Sarum people rightly take responsibility. Another pie gone!
I have done a few other things up there but I won’t bore you with that. I just wanted to let you know that I care very much about the area and the community and step in, if I think I can help. The Parish Council are also keen to help and the new residents association can make a real difference.
That nursing home is just stuck somewhere in Wiltshire Council at the moment, as they don’t know what to do! I complained that they were bringing Salisbury jobs out to Old sarum and not providing new jobs, as was promised. I asked what they would do to remedy it and it went quiet!
As for power….I have none. I am elected to represent the people of Laverstock (where I live), Ford and Old Sarum. That’s what I try and do. I also stick my nose into Hampton Park, as it is in our parish!
Keep up the good work on the blog. very interesting!
Thank you Ian for that clarification and your interest in the blog – which I must try to update a bit more regularly!


Family Arts Morning at Old Sarum

Very late publicity, but there is a Family Arts Morning scheduled for this Saturday, 15th September 2012, at the Old Sarum Community Rooms.

The event is being put on by 5x5x5=creativity, as an introduction to their programme of arts-based sessions to run this autumn at the school and in existing groups like parent/toddler, Shine and youth club.

On Saturday, there will apparently be a chance to try stone carving with somebody from Salisbury Cathedral, besides making plaster casts of footprints, producing collages, and some computer-aided building design! Other organisations represented include English Heritage and River Bourne Community Farm, and the two artists who will become our “resident” artists will be there.

OldSarumGirl will definitely want to visit this event, and luckily it is free!

At the same time there is a table-top sale on in the Community Rooms hall, which she’s also going to be keen on – at the last one she purchased a second-hand space hopper which is still going strong! I must limit her spending power to stop the house filling up with treasures!

Price drop at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

OldSarumDad took OldSarumBaby for a stroll at the weekend and decided to check whether the entry prices had been revised at BDAC since I complained to him about the non-affordability of the museum as a destination.

He was able to report back a reduction in prices, with adult tickets now costing £8.50 rather than £10. five to sixteen-year-olds are £6 and families are £23. Other concessions are priced at £7 and there are deals on groups of ten or more.

To check out all the details, visit the BDAC website.

Fencing off the field

I first heard the rumours of fences to go up on the football practice pitches a while back, but now I’ve seen the plans – and so can you! On the window at the side of the Community Room you can get a good look at what is set to happen in the very near future.

Salisbury City Football Club have the use of the field beside the Raymond McEnhill Stadium for training and running youth sessions. The land was formerly owned by the MOD, but changed hands to Persimmon recently. In the grand scheme of things, it is earmarked to become a “village green” public open space, with some housing built on the edges. In the meantime, fences are to go up to restrict access. One small area of the field at the far end will be marked out as five-a-side pitches for community use. The remainder will be out of bounds.

I’m not sure whether the fences are being put up by Persimmon or by SCFC, I presume by Persimmon. I’ve heard it is to prevent litter being dropped there. Having seen the local children playing and having fun on that green space in the care of the team from Shine this morning, it seems like a real shame for fences to go up. In general this community is in desperate need of fences coming down.

Edit: Some interesting information in the comment below about SCFC’s future plans. I had not heard this before, so thanks for that Matt!

When will there be a decision on the care home proposal?

A decision was “expected by 10th July” on the planning permission for a 120 bed care home on the site between Ramsbury Drive and the Shaw Trust, by the Axe roundabout. So far, no decision has been made, so I took another look at the documentation to see if anything further has been submitted.

A report from Wiltshire Council’s Spatial Planning department was added two days ago. I don’t know how much clout they have, but it seems to be addressing the underlying question of whether it is appropriate to approve the use of land for a care home when it has been designated for “employment” purposes.

There is plenty of reading matter in the report, but skipping down to the conclusion it says:

“The proposal is not in accordance with the NPPF nor is it in line with the South Wiltshire Core Strategy and its strategic aims and the proposal is therefore contrary to policy. The site in question is allocated for predominantly B1 uses and the site is identified strategically for such uses to 2026 (to meet the employment strategy for Salisbury City including the decant of Churchfields Industrial Estate). The proposal is therefore also not in accordance with the economic vision of the Core strategy nor does it meet the requirements of CP5. In addition it is confirmed that there is not an oversupply of employment land at Salisbury City.”

So it looks to me as though approval may not be given. We await further information!

20mph speed limits

I have been stuck in the house with poorly little ones this week, but OldSarumDad tells me that when I get out and about again I will see new 20mph speed limit signs around Old Sarum. He thinks they are on most of the roads leading off Sherbourne Drive, at the Sarum Meadows end. I know a lot of mums are really concerned about road safety around the estate, I hope these speed limits will help drivers to be more considerate and careful around our narrow streets.

Soft Play planning decision

The decision is in, and it’s a refusal.

The refusal notice and more detailed Officer’s Report can be read on the website, but the summary is this:

“Based on the information submitted, it is considered that the harm likely to result from this
proposal, including the unjustified loss of an existing occupied industrial unit and potential serious vehicular
conflict to parents and children within the shared turning area, would outweigh the provision of a community

So, a success for all those living close by who have written in to voice their concerns, but a blow for the Dino Sam’s team. Hopefully Lee Steggles will have some consolation in the fact that she will be running with the Olympic Torch on Wednesday (as reported in the Parish Magazine). The Officer’s Report states that

“The LPA principally supports the suggested expansion of children facilities with the city of Salisbury and is in no way raising any ‘in principle’ objection to the creation of an indoor children play area with associated activities. Wiltshire Council like many other Councils have previous approved leisure uses such as the one now proposed within businesses parks and recognises the attractiveness of business units for use in connection with indoor children play areas.”

so hopefully there could still be a future for Dino Sam’s, or a similar facility, for those of us with young children who would welcome a new choice of play facility.

No word yet on the Care Home!