Seventy residents attended the AGM and lunch of the society on 1 November. Following a short tribute to the late Doug Kitchen (who served for 29 years on the committee, 21 as chairman), the minutes of the last AGM and the financial report were both presented and accepted by the meeting.
The chairman’s report reviewed the planning applications received for Biddenham during the previous twelve months, and presented the outcomes of several of particular interest to residents. The good progress of the northern extension to the western bypass was also raised, with its expected completion in the Spring 2016. The launch of the new Bedford Borough Plan aroused much interest and questions from the floor, as did the borough’s agreement to review the boundaries of the Biddenham Conservation Area for which the society has been lobbying for many years.
Jeremy Reynolds and Monica Knight then described a recent inspection visit of two significant Arts and Crafts period gardens in the village by consultants from ‘Historic England’. The meeting re-elected the committee for a further year with the exception of Chris Gleave who was stepping down for personal reasons. In thanking her for her past service, the chairman paid tribute to the outstanding contribution she had made to the preparation and organisation of the annual lunch over many years.
Thanks were also given to the committee and the other helpers involved, without whose assistance the event would be unable to take place in its present form.
Founded in 1965 by a group of concerned residents, The Biddenham Society remains committed to the continued preservation of the beauty, history, character and heritage of the village.
A full house of 100 residents attended the 50th AGM and lunch of The Biddenham Society held on Sunday 7 December 2014 in the Village Hall. In his welcoming remarks the chairman drew attention to the presence of two residents, David Palmer and Pat McKeown, who had also been present at the inaugural meeting of the society in 1965.
The minutes of the 2013 AGM (presented by Secretary Mark Phillips) and the Balance Sheet for 2013-2014 (presented by Treasurer Bob Hutchinson) were both accepted by the meeting, the particularly healthy state of the finances being primarily due to as yet unspent lottery funds committed to the heritage trail.
In his report, the chairman reported that 38 planning applications for the Biddenham area had been received during the last year, most of them relating to property extensions. However four recent submissions of particular significance to the village were worthy of specific note.
i). The most recent application by the owner of 29 Day’s Lane to construct two dwellings on the site of the orchard adjoining the pavilion field had again been refused following widespread local opposition.
ii). The application for retrospective planning permission by the occupant of 38 Church End for a two-storey residential barn already constructed in the back garden was refused following objections by the society, the parish council and neighbours.
iii). The application to extend and re-model the façade of ‘The Firs’, 21 Church End was withdrawn following objections from the society and others regarding an inappropriate pastiche design and other factors.
iv). The application to construct a large residence to the rear of ‘Lavender Lodge’, 42 Main Road is pending, but has been opposed by the society as an overdevelopment of the site and with an excessive footprint.
The chairman then described the latest developments regarding the paddock between Church End and the golf course and a new form of protection for green spaces which can be shown to be special to the local community. From the floor, Pat McKeown spoke of the initiative he has launched to acquire this area presentation in trust to the village, and Cllr Jon Gambold followed with the possibility of still having the paddock accepted as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ despite the recent rejection by the borough of an application from the parish council for its designation.
The chairman then updated the meeting on the by pass extension north of Bromham Road: completion by October 2016 (earlier if the weather is kind); a contractual requirement to complete the first two roundabouts in nine months giving access for housing construction; 1300 dwellings currently planned, but initial development will only be at the western end of the site; cost £8 million.
This will be opened at 11.00 am on Saturday 18 April 2015 at King’s Corner, Main Road, by Alistair Burt MP. Biddenham Upper School will be providing musical accompaniment, and family trail questionnaires (with prizes) will be available. More details later. The Junior Heritage Trail, devised by pupils of St James’ Lower School, will be opened at a later date in the school’s summer term.
Three excellent presentations on aspects of the heritage trail were then made to the meeting. Monica Knight discussed the history and development of the Arts and Crafts movement in Biddenham, specifically in relation to the houses of Mallows and Baillie-Scott; Peter Applewhite talked about the origins and turbulent past of the village pond and its lost dovecote, and encouraged those present to help preserve this important asset by becoming ‘friends’ of the pond; and Kathy Fricker described the work and activities of the recently-formed History Society, and its close links with the development of the heritage trail.
Peter Applewhite also briefly referred to the excellent new initiative of the ‘Biddenham Blog’. The society’s section can be found on https://biddenhamblog.wordpress.com/biddenham-society/
Election of committee
Thanks were expressed to Averil Watson who is stepping down from the committee this year. The remainder of the committee Dr Tony Wood (Chairman), Mark Phillips (Secretary), Bob Hutchinson (Treasurer), Chris Gleave, Will Jenkin, Monica Knight, Susie Mason Patel, Dr Jeremy Reynolds, and David Slark were re-elected for 2014-2015.
In closing the meeting the chairman thanked the committee, helpers and friends for their great efforts in organising the luncheon event, and especially Chris Gleave for once again masterminding the preparation of the meal.
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