Village Design Statement Group


The Group was formed in 1997 at the instigation of the Parish Council as an independent village group to research and prepare a VDS before gaining the local authority’s acceptance of it as supplementary planning information and then publishing it. Subsequently they have independently assessed local planning applications, submitting objective amendments or objections where they have considered these to be appropriate. They have also, on behalf of the Parish Council, conducted, with the assistance of the whole village, a survey from which they compiled an appraisal as the basis from which the Parish Plan was prepared. The Group provides an opportunity to contribute to the beneficial running of the village without the same level of exposure expected of a councillor. They meet when they need to, but most of their work is done outside of the meeting. This gives flexibility and allows people who cannot be tied down to a fixed routine to still make a very significant contribution. Most of them are of pensionable age but would particularly appreciate being subject to younger influence. 

A public meeting was held in the Methodist Chapel Hall on 27th January 2004 at 7.30pm in order to create a more formally constituted body and provide a more specific visible opportunity for interested villagers to join them. 

Village Surveys

The Village Design Statement Group have produced a Youth Survey (25KB) and a Transport Survey (1000KB) - a follow up from their earlier work regarding the Parish Plan. It is hoped by putting both documents on the village website (in November 2004) they will be readily available to villagers.

You will need the free Adobe Reader to read these files. Adobe Reader is free software that lets you view and print Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

News - Spring 2009

After being a very active Chairman since April 2001, John Underhill has decided to resign from this position to pursue his many other interests. As I’m sure you know – and if you’re a new resident, ask around - John has done a great deal for the village. Thank you, John!

At the recent AGM, I agreed to act as an interim Chair and David Phillips is remaining as Treasurer. The Group will now spend a few months deciding on the path it will now take.

We have reached a decisive time. Should we change our priorities? It would be a shame to lose this special voice for commenting on planning applications.

Val Galloway
(taken from Rollestonian article Spring 2009)

News - Winter 2008

The next AGM of the Village Design Statement group will be held in the Chapel school room on 20th of January 2009 at 7.30 pm. This is likely to be a very important meeting.

At recent AGMs there have been no nominations for either Chairman or Secretary. For two years we have operated with a “stand-in” Chairman doubling as Secretary and with a Minute Secretary and a Treasurer. The current chairman will not accept re-nomination at the next AGM. Considering this, it seems, at present unlikely that nominations for the chair or secretary will be made from within the group and therefore unless other villagers are prepared to join the group it is probable that the group will have to consider disbanding. This will be a loss to the village.

The group has been an important independent third voice, with the Parish Council and Civic Trust, commenting, relative to the Village Design Statement, on all planning issues affecting Rolleston.

In the preparation of the Design Statement and the Village Assessment, on which the Parish Plan was based, the group provided the community with unique opportunities for direct involvement in recording what it sees as the essential character of our village, and defining the concerns and aspirations we actually have for it. It is important that these documents are amended or a new vehicle created, with community involvement, to keep Parish and District Councils updated on the community¹s current wishes and it¹s own changing assessment of Rolleston.

If you believe there should be an independent group working in the village community, to provide this sort of information to local government, please come to the AGM on the 20th January and if you have friends, that feel the same, bring them too. The VDS group could either have a new beginning or may close.

John Underhill

News - Summer 2008

Rolleston¹s own “Design Statement” has, normally, been referred to as being important because it is formally recognised as supplementary planning information and indicates to planners and developers what the essential characteristics of the village are, which should be taken into account and where ever possible maintained in any development projects that are proposed. It is, however, important to all of us in that it reminds us of what we, as a village, have already identified as the basic overall aspects that give Rolleston the character we cherish. It identifies what we should give priority to defending.

A couple of years ago when the East Staffordshire Borough Council¹s (ESBC) last ten year plan was sealed and approved and included no major developments in the parish, we might have felt we could have left the VDS on the shelf for a few years - but that¹s all changed. The Borough now has to have a “Local Development Framework” document which is something like a rolling 10 year plan. All the land available for development, or for which approval to develop has been sought, must be reconsidered for the new document. This includes a number of sites in Rolleston including the Burton College's redundant playing fields.

It¹s very early days and approval to develop any of the proposed sites in the parish is not a foregone conclusion, but the VDS is again becoming a very relevant and important document.

Copies of the original VDS were delivered to every household in the village and the have been included in welcome to Rolleston packs but if you feel you need a new copy please leave me a message on 815266.

ESBC has published a comprehensive consultative document relative to the Local Developement Framework, on it¹s web site, to which our Parish Council, the Civic Trust and ourselves have responded. Unfortunately the closing date for receiving comments was the 16th of May. However, the document should still be available on the web site, it is well worth reading and it does contain maps and a list detailing all sites under consideration for development.

ESBC¹s web site is “” and the link “Site Allocations: Issues and Options” is listed under “What’s new on the site”

Incidentally another very important, well presented and illustrated document for the village, defining the Conservation Area, is now also published in its final and properly approved form on the same web site with the links ”Conservation Area Appraisals” and “Conservation Area Statements”. In particular the appraisal contains a lot of good information about the village.

Anyone can join the VDS group. Details of the next meeting are published on the village notice boards.

John Underhill

News - Winter 2007

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Come And Air Your Views At Our AGM  - 18th January 2008 at 7.30pm in the Chapel Schoolroom

What do you think of Rolleston?
Do you like living here? How would you improve the village?
To new residents - why did you choose Rolleston to move to?
Could you, perhaps, give up one evening every two months or so to contribute fresh ideas for the Group to work on?

Further development of the Village Design Statement is about the future of our community as well as our past. We would love to have your comments so that we can gather together the kind of information that could help us to improve what is good in our neighbourhood. And if it is within our power, sort out what is not!

We continue to monitor planning applications sent to East Staffordshire Borough Council and comment to the Planning Officer when proposals conflict with our Village Design Statement. 

If you are new to the village, you might like to know that this Statement was adopted as a Supplementary Planning document in 1997/98 and an updated executive summary was produced in 2005. Both documents are available from the Design Statement Group or the Parish Council.

Happily, the work on improvements to both the Old Grammar School and the entrance to the Church grounds is now just about complete. However, the VDS Group retains its connection with the Biffa Award grant scheme and this could perhaps help a conservation or community project you know of.

As a Group, we also like to keep our ‘ears to the ground’ to contribute views on a variety of subjects that might affect the village. The number of projects, proposals and government-led data collections that ESBC undertake is quite overwhelming at times. There tends to be a lot of long-term planning going on that could directly affect the village and we try to make sure that YOU have your say!

If you can’t get to the meeting in January, contact John on 01283 815266 or Val on 814060.

News - Autumn 2007

Since the Summer 2007 news article there has been very little activity to report. Not immediately, but some time in the not to distant future, that could all change .

The Parish Council has advised us that the ESBC has become keen to promote parish plans and encourage wider use of them within the borough. ESBC suggests a ³review² every 3 years. They do not define what they mean by review. The VDS Group believes that an existing plan should be reviewed and progress updated at least annually and this our Parish Council does. We also believe a new plan based on a new survey and village appraisal should be prepared not less that every 5 to 7 years. More frequently and the village, as well as the surveyors, would find the process becoming tedious. There are details to be sorted out but it does look as if a new parish plan will be embarked on some time.

If the Parish Council asked the VDS group to undertake a survey and prepare an appraisal right now we would be pressed for human resources. We need some new blood. What we do is not headline making but it is a very useful and appreciated service to the village. If you are interested please call me on 815266. At present we meet about every other month. Our next meeting is on Tuesday the 9th of October.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Autumn 2007)

News - Summer 2007

The group continues to review all development or planning activity which might affect the parish. Over recent months there have been no major applications or proposals. In March we were advised by ESBC of a meeting to introduce a project, which they had commissioned consultants to undertake, to identify all vacant brown field sites in the district and classify their suitability for possible housing development. No specific sites were discussed and we did not feel there was a site in Rolleston which would be an obvious candidate. We hope to be able to see the conclusions when the investigation is completed.

Work on the application for a Biffa Award grant to finance the building of the new tea bar, toilet and storage extension of the Old Grammar School, culminated in late summer last year, when we were advised that the grant had been approved. The grant was for £50,000 although the Parochial Church Council had effectively, via Biffa, donated £5000 of that themselves.

In January this year the old extension was demolished and the new building is now nearing completion. We would compliment the P.C.C. on having produced a fine building appropriate to the Old Grammar School, the Church and the adjacent buildings with a bonus of creating an attractive focal point at the head of the Croft. We also wish the P.C.C. every success in utilising the addition to improve the facilities that the hall offers and in extending the use made of it. This Spring it has been a a most satisfying to have managed the transfer of the funds passing from Biffa to pay the contractors.

Recently we made a written submission at the Appeal against the Jinny Trail being designated a Bridle Path. The Group did not have any evidence directly related to the decision but felt it was appropriate that we should re-iterate to the Enquiry our findings, in the Village Appraisal, of what the village as a whole wanted. We also pleaded that if the Appeal should fail time should be allowed, before the path was opened to horses, for it to be organised in a way which would minimise or avoid the distress this could cause to those who have walked the Trail regularly for the last 20 years or so.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Summer 2007)

News - Winter 2006

Without having any new major project the VDS group are currently meeting informally as and when any one identifies a need. There have been no significant new planning issues that have arisen over the summer months to create a need for a meeting. 

Knowing that the Craythorne Wood was being inspected, to determine what maintenance work might need to be undertaken at this stage of the young plantation¹s growth, we took advantage of a fine late summer evening to walk around the wood, as a group, to see what we thought of it.

Some of us had recently walked in the wood fairly regularly, others had never been there before or not since the trees were first planted. We all agreed at the end that we had a very enjoyable walk and that in it¹s current state the wood was a very pleasant place to wander. No matter how familiar each of us was with the place, we had all found something new that was interesting or visually attractive. It¹s a popular place for dog walkers but no one drew attention to any sign of that within the wood. If you feel like a short walk go and try it. The paths are getting a little muddy now of course but the trees and views still look good and there are ways around the worst of the mud. We passed our unanimous comments on to the Parish Council.

In an entirely different activity we were very pleased to have been offered a grant for £50,000 from the land-fill tax “Biffa” award scheme through The Royal Society for Wildfowl Trusts (the managing agency for the East Midlands).. The grant is to be used by the Church to assist in extending and restoring the Old Grammar School and improving it¹s usefulness to the community.

The VDS Group’s Annual General Meeting will be held in the Methodist Chapel School Room at 7.30pm on Tuesday 16th January.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Winter 2006)

News - Summer 2006

In our last report we explained that we had difficulty finding candidates for some of our offices and that we would be considering alternative methods of working. Recently we have decided that perhaps there is a way that we could sensibly do this, particularly as, for the present, we are not committed to any larger, less routine, tasks. 

We have to work out the nuts and bolts of how we operate but we are still going to be around as a group. We might not have much to regularly report on in future Rollestonians. 

With our experience on the Village Design Statement we were able, a little while back, to gain approval for grants from the BIFFA [landfill tax] award scheme. Since before the end of last year we have been going through the process to apply for a grant to provide funds to build the new extension to the Old Grammar School which is part of the Church’s well publicised project to improve the Church, access to it and a more attractive and useable community hall. The application was not approved at its first submission to the Grants Board but it has been deferred to the next one, pending the availability for information from us which we have now provided. Fingers crossed.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Summer 2006)

News - Spring 2006

We had our AGM at the beginning of the year and, as we forecast in the last Rollestonian, we were not able to replace our secretary nor was there a proposal for a new chairman at the meeting. This might look as if we can’t carry on but maybe we just need to change the way we work. The chairman has agreed to stay in office for three months while we see if we can work out an alternative method that allows us to keep operating. That, in the meantime, has to be our main task.

Just before Christmas the Borough Council issued their document analysing the WASP Survey that you returned last year. It contains a full and very straight forward analysis of the Yes/No/Maybe type of question. The Parish Council now wish to determine urgently what action, appropriate to your responses, they want to commit to. They have asked other village organisations, including the VDS Group to review the analysis and offer their suggestions. There are, however, some 3000 separate individual comments and suggestions in the returns which have not yet been analysed. All of these need to be read and considered and then separately sorted as groups. Each group can then be assessed to determine the guidance they can provide to the Council in making its decisions and that is our other urgent task.

The analysis of comments and our recommendations based on them could not be completed in time for inclusion in this edition although it will be completed before you are reading this and at least some of the results should already be on the village web site.

Our report in the last Rollestonian was rather long, this is shorter. Hopefully, there will still be one in the next issue.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Spring 2006)

News - Winter 2005

“Village Design Statement Group”, just what is it.?

Well, we meet at 7.30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month in the Schoolroom behind the Chapel in Chapel Lane. If you would like to join in our discussions or maybe work with us - there is no membership fee – just turn up and join in. Our wide ranging discussions are sociable and friendly.

At our meetings perhaps the most consistent item of business is the assessment of proposals, or the potential, for change in the village and planning applications. From the last “Rollestonian” you will recognise that this is one of the things that the Civic Trust does and so does the Parish Council. So, why should we need to do it as well?

We would not claim to be any more personally disinterested than the other organisations but we do perhaps try to consider proposals for change from a more specific point of view. The whole point of compiling the Village Design Statement was to provide a datum against which the desirability of change could be measured. It was based on our best assessment of village-wide opinion and the real graft to produce both the Village Design Statement, the Village Appraisal and the Parish Plan was in canvassing and analysing that opinion. Many people conscientiously put time and effort into providing the information that we needed to establish a village consensus. We feel then that we have some responsibility to ensure that our response to proposals for change reflect our best judgement of that consensus.

The Village Design Statement is accepted by the Planning Office as supplementary planning information. By basing our responses on it, by justifying any objections we make and where appropriate, by constructively suggesting alternatives, we believe that we have gained some credibility with the Planning Office staff. Sometimes plans have been resubmitted, amended in line with our suggestions. Occasionally we have even been informally asked why we had not objected.

Less frequently, of course, but on the same basis, we review county plans and the district Local Plan and more recently have very thoroughly reviewed the proposed new Conservation Area Document for the village.

Similarly, but again on the same basis, we monitor the Parish Plan and, if necessary, challenge our Council on the progress of individual items.

It is important that we continue to improve our understanding of village opinion and, if we can, to listen to those of us who do not readily voice their wishes or are not heard. With some success, we have worked with the Parish Council to get a broader example of young people’s opinions.

We feel that we have provided a useful service to the Parish Council and the village by helping improve the understanding of real village-wide opinion which has on occasion been quite different to that perceived by the establishment.

There is one other unique service we are able to provide. We have become eligible to apply for grants from the Biffa Award Scheme (landfill tax). Undertaking capital projects in the village is beyond our scope but we can apply on behalf of another organisation for significant grants. We have, in co-operation with the Parochial Church Council, applied for money to extend the Old Grammar School in order to improve its facilities and its usefulness as a hall for the village community.

There is plenty more work for us to do. We have the potential to make a significant contribution to the well-being of the village but there are some concerns about our future. We need new officers. At our next AGM on the 17th January, we expect to still have a good minute secretary and a new treasurer but we could find ourselves without either a secretary or a chairman. We need wider village representation at our meetings. If you would like to get involved with what we do, please, as I said at the beginning, just come and join in. We are not going to twist anybody’s arm to take on a responsibility but if you can offer a very straightforward secretarial service we would welcome it.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Winter 2005)

News - Autumn 2005

One of the of the problems causing the Village Design Statement (VDS) not to be as effective as it should be, in assisting the preparation of plans suitable for Rolleston, or challenging inappropriate plans, is the narrative form in which it was written. This seems to have made it difficult to identify, clearly, specific characteristics of the village that should be considered in assessing a particular planning proposal. We have recognised this for some time, particularly since the approval of the detailed plans for the Burton College site, but we felt that it was too early to begin to prepare a new edition of the VDS. Instead, last year, we compiled an indexed executive summary of the original VDS.

It has taken since then to progress this through the planning system and gain the same acceptance for supplementary planning information as the original. We now have that acceptance and perhaps it was worth the wait because the Borough Council has accepted funding of its publication and circulation.

A copy is included with the Autumn 2005 issue of the Rollestonian (and reproduced here). We suggest you keep it attached to your own copy of the original VDS.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Autumn 2005)

News - Summer 2005

In order for us to produce the village appraisal and to present a a proposal for the draft of a Parish Plan to the Parish Council we had to ask a lot of questions of people in the village. 

From the answers you gave us we asked the whole village to complete a very comprehensive questionnaire. Many of you spent a long time conscientiously completing and returning that to us. It is only reasonable for you to expect to have occasional visibility of the progress of the items committed to by the Council in the Parish Plan. It is very pleasing then to see that a table listing items of the Parish Plan has been included in this edition of the Rollestonian. It is also satisfying to see the progress that has been made on some of them.

A doctors' surgery in the village was clearly shown in the appraisal as a wish held by a significant majority of villagers. It was felt to be something we would be very unlikely to get. There was little the Council, or anyone else, could do to influence achieving the wish but when, fortuitously, the prospect did arise they already knew exactly how to react and now it does look very likely that we will get both a surgery and a pharmacy.

Please look at the table, in the yellow pages of the Summer 2005 Rollestonian (reproduced here), compare it to your copy of the Parish Plan and decide how satisfied you are with the progress being made with it.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Summer 2005)

News - Spring 2005

Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held on the 18th of January. Alan Partington retired from being our treasurer. He had meticulously looked after our finances since the Village Design Statement Group was first inaugurated. His thoughtful guidance has been much appreciated by everyone who has worked with the group. Luckily that support will not be lost to us as he intends to remain an active member.

Rolleston On Dove Local List

On an initiative from the Conservation Officer and with the Civic Trust and the Parish Council, the group has produced a ‘local list’ of significant village buildings and other features. These are in all parts of the village - not just the conservation area. Nationally listed buildings are not included. 

The 8-page ‘local list’ has now been submitted to the Borough planning office for inclusion in the revised Conservation Area document which should be available for inspection and comment, prior to publication, very soon. Hopefully during February and before you receive this issue of the Rollestonian.

Our core reason for being is, of course, monitoring adherence to the Conservation Area document as well as the Village Design Statement in any proposals for major or minor changes to the village. This actually gets very little visibility compared to the other activities we get involved with but we do regularly assess all planning applications which might be associated with the village. Most of them we just pass over. Sometimes we look forward, with interest to their completion. We try to avoid flat objections but where we feel the effect of the change is counter to the intent of either the Conservation Area document or the V.D.S. we try to suggest how it might be appropriately modified. Sometimes, whether or not because we made it, our suggestions do seem to get adopted.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Spring 2005)

News - Winter 2004

The group has recently received our enrolment certificate from ENTRUST, the regulator of the land fill tax credit scheme. This makes us a body eligible to receive and manage grants from the scheme that might result from successful bids in support of village projects. A number of possible projects are being considered by the Parish Council to determine which might be suitable for a first attempt.

In the Village Appraisal we indicated that we felt more research needed to be done on public transport. The Parish Council also asked us to complete a survey on the facilities that are already available in or in the near surrounds of the village for its youth, before they finalised a plan that they could commit to. Both these tasks have now been completed and formally passed to the Parish Council for their consideration after which we anticipate they will decide what further commitments should be added to the Parish Plan.

In the last “Rollestonian” (Autumn 2004) the Council did publish the more generally useful basic census and statistical data on which our youth survey was compiled. The original Appraisal was circulated throughout the village. These two surveys are effectively supplements to the Appraisal. We do not intend to circulate copies but they are now published on the village website - Youth Survey (25KB) and a Transport Survey (1000KB)

Hard copies can be made available to anyone, without access to the internet, on request. Some of the more general conclusions in the surveys are:-

  1. There appears to be a surprisingly large percentage of the village’s young people already involved in activities based in or near the village but there are still reasonable opportunities to improve on the facilities there are.
  2. Our public transport service is probably better than most of us think it is. Not every one is aware that we are served by two bus services, the no. 15 from Burton via Knowles Hill (half hourly) and the V1 from Burton and Derby (hourly) and that the latter has a last departure from either end at close to 11 pm.
  3. As the original Appraisal recognises, the greatest deficiency in our public transport is the lack of any evening service of the more convenient no. 15 from Burton and the Queens Hospital.
  4. Perhaps the surprise is the selection of connections available at Burton station that can allow quite short journey times to more distant destinations.

Our first annual general meeting will be held on 18th January at 7.30 pm in the Methodist Chapel school room and is open to any villager who wishes to attend or join us.

John Underhill
(taken from Rollestonian article Winter 2004)

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