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Welcome to Highfield, a charming, leafy suburb of Southampton. Highfield is set in the middle of the University belt, steeped in academia, and flanked by Southampton Common on one side, and Portswood on the other.

The Highfield Residents’ Association is an active group of local residents and their families who seek to protect and preserve their environment and support their neighbours. We always welcome new members. You can join by clicking on the “Join us” leaf above and paying the annual subscription of £5.00.

If you wish to contact the HRA Secretary, you can email her on: jill.baston6@gmail.com. Alternatively, just click on the ‘Contact Us’ leaf above.

For HRA Newsletters, Committee Members, Agendas, Minutes, Blogs, the Constitution and other Local & National Residents Associations, see below.

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HRA Chair’s Meeting Report of the HRA Committee Meeting of Monday 8th May 2017

  • We were updated on the progress of the newly formed Common Forum, the next meeting of which is on Tuesday 4th July at Richard Tauntons College.
  • Simon Hill gave an assessment of the latest situation on the Little Common. The newly agreed Management Plan is once again being undermined and usurped by certain Council Staff working to their own agenda. Simon and John Bradshaw will liaise on a letter outlining our concerns, intended as a marker for any future correspondence.
  • Jon Walsh from the University gave an update on current activities including the University’s successful Bond launch raising some £300 million.
  • Dan Varley of Student Engagement outlined the Union’s summer scheme for picking up large furniture items from student houses when they leave. Details will be posted on the website.
  • The issue of Student noise was acknowledged by both Jon and Dan who emphasised their efforts to mitigate public noise and nuisance. It was generally agreed this was much improved over recent years.  Phone numbers are available for residents to register complaints, to the council initially who will then contact the University if students are involved.  Out of hours 023 8023 3344, otherwise 023 8083 251.
  • Our Treasurer, Mark Batchelor, cannot be with us because of family illness. They are in our thoughts, and we wish them well. We are fortunate that Headley Rossell has agreed to assist.
  • An update was given on the progress of the Judicial Review on 12 Russell Place. The Council has lodged its defence and applied for an initial Oral Hearing.  We await notification of a date and members can attend if they wish.
  • There was some discussion of the application on the Blockbusters site. HRA felt there were insufficient grounds for objection but a number of residents wish to individually object. The application on the Lloyds Bank site has been withdrawn following discussion with the Planning department. It may reappear with amendments.

Jerry Gillen, Vice Chair

HRA 41st AGM – Thursday 20th April 2017

Chair’s Report

I am once again pleased to present my Chair’s report on the work of the Association over the past year.

Let me start by thanking the HRA Committee for their hard work and support during the year. Also a big ‘thank you’ to our Examiner, Olliver Dicker, and to our excellent Street Reps. I should next like to express our appreciation for the advice and help we have received from our Ward Councillors during the year: Matthew Claisse, Linda Norris, Paul O’Neill and John Savage. We also greatly value the help and advice of our local police officers although we also understand the very clear resource constraints that they, and indeed other key public services, operate under (something I shall be saying a little more about later). Finally, we also appreciate the better liaison with the University this year, as well as with the Students Union, whose efforts to encourage students to be good local citizens we have greatly appreciated. We are very pleased to welcome senior representatives of the Council, the police and the university here this evening.

This time last year I indicated that if reappointed I would step down as HRA Chair this year, and this remains my intention. So as well as giving an account of the Association’s work during the year I should also like to say a few words at the end about HRA and its future. This means that my Chair’s report will be slightly longer than usual. It will also differ a bit from that printed in the Newsletter. It will of course be appended to the minutes of this meeting.

There has been no single, dominating issue this year, but a very wide range of matters, mostly concerning the local environment, have occupied us. Since there is plenty of information on the website, I will give only the main points.

As always, we have spent a good deal of time on planning issues. Earlier in the year we were delighted at the dismissal of the landlord’s appeal at 38 Grosvenor Road, and especially at the Inspector’s remarks about preserving the character of the area and the Supplementary Planning Document – the SPD – constraining the development of new HMOs. We were also pleased at a similar outcome at 14 Westwood Road. But we have been disappointed with the difficulties we have experienced in liaising with the Council’s planning team, and actually horrified at some of the officers’ recommendations on individual applications, and in some cases the Planning Panel’s subsequent decisions. This explains the Committee’s decision to challenge the Council’s approval of the application at 12 Russell Place through an application for judicial review. This was not a decision taken lightly, but we simply could not accept the Council’s wholesale disregard for its own policies – including the protection of Conservation Areas – that this decision represented. We are very grateful for the support that we have received from members on this issue, particularly from Portswood Residents Gardens. I am also sorry to have to report that in spite of considerable efforts on our part, the Council’s Solicitor, Richard Ivory, declined to share with us the Council’s legal advice on 1 Salisbury Road, or to explain his reasons. I regard both the lack of transparency and the lack of courtesy as highly regrettable, especially as they cannot be put down to lack of resources. We were however pleased with many of the changes to the SPD (Supplementary Planning Document), although our longstanding demand for a 10% limit on HMOs ward by ward remains unsatisfied.

In addition to the usual run of planning applications, two specific environmental issues have taken up quite a lot of our time.

The first is the Common. HRA continues to support the work of Simon Hill and Common Sense in trying to restore the appearance of the Little Common back closer to what it was before parts of it became so overgrown. We have expressed our concerns about various aspects of the management and maintenance of the Common, where there still appears to be a reluctance in some parts of the Council to accept the plan agreed by them some years ago to gradually restore the Little Common closer to its original and more open appearance. These concerns embrace ones relating to the three improvement projects submitted last year by our Ward Councillors under the Council’s Minor Projects programme, including the clearance of the old carriage drive to return it to grassland. I am sure that everyone here will agree that this makes the whole area much more attractive without in any way detracting from the wildlife. More generally, I attach great importance to maintaining the current character of the Common, hence in part our objection to the University’s application to modernise the Steps from the Highfield Campus on to the Common.

It was partly for this reason that in partnership with SCAPPs, HRA took the lead in establishing the Southampton Common Forum, which will provide a focal point for attempts to enhance the Common, and whose Chair, Adam Wheeler, is with us this evening. HRA is a member of the new Forum, but I also urge all those here with an interest in the Common to join as well. One of the Forum’s first projects will be to consider with the City Council future options for the Hawthorns Education Centre and Café. We shall be holding two workshops on this at the Centre on the 2nd and 4th of May, details will be on the new website www.southamptoncommonforum.org. I shall continue to represent HRA on the Forum’s new Management Committee.

Second, there are growing concerns about the local environment more generally, especially in and around Portswood Broadway.

As those of you who follow our affairs on the website will know, we have been much concerned this year about the flagrantly anti-social activities of a local resident who feeds rats and other vermin in industrial quantities in our area and beyond. He has been served with a Community Protection Order but this has so far had only a limited effect on his activities. I should like to commend Steven Johnston of the HRA Committee and Stephen Hayes-Arter of the City Council for their tireless efforts here. However this is only one of a number of concerns that have been raised with the Council and the police, others being vagrants outside Coffee#1, instances of begging, parking and cycling on pavements and, most recently, the opening of an Arthur Daley-like secondhand car business outside the former Blockbusters video store.

Mention of the website leads me once again to commend Nadine Johnson and Ross Gordon for all their hard work on our behalf. Nadine has also to be thanked and congratulated for promoting advertising on the website and also for obtaining discounts from a number of local traders for HRA members, discounts that very quickly offset the cost of your subscription. This in turn takes us to finance. I warned last year that our finances were coming under pressure and we subsequently increased the subscription to £5, once again more than surpassed by voluntary donations. If we are to be effective as an association, we have to be able to draw on the best possible professional, including legal, advice, and the costs of such advice are increasing all the time. There is no immediate crisis but we shall have to keep things under close review, and certainly make special calls for particular activities (as with 12 Russell Place). It is partly for financial reasons that this year’s printed Newsletter, so ably edited by Caroline Knight for so many years, may be the last.

I said at the start of this report that I would say a few words about HRA and its future. These are based on my having been Chair for the last four-and-a-half years, and Chair of OTRA for seven years before that. The Association is now the largest and strongest residents’ association in the City. In so far as any such voluntary body can exert influence over the decisions of such bodies as the City Council, the University and major commercial entities, HRA does so. This reflects many years of tireless endeavour by successive officers of the Association, especially Jerry Gillen the Vice Chair. However we remain heavily dependent on the commitment and efforts of a very small number of people. Moreover, most of them are beyond retirement age and have many other commitments as well.

Unless and until we are able to get some new blood into the Association, I do not believe that we can continue to be as effective as we have been in representing your interests and those of the local community more widely. This would obviously be a great pity, not only for Highfield and Portswood but for the City as a whole, but I see it as being almost inevitable on present information. Ladies and gentlemen, it is up to you! More generally, I do worry about what appears to be a virtual collapse of local governance as the resources available for local services continue to diminish. To comment on the reasons and the larger picture would go beyond the agenda for this meeting, but it is a considerable worry as we go forward.

Finally, there is the difficult question of how the Association can or should balance the views of the great majority with those of a minority. Clearly, we should make every effort to obtain a consensus on major issues, but it isn’t clear how we should proceed in cases where a small minority takes a different view and canvasses it more widely to the potential detriment of the majority. In other words, how – and how far – should we aim to balance the position of a small group against the interests of the area as a whole?

Let me conclude by saying how much I have enjoyed the support of the Committee, the other officers, and the members of the Association over the past few years, how grateful I am to them, and how proud I am of what we have achieved in that time. Thank you, and thank you for listening to me this evening.

I am now very happy to answer any questions, although I may pass them on to others better able to handle them.

Roger Brown

HRA Chair’s Blog of the HRA Committee Meeting of Monday 13th March 2017

The HRA Committee met on 13th March. This is a summary of the main points. The approved minutes will appear on the website in due course.

The Committee welcomed Jon Walsh from the University of Southampton.

The minutes of the meeting on 13th February were approved.

Under Matters Arising, it was reported that answers had just been received from the City Council to the questions the Association had raised in its response on the Cycling Strategy consultation. These would be posted on the website. The Chair reported that the Management Committee of the new Southampton Common Forum had had its first meeting. They were working on criteria to guide the Council’s options appraisal and some workshops on possible improvements to the Hawthorns. A website was about to be established: http://www.southamptoncommonforum.org. The Forum would have its next meeting in June.

Under University Liaison, Jon Walsh gave a review of current events likely to be of interest to the community. Jon Sopel’s recent lecture had been a great success. As part of Science and Engineering Week there was an open day at the two main campuses on 18th March, details of which could be found at http://www.southampton.ac.uk/per/university/festival/science-and-engineering-day.page? Both the University and the city had received a lot of publicity around the naming of the underwater robot research vessel now officially named Boaty McBoatface which would be based at the Oceanographic Centre and would shortly be exploring waters in the sub-Arctic. In answer to a question, he said whilst there might be overprovision of dedicated private student accommodation in some other cities this was not yet the case in Southampton.

In discussion of the AGM, it was confirmed that there would be a speaker from the University to talk about the new Cancer Immunology Building. It was agreed we should seek speakers from the Council and the Police to talk about the local environment and especially Portswood Broadway.

Under Reports, it was noted that the finances might become critical but it was agreed to discuss this at the AGM. Nicolla Martin reported that current membership numbers were 508 (database), 374 (paid-up) and 74 (rolling). Under planning, it was reported that in accordance with the Committee’s decision at the last meeting the process of judicial review in relation to 12 Russell Place had been started; we should know the Council’s initial reaction by 22nd March. It was noted that it might be helpful who was behind the application concerning the Lloyds Bank building. Information about this and other applications that were of potential significance to the Association would continue to appear on the website. Finally, it was noted that the Newsletter would be published shortly.

Under AOB, Simon Hill circulated a draft updated Action Plan for the Little Common which reflected the recent work on the Carriage Drive which the Association had welcomed and endorsed. It was agreed to approve the plan subject to any comments received after it had been published on the website. Simon also tabled correspondence with the Council about repairs to the road surface in Highfield Road. This led on to a general discussion about the apparently lackadaisical attitude on the part of the Council to necessary repairs on well-used roads and routes, especially to remedial work carried out on behalf of utilities, Brookvale Road and the Avenue being other examples. It was agreed that we should write to the responsible Cabinet member with a copy to the head of Highways, with reference especially to the health and safety aspects. Finally, Jerry Gillen mentioned the meeting of the North Southampton Community Forum at the Sports Centre on 16th March at 7.30.

The meeting closed at 8.10 pm.

Roger Brown

 


  • Professor Roger Brown (left), Retiring HRA Chair and Professor Peter Johnson, Centre for Cancer Immunology, AGM 20/4/2017, (photo Alison Shelly).
  • The Common Ornamental Lake, courtesy of Simon Hill, Southampton Common Forum, Jan 2017
  • Christmas on Campus. Courtesy of Nadine Johnson, 02/12/16
  • Autumn colours in Crofton Close. Courtesy of Nadine Johnson, 08/11/16
  • Courtesy of Nuha Alsaeed, 14/10/16
    Highfield Campus ducks. Autumn is officially here!
  • Photo by Faye Spencer
    mallard ducks lined up in the sun on the Common, July 2016.
  • Photo by Alison Shelly, Sept/Oct 2016
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • HRA Summer Paella Party July 1st 2016!
  • Gill Morse - photo competition winner (2015)
    Leaving the Residents’ Gardens after playgroup in the Pavilion in 1984.
  • Roger Van Dyck - runner up in photo competition (2015)
    Uplands Housing Estate
  • Clare Jackson - Highly commended in 2015 photo competition
    Highfield Church
  • Roret Blue - Highly commended in photo competition (2015)
    A garden retreat in Highfield
  • Roret Blue - Highly commended in photo competition (2015)
    Sunrise over Highfield
  • Roret Blue - Highly commended in photo competition (2015)
    Portswood rec on a foggy day
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Highfield
  • Gill Morse (2015)
    Blenheim Avenue 1984: The Morse family having fun in the snow
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Residents Gardens
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Highfield
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Found in Highfield
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Found in Highfield
  • John Nightingale (2015)
    Found in Highfield
  • Photo by Dr Gil Dekel, 2015
    Found on Southampton Common
  • Photo by Dr Gil Dekel, 2015
    Southampton Common
  • Photo by Alison Leslie (2015)
    Rooftop view from Blenheim Gdns to Welbeck Ave - so green!
  • Photo by John Nightingale (2015)
    Residents Garden Pavilion
  • Photo by John Nightingale (2015)
  • Roret Blue - Highly commended in photo competition (2015)
    A community at work (Seven Roads Group)
  • Roret Blue - Highly commended in photo competition (2015)
    Sunset over Highfield (church spire on left)
  • Photos taken of Highfield from Highfield Church Spire, Autumn 2014
  • Photo by Simon Hill (2013/2014)
    Winter openness outside the University's Avenue Campus
  • Who needs the Serengeti?
    Heron on The Common, January 2014, Simon Hill
See all past photos in our Gallery page

 

 

 

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