Social Cohesion and Well-being
To improve quality of life, social cohesion and well-being for our community, through positive action to retain local services and community amenities and, where suitable opportunities arise, improve them to meet parishioners’ needs.
The NPPF emphasises the role of neighbourhood planning in facilitating social interaction and creating healthy, inclusive communities. Section 8 of the NPPF, in particular, provides that planning policies and decisions should aim to achieve places which promote opportunities for meetings between members of the community who might not otherwise come into contact with each other, including through strong neighbourhood centres which bring together those who work, live and play in the vicinity; and safe and accessible environments and developments which do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion – and which encourage the active and continual use of public areas.
The development of this Plan has been driven by the desire to enrich the overall quality of life and well-being of the people who live and work in Wymondley Parish; and of visitors. The policies it contains have therefore been developed with the overarching aim of protecting and enhancing the aspects of parish life which are fundamentally valuable to people, and addressing those which detrimentally affect their quality of life or threaten to undermine our community.
This particular section of the Plan covers some of the features of life in the Parish which encourage social cohesion, and what could be done in future to offer further opportunities for social interaction and to help create a healthy, inclusive community
Improving health, well-being and social cohesion
Wymondley is a relatively small, but very busy, community whose members are involved in a varied mix of recreational activities and interests. As a rural Parish, we are fortunate to have easy access to the surrounding countryside, which enables parishioners and visitors alike to enjoy the benefits it brings in terms of associated leisure activities, not least their positive impact on fitness levels and well-being.
Field sports such as shooting and ferreting occur in and around the Parish and, (as mentioned in Section 6 of this Plan), our natural environment is also home to several rare and protected species of flora and fauna, which encourages more benevolent activities involving wildlife such as botany, bird watching and butterfly spotting. (Several parishioners are actively involved in the Herts Natural History Society and have recorded local sightings of protected species such as polecats, pipistrelle bats and red kites.)
The Parish chapel/churches actively encourage community interaction. In addition to their religious services, they offer a variety of secular opportunities for community engagement, such as plant sales, bring and buy events, bell-ringing, lunch, gardening and other clubs; and various meetings. There is also an annual Christmas Nativity Procession from Wymondley JMI School to St Mary the Virgin in Little Wymondley, via the Baptist Chapel, which incorporates carol singing at various points en route, a nativity scene at the Buck’s Head, ending with a carol service at St Mary’s.
As mentioned in Section 14 of this Plan, the public houses in the Parish, (most of which are dog-friendly), are the hub of our community and undoubtedly play a key role in encouraging community cohesion in a variety of ways.
Sporting activities are a key feature of life in the Parish, and Petanque is a sport which is very popular with all age groups. Our teams have been very successful at local and national level, and have produced international players. The Plume of Feathers in Little Wymondley actively supports three Petanque teams and the Parish’s football team via sponsorship and post-match refreshments; together with a darts team. (A “Past v Present” charity football match is currently being planned.)
The Bucks Head hosts further Petanque teams; and is the regular venue for meetings of a number of motorcycle and classic car owners’ clubs.
Aside from sport related activities, the public houses actively encourage and participate in community activities, both recreational and social, (as do the churches/chapel). They and the other dining establishments in the Parish offer a wide range of dining options, from bar snacks and set lunch menus to wild food gourmet nights.
There are regular beer festivals and themed nights throughout the year; and they also support local singers/bands, (and traditional entertainers such as Morris dancers), by regularly providing buskers’ evenings, gigs and a warm welcome.
Policy SCW1: We will encourage, support and promote initiatives aimed at improving health, well-being and social cohesion within our community; particularly those which make best use of our current amenities, public spaces and recreational facilities.
Retaining and improving local services and community amenities
The generous and welcoming community spirit within the Wymondley Parish is supported and nurtured by regular, on-going social and recreational activities, which are inclusive by nature to parishioners and visitors alike. These make full use of our existing parish amenities, which include allotments and other green spaces (see Section 9). Great Wymondley comprises a church, village hall, recreation field with children’s play area and space for sports area; and the Green Man public house. In Little Wymondley there is a school, church, chapel, non-food shop, tennis courts, Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), recreation field, children’s play area and two public houses – the Buck’s Head and Plume of Feathers.
The following maps give an overview of the Parish settlements and an indication of their amenities
Map of Great Wymondley, showing the Green Man P.H. (The village hall is on the left opposite the cottages. The recreation ground is in the top right hand corner.)
Map of Great Wymondley, showing the Green Man P.H., Wymondley Woods and the Scout Hut
Little Wymondley shown within the Green Belt, and with amenities
Titmore Green has the Hermit of Redcoats public house; and Redcoats Green contains the Redcoats Farmhouse Hotel and restaurant. Other hotels in the vicinity include the Needham House Hotel (a conference and wedding venue, with brasserie, gymnasium and spa) in Little Wymondley; and The Priory Barn, also in Little Wymondley, which is a popular and picturesque celebratory venue for weddings etc. :
Map showing the Parish hamlets and their amenities
The NPPF promotes the retention and development in villages of local services and community facilities, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship. In devising our Neighbourhood Plan we have specifically explored possibilities for increasing amenities to compliment and expand existing parish activities, and for ensuring that current amenities are protected against the unintended consequences of proposals put forward in relation to other major issues. We do not wish to see the fabric of the community destroyed by inappropriate, large-scale developments, which negatively impact on integration and community cohesion.
Sadly, the Parish has lost some of its amenities over the years, i.e. a village shop, sub-Post Office and two petrol stations, mainly due to the arrival of the Sainsbury’s store at nearby Corey’s Mill. We have tentatively considered the potential for re-instating a village shop, however, as this has proved to be financially unviable in the past, further work needs to be done to establish demand and discover a suitable/available location.
As far as formal community centres are concerned, although facilities at the Baptist Chapel, School and public houses in Little Wymondley are utilised for community activities and meetings, there is only one purpose built village hall in the Parish. Situated in Great Wymondley, it can be hired for functions and is used by the community for social gatherings such as coffee morning’s, children’s parties etc. The Ramrugge Clog Morris dancers and local table tennis club also meet there.
Feedback from our survey results indicated a demand for a similar facility in Little Wymondley, to help increase social cohesion. As with the village shop, exploratory work needs to be undertaken in relation to demand and potential location.
Gardening is a keen interest of many of our parishioners, confirmed by the existence of a gardening club, and the fact that long-standing garden plots (allotments) in both Great and Little Wymondley are regularly and enthusiastically used - with plot holders forming their own informal community, based on common interest and applying to the National Allotment Society (National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd.) for associate membership. We wish to secure these amenities permanently for residents, and will take steps to do so. (See Section 9 for further details, and related policies.)
Encouraging active and continual use of public areas
It is clear from the responses to our parish survey, that our green spaces and recreational facilities are an essential factor in improving the health and well-being of the Parish, and enabling social cohesion. We value them, along with our other existing amenities, and want to ensure they are maintained and upgraded where possible, to encourage their greater and continuing use.
Great and Little Wymondley host annual village gatherings that are well attended by local residents and by people from the neighbouring towns. The Great Wymondley Fete (which has run for over 40 years) is held on Church Green; and the Little Wymondley Fun Day is held on the Siccut Road green. In recent years, the latter green was enhanced by the addition of a boat made from recycled material, for use as a children’s play area; and a nearby bench.
Both Great and Little Wymondley have playing fields for use by the community. Additionally, Wymondley Woods is a popular exercise and recreation spot for families, dog walkers, ramblers etc; and there is also a Scout Camp there. Other parish green spaces, footpaths, bridleways and local lanes are similarly used by cyclists, runners and dog walkers, as well as a number of walkers/ ramblers groups, and we are keen to support measures that will encourage greater use of these “green routes” to improve movement and interaction between Parish settlements. (Sections 9 and 10 of this Plan cover related issues.)
We maintain, and progressively enhance, the recreational facilities in Wymondley Parish, so that they remain fit for purpose and meet parishioners’ requirements. Most recently, as part of that process, a new purpose-built changing facility was built on the Queen Elizabeth II Playing Field in 2015, for use by local football teams and officials – replacing the container that had previously been utilised. (There are two football pitches with team's playing on Saturday, and the possibility of a Sunday team being explored.) Consideration is also being given to re-establishing the Great Wymondley cricket pitch on the recreation ground there.
The Little Wymondley playing fields also provide a Multi Use Games Area (MUGA), suitable for adults or older children to play five-a-side football or basketball. There are adjacent tennis courts, which Wymondley Tennis Club leases from the Parish Council; and a young children’s playground equipped with swings, slide, climbing frame etc. (the land having been bequeathed to the village for use by its children).
When asked whether they would like to see additional or improved recreation areas for the children of the Parish, 58% of our survey respondents said they would. We have therefore considered how best to satisfy that demand, and our proposals for additional facilities are outlined in Section 16, together with the rationale behind them.
Policy SCW2: We will take action to ensure that our amenities, public spaces and recreational facilities are regularly maintained and upgraded; and seek to extend and enhance them when suitable opportunities arise.