Why a Parish Plan?
There are many changes going on in the village, the closure of the Village Post Office and Stores, the RAOB Village Hall freehold being offered for sale and the need for affordable housing to mention a few. Parracombe Parish Council (PPC) are working in partnership with Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) to come up with a strategy to manage these as well as other initiatives. These include improving traffic safety around the school and parking for residents and visitors to the village. The result of this work will be a Parish Plan that documents the needs of the community and provides a road map for each of the projects identified.
The Parish Council and ENPA, circulated a questionnaire to seek the views of Parracombe residents. The questionnaire focused on three of the four strategic village initiatives; a new village store and Post Office, the Village Hall and facilities at the Coronation Playing field. A PDF copy of the questionnaire can be viewed here. Read the results of the survey.
Affordable housing for local people is one of the issues being considered. Last years housing needs survey by the Parish Council, with funding from the National Lottery Awards For All, identified five local households needing affordable housing in the parish. There may well be others, as many people do not come forward as they believe they will not get housed. The Community Plan is a great opportunity to bring forward proposals for a small housing scheme to provide homes for local people who would otherwise not get a home. The Rural Housing Enabler will be at the drop-in event on 17th January 2018 from 2.30-7.00pm to discuss these possibilities, and will be supported by staff from Devon Homechoice until 5.00pm to help get people on the housing register- an essential first step for people needing affordable rented housing.
Village Shop and Post Office Progress
The Parish Council is very keen to ensure that a Post Office and store remains in Parracombe. A sub-committee of the council, with a number of co-opted volunteers, have worked hard to assess the possibility of setting up a Community Shop and Post Office. They have already carried out a preliminary questionnaire which has informed their report and which identifies the possible location for a Community Shop and potential grant funding options. They now need to assess the level of voluntary and financial support available within the community to establish feasibility before further commitment to the project. Read the draft report. On completion of the residents’ survey the plan will be reviewed and updated and a recommendation made as to the future of the project.
RAOB Village Hall
The Village Hall is leased from the RAOB by a Village Hall Charitable Trust, the Parish Council are assisting them as a Custodian Trustee. The lease for the hall came up for renewal this year and, to secure its continued use as a parish hall, the Council have served notice of renewal to the RAOB.
Earlier this year the Parish Council successfully obtained Community Asset Status which gives the hall additional protections, affords the community a say in its future and a right to bid should it be offered for sale. The Hall is also protected by Exmoor National Park Authority (ENPA) planning policy and cannot have any other use while its use as a Village Hall is needed.
In August the RAOB decided to sell their freehold interest and as an asset of community value we have exercised our right to bid, an independent valuation is being sought and a conditional offer has been made. The Parish Council are also seeking advice regarding the terms of sale to the RAOB in 1932. The council would like to make sure that anyone interested in purchasing the freehold are fully aware of the terms of the conveyance and the status of the hall. Read the Notice to all Parties Considering Purchase of the Parracombe RAOB Village Hall.
If the Parish Council secures freehold title of the hall, but its use sometime in the future as a Hall ceases and a more valuable use is found, there is likely to be ‘a clawback provision’ requiring 50% of any additional value to go to the RAOB for a 25 year period. Again, the potential uses are governed by ENPA planning policy which restricts alternatives to Community Use, Employment Use or Affordable Housing.
Coronation Playing Field
The Pavilion at the Coronation Playing Field is a community asset owned by the Parish and is protected as a community facility by ENPA policy. The area provides recreational facilities for the village, the school and much needed parking for residents and visitors. As part of the parish plan, the Parish Council are looking at how the area can serve the community better and how it could be utilised in the future. For example, the pavilion has been identified as the best available location for a community shop. If a new shop were located in the Pavilion changes such as provision for delivery vehicle turning and additional parking will be required. Should the need for a new village hall be identified the Coronation Field is also a potentially suitable location. If the plan identifies alternative uses for the space the Parish Council will need to secure a replacement of at least an equivalent standard.