The Friends of the Commons of Malvern
'The Friends of the Commons of Malvern' is a Residents' Association, formed at a meeting, attended by about 100 people, at Guarlford Village Hall, on the 8th August 2018.
Sometimes referred to by the abbreviation FoCoM which is easy to remember!
The objects of the Association are to promote and protect the character of the lowland commons east of the Malvern Hills.
Membership of the Association is open to residents living adjacent to Guarlford Common, and such other persons whose application for membership is approved at a committee meeting.
The Residents' Assocation can be contacted using the new email address:
Contact us if you would like to be placed on our mailing list, for example to receive the latest news about the proposed Chance Lane easement.
Our logo is shown opposite.
The Friends of the Commons of Malvern have a Facebook page where you can place comments.
The tag is @FriendsCommonsMalvern
A Twitter account has just been opened, here is the link
(hint, remember to put an underscore between of and commons)
You may also find residents' comments interspersed, for example, by stock reports on the Malvern Hills Trust Facebook page,
Special meeting about the Chance Lane Easement postponed
The Malvern Hills Trust announced on 15th November that the special meeting on 20th November has had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
The Malvern Hills Trust announced at the Annual Board meeting on 8th November that the special meeting to decide the Chance Lane and Jackpit Lane easements would be on Tuesday 20th November at 7:00 pm in the 'cricket pavilion' next to the Council Offices otherwise known as The Council Chamber, Priory Lodge.
A copy of the MHT papers and the applicant's submission can be obtained from the reception desk at the MHT office in Grange Road. In due course the MHT plans to place a copy of the papers on their website.
If you wish to ask a question at the special meeting this has to be lodged with the Trust by noon on Friday 16th November. This can be either sent by email or handed in at reception.
The Rose Farm Partnership is seeking this access to facilitate building two and three storey houses in the field known as Rose Farm opposite the Green Dragon pub on the Guarlford Road.
If you object to this proposal, which could damage the eastern gateway to Malvern, please come along to the meeting on Tuesday 20th and support other residents.
It used to be that the Malvern Hills and Commons were protected for the benefit of the public by the Malvern Hills Conservators, who have rebadged themselves as the Malvern Hills Trust, with a view to obtaining increased revenue. Currently the Trust is largely funded by a precept levied on those who pay Council Tax and income from the car parks on the Malvern Hills; there is also believed to be some income from the EU which could be lost as a result of BREXIT.
Early in 2017 residents became aware that a body calling itself the Rose Farm Partnership was seeking an Easement from the Trust into Rose Farm from Chance Lane with the medium term aim of building a housing estate in the field opposite the Green Dragon pub. The field is of about 25 acres so a developer would likely want to build between 300 and 500 homes.
Site of requested easement
We now know that a second Easement crossing Jackpit Lane into Hall Green Close is also being sought for an 'emergency access'.
This land is not however currently earmarked for development in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) and the majority of Malvern Hills District Councillors and residents are keen to preserve this beautiful approach to Malvern.
'The Guarlford Road'
The tone of a letter delivered to seven or so properties adjoining the land has given precept payers the impression that the Trust is leaning towards granting an Easement - tempted by a formula which the Trust believes could benefit them by up to one third of the uplift in the value of the land, were the field to be developed. Most recently a sum of at least £2M has been mentioned.
Residents, the Malvern Town Council, and Malvern Civic Society are not happy about this.
Below is a timeline, with latest events at the top, outlining the debate that has been taking place.
November 15th 2018
Malvern Hills Trust announce the special meeting on 20th November has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
November 8th 2018
Malvern Hills Trust advise at the Annual meeting of the Board that the special meeting to consider the Chance Lane (Rose Farm) Easements will be on 20th November 2018. Residents will be able to ask questions submitted before noon on Friday 16th November, and it is expected a spokesman for the residents will be able to address the meeting.
October 11th 2018
Many residents were surprised by what happened at the Land Management Meeting to discuss the proposed new easement policy. The meeting began at 7pm, but discussion of the policy (agenda item 10) was not reached until well over two hours later! Residents couldn't believe their ears, as an hour was spent discussing two easements, which had earlier been refused and returned to the Committee on appeal; there was a lot of debate as to whether they should have asphalt or a composite surface and who would be responsible for maintenance. There then followed an item about feral Wild Boar, which have not appeared the Hills yet, but could migrate to the hills from the woods of Gloucestershire.
Residents were naturally annoyed when less than 20 minutes were spent on the draft Easement Policy. None of the Trustees that had been lobbied raised the questions that had been put to them, although the committee voted to take out one section dealing with appeals for further consideration. To our surprise the issue went straight to a vote on the Resolution - with about seven votes in favour and one abstention the new Policy was recommended for acceptance by the whole Board at their next meeting.
The Trust had said that the reason for the changes being made were prompted by the Chance Lane easement application. However, few links were made with Chance Lane and the sensitive issue of income possibly outweighing conservation was ignored. A Friends of the Commons of Malvern member, concerned how little time had been spent looking at the policy, stood up to ask how what had been discussed was relevant to Chance Lane, wanting to make a short statement. But she was not allowed to speak further or ask questions, though was invited to write to the Chair of the Land Management Committe with concerns.
October 1st 2018
The CEO of the Malvern Hills Trust had said in a letter to Harriett Baldwin MP that 'the Chance Lane Easement application is in no way unique nor unprecedented'. However the Malvern Hills Trust now blatantly proposes to amend their Easement Policy purely in the light of the Chance Lane Easement application, presumably in order to justify granting the easement. See paper C to be tabled at the next Land Management Committee on Thursday 11th October - here is the link.
The key changes are the possibility of consideration by the Land Management Committee being bypassed, and less emphasis on reputational damage. The contentious paragraph about balancing the money offered in return for granting an easement against detriment to the Malvern Hills and commons is retained in a slightly different form.
September 20th 2018
Neighbourhood Plan available for viewing at the Malvern Town Council Office on Belle Vue Terrace between 5 pm and 7 pm. Do go along and support your Town Council and have your say.
September 15th 2018
Friends of the Commons 'rally' at the Wocestershire Beacon.
September 15th 2018
Facebook 'About Us' updated amplifying residents objections to the proposed road across the common.
September 14th 2018
Malvern Town Council's Your Neighbourhood Plan publicised in the Malvern Gazette.
Further details can be found on-line at www.malvernsfuture.org
The Neighbourhood Plan flags the beautiful approach to Malvern from Guarlford as an area to be preserved. With this in mind the Malvern Hills Trust should not be approving a road across the common for a possible housing estate.
13th September 2018
Meeting of the Malvern Hills Trust main board
The Friends of the Commons tabled a number of questions and attended the Board meeting. The Chairman of the MHT presented the questions as a list on a slide and reeled of replies in about 7 minutes, stifling debate. The timetable for discussing the Easement has slipped to November see What Next.
The cost of the Charity Commission Scheme, which is a plan to consolidate the five Malvern Hills Acts into a single document and clarify and update the MHT's powers, has risen to £85,000 and the board voted to extend the budget from £100,000 to £145,000. This is on top of the cost of rebranding the Conservators as the Malvern Hills Trust. It does seem the MHT is spending an awful lot of public money on this, and one wonders exactly what the overal cost and benefit will be.
September 12th 2018
Duncan Bridges CEO of the Malvern Hills Trust writes to the Malvern Gazette in response to letters of 31st August to say the MHT cannot consider planning matters.
September 11th 2018
Surveyors from the Rose Farm Partnership on the common reassessing the site of the proposed Easement.
August 31st 2018
Malvern Gazette publishes letters from Rosemary and Angus McCulloch, and Anne Ridley. These suggest that, although the Trust says that comments on planning cannot be accepted, MHT Board members ought to be prepared to take more responsibility any consequences of their actions, and asks why council tax payers should pay a precept to a body which does not always act transparently.
August 24th 2018
The Residents' Association begins sending out invitations to MHT Board members asking if they would like to visit the sites in Chance Lane and Hall Green individually for a chat with residents. As of 15th September none had accepted.
August 17th 2018
Malvern Gazette publishes letter from Graham and Dinah Cramp; click to view letter published in Malvern Gazette
August 16/17th 2018
August 17th 2018
August 17th 2018
The interview about residents' concerns broadcast on Radio Hereford and Worcester.
August 16th 2018
Justyn Surrall of BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester interviews Hall Green residents.
August 10th 2018
Meeting at Guarlford Village Hall
August 8th 2018
July 19th 2018
July 14th 2018
About seven residents receive letters inviting comments on a rudimentary map and suggesting the Board is almost ready to decide the application. Responses to be sent within 14 days - many people are on holiday.
May 9th 2017
Board members have a site visit to look at the site of the proposed road across the common off Chance Lane, and the condition of the common following replacement of the sewer running to Mill Lane by Severn Trent.
Hearsay that a developer is seeking an Easement into Rose Farm. The MHT confirms that an application had been received in 2016, but despite repeated requests, no further information is given to the public, other than it was likely to be on the south side of number 3 Chance Lane.
Updated 12th November 2018
The application by the Rose Farm Partnership was made public on 12th November 2018. We now know the applicant wants to build two and three storey houses in the field, almost certainly several hundred, and there would be associated street lighting, and roadsigns, not to mention disturbance to wildlife and hedges.
There is now little time for fresh objections from residents, but be aware that a group of precept payers has for some time been drafting a case for refusing the easements, which will be presented to the Board of the Malvern Hills Trust on Tuesday 20th November 2018.
You can help greatly just by attending the meeting to show a swell of public support for refusing the application, so please do come along if you can.
The vote is likely to be very close so your attendance could make all the difference.
View across Rose Farm to the Malvern Hills
The Easement will be decided with reference to the Trusts' processes so any representations should be made bearing those in mind. For example the Malvern Hills Act 1995 as amplified by the MHT Governance handbook and the Easements policy, which can be found on the MHT website.
We doubt the Charity Commission empowers the MHT to override the Malvern Hills Act 1995 and make 'Cash King' although the MHT think this may be permitted by Charity Commission guidance document:
It's your decision: charity trustees and decision making
This page is hosted on behalf of the Friends of the Commons of Malvern
Last updated 15th November 2018