OUR OBJECTIVES ARE:
To stimulate interest and care for the beauty, history and character of the South Hams.
To encourage high standards of planning and architecture that respect the character of the South Hams.
To secure the protection and improvement of the landscape, features of historic interest and public amenity.
To promote the conservation of the South Hams as a living, working environment.
WHY WE EXIST
The society was founded in 1961, a year after the South Devon AONB was designated, to protect and contribute to the natural amenity of what was becoming recognised as a very special area. Since then the rapid growth of property prices and of the complexity of the forward planning system have provided conditions in which developers have been able to assault the character of the South Hams and thereby threaten its attractiveness to the ordinary person.
These pressures are eroding the natural environment more rapidly than ever before. The protection afforded by designations such as Area of Of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Site of Special Scientific Interest is not nearly as effective as is assumed. Other guardians of the environment, such as Natural England, the Devon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB have specialised interests which do not necessarily accord with those of the farming community or the wider interests of the public.
The South Hams Society has an important role to play in making the priorities of the local community known. Now more than ever before we need an active and involved society.
The district council produces forward planning documents which after a process of consultation will collectively make up the Local Development Framework. In its final form the LDF will specify what development will be allowed and where. The objective is a plan which will support sustainable development while reflecting the wishes of the local community.
The society reads the many draft LDF documents and comments on them to the district council and to the planning inspectorate. The current LDF exercise started in 2006 and is due to complete in 2011, but some doubt has been injected by the government's decision in 2010 to scrap regional spatial strategies, which were founding blocks of the LDF.
We believe that, of the 1500 new homes (apart from Sherford) proposed by South Hams District Council, not nearly enough will be affordable. If unsympathetically sited the houses will overburden towns and villages and lead to the unnecessary loss of greenfield, high-quality landscape. And of course there needs to be a corresponding increase in skilled jobs.
We also look at current planning applications, writing to the council or speaking at planning meetings or inquiries when we believe the development is against our objectives.
Our team always needs help. Planning has a major effect on the life of us all - from the location of jobs, shops and houses to the provision of green spaces and children's play areas.
THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
We make representations to various environmental bodies in order to try to preserve and encorage wildlife, not only in nature reserves and SSSIs but in the rest of the countryside which surrounds us and forms the background to our daily life.
The improvement and conservation of our natural environment is of great importance for us all. An active South Hams Society can provide the impact and skills to achieve it.
EVENTS AND TALKS
Recent events include visits to a local vineyard, an oyster farm, a micro-brewer, Langage power station and Soar Mill Seeds Farm. There have also been beach clean-ups, a cream tea, a canoeing trip, a bird-watching cruise on the Rivermaid, walks around neolithic and mediaeval field systems and talks on local wildlife.
We have contacts in other national and local organisations, including the South Hams Sustainability Forum, the Aune Conservation Association, the Salcombe and Kingsbridge Estuary Association, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, English Heritage, the National Trust and the South Devon AONB Unit.
THE BULLETIN AND WEBSITE
Our quarterly bulletin includes articles on both general and local subjects, such as hedges, farming issues, conservation projects, current planning concerns, pollution, natural history. We want more contributions from members.
This website contains the bulletins, news, contacts and a forum for members to express their views.
JOIN US NOW AND HELP TO PROTECT THIS
BEAUTIFUL PART OF ENGLAND
Membership costs just £10 a year. Please print out the application form (which includes a GiftAid declaration) and send it Nicola Fox, or call her (01548-856510) or Vivien Napper (01548-842405)
AND ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO JOIN AS WELL
Registered Charity No 263985