Ranger Ralphers get creative at Lydford Gorge

Preparing for Ranger Ralphers - Lydford, December 2013

Preparing for Ranger Ralphers – Lydford, December 2013

On Sunday 1st December, Ranger Ralphers got together  for a fantastic morning and afternoon making Nature’s Decorations. The event was jointly hosted with the National Trust at Lydford Gorge. Members were able to make lots of things to decorate their homes including Wooden Reindeer (with a little help from Adrian Shaw, Head Ranger at Lydford, and Gorge volunteers), candle screens and cone owls with National Park Voluntary Warden Abi Ball, natural clay bird seed feeders with Ranger Ella and sock snowmen and Christmas Elves with Helen Jenny (National Park Authority Member). Ralphers were also going home with woven willow balls of all sizes having been shown how to make them by Voluntary warden John Banks and Dan Hooper, a work placement student from Bicton College.

Ranger Ralph Reindeer!

Ranger Ralph Reindeer!

Afternoon tea was served up an hour before the end. Keeping it seasonal we had mince pies and clotted cream, juice and some of Helen’s gorgeous homemade cakes, and over lunch to keep warm we all had a sing song around the fire, singing the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Ranger Ralphers getting creative - Lydford, December 2013

Ranger Ralphers getting creative – Lydford, December 2013

Everyone had a great day, and we all look forward to another one this year. Don’t worry, only another 357 days to go!

Ranger Rob Taylor (Ranger Sector F)

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New ‘hat’ for Cranmere Pool Letterbox!

The home for Cranmere Pool’s letterbox has just be repaired after 43 years of being out in all weathers!

The capping stone, made from a reinforced concrete slab, was loose and broken in several places so a suitable replacement was required.

Broken capping stone

Broken capping stone

A new capping stone was found in the National Park’s stone store and after only a minor modification was ready to be installed at its new home.

New capping stone

New capping stone

To minimise any damage to the moorland, Ian Jarvis, Training Area Safety Officer for Dartmoor, kindly arranged for a Sea King helicopter from RNAS Yeovilton to airlift the stone out to site.

Before this could be done, the weight of the stone was required by the helicopter crew. Fahey’s of Okehampton kindly allowed me to use their weighbridge, recording a weight of 80kg!

New capping stone being airlifted to site

New capping stone being airlifted to site

Once out on site, the stone was lifted into place by hand and secured by four metal pins.

New capping stone in place

New capping stone in place

All that remains to be done is the repainting of the door but lets hope that this capping stone lasts for at least another 40 years!

Many thanks to all those involved in this project.

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End of an Era!

Its official! The fleet of Ranger vehicles has changed colour!

Since the mid seventies, Rangers’ vehicles have been painted two-tone green; Coniston green as a base colour with a lighter green added to the top section of the vehicle. This complimented the similar colours used on the temporary information cabins that existed in those days.

Two Tone Green Land Rover!

Two Tone Green Land Rover!

 Rumour has it that when the first vehicle, an Austin Gipsy, was painted in these colours, the Ranger was told not to wash his vehicle as the paint was likely to peel off! Someone had forgotten to de-grease the metal work before applying the paint. In those days it cost the princely sum of £15 to complete! 

As Land Rover have now stopped offering Coniston green as a base colour, it was decided that the cost of repainting the whole vehicle was too high, so standard silver has become the order of the day. (No jokes about Lone Rangers and Silver please!)

Each Ranger’s vehicle is also decorated with a scene from their area of Dartmoor along with a message from our current ‘Paws on Dartmoor’ campaign.

Silver Land Rover with picture of Ranger Area

Silver Land Rover with picture of Ranger Area

 This new design was rolled out a few years ago on the first vehicles to be replaced but since then the old style header boards have also been added.

Header boards retained aswell as 'Dartmoor Ranger' across old air vent area

Header boards retained aswell as ‘Dartmoor Ranger’ across old air vent area

The rear of the vehicle has also changed to meet current Health and Safety legislation.

Health and safety requirements on rear!

Health and safety requirements on rear!

It’s great to have vehicles which are  ‘fit for purpose’ but will they still be as recognisable to our visitors and local people? Time will tell!

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Progress on the Ashburton Masterplan

Further to the June blog here’s a quick update on progress on the Ashburton Masterplan.

As a reminder – in April 2013 Dartmoor National Park Authority, working with Teignbridge District Council commissioned BDP to develop a masterplan for the Chuley Road site in Ashburton.

The masterplan will provide a strategy to guide the regeneration of the site at Chuley Road to deliver benefits for the community such as new housing, businesses, improved access and parking, and a better quality environment. In June we held a Stakeholder Surgery event, inviting the local community to provide their opinions on the issues and hopes for the future of the Chuley Road site. Since then BDP have been hard at work on analysing the messages from the community, conducting further research and studies, and developing their ideas. A summary of the key messages from the consultation can be downloaded from and you can also join the online debate on Facebook.

Cllr. Phillip Vogel (Teignbridge District Council and Dartmoor National Park Authority member) says:
“The Ashburton community has embraced the masterplan as a positive step in the right direction for the Chuley Road site. Those that have already been involved have given strong opinions and interesting thoughts on the role of the site and on the contribution it can make in future to strengthening Ashburton as a great place to live, work and visit. It is good to have the National Park Authority, Teignbridge District Council and Ashburton Town Council working in partnership on this project.
We are delighted with the level of interest and willingness of the community to be involved in the process so far and we hope that this continues. It is vital that the masterplan reflects the needs and hopes of the community and this is a unique opportunity to make sure this is achieved. The National Park Authority is keen to promote this active approach to community engagement. We urge everyone to contact BDP and get involved in some way in developing the ideas by either making comments on the Facebook community page or joining the People’s Panel.”

So here’s the important bit – BDP are now inviting the community to hear and comment on their initial ideas at a People’s Panel workshop, which will be held on 24th July 2013 from 3pm to 6pm in St Lawrence Chapel, St Lawrence Lane. The team will present the ideas and participants will be invited to discuss and provide feedback. The People’s Panel is essential to developing a realistic masterplan that is supported by the community, and it is hoped the panel can remain involved in implementing the proposals once the final masterplan is complete.

If you would like to see the ideas and have your say, please contact Tom Rudd by emailing tom.rudd@bdp.com or by calling 020 7812 8262.

There will be further opportunities to get involved throughout the summer, including a formal consultation period on the draft plan before the final plan is published towards the end of the year.

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New local plan for Dartmoor adopted

Today the National Park Authority has adopted theCover of the Publication Version (Adopted Version coming soon) Development Management and Delivery Plan (or ‘DMD’ as we know it).  This document was 3 years in preparation during which time we attended around 30 community engagement events, and received nearly one thousand individual comments (or ‘representations’) on the plan – positive and negative, as it progressed to examination.  We submitted the plan to the Secretary of State in May 2012; the examination by an independent Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate lasted 12 months, and included 5 days of public hearings and two additional periods of consultation.

So what do we have at then end of all this!?  The DMD replaces the remaining ‘saved’ policies from the 2004 Local Plan, and, together with the Core Strategy is now the development plan or ‘local plan’ for the National Park.  It includes 47 ‘general’ policies covering topics like affordable Road trip! Visiting communities in 2011 to talk about the Planhousing, landscape, the historic environment, farm diversification, renewable energy, and economic development.  These will be used in our day to day decision making on planning applications.  The DMD also includes 19 site specific policies which include development sites like those already moving forward at Chagford and Ashburton, as well as areas specially protected from development, such as the conservation area at South Zeal.  ‘Allocating’ development sites in this way  aims to provide certainty for communities and developers around where it is considered are the most appropriate sites for new development to take place. 

The two plans together look forward to 2026, but will be kept under regular review. 

That doesn’t mean us Forward Planners now get a rest, though! We’re currently busy supporting communities and developers in bringing some of the allocated sites forward through masterplans and development briefs, we’re working on an Affordable Housing SPD, a range of research projects, and will be looking at how we update the Minerals Local Plan.  That’s plenty to be getting on with before we start all over again with a new local plan!  But for the moment we can at least rest easy that (as required by national policy) Dartmoor is covered by a range of robust and up to date planning policies; aiming to enable communities to thrive whilst protecting the National Park’s valuable environment.

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New development in Ashburton – talking with the community

A brief moment to breathe on Friday afternoon and share our busy week down at Ashburton!

In May the National Park Authority, working with Teignbridge District Council appointed BDP to take forward a Masterplan for the Chuley Road site on the edge of Ashburton town centre.

The site at Chuley Road has been identified in the local plan for Dartmoor; the opportunity has arisen to redevelop this site for a mix of employment uses, housing, car parking and open space, as some of the major landowners wish to move on from the site. Keen to take a strategic approach and make the most of what could be a great opportunity to improve the area, we are looking for a masterplan to be prepared before planning applications come forward on the site.

On Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th June we held two sessions in Ashburton Town Hall to2013-06-07_HASTOE_Ashburton_Masterplan_Consultation(1) discuss what people might like to see happen with the site, as well as having an opportunity to flag up issues and priorities for the community. At the same time we had an exhibition from Hastoe Housing (thank you for the photo – we forgot!) who were talking to local people about an upcoming scheme at the other end of the town – an affordable housing development at Longstone Cross.  This site is also identified in the local plan and Hastoe has money from the Homes and Communities Agency to build some of these – which is great news for Ashburton.

Both sessions were really well attended, many people took the opportunity to make a 30 minute appointment to meet with Becky or Tom from BDP and talk through the issues for the Chuley Road site, this included landowners, local business owners and residents. We were there to answer questions and hopefully help the large number of people who dropped in to find out what it is all about. Stuart Barker (Devon County/Teignbridge/Dartmoor Member), Philip Vogel (Teignbridge/Dartmoor Member) and John Nutley (Dartmoor Member/Mayor of Ashburton) also gave a lot of their time on the Wednesday to hear the views of local people.

The site at Longstone Cross will be the first to come forward, with an application for affordable housing on the site later in the summer.  We’re just at the beginning of the process for Chuley Road, though.  There will be plenty of opportunities for local people to get involved – check the web page (www.dartmoor.gov.uk/ashburtonmasterplan), or follow progress on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/chuleyroadmasterplan.  The masterplan process will continue through 2013, and hopefully into 2014 we may start to see some change on site as planning applications come forward.

A big thank you to the people of Ashburton for embracing this so positively – hopefully we’ll be able to work together over the next few months to shape some positive development in the town for the benefit of the community.

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Teign Valley Woodlands – update on access

The five year permissive access agreement between the owners of the Teign Valley Woodlands and Dartmoor National Park Authority ended in March 2013.  The present owners of the woodlands have indicated that they do not wish to enter into a new access agreement at this time as the woodlands are for sale.

Teign Valley Woodlands SignAs the agreement has now ended, the Authority arranged with the owners to remove permissive path signage and other infrastructure related to the access agreement. The Authority would hope that it will be able to enter into a new access agreement with the new owner(s) in due course.

The Authority will be posting explanatory notices at access points in due course.  The ending of the access agreement does not affect existing public rights of way.

Please remember that there is the freedom to roam across 47,000 hectares of unenclosed common land and open country and in addition, there are over 450 miles (730 km) of public rights of way for you to explore and enjoy within the national park.

For further information on access please see the National Park Authority’s website pages on ‘Access to the Countryside’

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A new Community Land Trust

The residents of Chagford took another step forward to leading development in their town last night, as a community meeting voted in favour of forming a ‘Community Land Trust’ (CLT). I thought I’d share my musings on this relatively new approach, which is gathering momentum as a way of empowering local communities and bringing forward affordable housing.

A CLT is “a non-profit, community-based organisation run by volunteers that develops housing or other assets at permanently affordable levels for long-term community benefit” (find out more from the National CLT Network). CLTs are a way for communities to get involved in the development of affordable housing, giving them control of a local asset and potentially the opportunity to manage other community services as they grow in confidence.

This isn’t our first CLT in the National Park, with one at Christow working with Teign Housing and about to bring a planning application forward any day now, with the support of the same organisation – the Wessex CLT Project. At Chagford, however the CLT is looking to get involved in potential period of growth in the town, as the site at Bretteville comes forward through a masterplan (see previous planner’s blog) and another site is identified in the local plan for affordable housing at Lamb Park.

So how will this work? Well firstly the CLT wants to focus on affordable housing as their first task (they could venture into supporting all kinds of community assets in future). The CLT will see whether there is an opportunity to become involved in the delivery of either of the two housing sites in the town, and potentially work with a housing association to bring this forward.

The National Park Authority will require that affordable housing is provided through the development of both of the sites in Chagford.  Importantly, we will want to see development coming forward only as and when there is an identified local need for the affordable housing – there is a need in Chagford at the moment, but if too much comes forward in one go there will not be enough local people to move in. This is after all a 15 year local plan!

So what does the CLT do next? They’re holding the first meeting of their Steering Group at the end of May. They have the Wessex CLT Project to help them along, perhaps starting with a conversation with landowners and developers, to see whether they can get involved.

Watch this space and good luck Chagford taking this forward!

Find out more about progress on the Chagford Masterplan
Find out more about CLTs and the Wessex CLT Project

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Chagford Masterplan

After several years preparing the local plan for Dartmoor, which identifies potential housing and redevelopment sites in some of the larger towns and villages, we took our first steps last week towards delivering a site in Chagford.

The 3.7 hectare site at the northern approach to the town has been talked about for many years, and was identified by the community in the 2009 Chagford Design Statement.  The site should deliver a mix of housing including affordable housing and homes for older people, as well as a community car park and public open space. 

Given the size of the site the Authority wants development to come forward via a ‘masterplan’.  The masterplan process should engage the community and other stakeholders in the process of identifying the key issues for the site, leading to a ‘blueprint’ scheme which should be a template for any future planning application.

Housebuilders CG Fry and Son, and Blue Cedar Homes appointed the Prince’s Foundation to run their widely respected ‘Enquiry by Design’ workshops to inform the preparation of a masterplan. 

Public meeting - Jubilee Hall

A great turn out from the community on Tuesday evening to find out what it’s all about.

The week started by gathering a mass of information from Chagford residents at a very well attended meeting in the Jubilee Hall on the Tuesday evening. 

Through the week a group made up of community representatives, DNPA staff, representatives of the developers and others, were led by the Prince’s Foundation through a process of site investigation, identifying key issues for the site and the town, and exploring the characteristics of Chagford (positive and negative!).  By the Friday we started to consider potential solutions, and a rough plan setting out ideas for the site was presented back to the community at another well attended meeting on the Friday evening (a big thank you to Chagford Primary School for the last minute use of your hall!). 

Enquiry by Design Workshops

Stakeholders get involved in some proper planning – felt tips at the ready!

The presentation was well received, and the thoroughness with which issues and solutions were explored at the workshops is testament to the time and effort put in by the community to positively engage with this process. 

There will be several more opportunities to have your say on the development, through consultation on the draft masterplan and then planning applications on the site.  We’re still at the beginning of the process; the next step will be a report of the workshops by the Prince’s Foundation, which will inform the draft masterplan for the site; we’ll publish this on the DNPA web site at www.dartmoor.gov.uk/chagfordmasterplan. Watch this space for the next steps after that!


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A Ghoulish Halloween at Burrator

October 31st 2012

Ranger Ralph Halloween Evening - 2012

Ghoulish Haunted House at Burrator


Wow what a fantastic night!– probably our best Halloween event ever!  A massive thank you to the South West Lakes Trust  - Neil Reeves and his volunteers who joined forces with us to produce a partnership event for our Ranger Ralph club members and South West Lakes Trust invitees. A wild evening of wicked entertainment despite the worst Dartmoor weather! 



Ranger Ralph Halloween Evening - 2012

Haunted House prepared for games

Around 65 people attended (in some crazy attire), meeting at Burrator reservoir for a short, dark, wet walk through Wembley Walk (the old fernery – lit by pumpkin lanterns!) to discover treats guarded by our resident ghost!!!  Next we used the opportunity to  move undercover and take ‘refuge’ in a haunted house (the lodge) which was decked out with gory details including bubbling cauldrons, spider webs and candle-light, not to mention all too realistic sound effects like screeches, creaking doors, cackling witches and howling wind – not sure which were real or staged!!!. 

Ranger Ralph Halloween Evening - 2012

Ghoulish entrance at Burrator

Everyone had the chance to carve lanterns (melons not pumpkins – so that carvings could be eaten!), play the ‘Halloween dare’, apple bob, make decorations, listen to Dartmoor Legends, learn about Halloween history and the haunted house and generally have fun (and hopefully not get too scared!!! – I don’t think we lost anyone).  The lodge made a perfect venue and kept everyone dry!  The evening ended with delicious cakes and refreshments (big thank you to the National Park Authority member, Helen Jenny). 

A brilliant Ranger Ralph event  in partnership with South West Lakes Trust and a big thank you again to all those that helped out, especially with decor, costumes, face painting, running games, telling stories and cooking.   

Watch out for next time -

Ranger Ralph Halloween Evening - 2012

Eerie Ella and Noisy Neil

Wicked Witches (really Sector Rangers by day!) Eerie Ella and Spooky Serina…

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