The Feoffees Of St. Lawrence Chapel Are Seeking Support With Regard Their Concerns For The Re-Development Of 3 High Street, Warminster

Monday 18th September 2017:

The Feoffees Of St. Lawrence Chapel Are Seeking Support With Regard Their Concerns For The Re-Development Of 3 High Street, Warminster

The Feoffees of the Chapel of St. Lawrence, Warminster, say they are now facing one of the biggest challenges they have ever had to deal with ~ the planning application now re-submitted with regard redevelopment of No.3 High Street, Warminster (the delapidated building with scaffolding to its frontage) immediately west of the chapel. 

Chapel Feoffee Ian Frostick has instigated the circulation of a letter (repeated below), outlining the problems, and says it would be a great help if friends and supporters of the chapel can attend Wiltshire Council's Western Area Planning Committee meeting which will be held in the Council Chamber at County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN, on Wednesday 20th September 2017. The meeting commences at 3.00 p.m. The Planning Officer has recommended that the application for No.3 High Street, Warminster, is approved, but subject to a number of conditions.

David Pollard (Chairman of the Feoffees) will present the Feoffees' case within the allowed 3 minutes. Andrew Davis will also have an opportunity to talk in his capacity as a County Councillor. Warminster Town Councillor Pip Ridout sits on the Western Area Planning Committee. (Andrew would also normally sit, but as a Feoffee he has had to declare a conflict of interests and nominate a deputy to take his place).

The focus of the Feoffees will be to insist on a site visit before the planning decision is taken and that conditions are applied to protect the Chapel, Curfew Cottage and the path.

The Feoffees are highlighting that the new planning application includes the Chapel-owned path. This is required as the developers need access rights and that some form of excavation of the path may be required. The Feoffees have made it very clear throughout that (based on legal advice) they are not in a position to grant easement (access) rights. Ultimately the developers have every right to apply for permission even if they do not own the path (this is a civil, rather than a planning matter). If permission is given the developer will either need to negotiate with the Feoffees or take the case to court to demand rights of access.

The Feoffees ask: "If any of you (Friends of the Chapel of St. Lawrence) can join us at the planning meeting to support the Feoffees and our local councillors then this would be very much appreciated.

Ian Frostick, in his letter, writes:

"We [the feoffees] have highlighted the following concerns regarding the planning application for No.3 High Street, Warminster:
  • The project is an over development in a highly sensate area. 
  • The fact that so many new entrances are proposed onto the Chapel-owned path would significantly change the character of this area. 
  • St Lawrence Chapel is a significant Grade 2 listed town landmark and originally dates back to the 13th Century. 
  • The Chapel tower is only 90cm away from the development at the closest point. 
  • The Chapel path is the only means of access to Curfew Cottage (The chapel feoffee's main source of income). Building works must not prevent access. 
  • The Chapel holds a regular Communion service on Wednesday mornings 10.00 to 11.00. The feoffees ask that demolition, construction, loading and unloading are avoided during this period. 
  • The scaffolding and other supports are likely to be considerable. Greater clarity on how this will impact on the Chapel and particularly the Chapel-owned path are required. 
  • Within conditions related to noise the feoffees believe the Tower Bells should be specifically mentioned. Between 11.00 p.m. and 7.00 a.m. the large bell rings 52 times and the smaller bells 120.
  • Bells have been rung for over 700 years. The main bell was cast in Warminster and dates to 1657. The town is keen to protect the ringing of these historic bells.
  • The feoffees fear that the new residents will insist that they [the bells] are stopped due to the close proximity. This needs to be avoided.
  • The Chapel, Curfew Cottage and the significant retaining wall to the rear have limited or no foundations. Demolishing, piling and construction work on the new site has the potential to damage them. They need to be protected.
  • During the 19th Century a number of buildings were demolished to the front of the Chapel. Human remains were found indicating that this was a historic grave yard. The Chapel Path (now included in the application) is consecrated ground and may also include graves. Any excavation works would need to be treated sensitively.
  • The Feoffees have proposed that the developers should undertake surveys of the Chapel, Curfew Cottage, the retaining wall, path and their site to cover: Archaeological / Structural and Architectural. 
  • The outcome of this may recommend additional works to protect the Chapel buildings (particularly the Tower).
  • The Feoffees, with the support of charities, the Council and other donors have spent in excess of £120,000 in recent years on repairs to the tower, installation of the toilet, a new kitchen and other improvements. 
  • The tower works focused on erosion of the stonework, repointing and general stability.
  • Previously they made changes to the bells as the original swinging mechanism had caused structural damage.
  • These works need to be protected. 
  • It is difficult to comprehend the close proximity of the Chapel and Curfew cottage to the development. The Feoffees appreciate that here is a need to redevelop the proposed site, but this should not compromise these neighbouring buildings.
  • Before a decision is taken the Feoffees suggest that a site visit by the planning committee would be appropriate.