Letcome Regis

Letcombe Regis Millennium Green

Background to the Millennium Green

In 1997 Oxfordshire County Council(OCC) advised Letcombe Regis Parish Council that following the transfer in 1996 of the Letcombe Regis School to the Childrey School it intended to dispose of the school buildings and playing ground/field for development to residential housing.  This information was made known to the village at the 1997 Annual Parish Meeting, all villagers present made clear their objection to the intended use of the school site. It was agreed to set up a working party under the auspices of the Parish Council with the aim of preventing this development.

The working party of seven villagers identified that the site was owned jointly by OCC, mainly the green field area, and the Dioceses of Oxford who owned the building and hard play ground. Access to the whole area being through the gate by the churchyard wall, then across the play ground.

The green field space had been donated to the school in the early1960's, which was when the brook had been fenced off forming the natural wildlife corridor that evolved. It was hoped that the field would revert to the original owner, regrettably this was not possible.

In 1999, after delivering and collecting from every home in the parish a survey to identify if the residents wanted a village green or a housing development, only 2 homes supported housing, the working party on behalf of the Parish Council submitted a planning application to the VWHDC to develop a village green on the whole of the play ground and playing field site. This application was approved although at the time ownership of the site was still with OCC and the Dioceses of Oxford

Considerable communication took place with Oxfordshire County Council and their agents regarding the possibility of the site being acquired by the village. It was identified that there was a recommendation that no building could take place within 8m of the banks of the Letcombe Brook and that a survey of the brook carried out by the Environment Agency had made special note of the importance of the corridor created by the fencing of this strip. It was also identified that there was no independent access to the green playing field site, the land therefore had no commercial value. These factors were considered by OCC who in 2000 agreed to sell the field site to the Letcombe Regis Parish Council(LRPC) but only after OCC had resolved all issues it had regarding the property owned by the Diocese of Oxford.

It was during this period that the Diocese of Oxford acquired planning permission to build houses on the play ground and to convert the school into a house.

It was 2007 before the purchase of the land could be secured by the working party on behalf of the LRPC.

Following its purchase the land was registered as a Village Green to protect and preserve it as an open green space. The purchase being made possible, by loans to the LRPC from a number of residents.

With the land being owned by the village and registered as a village green the working party then had the challenge of acquiring funding to build a village green that was complimentary to the site. An application was submitted to the Trust for Oxfordshires Environment (TOE) who awarded £25,000 from Land Fill Tax to the PC to develop a Village Green to the approved plan, this include planting native trees and hedging, under-planting the outer areas of long grass with wild flowers and spring bulbs, and an area of short slow growing grass in the centre to provide a play area for children, creating a pushchair & wheel chair friendly footpath across the green and round the perimeter, installing benches and seats and erecting bird and bat boxes. There was also to have been a dipping pond and a flat maze, these were removed from the plan due to cost and safety concerns.

The original working party's brief was now done and the Parish Council took over the responsibility.   A new working party, consisting of volunteers from the village, has been set up to look after the day to day development and management of the Millennium Green.