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Trustee Briefing on Impact of Proposed Development

Trustee Briefing on Environmental, Economic & Cultural Impact of Proposed Development on Land Offered for Sale by The Kings Fund East of Basingstoke.

Summary & Requested Action.

A previous administration and Board of Trustees approved an option agreement between The Kings Fund and Taylor Wimpey which could result in the development of up to 10,000 homes. Any development of this scope would contravene numerous local, national and EU policies, guidelines directives and obligations as well as have a significant economic and lifestyle/well-being impact on existing communities.

SOLVE (Save Our Loddon Valley Environment) believes Trustees have a fiduciary and moral obligation to instruct Executives to convene a small team, led by a Trustee, to work in a transparent and constructive relationship with SOLVE and the local community to review the option agreement and explore ways to annul the agreement.

Context.

The Kings Fund has entered into an option agreement with Taylor Wimpey which, if executed, will result in the development of up to 10,000 homes that will:

  • Destroy an eco-system which is recognized for its unique biodiversity, wide range of natural habitats, rural agricultural economy and heritage sites of national historic importance.

  • Be in direct conflict with your President’s public and commendable reputation as a defender of our countryside, natural environment and national heritage as well as his position on the critical role of the rural economy and lifestyle.

The Kings Fund are the ‘Kingpin’ behind this scheme. Without your land being made available for sale, there would be no danger of a development of this size and scale proceeding. However, the decision to approve the Option agreement with Taylor Wimpey for the development of up to 10,000 homes was made under a different executive and Board and at a time when The Kings Fund’s financial circumstances and business model relied more heavily on asset sales.

Circumstances have now changed. SOLVE believes that the sale of land on this scale is no longer economically or morally justified. If it were to happen, The Kings Fund would be guilty of being the architect of a development programme that would destroy for ever a rural landscape and community of significant environmental, cultural and historic value.

Following a meeting with The King’s Fund CEO, CFO and Director of Public Affairs; Chris Ham invited SOLVE to make a representation to the Trustees of The Kings Fund. The rationale being that the current Board of Trustees and Executive, have a moral duty under its Corporate Social Responsibility obligations to reconsider the decision to enter into the option agreement.

 

The Facts.

Taylor Wimpey, in partnership with The Kings Fund, is seeking planning permission to build up to 10,000 homes on land it has owned for centuries. Any development of this scope would contravene numerous local, national and EU policies, guidelines directives and obligations as well as have significant economic and lifestyle/well-being impact on existing communities in the immediate area.

  1. Environmental:

  • threatens an area at the epi-centre of 9 SSSIs and the Loddon and Everseley Heritage Area, is a SINC, and a C2 Designated Conservation Area AND is protected by EU habitats and Fisheries directives

  • would destroy an area recognized globally for its unique biodiversity and wide range of habitats including one of the few north flowing chalk streams remaining in Britain

  • ignores guidance from recognised authorities including The Environmental Agency and The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Trusts as the area is part of a UK Biodiversity Action Plan and EA Groundwater Protection Zone

  • will result in further breaches to EU directives relating to water & sewage

  • contradicts at least 14 established planning policies

  • contravenes PPS 25 as the area is a designated flood risk zone

  • denigrates a community that contains sites of national historic importance including SAMs and National Heritage Sites

  • Would have a severe and detrimental impact on the built and natural heritage of Old Basing and the Loddon Valley

  • ignores the most recent recommendation from the national Planning Inspector which states “development of these sites would result in a significant loss of rural character and result in an adverse impact and harm which would not be easily offset”.
     

  1. Economic & Community Well-being:

  • dwarfs existing residential communities as it will create a housing estate that is 300% larger than Old Basing, the village it will be adjacent to.

  • Has no funding or ring-fenced resources available to develop the transport, utility, education & health infrastructure needed to support a community of this size.

  • provides housing numbers far in excess of all estimates of demand to support the local economy. In fact, the development represents the equivalent of 15 years of housing stock for the local Borough….built all in one place.

  • will put out of business large scale tenant farming operations that are sustainable both financially and environmentally and makes a much needed contribution to the region’s food chain.

  • has been planned in a vacuum, contrary to the guidance CC28 of the Charity Commission on ‘Sale, Lease & Transfer of Charity Land’. Prior to the meeting with Chris Ham, which was initiated by SOLVE, neither The Kings Fund nor Taylor Wimpey have made any effort to engage directly with the community and residents that will be impacted by the planned development. Had any attempt been made to do so, it would have been apparent that the majority of residents are against the plan. In fact, over 50% (2,500+) of residents having signed a petition against this plan and are actively engaged in the SOLVE campaign. The Kings Fund is acting against the wishes of not only the local residents but also their democratically elected representatives including Maria Miller MP and cross-party support from local Councillors.

It is also worth noting that the terms of the option agreement and consequences of the development conflict directly with the value and objectives of The Kings Fund including a commitment to:

  • “work for better health” and engage in projects that will “promote and/or enable good health”.

  • “not work for any organisation that is associated with tobacco” – Taylor Wimpey builds cigarette factories among other commercial relationships with tobacco companies.

  • “be transparent in its relationships with other organisations…and the nature of those relationships” – to date we have not been given access to the option agreement.


Conclusion & Recommendation.

We appreciate that The Kings Fund has a need to manage its endowments and investments appropriately. We also recognise the need to build residential communities to support economic and social demands. However, at the time the option agreement was signed with Taylor Wimpey, The Kings Fund was facing a very different economic outlook. In addition, it is not clear that Trustees or Executives at the time conducted a thorough consultation on the devastating impact any development would have on the environment and rural heritage, let alone the economic and rural lifestyle of the communities.

Today, the economic need to sell the asset is no longer pressing. The negative impact of the development is clear and incontestable.

Trustees and Executives may choose to hide behind the legal protection of the option agreement blaming a previous administration and claim their hands are tied.

However, we believe Trustees have a fiduciary and moral obligation to instruct Executives to convene a small team, led by a Trustee, to work in a transparent and constructive relationship with SOLVE to review the option agreement and explore ways to annul the agreement.

We look forward to hearing the results of your deliberations and stand willing to answer questions at any time.

 

Thank you.

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Down load the original document: Kings Fund Trustee Briefing Nov 2010.

 

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