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CLERK'S BRIEFING NOTE

RED BARN FIELD NATURE PARK BOUNDARIES
WITH ADJACENT PROPERTIES

  Red Barn plan BOUNDARIES

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

The land C-D borders four 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).

The land D-E-F borders School House, Balcombe Green - belongs to the Church but currently empty.

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

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

 

 

MANAGEMENT PLAN

The Management Plan for Red Barn Field Nature Park provides for the hedges to be maintained so that they become tall, thick and bushy in order to provide a better habitat for wildlife. Permanent strips of perennial plants and grasses at least one metre wide to be maintained beside the hedges to retain valuable habitats for grasshoppers and other insects, small mammals and birds.

 

  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".

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.

 

  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.

 

  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 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 has been given the job to do in January 2009.

Hedges should be re-laid about every 15 years.

On one occasion when Roger Wood was cutting the hedge, the owner of Balcombe Green asked him what he was doing. (NB one resident owns the whole of the roadway.)

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

 

  LAND I-J

The boundary between the Field and Elizabeth Cole's land is a scrubby mix next to a ditch. The Council has not undertaken any work to the boundary on it since it purchased the land.

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 Lane 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).

 

  CLERK'S RECOMMENDATION TO FINANCE COMMITTEE
  1. That members of the Finance Committee hold a site meeting in Red Barn Field as soon as possible to inspect the hedges. Local residents either to be invited to attend to help establish responsibility or invited to attend a separate meeting.
  2. That, following the meeting, a plan of future maintenance is drawn up of the Parish Council's responsibilities and approved by the Finance Committee and distributed to neighbouring properties. The adoption of the following principles in line with "Buglife" should be considered:
  • 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.
   
  Mrs P Raymond
Clerk/RFO, Sedlescombe Parish Council
01424 870508
sedlescombe@freezone.co.uk
www.sedlescombe.org.uk
Date........June 2008