Conversion of Middleham Methodist chapel into affordable homes discussed by councillors

Middleham Market Place.

The possible conversion of the Methodist chapel at Middleham into two affordable homes for local people was discussed at the January meeting of Middleham Town Council.

Richmondshire District Council’s rural housing enabler, Amanda Madden, and the administrator of the North Yorkshire Dales Methodist Circuit, Julie Greenslade, attended the meeting. They said that lessons were being learnt from the conversion of the redundant chapel at Bainbridge.

Mrs Madden reported that a housing needs study had indicated that Middleham  required 12 affordable units of two to three bedroom homes. It was possible that two three-bedroom homes could be created in the old chapel.

The outline scheme, the town council was told, would involve the demolition of the reading room which would also improve visibility on the corner.

The council welcomed the possibility of such a project and said the community was likely to support it.

G5 network. – Middleham resident Dr Diane Green told the councillors that there were concerns about the possible risks to human health and the environment arising from the installation of G5.

Dr Green recommended a precautionary approach should be adopted until there was conclusive proof that the technology was safe. She noted that certain cities in Europe were not rolling out G5 because of these worries.

North Yorkshire County councillor Karin Sedgwick confirmed that the county council was aware of these issues. North Yorkshire County Council has applied for a grant to fund the early installation of G5 in the Dales.

She said she would forward communications from the county council’s executive member responsible for broadband and mobile phones and a paper being prepared by its director of public health.

The councillors agreed to study this issue further and form its own opinion before possibly lobbying the county council on the issue.

Burial ground. – The clerk reported that he had met the architect on site and the draft burial plans were reviewed. He would now finalise the planning application and other matters.

As it was possible that the burial ground could be opened during the current year it was agreed to join the Institute of Cemeteries and Crematorium Management so as to receive guidance and advice.

Richard III event. –  Cllr Honor Byford reported that a small Richard III event organised by English Heritage will be held at the castle in July.

She will attend another meeting of the organising committee meeting for the 2021 The Lord of the North Festival. This is chaired by the Rev Payne and attended by representatives of various Ricardian groups.

Playing field. –  It was reported that the cricket ground has been selected for matches in an international “golden oldies” tournament in the summer.

Councillors Nigel Hopper and Simon Wheeler reported that funding the Middleham Sports and Community Wellbeing Association had received from a local resident would provide a potting shed.

Road safety. – The councillors discussed the recent collision between a horse and a van on East Witton Road in which the former was killed.

Although the van driver had not been at fault in any way councillors questioned whether improved road signs were required as the access to the stables was approached over a brow and close to a bend.

Cllr Byford reported that the maintenance plan proposal put forward by the Middleham Safer Roads project would be considered at the county council’s meeting in March.

She said she was finalising the annual renewal of the council’s application to close Middleham roads during festivals and other events.

Spring clean. – The annual spring clean will be held on Saturday April 4 prior to the Stables Open Day. It was suggested that volunteers might be found to paint the playground equipment that day.

Planning. – After studying the amended plans for the proposed alterations and extensions in association with the creation of a Centre for People of the Horse Racing Industry at Hill House and West Hill House the councillors felt there were no material considerations to object to.

They believed that positive steps had been taken to minimise impact upon surrounding properties.

Plantations. – The council agreed to authorise spending up to £500 of additional fees so that hedges and any other growth encroaching on the roadways at the Plantations could be cut back.

The clerk and Cllrs Gregory Fortune and Hopper had walked around the Plantations with the new contractor and his team to agree on the standard of work expected.

Key Centre. – The annual accounts of Middleham Key Centre showed that it was in a satisfactory financial position.

The council agreed that it would benefit from greater participation by younger people and so would assist with trying to find more potential volunteers who might potentially join the board of trustees.

Next meeting. –  Is at the Key Centre at 7pm on Wednesday February 26.