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News Page

Hidden Rocks

Spring weather has given the beady eyed Hidden Rock enthusiats plenty of opportunity to hide and seek an assortment of attractively painted stones in the many nooks and crannies in the Garden. Trophies should be reported on the Facebook before they are left in a new hiding place.
Happy hunting!

During lockdown our volunteer plant growers have gone into lockdown and have produced a large number of good quality plants for sale. These have proved very popular with visitors BUT HAVE LEFT US VERY SHORT OF PLANT POTS.
We would there be very grateful for any donations please. Any of your unwanted pots would be very much appreciated but 3inch - 0r 7.5cm would be especially useful.
Our Plants for Sale Table
Country Gardener
  The  April edition of The Hampshire Country Gardener, has now been published and is available from the Physic Garden.  It may then be collected from the office or when this is closed from the rack in the archway. The new larger size magazine is proving popular with its 40 colourful pages packed with interesting articles, photos and good advice. Topics include articles a review of garden sheds, weed control, problem cats in the garden and buying the right compost.  With its collections of regular features, good advice, readers's letters and Hampshire events it makes an excellent read.
  This is a free magazine which is now printed in Somerset and covers five areas Devon, Dorset, Somerset, The Cotswolds and Hampshire. Due to the coronavirus pandemic publication of the magazine has changed.  The publication which aims to give quality information about gardening and garden events in and around the area covers is an essential read for enthusiastic gardeners.
Spring Sunshine

A warm March day brought many visitors to the Garden to admire the colourful display of opening flowers. Here two happy small children are running through the daffodils in the orchard.
Farewell to peace – the Car Spa is here to stay.
Those of you who have been able to visit the Garden during lock down will have enjoyed it in peace and quiet as the noisy Car Spa just behind the Garden has not been allowed to operate. Alas that happy state will not last long. When some kind of normality returns the Car Spa will re-open with its noisy pressure washers and glare from its lights.
When the Car Spa was due to open  I was reliably informed by Councillors that it would be subject to a Noise Management plan and furthermore the licence to use the land for a car wash would initially only be granted for a 2 year period.
I am sorry to tell you that neither of these conditions has been met. I have now, after much effort, obtained a copy of the lease (dated 22nd September) which has no noise restrictions within it and is for a period of fifteen years. The Council must have been aware of these facts but nevertheless saw fit to issue a public statement in the Petersfield Post on November 11th that:
    It has measures to prevent noise nuisance, and noise from it isn’t intrusive in the garden.
Even though at that stage the lease had been signed – without any of the promised restrictions on noise. As for the idea that noise from it isn’t intrusive in the garden one can only wonder on what basis they made that statement. It isn’t what most people feel.
Rodney Clark
Jenny Hill Lecture - Petersfield Physic Garden
Jenny Hill's recent Zoom lecture about the Garden on behalf of the Hampshire Gardens Trust met with an enthusiastic audience with over 60 people logging in
Jenny Hill is the Garden Manager of the Petersfield Physic Garden and has been a volunteer working in the Garden for the past 15 years. She has a very good knowledge of the history of the Garden and of the plants growing in it.
She is an experienced speaker and was able to reveal many of the little known aspects of the Garden and especially the mediaeval aspects of the herb usage a subject in which she specialises.

Country Farmers Showdown - BBC Programme
A repeat of the Country Farmers Showdown may be viewed on BBC iPlayer (19th January). The programme largely focusses on the Petersfield Farmers's Market but has a short look round the Physic Garden. The article below tells the tale of the filming:
A sunny Sunday September afternoon saw the Garden hosting Diccon Green and his team filming for an edition of the 5th series of the BBC programme 'The Farmer's Country Showdown'. The team were in Petersfield primarily to film the Farmer's Market and cited the Physic Garden as an additional place of interest to provide a little feature which the producers call 'the breakout story'. Having had advanced warning of the event the gardeners had been very busy tidyng the Garden so it looked immaculate for the event.
The photoraph shows Jenny Hill, the Garden manager being interviewed for the programme.
Car Wash News
Car Wash featured in Petersfield Post
With the recent opening of the Car Wash Rodney Clark wrote this article headed:
Neighbourhood Plan or No-bourhood Plan ?
Most Post readers will be familiar with the Neighbourhood Plan; no doubt some of you went to one of the public exhibitions, perhaps you assisted in its preparation or felt the need to comment on one aspect or another. You may also have attended the public hearing held on  June 4th 2015 to hear objections to the plan and to enable it to be finalized.
The Plan took a team of volunteers over three years to put together and was duly approved by more than 80% of the 2,713 people who voted in the referendum. Accordingly in September 2015 it became the official Neighbourhood Plan for the parish of Petersfield.  The idea of the people within a community deciding for themselves how their town was going to develop in the future was recognised as a good one and there were very few people who were against the concept.  They may not have liked one aspect or another but they accepted it as a good compromise between the need for development and building and the needs of the community at large.
You probably imagined that once passed the Neighbourhood Plan would have some significance in legal terms but it has been very difficult to establish exactly what that is. Certainly neither the Ombudsman or our MP’s office were able to provide an answer and the Secretary of State did not reply to my enquiry. It is true that planning regulations require that the Neighbourhood Plan be taken into account but quite what that means is unclear and there seems to be no redress for a development that flagrantly transgresses the Neighbourhood Plan.
You probably also thought that it would be commercial developers and builders who would be most likely to ignore the Plan in order to improve the profitability of a new  housing development. Alternatively a private individual simply looking after his own interests at the expense of the community.  What you would not have expected is that the Council planners themselves would be the offenders by supporting a development which is clearly contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan.  Still less would you have expected this to happen in the very centre of the town alongside a Conservation Area.
However that is exactly the situation we have now with the Petersfield Car Spa, which is best described as an ugly, noisy,  industrial building.
Who, you may ask, put forward this application to install a car wash facility ? East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) claim that it was a private individual , one Mr S Durra, but a glance at the original application shows that the EHDC itself is listed alongside his name. That is not surprising when you consider that the central car park is owned by the EHDC who profit not only from car parking charges but any other income arising from the car park.
Despite, or perhaps because of this, the EHDC Planning Committee did not have sight of the application at all. The plan was all dealt with by Council staff.
The Council officers concerned took into account some sections of the Neighbourhood Plan but somehow omitted the most important one which is clearly stated under “Town Centre Vision” as the very first key point for the Central Car Park and Physic Garden area:
• Enhance views of, and access to, the stream with a new landscaped area to the rear of the Physic Garden.  
The idea was to make an attractive walkway alongside the stream adjacent to the Physic Garden Clearly a car wash facility doesn’t in any way comply with this.
The Physic Garden is frequently described as “a peaceful oasis in the heart of the town” and consequently the noise of the car wash is a particular concern. Unfortunately the council officers concerned were unaware of where the Garden was showing it entirely in the wrong place on the application plan. This same plan was used by the Acoustic Engineers called in to consider the implications of having noisy machinery in the centre of town. As a result they didn’t consider the effect of such a noisy operation on the Garden at all !
To pacify objectors EHDC has since stated that the car wash will be controlled by the terms of a 15 year lease they have granted. However details of this have not been released and requests for it under the Freedom of Information Act were met with a statement that the licence is with the Land Registry – who promptly replied that they do not hold it. Further requests to EHDC were again turned down. Lock down and Covid 19 has taught us the value of the natural world and yet at the same time we are busy destroying the peace of the Physic Garden.
All of which may leave you wondering exactly what the value of the Neighbourhood Plan is and who is ensuring that it is followed since clearly EHDC are not. Neighbourhood has become No-bourhood. Is this the reward that all those volunteers who prepared the Plan get for all their efforts?

The Post asked East Hampshire District Council to respond to the article and these are their responses:
Q. Does the car wash affect the tranquillity of the garden?
It has measures to prevent noise nuisance, and noise from it isn’t intrusive in the garden.
Q. Was is the planning process faulty?
The planning team works in professional isolation from the rest of the council and is clearly guided by government and local planning policies. If there is no planning reason to refuse an application, it should be granted. Land ownership or a capacity to make money for the council, is irrelevant and it would be illegal to take these matters into consideration when considering an application.
Q. What weight did the Petersfield Neighbourhood Plan PNP carry?
Full weight was given to it, but no PNP policies were specifically relevant. It does include an aspiration to achieve better links between the garden and river and this does not preclude that.
Q. Why did the council approve this application?
It according with local plan policies, and would not detract from the area, have an unacceptable impact on nearby properties, or an adverse effect on the highway network, or harm the settings of nearby listed buildings.
It would enhance the town centre viability and the character of the Petersfield conservation area would be preserved.

Can you find any Chinese Lantern plants in the Garden?
Petersfield Community Radio visits the Garden  - January 2020

Jenny and Claire during the recording session

The Physic Garden was invited to host Petersfield Community Radio group in the recording of one of their weekly podcasts. In this edition Jenny Hill, Garden Manager can be heard speaking about the Garden in an interview with Claire Vennis to produce the P pod podcast. This can be heard by following the link below.
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