Hills & Hollows History to Date
Hills & Hollows
What is it?
It is 7.62 acres of land split into two distinctly separate parts one wooded, one open grassland with small clumps of bushes. The majority of this is within the Londonthorpe & Harrowby Without parish.
It is believed that the actual Hills and Hollows [the wooded area] started out as a farm quarry in the 1800s, there is strong evidence that there were farm buildings built from this stone. These have since been demolished [1960s?] The walls around one of the fields are of the same stone. The quarry looks as though it was never intended to be a commercial concern but for use on the farm only.
When the quarrying ceased it appears that it was used as an area to dump landfill soil etc from the farm. We understand that Aveling Barford used it a as testing ground for some of their machines. Over many years the area then became wild!
This has remained the case since, except for the defined Rights of Way Footpath [No.8] that goes through it and some other well-worn footpaths that go off in slightly different directions. The southern boundary also has a Rights of Way [No.9] on it although this is outside the Hills & Hollows.
A problem over the last few years has been illegal use of the area by youngsters on motorcycles etc. The police have caught and confiscated many bikes in that time. The use of these motorcycles has been seen to damage the wildlife habitat.
There was a study undertaken by some of the local residents that use the area, this proved the existence of well over a hundred species of wildlife in the area. Included in those are bats, deer, rabbits, hares, hedgehogs, owls, sparrow hawks, woodpeckers, nightingales etc.
The history connected with this goes back many years, the Rights of Way Footpath [No.9] was the main route for pedestrians from Harrowby and villages beyond into Grantham. Older residents of the area remember walking this way with their parents. Many also remember the area as a meeting place for courting couples.
The areas paths connect with Gorse Lawn [No.9] and Beacon Lane [No.11]; both are within the town boundary and continuations of the Rights of Way footpath [No. 8]
What Happened Next?
In early May 2010, the Parish Council were informed of the fact that the land was for sale as a BMX/Motorcross site!
This caused uproar amongst residents many asking what could be done. Representation was made immediately to SKDC and Vantageland [Agents] by the Parish Council and residents; they were informed of our displeasure at the land being wrongly described in their literature.
Throughout the month of May further enquires were made of SKDC and LCC depts. This became more important as the Freemen Society descended for a weekend camping at the old farmyard, stating an intention to buy the land and build subterranean homes without any planning permission. Cllr N Craft contacted the relevant officers at SKDC to see what could be done! [Nothing could be done until such time as a planning application was received]
Mid-June a resident’s group was formed, made up of people who would be affected from the development/sale of the land if it went ahead and was to be used for either of the previous mentioned functions. The Clerk was invited to join them and duly did so.
July the item was discussed at the Parish Council meeting where the idea to buy was muted, it was agreed that the council would like to purchase but we could not fund such a project from the precept as at £35k as this was 150% of our annual precept. The idea of getting grants was raised but agreed that there would be insufficient time to get together the relevant funds.
The Clerk was instructed to see if there was any way that the area could obtained by the council.
In July the Clerk raised the subject at the Grantham Forum with very little support given from the meeting.
In August the Clerk attended Grantham Town Planning Forum and spoke with a councillor who told him things were afoot but could not say more at that time.
Mid August the Clerk was approached by Paul Stokes of SKDC who had been tasked to see if there was a way for SKDC to help to purchase the Hills & Hollows for Londonthorpe & Harrowby Without Parish Council. The price that the vendors had agreed with SKDC was £22860. He was asked if the Parish Council would be prepared to take on ownership and run as a Country Park if the bid was successful. SKDC would not continue if the PC were not interested. The Clerk stated that he was sure that the PC would be keen to do this. The PC Chair and Chair of the Outdoor and Leisure Committee were informed.
7th September Paul Stokes of SKDC rang to say that they were prepared to go ahead and buy the land on behalf of the PC. The Clerk reiterated the fact that he believed that we were unable to borrow money so this would not be possible. The Clerk to make sure of our position contacted LALC, who outlined the possible alternatives. It was discovered that we could borrow money if it is more than £5 per head of the electorate otherwise it must come from the precept. A loan of this type can only be done with the permission of the Secretary of State via LALC. The Clerk was advised to not make an offer to pay but to quote “Power of Well Being” SKDC were hoping that we would want to purchase, it was again reiterated that we could not buy without borrowing.
The Parish Council meeting of the 8th September 2010 discussed in detail the idea of purchase; all were in total agreement to investigate every possible option to obtain the ownership to save it for future generations. The Clerk was instructed to investigate the best way to fund it. A meeting was arranged for the Clerk, Chair and Vice Chair to meet up with Richard Wyles the Finance Director of SKDC, Cllr. M Taylor and Paul Stokes to discuss a way forward. Those meetings with SKDC confirmed that they would be prepared to lend us the money.
Ringroselaw were instructed to act for us in December and an offer was made to agents Vantageland of £22860 which was accepted. SKDC agreed a 10-year mortgage. Over the coming months many things delayed the final purchase, there were some items within the contract that the Parish Council could not accept; these were removed.
The land passed into the hands of the Council on 29th July2011. The work then started to secure the boundaries, form a committee, form working parties etc.
The Woodland Trust had already come on board and supplied trees and hedging at a greatly reduced cost; a joint working party with some of their employees and our volunteers was organised for December 2011 for the original tree planting. Over eighty people attended including members of the local Army Cadet Force.
Why was it important?
The Parish Council were keen to keep open all Rights of Way [in 2008 a Walking Group was formed to ensure all are logged as used].
To ensure the retention of the area as wildlife habitat.
To stop the threat of it being used as a Motorsport centre.
It fits into the environmental ideal of the PC. Parishioners had requested that something be done to save it.
In future years as Grantham grows this could be the Greenbelt to the town.
The PC included a covenant to ensure the land can never be built on.
Updates since then.
Since these initial efforts, the area has had over 1500 trees planted with a strong hedgerow now growing along its boundaries. All the trees planted are native British species.
2012 The Hills and the Hollows were then fenced off to try and protect the endangered species growing within the area.
A Memorial Area was formed just inside the fenced off area where parishioners could plant a tree in memory of a loved one. This has now filled up and further trees are being planted amongst the areas outside of the Hollows. These are all done by giving a donation towards the cost of the tree.
2013 We have been lucky to also have received two benches as donations. These along with a further bench and the picnic bench supplied by the Parish Council make this a pleasant place to rest and admire the magnificent views.
Along with these benches the council erected information lecterns in three separate areas explaining what can be found in the nearby plot of land.
Today the area is maintained by volunteers of the parish and local area and led by the Parish Council Clerk Pete Armstrong.
Our Community Cleaner Tony Parker is a regular volunteer up there and keeps the hedges looking shipshape.
Today the area is widely used by walkers both with and without dogs.
Regular working parties are held there too plant and maintain the trees that we have planted. New volunteers are always welcome, please contact the Clerk for details.