All posts by John Keegan

Am I Missing Something?

My ire is rising.

Nick Hall has received permission for the three property development at the Old School

When I take together the individual planning application decisions in respect of 18 properties at Whittington Farm (approved) three properties at the Old School (approved) and four properties at The Dragons Head (refused) I am drawn towards questioning the impartiality of Lancaster City Council Planning Department, headed by Andrew Dobson.

Access to Whittington Farm and the Old School are on two of the most dangerous corners in the village.  These corners are the locations of the only vehicular accidents to have occurred in the Village since the horse drawn Post Office cart was replace by a motorised one at the turn of the 19th Century.

The Dragons head access on the other hand is on the only straight stretch of road between Low Hall and Church Street.

Outside Dragons Head

There is absolutely zero compatibility of design between the dwellings planned for the Farm and ANY of the surrounding properties.  In addition they would be fully visible from the road and stand out like a sore thumb.

The Victorian Society have objected strongly to the proposed changes to the Old School, drawing particular attention to the inclusion of new roof lights, which are totally out of character with all the surrounding properties.  The three properties have been valued by Hackney and Leigh at £1.02 million and will have parking for eight cars.

How any planning authority in its right mind can think that access to this tightly constricted site, between two solid stone walls which are at or above the drivers head height in some vehicles, and on one of the most dangerous corners in the whole of the village, especially when vision is impaired by pedestrians on either the footpath, or the public right of way to the Village Church which runs perpendicular and adjacent to the entrance, I do not know.  It will be impossible for one vehicle to exit and another enter, at the same time, therefore blocking a busy road.

Exactly how the new build can be in keeping with the 1875 form of the Old School on one side and the postwar style of the bungalow next door on the other side, heaven only knows.  Indeed if one considers all the immediately surrounding properties, on both sides of the road, I would be challenged to determine any commonality of style, and I have a Diploma in Architecture (circa 1961 so well past it’s sell by date).  I would also add that the entirety of the Old School as well as the frontage of Whittington Farm, including the Farm House, are within the Whittington Conservation Area.  The conservation area ends at the kitchen door at the back of the Dragons head and none of the proposed new development there is within it.

The development proposed for the Dragons Head would not have been visible from the main road.  The current access to the property hasn’t changed since the beginning of the 20th century, and indeed has had caravan traffic for at least the last twenty years.  How the traffic from three properties (the old stable, called a barn in the planning documents having been used daily in respect of storage for a building repair and maintenance business until ten years ago) can be considered to produce any significant increase in traffic is derisory.

Calling the outbuilding a Barn implies that it has had some reasonable status.  When it was a stable providing conveyance for the residents of the Dragons Head, of which, in 1930, there were three families comprising eight people with Mrs. Willan as the Landlady then it did have a purpose, but to call it a barn is to overstate the fact it was a mere outbuilding in which the establishment horse lived.  It has been a leaking wreck desperately in need of repair for over forty years.  Even the most tasteless of development would be a magnificent enhancement to the surrounding area.

I am not decrying the Farm or School developments, but I do think that the proposal for the Farm greatly exceeds any likely need within a ten mile radius within Lancashire.  My beef is that I cannot see how the Dragons Head, which after all is a desperately needed community asset, can be rejected when the other two developments are beyond the scope of any local need. and at a selling price for the two developments exceeding £4,500,000.

There was once a Ffolly at Sellet Mill corner I have a feeling that we are considering two more.

Or am I missing something?

John Keegan

Jazz and Brass

On Sunday of last week Maureen and I, with friends, spent two wonderful hours in Plato’s listening to a jazz Trio, “Pale Moon”.  The genre of their music was absolutely up my street, and of my era.  I knew the words to practically every tune they played, including the tune that Maureen and I deemed to be Our Tune, “Diggin My Potatoes”, which was actually banned by the BBC in the late 50’s when it was released as a Skiffle Album by Lonnie Donnegan – Diggin my potatoes.

One of the most popular recording of this number was by the famous blues guitarist Leadbelly.

At the time Lonnie Donnegan was the Banjo player in the Chris Barber Jazz Band.  It was a couple of years later that his Skiffle Group swept the UK Charts.

That was last week.  Now this Sunday it is the annual Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band Competition.  As a result Maureen and I will be in The Royal, nipping in and out periodically as the bands march down Main Street.  Brass Bands sound wonderful but listening to them as they march down the street is something even more special.

It is possible that there are better places in the UK to live but, if there are, I have never heard of them!!

John Keegan

Every Reason to be proud

Nobody in the village of Whittington can have missed the  struggles that Helen Cowd (Mason) has fought since her time as a member of  Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, and her subsequent life in Whittington.

Helen has been hilarious, a massive friend to those who chose to get to know her.  and someone I have enjoyed arguing with on Facebook for many years.

Now her numero uno daughter Sian has excelled herself in not only securing a 1st at UCLA but also in being offered a prestigious job in the gaming industry.

As one who has followed Sian’s art over the years (and one who has zero talent in the field) I feel a slight paternal instinct, because Helen, Sian and Holley where our next door neighbours for so many years.

I have collected many of Sian’s images over the years but, for me, the one that epitomises this young girls talent, and the future ahead of her is the image of “Collectors of Souls”.  Beware Michael Hampson Sian is after you!!

This is Sian’s”Collector of Souls” image. Imagine  what you would look like if she didn’t like you!!



Colin Hall reminds us that judging in the Annual Gardening Competition will take place earlier than in previous years. Judging will take place towards the end of June.

The Categories are Window Boxes, Front Gardens and Hanging Baskets.

There are 1st, 2hd and 3rd prizes in each category with the special awards of the Rose Bowl, the Challenge Cup and the Consolation Cup.

Good luck to all. John Keegan