Wiltshire Publications

Village is not ‘at war’

AFTER the village of Edington hit the national press over its relationship with its resident American millionaire, the parish council has hit out against the “unbalanced nature of the articles” saying they give “an inaccurate impression of the views of villagers as a whole.”
American property expert Chad Pike owns a £3.5million Grade 1 listed mansion, as well as the village pub, farm shop, microbrewery development, and horticultural project at Priory Farm.
A dispute between Chad Pike and his neighbour over a hedge between their properties escalated into the national press, bringing out some villagers’ underlying concerns that the American was aiming to do what the Daily Mail described as “turning their idyllic parish into a theme park.” The newspaper described the village as being “at war with its American squire.”
But following a meeting of Edington Parish Council, which was attended by over 40 villagers, the council has responded to denounce the negative impression the articles have given of the village.
The council states it welcomes the positive developments Chad Pike has made to the village, such as his investment in the mansion, and financing the restoration of the village pub and adjacent farm shop and microbrewery. However, they say that, in order to move forward, now is the time for direct discussions with him about his strategy for further development, with one main concern being the American’s purchase of village houses and whether they are to support an activity holiday enterprise.
Edington Parish Council says, “The newspaper articles, prompted by knowledge of this dispute [over the hedge], suggested that it was indicative of a broader community concern about the scale of development of Mr Pike’s property Edington Priory Farm and its impact on the village.
“Mr Pike, in the three years since arrival with his family at Edington Priory, has made an obviously sizeable investment in improvement of the house, its outbuildings and surrounding farm land.  He has also financed restoration of the village pub and is now providing an adjacent farm shop and microbrewery, both developments of significant advantage to the community that have been welcomed.  There have been practical and amicable discussions at each stage of the developments between the council and Mr Pike’s local manager.  The Parish Council has been formally consulted in the determination by Wiltshire Council of all of the planning applications, and has generally supported them because they accord with the relevant planning policies for this rural village.
“Edington is a village which prides itself in both welcoming newcomers and in its wide range of organisations and activities. This was recognised in 1999, when Edington was nationally acclaimed as Village of the Year, the award reflecting many aspects of a vibrant community spirit. However, over the years, in common with many other small villages, it has suffered the loss of many of its community facilities with the closure of its school, its chapel, all three shops and one of its public houses. The remaining public house, The Lamb, now known as the Three Daggers, was also subject to the threat of closure twice within the last decade, hence the well-publicised intention of the residents to purchase the property and establish it as a community pub. The Edington Development Plan, when it was published in 2005 following a village wide-survey, recognised the need to halt this decline and a number of recommendations were made at the time.
“However, the renovation of the Three Daggers and the construction of the farm shop/microbrewery have greatly improved the existing and potential facilities for both residents and visitors alike; these, along with the horticultural project at the Priory Farm have led to increased employment opportunities in the vicinity. Without the investment made by Mr Pike, developments on the scale seen would have been very unlikely to have taken place.
“In the view of the Parish Council, Edington continues to be an attractive village in which to live.
“Whilst it recognises these developments as being beneficial to the village, the Parish Council is alert to concerns expressed by some residents about some of the rapid changes that are taking place; in particular, about Mr Pike’s purchase of some other village houses and whether they are to support an intention to extend an international activity holiday enterprise to Edington.  Councillors, as representatives of the community, believe it may now be timely for a direct discussion with Mr Pike about his strategy for such further developments, indeed should these be pursued this will be a requirement of the Localism Act.
“At the meeting [of the parish council], during the open session speakers generally expressed positive support for Mr Pike’s contribution to the village and concern that the newspaper articles were unfairly hostile. Councillors subsequently took account of these views in preparing this statement. In conclusion, the council stated that it regrets the unbalanced nature of the articles recently published and feels that they give an inaccurate impression of the views of villagers as a whole. The developments incorporating the public house, farm shop and microbrewery are welcomed as being beneficial to the village and are fully in keeping with Parish Council objectives.”