Town Wells: Appendix 9: Save Clitheroe Town Wells’ Action Plan

The refusal in February 2020 by Ribble Valley Borough Council’s (RVBC) to acknowledge its historic responsibility for two of the three town wells now puts the future of all three of the ancient heritage assets in jeopardy. We know of no other town in England which still retains three former public wells within its Conservation Area.

‘TEN STAGE ACTION PLAN’: This is extracted from the revised ‘Save the Town Wells campaign that Clitheroe Civic Society relaunched in September 2020. The stages are set out sequentially but inevitably there will be some overlap and the need for continuous - and collaborative - review as the Campaign progresses.  

This new ‘Plan of Action’ was approved unanimously at the 10th August General Committee Meeting of Clitheroe Civic Society and subsequently at the Meeting of the Town Wells Working Group (TWWG) on 4th November 2020. It seeks to secure the support of our elected representatives and the public of Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley to direct our Council and it’s Officers to work alongside the community to secure the future of these three unique heritage assets.

One: Reconvene and formally establish the Town Wells Working Group, seek to extend Community membership of the Group and - together - promote a wider public and elected councillor engagement with this campaign.

Two: Re-engage with RVBC, commencing with further investigation of the February 2020 offer for a grant, with the aim of the Council joining the TWWG to communally secure the future of the Town Wells with this campaign.

Three: Secure the necessary funds to commission a Conservation Management Plan (CMP). This to scope the extent and costs of the anticipated surveys, studies and consolidation and repair works required , along with potential Grant Aid once the registration of all three wells is achieved. This to be used to promote the campaign on the basis of fact. Within any CMP commissioned the issue of ownership significance must also be included as an integral part.

Four: The Council to acknowledge the principle of necessity for some form of registered ownership for all three wells to secure their future. This in the light of the NHLF’s negative response to the Council’s enquiry about securing grant aid for work to sites without benefit of a registered title deed (as previously advised by this Society)

Five: Work, using public and elected representative pressure, for the Council’s acceptance that they are the only body that can apply for registered ownership of all three wells and, with the assistance and participation of others, oversee a long term, comprehensive project to secure their future.

Six: Secure the reconsideration of the future of all three town wells by RVBC Councillors and secure their acknowledgement of their ownership and maintenance responsibility, the legality of making registration applications to the Land Registry for the two unregistered wells, and a resolution to do so.

Seven: Applications to be made to register ownership with the Land Registry by the Council. These to be based on their successful approach for the registration of Stock Well in November 2019 – where no title deed could be found – and the extensive and overwhelming evidence amassed by CCS. This evidence confirms that this Council - and their administrative forebears have - by their recorded and continuous actions - ‘de facto’ responsibility for Heild and St Mary’s Wells.

Eight: Having established the type of registration application considered to have best chance of success, such applications for Heild and Stocks Well to be submitted to the Land Registry.

Nine: Following the registration of Heild and St Mary’s Wells, the Conservation Management Plan to be acted on cooperatively under the direction of the TWWG – which by will, hopefully, include the Council as Partners. This will establish a Programme for implementing the CMP , along with a budget costed outline scheme and programme of comprehensive investigation, consolidation, repair, interpretation and future maintenance.

Ten: Using this community developed programme, commence raising the necessary funding to implement the CMP. This CMP will form the basis of discussions with NHLF and other agencies to secure the funds for a phased programme of conservation, interpretation, and future management , to implement these.


Steve Burke, Chairman, Clitheroe Civic Society.

Revised 6th November 2020