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The Shoe, Mere


The Secretary of the Development Committee, Richard Deane,  reported that a current application sought to render a house in the Mere conservation area, but gave no information whatsoever on the proposal. There was no indication what the house looked like, or what its walls were currently. He had had to go to Mere to find out what the implications of the application were, and discovered that the house was in the local Mere stone, and that it had a prominent location on the edge of the conservation area. Rendering it would be highly damaging to conservation area character, in which the use of Mere stone was a crucial element. He had contacted Jocelyn Sage, the conservation officer covering Mere, and found that she had not been consulted on the proposal, though the council system recorded her as having been. He had sent her photos of the house, and following her involvement with the case the application had now been withdrawn, though she suspected this was just to allow for another one to be submitted, with some tenuous justification added. She had thought it would still be worth him objecting to the withdrawn proposal, and he had drafted a letter, which combined an objection to the rendering with one to the fact that the council had accepted an application with virtually no useful information, for a property in a conservation area. It also made suggestions as to how the poor condition of some of the stonework, which presumably lay behind the rendering idea, could be dealt with without needing to cover it all up. On top of the failure of Wiltshire Council to ask for a decent application, for some reason Mere town council was actively supporting the proposal.

The Secretary felt it was worth reporting this case, because until he had contacted Jocelyn she had been unaware of the application, though it was possible the case officer would have eventually checked with her to see how she felt about it, and she had found the information he had sent her very useful. It was seldom possible to identify cases where Society involvement had clearly made a difference, and this might well be one. Members agreed that the Society input in this case certainly appeared to have been very positive.