Nunney Parish Council has lost its appeal against a refusal of listed building consent to allow a shelter to be built over a collapsed part of the wall in the Market Place.
According to Mendip District Council’s planning website, the decision to reject the appeal was taken on 15 June. The Case Officer dealing with the appeal conducted a site visit earlier in the week and met with the parish clerk and representatives of local residents.
It is not yet known what Nunney Parish Council will take next. The parish council does not need planning permission to build a shelter, but the wall is – most likely wrongly – considered an integral part of the listed bridge.
The Market Place has been neglected for many years. The Parish Council decided in 2011 that it was time to start a project to refurbish the Market Place, the historic centre of Nunney’s conservation area.
The parish council has set money aside for the project since 2012 from the budget used for improving the local environment.
The first move was to relocate underground the unsightly telephone wires that used to crisscross the square from the central pole to all the houses around the square.
BT Openreach moved the wires at their expense; the council had to pay £608 to have the telegraph pole removed.
The red phone box, a listed monument, had not been painted for years. Nunney Parish Council negotiated with BT that if they would supply all the necessary paint and equipment we would find volunteers in the village to do it, which we did in 2012.
The Parish Council also arranged for the finger post by the bridge to be repainted and smartened up at no cost to the council.
The major alteration to the Market Place has been the removal and possible replacement of the bus shelter.
The original shelter was thatched at the expense of Rob Walker as a gift to the village in 1953. When the thatch collapsed in 1986 it was replaced by the Parish Council, paid for by Nunney Community Association.
Over the years it was repeatedly vandalised and often used as a public latrine and a receptacle for litter.
The heirs of Rob Walker declined to repair the shelter which by now badly needed re-thatching at the very least. So the Parish Council decided to take it on.
At this stage it was discovered that the Market Place was not in fact registered as being owned by anyone. The Parish Council then tried to lease the Market Place from Robbie Walker, but no tile deeds could be found.
Robbie was not willing to continue having responsibility for the Market Place. The Parish Council therefore tried to register it as Parish Council land, but were unable to do so.
The council decided nonetheless to take responsibility for the square and had it added to our public liability insurance.
A quotation for rethatching was obtained which came in at £3,500 for the re-thatching alone, not including the other necessary refurbishments.
In view of the live wire inside and the fact that is was never used for the purpose for which it had been built, Nunney Parish Council decided to demolish it.
The electricity feed for the long-ago vandalised light was still live. This was clearly dangerous and was rectified by Southern Electric at no cost to the parish.
The parish council then persuaded Holwell Quarry to repair the hole in the tarmac where the shelter had stood, again at no cost to the parish. The wall along the river is in very bad repair and near collapse in some places.
By the end of 2013 the square was empty and tidy and it was decided to leave it like that until Nunney Parish Council had collected enough opinion from around the Parish as to what it should put in the square, if anything.
The period of consultation began with the Parish Council leafleting every house in the village, holding a special meeting at which people were free to put forward their proposals and an exhibition in the church.
Many proposals were received, including planting a tree in the middle, moving the war memorial or the market cross to the Market Place etc. But overwhelmingly the consensus was for a new shelter and places to sit.
Ken Lloyd, Chairman of Nunney Parish Council at the time, told Visit Nunney that the parish council had been very influenced by the effect on the shop which has not only a need for customer parking, but enough turning space for the many delivery lorries.
As it is in the centre of a conservation area, the new design had to fit in with the surroundings.
After much deliberation our final design was to lower a part of the wall at the Spar end to provide additional seating and to float the new shelter through the wall and over the river bank.
This would also mean that the footprint of the new shelter in the Market Place would be considerably smaller than the old one. The new shelter would also then be a useful central focus in the square for events such as the Bonnet Parade and Duck Race, the Fayre and Open Gardens Day.
As well as planning permission, the parish council needed to apply for listed building consent from Mendip District Council, since the square is in a conservation area and surrounded by listed buildings.
Over several years Nunney Parish Council has been given various grants specifically to improve the environment. It applied unsuccessfully for funding to Mendip’s Legacy Fund.
Response from Robbie Walker
Just to set the record straight from our family’s point of view. We have been unable to find any paperwork concerning my father’s Lordships of the Manor and hence the ownership of the Market Place that went with it.
We think they must have been destroyed during a fire at his Racing workshop in 1968, and of course nothing was computerised back then.
There was a meeting between several Nunney Councillors and me at Nunney Court after my mother died. She had left me Nunney Castle and the Lordships in her will.
I had already spent considerable time and money trying to prove the Lordships of the Manor and its incumbent right to the Market Square.
It was decided that if within 2 months no evidence was found I would relinquish it. Nothing was unearthed and consequently the Council took charge.
As any of the old brigade who have lived in Nunney all their lives will tell you, my parents supported and gave generously to the village.
Other than for the 2 adjoining dwellings, they were very opposed to the Market Square being used as a medium/long stay car park, which increasingly seems to be the case now.
Personally I am in favour of enhancing this area and will support any movement that restricts parking other than Crown House, David Bird’s house and casual Spar shoppers.