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CLERK'S BRIEFING NOTE

RED BARN FIELD NATURE PARK BOUNDARIES
WITH ADJACENT PROPERTIES

  Red Barn plan BOUNDARIES

1. The land A-B-C-J-K was sold or leased by the Parish Council in connection with the Village Hall in 2001.

2. The land C-D borders five properties:

  • 3 Red Barn Cottages next to the VH (Cathy Kent-Smith 870922 bought 4 years ago) - detached property built on garden of 2 Red Barn Cottages
  • 2 Red Barn Cottages - semi-detached property built in about the 1920s.
  • 1 Red Barn Cottages - semi-detached property built in about the 1920s.
  • Finch House - detached property built on garden of 1 Red Barn Cottages in 2004 (Mr and Mrs C Boyd lived here since April 2006).
  • A small portion of garden land belonging to Century House borders Red Barn Field close to D.

3. The land D-E-F borders School House, Balcombe Green which was sold by the Church in 2009.

 

4. The land G-H-I borders Balcombe Green road - a private road belonging to owners of Cherryburn, Balcombe Green.

 

5. The land I-K borders a field belonging to Mrs Elizabeth Cole of Church Hill Farm.

 

 

MANAGEMENT PLAN. The following has been adopted in accordance with recommendations from "Buglife".

  • The hedges should not be neglected or trees will develop and gaps form.
  • Too frequent cutting should not be adopted as it leads to poor habitat conditions and the development of gaps. Annual cutting using a mechanical flail creates a uniform and species-poor hedgerow that is of little value to wildlife. Mechanical flailing also makes the option of leaving selected saplings to become hedgerow trees much more difficult. Attention should be given to creating a well-structured hedge with a variety of habitat niches for a wide range of invertebrate species.
  • Cutting every 3 years will allow hedge plants to produce flowers and berries and achieve a better structure.
  • Broad, tall hedges with a diverse range of species and heights should be the aim as they are the best for supporting most invertebrates.
  • Herb-rich hedge bottoms and wide margins should be encouraged to increase the habitat niches available.
  • Over-stocking of the land should not be allowed otherwise hedges are likely to be damaged.
  • Maintenance of the hedges to be restricted to January and February.
  • Only a proportion of the total hedgerow in any area should be cut in a single year to ensure that over-wintering insects are not completely eliminated. This could involve cutting only one side of a hedge to allow invertebrates to recolonise or managing different sections of a hedge in different years.
  • Some old and dead wood should be retained to provide very valuable habitats for a large number of invertebrate species.
  • Old birds' nests to be retained for the benefit of invertebrate species.
  LAND C-D

The boundary between the Field and the properties is a metal fence. A hedge grows on the Field side of the boundary. Since the Council purchased Red Barn Field in 1998, it has never cut this hedge but this has been done by the owners of the four properties.

The Clerk wrote to the owners of these four properties on 21/05/08 seeking the owners' co-operation and stating that, "unless information to the contrary can be provided to the Council's satisfaction, there is no right of access from 1, 2 or 3 Red Barn Cottages or from Finch House into Red Barn Field Nature Park". On 27/01/11, a similar letter was sent to the occupiers of Century House (see above).

Please note that although there may be a gate or gap in a fence or hedge, it does not necessarily give a right of access. The Land Charges Register does not show any right of access from any of these properties into Red Barn Field.

In January 2011, it was noted that an access from Century House close to "D" into Red Barn Field had been made by cutting the wire fence. A letter was written to the occupants, Mr and Mrs Jones, explaining that they had no access to the Field from their land. Mr Jones phoned the Parish Clerk. On 16/02/11, the cut fence was propped back in the gap and several sloe were planted in front by the Council.

On 20/05/11, a hedge survey of the C-D boundary was carried out as a training exercise with a group of volunteers led by Peter Challis of the Sussex Biodiversity Group (part of Sussex Wildlife Trust). The hedge was identified as species rich.

 

  FINCH HOUSE

The building of Finch House was approved under planning approval RR/2003/347/P on the garden of 1 Red Barn Cottages and one of the conditions was as follows:

  • 5. Except for that part which must be removed to permit the construction of the vehicular access in accordance with the conditions of this permission, the existing roadside hedge and all other hedges shall be retained to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority.

Very soon after Mr Boyd moved into Finch House, the Clerk had a site meeting with him when she agreed he could trim the hedge back to where it had been pollarded previously and that he could remove both the bramble patch and the elderflower tree in order to allow more light into the windows of Finch House which are very close to the hedge. She asked that he did not put the hedge cuttings into the field but that he could pile up the bramble and elderflower tree cuttings and leave them to the side of the Field. The Clerk also pointed out to Mr Boyd that if he cut the undergrowth from the hedge, it would open up gaps through which the sheep could gain access to his garden.

In a letter dated 25/05/08, Mr Boyd states that "We are not in a position to accept the assertions in the second paragraph of your letter (see 3 above) without taking legal advice - which we have no present desire to do. Our fence/hedge bordering Red Barn Field currently contains no gates." He also wrote about the bramble patch which he continues to keep down and that he had found the existence of a drainage ditch running parallel to the hedge of the four properties. He said that he keeps the ditch clear of vegetation along the length of his property.

On 30/05/08, Mr Boyd wrote "The sward really now needs grazing by a small number of suitable cattle or ponies to have any worthwhile beneficial environmental effect".

 

  2 RED BARN COTTAGES

In 2001, the owner of 2 Red Barn Cottages, Mr Drummond, wrote acknowledging that there was no right of way into Red Barn Field from 2 Red Barn Cottages.

In 2004, a gap was made in the hedge from 2 Red Barn Cottages and a path constructed. The Council wrote to the owner/occupiers of 2 and 3 Red Barn Cottages asking that the gap in the hedge was replanted and allowed to grow to the same height as adjacent hedges. In February 2011, it was noted that this no longer appeared to be used.

 

  3 RED BARN COTTAGES

The building of 3 Red Barn Cottages was approved under planning approval RR/2001/1220/P. Although a hedge condition was attached to the planning approval, it only relates to the existing roadside hedge and no other. In 2003, a letter was received in answer to the Council's letter mentioned above from M Edwards confirming that the gap did not form part of the property of 3 Red Barn Cottages.

Following the Clerk's letter in May 2008, she received a phone call from Cathy Kent-Smith of 3 Red Barn Cottages stating that she had no intention of making any access into Red Barn Field. She asked whether the Council would be cutting the hedge as she had spent £500 on having it done last year and could not afford to do this again. She spoke of the very bad state of the hedge having a lot of dead material in the centre.  

 

 

LAND E-F

During building work to School House in January 2010, a french drain was inserted on the E-F boundary.

There is a 2.5 metre deep holding tank on the "E" corner of School House and a new 80metre long drain across the fieldinto the ditch just below the pond was installed in February 2010.

The Deeds show a pipeline from inside School House property close to "F" across to the 60' well near the I-H boundary. The Deeds mention rights regarding supply and drainage of water.

The hedge E-F was removed by the builders at the time work was being undertaken at School House and has not been replaced. In January 2011, the Parish Clerk wrote to the occupier of School House asking for the removal of the Heras fencing that had been left in Red Barn Field since completion of the works to School House.

RECOMMENDATION TO COUNCIL: THAT A LETTER IS WRITTEN TO THE OCCUPIER OF SCHOOL HOUSE ASKING FOR THE REPLACEMENT OF A BOUNDARY FENCE AND HEDGE AS REMOVED BY CONTRACTORS.

  LAND D-F

The boundary between the Field and School House has never been cut by the Council either but it used to be done by or on behalf of the tenants of School House.

 

  LAND G-I

The boundary between the Field and Balcombe Green is a post and wire fence with a hedge on the Balcombe Green side. On the basis of information from a long-standing resident in Balcombe Green that the hedge belonged to Red Barn Field, the Council had this hedge laid by a County Council team in February 2004. It was then trimmed by the Parish Council in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Although Southern Counties Landscapes was given the job to do in 2008, it was not done. Roger Wood trimmed the hedge in January 2009; three months later, a complaint was received from the owner of Balcombe Green about the poor way the hedge was cut and that a tractor had been used without permission. It appeared that Roger had arranged for his father to take a tractor into Balcombe Green and cut the hedge without approval of the Council.

The Parish Clerk apologised to the owner of Balcombe Green and said that it would no longer cut the hedge on the Balcombe Green side.

There are nine oak trees in a group and a single oak with tree preservation orders on this boundary (orders made in 1986).

A14' right of way from the land to the north parallel with the G-I boundary is mentioned in the Deeds.

On 20/05/11, a hedge survey was carried out as part of a training exercise let by Peter Challis of the Sussex Biodiversity Group (part of the Sussex Wildlife Trust). The hedge was identified as species rich.

 

 

LAND I-J

The boundary between the Field and Elizabeth Cole's land is a scrubby mix next to a ditch.

In 2000, Elizabeth Cole phoned the Clerk to make it clear that, in her opinion, her boundary is on her side of the ditch and our is on our side of the ditch with the ditch as no man's land. The Clerk contacted Alan Craze of Meneers, Solicitors, to ask advice. He checked the Land Registry plan which he said "is not clear regarding the boundary". He said that in the absence of evidence the "Sussex Hedge & Ditch Presumption" prevails, ie the land with the hedge/fence owns the ditch.

There are eight oak trees with tree preservation orders on this boundary (orders made in 1986).

A ditch runs from the pond to the road. In February 2010, drainage pipes were installed across the field from the corner of School House into the ditch just below the pond. (Mentioned in boundary E-F above.)

 

 

LAND J-C

On 16/02/11, a fruiting hedge was planted in Red Barn Field on its boundary with the village hall car park. The trees, shrubs and bushes were provided to the Parish Council by The Tree Council as part of its Big Lottery-funded Hedgerow Harvest Initiative. The Tree Council's information sheet recommends that a new hedge is pruned at the end of the first year of growth to approximately half its height. In the second year, the hedge should be pruned to about two thirds of its height. This will encourage bushy growth. After this only a light prune will be necessary for the next eight years. Hedge trees should, of course, be avoided in the cutting. It is recommended that hedges with trees should be cut in an 'A' shape.

   
  Clerk/RFO, Sedlescombe Parish Council
Tel: 07531065469
clerk@sedlescombe.org.uk
www.sedlescombe.org.uk
Date........February 2011