Dartmouth and Kingswear Society

Annual Report for 2023/24

This is the main occasion each year for your Committee to report to you on the highlights of our activities since our last formal report in March 2023. We have been meeting regularly, almost monthly, and have been very active in dealing with a number of critical issues of public interest facing Dartmouth and our neighbouring villages and our coastal area as well as keeping a constant watch on planning applications.

As ever we continue to seek your input and suggestions as to what you wish us to pursue. We did this a year ago and received general praise and support for what we have been doing. Fortunately, most of the comments received were positive. All suggestions received our attention and action.

Our main activities each year are summarised on the annual Membership card but it is perhaps worthwhile as a reminder to go back to the wording in our Constitution and our Objects. In summary the Society was established for the public benefit to promote high standards of planning and architecture, to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest and to strive to reconcile the desirability of preserving those features which give the district its distinctive charm with the need for progress and prosperity. A very wide brief for a Society without any executive powers but we have tried to influence a variety of local, district and county organisations during the past year and will continue so to do.

Needless to say we seek additional support from Members to contribute to these efforts where their skills and talents are relevant to these objectives. Please make contact with your committee where you feel willing and able to assist.

A brief summary of some of our activities this past year

Following the adoption of the Dartmouth Neighbourhood Plan in late 2022 our advice has been regularly requested by Dartmouth Town Council and others seeking to understand better the implications they need to consider to ensure the proper implementation of the policies agreed.

We conduct regular reviews of planning applications in our area. We do not seek to give our views on each application as this is between the Applicant and the Planning authorities but we do seek to comment where policy or practical issues do not, in our view, meet the necessary high standards of preservation, design and protection required.

We have been actively watching and commenting upon the moves by various authorities regarding parking and local transport matters. In this regard we have been promoting the need for all relevant parties to cooperate, communicate and to commit to achieving results which fit best the interest of the Dartmouth community rather than individual financial interests. We will continue so to do.

We are currently in discussion with the District Council regarding their request for input to possible extensions to the Dartmouth Conservation areas. A formal consultation process is about to commence.

We have been watching carefully the proposed developments of the hospital and the clinic following the opening of the new Health and Well-being Centre to try to ensure that Dartmouth community interests are properly protected and local social interests and housing opportunities are not ignored.

We have been concerned for some time about the refuse, litter and waste problems facing various locations. We have sought direct action in a number of instances from the relevant authorities.

We have provided a critique and some questions for the Dart Harbour Board on their review of expanding their cruise liner business. Our concerns are still valid and still outstanding. The practicality of having more and larger liners visiting Dartmouth is still undecided and the Harbour Board consultation continues.

We are seeking more clarification of the implications of the extra layer of Devon County Council government currently under debate and consultation and its cost and management implications for our area and our local economy.

Hopefully these comments indicate to you all some of the key matters with which your committee have been and are dealing and considering.

Our events

Our regular series of events and talks has been well received and our programme plans for 2024/25 are already well advanced. The three talks were interesting and relevant as being directly related to our interest in design and architecture, the environment and to our enjoyment with the amusing talk from Simon Drew.

It is regrettable that, for a number of reasons, we had to cancel the regular Market Day lunch scheduled for 9 February. We hope to resurrect this event during the next year.

Membership and subscriptions

We continue to gain new members and we obviously seek more to offset the inevitable natural loss of members or through their leaving our area. Membership subscriptions remain at the same level as previously namely £12 for a couple and £7 for single membership.

Our finances

You will note from the annual audited accounts that our resources remain strong with over £17,000 held in cash or in investments.

The annual results from our normal activity indicate a prudent approach to costs and our overall activities. As usual we have made a number of donations to local and charitable causes. However, we have incurred a deficit for the year of some £1632 caused entirely because of our support of £2,000 to the Flavel’s “Weathering the Storm” appeal for funds. It is our view that the Flavel is a key institution locally and it needed urgent support. By making our contribution they were able to obtain a further sum of another £2,000 through matched funding. Our aim for 2024/25 is to return to a normal surplus for the year.

Your committee

This report would be deficient if it did not recognise the wonderful support from all the Officers and commttee members. Their time and commitment have been invaluable.

Some are standing down shortly and their efforts have been substantial. One in particular, our Hon. Treasurer Jill Rowe. She has been in place for many years of excellent service which has benefitted us all.  Her loss as Treasurer will be a difficult gap to fill so we request suitable volunteers to put themselves forward. Fortunately, she is prepared to remain on the Committee.

We also say goodbye to one of our longest standing members, Ray Bridges, who is a former Chairman. His wisdom, expertise and good counsel will be sorely missed but we thank him for all his many years of valuable service.

Concluding remarks

We welcome Members commitment, support and contribution. We seek your further support, not only at our events, and hope that individuals with relevant skills and availability will let us know how they might be able to assist us going forward.

The D and K Committee March 2024