Broadband update – Parts of Brentor promised superfast broadband from 29 August 2016 – but no sign of it yet!!

LATEST NEWS
The Parish Council has received a newsletter from Connecting Devon and Somerset.  The information it contains directly relating to Brentor is as follows:
National Parks
The new tender builds on the phase two National Parks programme already underway in our most difficult to reach areas of Dartmoor and Exmoor. CDS will have by the end of 2016 delivered superfast speeds to around 5,800 premises across the moors, boosting the rural economy.
Airband Community Ltd, the wireless broadband contractor for Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, have concluded their network testing on Dartmoor and have begun to roll out the service to selected communities on an incremental basis. The build on Dartmoor is expected to be complete by the early autumn. Meanwhile on Exmoor the network is being installed and we hope to be able to announce the first connections there in the early autumn.
Voucher Scheme
The CDS Broadband Voucher Scheme, which provides anyone with a broadband speed of less than 2 Mbps with a voucher for £500 towards the cost of a new broadband connection, has received in excess of 2,000 applications. Of these over 1,500 have been approved and the first installations have already been completed. 13 suppliers have joined the scheme with more in the pipeline.
Further details can be found on the CDS website at: http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/cds-broadband-voucher-scheme/

You can see the entire newsletter sent to the Parish Council by clicking here.

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Following a telephone conversation with Matt Barrow at Connecting Devon and Somerset on 11th August the Editor can pass on the following information:-

  • Delays in rolling out the Airband Fixed Wireless system have been due to contractual negotiations with BT and Airband concerning areas where the fixed fibre and Airband systems coverage overlap.  This is now virtually resolved.
  • Already the system is live to premises in South Brent and Ivybridge.  These areas are being used to iron out potential technical problems.
  • Dartmoor coverage is being divided into nine sectors, and by 12 August four of these will be live and providing a service.
  • Brentor will be served by just three transmitters, at Bearwood Farm, on Christchurch church tower and at Wortha Farm.
  • Brentor will go live in two stages.  The Bearwood Farm transmitter will go live on 29th August, serving the western side of North Brentor and some higher areas that can see this transmitter, such as Station View .
  • The Christchurch and Wortha Farm transmitters will go live on 14th November and will serve the centre of North Brentor and the village of South Brentor.
  • Some higher parts of West Blackdown will also receive the service, but much of this area in the valley near the Old Station will receive no service at all and may need to find a way of receiving it through the Voucher Scheme, which pays £500 per household to improve broadband where it is below 5mb per second.  Potentially by aggregating this money from 8-10 premises an Airband relay station could be built to serve this area, fed from Wortha Farm or another transmitter.  This will require the cooperation of all the residents there to achieve a service.  Similar arrangements may be needed for other parts of Brentor outside the range of the Airband service.
  • As areas go live on the Airband system Brentor residents who have expressed an intererest in using the service will receive an e-mail confirming that they can apply for the service through their choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP, such as Virgin, Talk-Talk etc).

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On 22 April an email from Airband was sent to all those who have registered interest in their wireless broadband.  It says that a detailed map of the availability of the system on Dartmoor will be available within 2 weeks on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website.  Presumably this will provide us with details of exactly which properties in Brentor will be able to receive the service.

The majority of Dartmoor planning applications for transmitter poles have been submitted and to date 12 applications have been approved and not one refused.  Deployment of the Dartmoor Airband network is fully underway, with much of the infrastructure mounted on existing buildings or masts now in place. The better weather and improved ground conditions are also allowing installations on new sites to come forward, with 17 sites either complete or in the process of installation.  Live connections will apparently become available area by area.
So it looks as though many of us in Brentor will soon be enjoying 30mbs superfast broadband.

The planning for this project has been going on for some time.  A broadband briefing meeting for local parishes was held at Mary Tavy Village Hall on 12th November 2015. This was hosted by the Connecting Devon & Somerset programme. It was reported that the government-funded programme to provide microwave-based superfast broadband in the areas of Exmoor and Dartmoor not being provided with fibre-based services is making good progress. The Worcester-based company Airband Community Internet Ltd has been awarded the contract to deliver this service.  It will provide a 30mbs Superfast broadband service to the areas of Dartmoor National Park not served by the BT fibre optic cable network, including Brentor. The company has been contracted to provide the service to a minimum of 86% of the homes and business in these areas.
In late February 2016 the Editor spoke to an Airband engineer about the details of our service in Brentor.  High capacity microwave transmitters around the edge of Dartmoor will feed encrypted Superfast broadband signals, via a relay of transmitters starting in Tavistock, to several relay microwave transmitters located around Brentor. These will send the data for our homes to small microwave receiver/transmitter units sited on our individual houses.
We were told at the meeting on 12th November 2015 that the system will guarantee reliable unlimited superfast broadband connections with no slowing down at peak times. Quite different to our current service!  We were also told that the service would be no more expensive than that provided through cable and that users could also have their telephone provided via the Airband system.  There will be a one-off connection charge (about £100-£150) for installation of the receiver/transmitter on our properties.  The actual broadband suppliers who bill users (ISPs) will be the same as for cable, such as Virgin Media, Talk Talk etc. Airband itself could also be a provider.
The caveat is that, to receive the service, the microwave receiver/transmitters on individual homes will need to have direct line of sight to the relay transmitters, with nothing (such as hills, buildings or even trees) in between. This may be difficult to achieve in practice to all properties in Brentor. 
During last summer Airband engineers surveyed, in house by house detail, the areas to be served, including Brentor. We were told at the 12th November meeting that by 20th November we should be able to find out which houses will be able to receive the service by visiting the Airband website. In fact this did not happen and according to the Airband engineer there will now be no map published showing reception detail at individual house level.

So far there has been only one planning application for a relay transmitter in Brentor parish, at Henscott Farm near Lydford, at the side of Gibbett Hill NE of Brentor (Dartmoor National Park planning application number 0034/16, which can be viewed on the DNP planning website).  There is another nearby application for a transmitter at Cox Tor Farm.  However, where installations are on existing buildings, Dartmoor National Park Authority has deemed that no planning permission will be necessary.  The Editor has been told that there will definitely be a relay transmitter at Bearwood Farm (West of Brentor village) and others sites are being investigated including South Brentor Farm, the Gliding Club and on the top of Christchurch tower.

It was reported at the meeting on 12th November 2015 that the Superfast Broadband service for Brentor will be up and running by the middle of 2016.

When the Editor spoke to Matt Barrow at Connecting Devon and Somerset on 27th November 2015 he was told that if some houses in Brentor could not be provided with superfast broadband due to their location, Airband has also been tasked with providing a minimum of 12Mbs using other methods, such as satellite or radio technology.

IMPORTANT:  Airband reports that Brentor residents have shown the highest level of interest in the proposed high speed broadband service. THE MORE PEOPLE WHO REGISTER, THE MORE CHANCE THERE IS THAT WE WILL GET A SERVICE FOR EVERYONE IN THE VILLAGE.  If you wish to register your interest in receiving Superfast broadband via Airband you should register interest on the Airband website at www.airband.co AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
For more information and dates of information sessions in other parishes you can contact Matt Barrow, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Connecting Devon & Somerset at matt.barrow@devon.gov.uk 01392 382221. You can visit the Connecting Devon and Somerset website by clicking here.

You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).

Colin Dawes, Editor

Brenstock 2016 – What a day!

Brenstock logoBrenstock was a sell-out, with over 250 visitors to coming to Brentor’s first-ever music festival.  The weather was kind, the food was good and the Castle Inn provided an excellent licenced bar.  All the music acts were superb, from solo singers to the headlining Fireblockers.  The village hall and marquees were decorated in a riot of colour and in the evening the dance floor was packed as the festival reached its climax.

Thanks has to go to Dom Carnell and the Brenstock organising committee for all their hard work, and to the volunteers who helped throughout the day to make the event a safe and enjoyable one for all the visitors.  Over £1,000 was made which goes to the Village Hall and to provide a fund for future Brenstocks……….. We are planning to do it all again next year!

You can go to the Brenstock website at www.brenstock.org.uk by clicking here

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Privately funded housing needs survey

Brentor residents who have recently received a ‘housing needs survey’ should be aware that this is not an official survey from the Parish Council or District Council.  It is in fact a privately-funded survey being carried out on behalf of a private developer who, it is understood, wishes to build in Mary Tavy.  

Brentor Parish Council have issued this statement in the Brentor News:
You may have recently received a survey requesting your views from Chris Broughton Associates. The survey has been commissioned by a company called Stride Treglown and is not supported by the Parish Council, West Devon Borough Council or the Dartmoor National Park, none of whom had prior knowledge that it was to be conducted. Brentor Parish Councillors have concerns about its legality, content and potential data protection issues and advise that you DO NOT complete it.

Mary Tavy Parish Council have also issued the following statement:
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM MARY TAVY PARISH COUNCIL

Mary Tavy Parish Council has received a number of enquiries and comments concerning a printed questionnaire recently delivered by post to households in the village entitled “Housing Need Survey for the parishes of Mary Tavy, Peter Tavy and Brentor.” Councillors have decided that, in the face of these expressions of concern, they must clarify the origins of this document.

Firstly, it must be clearly understood that this document and the company who sent it out have no connection to MTPC. We were completely unaware of the intention to send this survey to parishioners and at no time were individual Councillors or the Parish Clerk contacted on any aspect of this matter. Equally the members of MTPC have no knowledge of the identity of the developer who commissioned Chris Broughton Associates to produce the survey document. As far as we are aware no additional sites have been identified within the parish for housing development and the redundant garage and bus depot sites are the only areas subject to existing planning proposals and ongoing negotiations for redevelopment.

The DNPA who are, of course, responsible for all planning matters in this community have also expressed concern over the survey produced by Chris Broughton Associates. While it is true that they were asked if they intended updating the existing Housing Needs Survey their response was that it was not scheduled at this time. It would appear that such updating is carried out on a semi rolling programme across the whole of the DNPA area. While all parishioners will appreciate that public funds are strictly limited availability of resources was not the key issue in this decision. This current survey will not enhance the information contained in the DNPA’s existing Housing Needs Survey.

Parishioners should feel free to respond or not as they judge to be appropriate. We are, of course, obliged to remind all parishioners of the need to protect their confidential information and to think very carefully before parting with personal details particularly when cash incentives small or otherwise are offered.

Councillor Peter Jarvis, Chairman Mary Tavy Parish Council

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Colin Dawes

Devon Main Line Route Options – DNPA Scoping Report

railway scoping reportA report has been commissioned by the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) concerning options for the reinforcement/replacement of the main line from Exeter to Plymouth.  This line was severed at Dawlish in the storms of 2014 and an alternative route in the case of further damage or disruption is considered necessary.  The report focusses on the reinstatement of the line from Okehampton to Bere Alston, since it appears that this could be the most likely option. Other options include conctructing  a new route from Exeter to Newton Abbott or constructing a double track railway on the alignment of the former Teign Valley branch line from Exeter to Newton Abbot.  Network Rail, in their economic appraisal of each of the options, concludes that all options offer poor value for money. At this stage a preferred option has not been identified, although the report identifies that the alternative route options either may not be practical or may be significantly more expensive than reinstating the Okehampton to Bere Alston route.

Brentor would be affected by the reinstatement of the railway, since it would run down the valley from Lydford to Mary Tavy.  It would seem unlikely that Brentor or Mary Tavy would have their stations reinstated. There could be local trains running hourly on the route.  In addition there would be diverted mainline trains on the route when the Dawlish line is closed and some trains for driver training.  The track could also become a route for goods services.

It is suggested  that you may like to read the report - click here to see a PDF copy

If you wish to make comments about the report to DNPA you should address them by email to  Dan Janota at  djanota@dartmoor.gov.uk

Brentor Commons Update – September 2016

What is it about gathering blackberries that is so satisfying? To spend an hour strolling along the hedgerows with little on your mind than gathering the fruit must be fulfilling some ancient need of our hunter gatherer forebears. It may also be something to do with the blackberry and apple crumble for supper! There has been a reasonable crop this year and the tell- tale incursions into the bushes to reach those really large and juicy ones that always seem to be just out of reach shows that many people have been busy.
I thought the sloes would be scarce this year but now that they have coloured up there seems to be a reasonable amount. Not the quantities that the last two years have produced when I liked to claim that I had picked enough for my sloe gin from just one bush.
When walking from Bowden to Liddaton I saw a party of at least six stonechats. It was clearly a family group as the younger birds were quivering their wings in typical food begging manner. It is good to know that they have had a successful year. Other birds seen included a wren, good numbers of swallows and a pair of willow warblers (once known as willow wrens).
The silver Y moth mentioned in a recent article is now present on the common and in many of our gardens. Look out for a very restless medium sized silvery brown day flying moth flitting from flower to flower. Its wings often are continually fluttering but if it does settle you will clearly see the Y shape on each wing.
There is little colour to catch the eye but some white yarrow and pinkish purple woundwort can be seen along the road and path verges. The red berries of hawthorn, rowan and honeysuckle are really noticeable. There will be abundant food for the winter visiting redwing and fieldfares that will arrive soon.
Barry Albrighton
Click here to see earlier monthly Commons updates by Barry Albrighton

Sites for affordable housing in Brentor – update

The village of North Brentor has been identified by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNP) as a rural settlement where the provision of a small number of affordable houses to meet an identified local need could be permitted. Suitable sites will be within or adjoining the settlement and well related to the existing buildings.

  • Following an appeal for suitable sites for affordable housing nine locations were put forward by the deadline of 30th September 2013.  These were initially assessed by the Community Council of Devon and have already been visited by representatives of Dartmoor National Park Authority Planning, West Devon Borough Council, and the Community Council of Devon, accompanied by Brentor Parish Councillors. Following this, the Dartmoor National Park Authority has produced an assessment of all the sites and a shortlist of those considered to merit further investigation.  All these documents are available on this website from the ‘Affordable Housing – Background documents’ section below.
  • The sites put forward and a shortlist from these were discussed at a special Parish Council meeting on Monday 24th February 2014.
  • A drop in session, where parishioners were able to ask questions about the affordable housing on a one-to-one basis with Parish Councillors, representatives of DNP and WDBC etc, was held on 17th March 2014 and was attended by some 80 parishioners, many of whom filled in feedback forms for the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Planners.  The sites map and consultation/background document available at the session and a feedback form are all available to view or download from the ‘Affordable Housing – Background documents’ section below.
  • Tim Beavon, Chair of the Brentor Parish Council, provided the following update on 17th April 2014:The initial assessment by DNPA of the sites put forward concluded that site 9 was undeliverable following a report that the land price required was too high.  In response to receiving a letter advising him that the site was considered undeliverable the owner has been in contact with DNPA and confirmed that affordable housing land prices are acceptable to him, making the site an option for affordable housing. DNPA has therefore revised its report, also updating some inconsistencies drawn to its attention at the consultation event.  The revised report is available below in the ‘background documents’ section.   
  • A question and answer session was held at the Village Hall on 12 May 2014, where  planning officers from DNPA, the Housing Officer from West Devon Borough Council and the Community Council of Devon’s Rural Housing Enabler answered questions about the plans for affordable housing. DNPA has completed a summary of the feedback received by 8 April on the possible sites for affordable housing. This is available in the ‘background documents’ section below.  Since receiving the feedback site 9, land at Station View, has been reassessed as deliverable therefore DNPA was able to accept further comments on this site.
  • Further discussion about affordable housing took place at a Parish Council Meeting on Monday 19th May 2014. The three Parish Councillors not affected by a declaration of interest were asked to rank the five shortlisted sites in order of preference and the result of the voting was as follows, in order of preference:-  Site 2 (War Memorial), site 3 (Shell Park), Site 1 (Hammer Park), Site 4 (Station Road) and site 9 (Station View).  This order of preference has been passed on to the Dartmoor National Park Authority planners.  The full minutes of the Parish Council meeting are available in the ‘Parish Council’ pages of this website.
  • The Dartmoor National Park Authority planners wrote to the owners/developers of the shortlisted sites, asking them to fill in a questionnaire about the deliverability of their sites – a copy of this letter and the questionnaire are available below in the ‘background documents’ section. 
  • DNPA has now provided its report on the responses made by landowners to the questionnaire on whether the sites can be developed to provide affordable housing in a reasonable period of time. The report is available below and is also pinned on the village notice board outside the village hall.
  • Officers from DNPA and WDBC attended the parish council meeting on Monday 15 September and responded to questions about the report. DNPA also reported that an outline planning application had been submitted for the development of 12 houses at the Hammer Park site. Not all of the requirements regarding the drawings and supporting information were met at the time of the meeting but the application was validated on 17 October 2014 and was published online in the DNPA planning applications list. A site notice was displayed advertising where the plans can be viewed, and how to comment on the plans. A notice was also placed in the local newspaper. A copy of the planning application was placed in the village hall. Copies of all the documents can be viewed on the planning section of DNPA’s website as well as at DNPA’s offices. Anyone wishing to comment on the application had to do so by writing direct to DNPA or submitting comments online by 14 November 2014.
    The application was considered by the Parish Council at its meeting on 17 November 2014. Dartmoor National Park authority put on hold any further work on the call for sites exercise until the planning application was determined.
  • The Chair of Brentor Parish Council, Sheila Burrows, wrote, as an insert for the Brentor News:   ‘Dartmoor National Park Development & Planning Committee met on the 9th January 2015 and refused Planning Application 0606/14 for outline planning permission for 12 affordable homes on a site at Hammer Park. The need for affordable homes in Brentor remains, therefore DNPA Planning Officers and representatives from West Devon Borough Council and Devon Communities Together (formerly Community Council of Devon) are seeking to explain the next stage of the planning process at the earliest opportunity.
    Many challenges remain in fulfilling this process and therefore an additional meeting of the Parish Council is being called where the above representatives will explain what are likely to be the next steps. A period of purdah due to forthcoming local council elections starts on 22nd March 2015, so there is little time available.’ Therefore the Parish Council is taking the opportunity to call an additional meeting on Monday 16th February 2015 at Brentor Village Hall starting at 7.30pm.
  • For further general information about affordable housing contact the Rural Housing Enabler, Sue Southwell, at Devon Communities Together, telephone 01392 248919 ext 122.

Affordable Housing – Background documents

The following links are for documents which relate to the topic of affordable housing in Brentor.  Click on them to go to the relevant website and document:

Brentor Housing Needs Survey Report, February 2011, produced by the Community Council for Devon on behalf of the Devon Rural Housing Partnership

Brentor Housing Needs Survey comments, February 2011.  Comments provided by respondents to the survey to question C8 of the Brentor Housing Needs Survey.  Please note that these are unedited comments and are provided on this website in response to a request to the current Parish Council by a local parishioner.  This document was released by the Community Council for Devon in response to a request by the Parish Council.

General information about affordable housing on the Dartmoor National Park website

Dartmoor National Park Development Plan on the Dartmoor National Park website

Dartmoor National Park Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), relating to Affordable Housing in Dartmoor National Park, from the Dartmoor National Park website

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites assessment produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Housing Needs Survey Report produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

17th March 2014 drop-in session background/consultation document, produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

(Left) Annotated plan of sites put forward for consideration, produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority and displayed at the 17th March 2014drop-in session.

Click on the plan to see an enlarged version

 

Housing sites consultation feedback form produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority.  Use this form to send your comments on affordable housing to the Dartmoor National Park planners.

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Assessment (revised April 2014) – the latest Sites Assessment produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Shortlist (revised April 2014) – the latest Sites Shortlist produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Final Feedback Summary -  feedback from the 8th April 2014 drop-in session, compiled by the Dartmoor National Park Authority (final amended version made available on 12th May 2014)

Letter to the owners of shortlisted sites - a letter from the Senior Forward Planner at Dartmoor National Park Authority to the owners/developers of the shortlisted sites for affordable housing in Brentor,  introducing the questionnaire below

Questionnaire about the shortlisted sites – sent for completion by the Dartmoor National Park Authority to the owners/developers of the shortlisted affordable housing sites in Brentor (this has to be returned to the Authority by 1st August 2014)

 Review of landowner’s returns – compiled by the Dartmoor National Park Authority from the responses to the questionnaire about the shortlisted sites

Planning Application for Site 1 (Hammer Park) – published on the Dartmoor National Part Authority website on 17 October 2014. (This link takes you to the Planning section of the DNPA website – first accept the terms on the first page and then text search for ‘Hammer Park’ or enter the application number, 0606/14 to view the application).

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