Save Our Southill
Update 13 December 2008: More flooding at Southill: 18 Homes in Rowan Close, shops and gardens on Radipole Lane Flooded - Dorset Echo and on the BBC website: [Southill] Shopping Centre Hit By Flooding (title since changed to Seaside Town Hit By Flooded River). Further news on the flooding at Southill is reported in Monday's (15th Dec) Dorset Echo: Homes Evacuated After Floods
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have identified land near the shops at Radipole Lane, Southill, Weymouth that could be used to provide 'affordable homes'. All of the area they are considering is within a clearly designated 'Community Area'. This is shown as such on the council's own maps in conveyances of land for the building of houses during the 1960s and 1970s. The local residents of both Southill and Radipole village have enjoyed the use of such land and believe it is an integral part of community life.
The car park is used continuously by patrons of the John Gregory public house, Southill Snooker Club, the local shops, the Community Centre, Emmanuel Church, Southill Youth Club and Kidz R Us pre-school and any events they may hold. Many times it is full to capacity. It is also used by parents taking their children to the playground and the Fire Service use it for practise and demonstrations. The car park also holds the community recycling facilities which are well used and thus promote the local effort on green issues. There are bins for the collection of clothing etc. on behalf of Oxfam, aluminium foil, plastic bottles, glass, paper and cans. These collections are in addition to the kerbside recycling scheme.
The small amount of open, green land within the Community Area is used as an extension to the community services. This may include events held by the various venues as mentioned above, but is especially evident at the time of the Southill Fireworks event when the whole area is utilised. This particular event brings the whole community together, not only with the actual fireworks display, but with the provision of the various stalls that are an integral part of the event, the demonstration by the Fire Service, and the shops, particularly Tidings Newsagents that remain open throughout the event.
History of the land
The entire area now known as Southill was farmland with Field Barn Farm at the core. The farm gave its name to Field Barn Drive, as when this road was built it was another of the previously existing drives to the farm. Old maps show two main drives, one of which still exists as a footpath from Chafeys Lake, although diverted around the houses.
Field Barn Farm was part of the estate of the Manor of Causeway until 1833 when it was sold following the death of the John Herbert Browne. Edward Balston bought the land and it became part of the estate of Corfe Hill. Both of these estates are known as being part of Radipole, but Southill is too. Southill is quite literally, the South Hill of Radipole and its original name when building of houses began in the 1960s was as such.
In the sale particulars of 1833 and in the Tithe Map of 1841, the main plot of land that was later designated for community use was known as Parks. It had within it a coppice and willow beds that bounded the southern shores of an arm of Radipole Lake, then known as the Backwater or the Back Sea. The lake itself lay within the boundary of the municipal Borough of Melcombe Regis with the shores being the boundary lines between that and Radipole. Part of another plot on the other side of the arm is also part of the land of the Community Area.
This arm of Radipole Lake still exists and still flows, hidden beneath the Community Area and emerges to the rear of the former Post Office, immediately opposite the small piece of green land that the council now want to use for 'affordable housing' (see picture above). This land has on its edge, a large, old tree, around the base of which the council have had to re-tarmac. Close by, the land has also sunk and a distinct hollow can be discerned.
As will be apparent from the information given above, this land is prone to flooding, despite the lake arm having been channelled via a culvert. The marshy banks of this water course which extended some distance either side can be identified much easier further to the east, close to the A354 Weymouth Way where Southill Garden Drive dips down and on either side of the road there are large areas of green land. Flooding of such land is common in winter.
A few more reasons why the Community land should not be built on, or at least, certainly not for housing:.
The car park is on a slope and water running down it and from the land higher above it, accumulates at the entrance very close to Tidings Newsagents and compounds any flooding caused by other means. A spring within the parking bays is also evident from time to time, making the ground slippery and adding to the accumulation of water as previously said. The two banks around the car park have been given to landslides and although these banks have been shored up to hold the earth, it's not unlikely that it could happen again in the future.
The extent of flooding can vary from minor to severe. Most winters there occurs some minor flooding on the bend just as you enter the start of the parking bays, but there is almost always incidents of higher water levels both at this point and on Radipole Lane where it dips down between the green land on one side and the former Post Office on the other, where the arm of the lake flows beneath the road.
Tidings Newsagents has been known in the past to be under as much as 3 feet of water due to flooding. The year 1981 saw major flooding which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage. As recently as October 2005 severe flooding prevented access to the car park and to the shops.
Previous ideas by the council for building on the Community land have been rejected. In 1990, the plan was to build 16 homes on the site of the car park but was rejected due to opposition by the local residents and the probability of such a development exacerbating the flooding problem.
In 2003, plans were put forward by the Jehovah's Witnesses to build a Kingdom Hall. That too was finally rejected due to the opposition shown by Southill residents concerning the use of the Community Area and that such area should be of benefit to all residents, rather than to the exclusive few.
November 2007 and Southill residents face yet another battle to save the Community land for the benefit of the whole community.
PETITION PRESENTED TO THE MAYOR - February 2008.
The Petition reads:
Weymouth and Portland Borough Council is proposing to allow the building of 'affordable homes' on land near the shops at Radipole Lane, Southill, which is designated a 'Community Area'.
We, the undersigned, petition Weymouth and Portland Borough Council to retain the said land for community use in perpetuity.
The petition, containing 501 signatures, was presented to the Mayor of Weymouth and Portland at the full council meeting held on Thursday 21st February 2008 at the Guildhall, Weymouth. A short speech was delivered to the council, expressing the concern of the local community and their desire for the council to retain the land for community use.
With grateful thanks to all those who held the petition for it to be signed and to those who signed it.
The organisers of the petition are Lindsay Drage and Debby Rose
For previous council matters relating to the Community Area Land, please see the following links (they are for the html (web) version, rather than pdf):
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