As our AGM approaches this month, I should say something about the various activities of Bourne Preservation Society (BPS).
I explained in my first article that BPS was set up in 2008 in response to the public outcry at the extraordinary and philistine decision taken by Bourne Town Council in 2007 that would have resulted in the demolition of the Chapel of Rest, one of our finest buildings. I also explained that we have spent a lot of time and effort since then working to save the building. But the objects of BPS are now very much wider than one mission. It was quickly seen that a great deal needed to be done to preserve what is good about Bourne’s built environment in the face of a tide of increasing pressures facing the town, like all traditional market towns – overdevelopment, too much reliance on cars, changing shopping habits and the resultant deterioration of town centres. Specifically, there are other ‘landmark’ buildings such as the Old Grammar School and Wake House that also need attention, and in order to accommodate these individual building preservation projects, we set up Bourne Preservation Trust (BPT). This is not a membership organisation like BPS but a building preservation trust, and a registered charity. Registration of BPT as a charity was an important milestone, as it gave us the necessary status for raising funds and carrying out projects in a credible way. The setting up of BPT in no way replaced Bourne Preservation Society, your membership body, which remains the umbrella organisation, with wider powers than BPT.
Bourne Preservation Society is dedicated to the amenity of Bourne in general, and making the town a better place in which to live and work, and of course to visit. It works with Bourne Town Council, and in close and productive co-operation with South Kesteven District Council (SKDC), the planning authority, and Lincolnshire County Council, to assist these organisations in their duties to the people of Bourne, and the conservation of historic Bourne, and also to monitor new developments to try to ensure that they are appropriate in design and scale, and not too damaging to our environment.
We are working closely with SKDC, with particular emphasis on the Bourne Conservation Area. In conjunction with the decision to extend the conservation area along North Road and West Road, SKDC kindly distributed our Bourne Conservation Area Guidance Leaflet to all residents and businesses within the now extended area. Our leaflet tries to explain what it means to be in a conservation area, what responsibilities it brings with it, and what benefits it confers on us all, if the simple rules and guidance are observed. The leaflet is freely available on the SKDC website. We will come back to the conservation area, SKDC’s updated Conservation Area Appraisal and our leaflet and what they are trying to achieve, in a future article.
Another way we co-operate with SKDC is through the medium of our Bourne Condition Report. We walk round the whole of the conservation area each year, having a look at its buildings and open spaces and their condition. SKDC have kindly expressed their thanks to our committee for the work we do on that, and their appreciation of our support, and indeed they have described our report as ‘key’ in terms of the management of the conservation area.
But our brief is not confined to the conservation area and we are also increasingly getting involved in looking at planning applications both within and outside the area. We believe it is in the interests both of developers and our town that there is dialogue rather than acrimony about development proposals. Consultation can only be beneficial. We hope to get more involved with developers at an early stage on behalf of our members. Input into proposals at the conceptual stage before plans have been drawn up in detail is not just important for the amenity of Bourne but helpful to developers, who have little to lose by putting their plans and designs more in conformity with the wishes of local residents and businesses. It makes sense for everyone.
As many of you know, we have nights for our members on the third Monday of every month, at which guest speakers give us talks on a whole variety of subjects, and these meetings give our members, and of course anyone else who cares to come along, a chance to meet our committee and express their views. Recent talks have featured such diverse topics as Bourne’s Railway History, Holbeach Cemetery Chapel and Princess Gwenllian at Sempringham Abbey. And as I have said before, we need new members to help us with our work, so please get in touch.
We participate in local events to raise funds for our organisation – for example, we will be providing refreshments at a vintage car event in Market Deeping this year, as we did at last year’s Heritage Open Day at Dowsby Hall. Heritage Open Days have now become the single biggest popular cultural event in Britain since they were introduced by the Civic Trust back in 1994, with over a million visits and over 40,000 volunteers now involved each year, and we were pleased to play our part.
Last but not least, we sponsor, plant, and maintain square pavement planters in West Street. We ran a campaign to persuade Bourne Town Council to recognise the organisations that brighten the town centre with these planters by putting acknowledgment signs on them, which they eventually agreed to do.