Novalis Trust

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Just in case anyone doesn’t know, the scandal up at Box over the purchase of the Halfway House pub, it’s transformation with state of the art facilities and décor, and subsequent closure has all been due to the activities of the Steiner organisation the Novalis Trust.

The Trust also owns Box Wood (30 acres now fenced off and cctv monitored) for use by the Cotswold Chine School next door, and six properties in the village.

The Trust has been criticised for the way it has used money intended for the benefit of the children in its care.

Exactly what goes on in the large old pub building on the common is a bit of a mystery, although  it seems part of it sometimes operates as a kind of café.

Stroud District Council seems powerless to act on behalf of local people who have lost an amenity, and this may be through fear of losing a large sum of public money should there be an appeal against an enforcement notice.

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15 comments

  1. Jim

    It is curious that the Novalis Trust is so unwelcoming at Box whereas at Ruskin Mill the atmosphere seems quite different. It is after all the same cultish belief system behind both.
    I guess irrespective of beliefs it still comes down to personalities. I don’t know what sort of overlap of leaders there is between the various local Steiner groups.

  2. Helen

    Well I have heard that there is one person responsible for bringing most of the groups to Stroud and Nailsworth and then one or two more anthroposophists who are the most prominent and probably do a lot of the organisation.
    At least there was a general invitation to the Field centre opening/Michaelmas do, which is more than can be said for the “café” at Box.
    Using the properties in Box without the required planning permission was an elementary mistake, and fits in with widespread reports of a general inability to deal with organisational matters in a competent way.
    http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/10694702.Concerns_about_plans_to_allow_pupils_with_behavioural_problems_to_live_in_properties_in_Box/
    If Novalis had handled things better perhaps local people would have warmed to the Steiner influence more at Box, and there would be less suspicion. There still would be questions about where the money comes from for projects like the Halfway House though.

  3. Helen

    Retrospective planning permission for Cotswold Chine School to use 3 of its 6 (or7) properties in Box as accommodation for pupils with behavioural difficulties has been refused.
    According to a report in the Stroud News and Journal
    “At the meeting on Tuesday night, the organisation was on the receiving end of stinging criticism from a number of elected members, including Cllr Nick Hurst (Con, Minchinhampton), who accused the charity of ‘aggressive property acquisition’ in the village, which he said was having a ‘corrosive effect on the viability and wellbeing of the community’.”
    Here is the report
    http://www.stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk/news/10812673.SDC_turns_down_planning_application_from_Cotswold_Chime_School_amid_concerns_about_anti_social_behaviour/
    Apparently the Novalis Trust Chief executive Jake Lucas said it would appeal and that the committee had been “side-tracked by issues unrelated to the application.”

  4. Scandalousemouse

    So then…… I have just been skimming this website out of a vague interest. I live in the south woodchester area and have been up walking/biking on minchinhampton common quite a few times over the last few months. I’ve seen this post and am really quite shocked at the actually massively impressive OUTRIGHT lack of knowledge and OUTRIGHT lack of the person having written this particular article having actually done ANY research whatsoever on the current state of this matter. I’ve been into this café (which it actually is for all of those who will attempt to tell those reading this that “a part of it sometimes operates as a cafe”) I was aware that the café had caused a bit of an uproar when the pub was closed by it’s former owner as he wanted to focus on running another business in the nearby village of Minchinhampton. I was also aware that during the time it was owned by the novalis trust, the building had been renovated by novalis trust. After having been into the toilets, I was both amazed and intrigued at the outstanding beauty to be found in there. I was as i have said intrigued and enquired as to how much of the building was open to the public as I wanted to have a bit of a look around. The staff were only too willing to show me the downstairs part of the complex which was fully open and accessible to members of the public. After having seen the dimensions of the building from outside, and how much of that was open to the public, I can honestly say that I feel that for the writer of this article to have said and i quote “part of it sometimes operates as a cafe” is entirely wrong. almost the entire building was functioning as a cafe and the portion that wasn’t, there was no mystery involved at all, It was clear to see through the outside window, was clearly undergoing some kind of restoration work. So I ask, how can anybody actually take somebody with this clear and acute lack of knowledge seriously? I fail to see how novalis trust turning the building into a cafe is losing an amenity. A cafe is definitely an amenity and anybody who would argue it is not, is in my opinion a fool.

    • eyesbeingopened

      The cafe is an amenity but it does in fact operate some pretty random opening hours. We went one Sunday and were impressed with the child-friendly nature of the space so we tried to return the following Saturday to find it shut. I couldn’t see any opening hours displayed.
      There is no mystery about what the building is used for – half of it is used for admin to do with the school, offices etc. The downstairs is used by the staff as a canteen in the week but is also open to the public, I assume because of planning regulations.
      The cafe does provide work experience for the children at the school, which is a good thing.

      The problem is the way the school and the cafe – Novalis Trust – have alienated the local people. It’s not just to do with the cafe, they also don’t have planning in place for residential property, they block public use of footpaths through the woods. I am sure there are more examples but I have actually a massively impressive OUTRIGHT lack of knowledge and OUTRIGHT lack of having actually done ANY research whatsoever on the current state of this matter.

      • Scandalousemouse

        Did you ever think to ask anyone? try suggesting it to the people who work there? they do have a comments book I saw. which you could absolutely take the chance to suggest it in. or you could even suggest it to the staff if you were brave enough? I fail to see how not putting large signs up out the front saying exactly what they are doing with property they own is alienation. would you accuse a local resident who fails to do this with property they own fair and square, of alienating the community? I actually took the time today to research box woods and discovered that public use of footpaths being blocked is untrue. there are maps accessible showing where the public rights of way are. and as for planning permission for residential property, I was under the impression that the buildings in question are in fact residential properties. As in houses built and designed for use as residential space. While this doesn’t excuse the fact that legally they should have sorted all the legal documentation, it is still what the buildings were designed for. The downstairs portion of the cafe I was informed, upon requesting the information, contains one corner which contains tea, coffee, biscuits, fruit etc…. which even then is not separated off from the public area so is still technically not inaccesible to the public. Again when I ASKED about there at one point having been a reception in the building, I was informed that there had been for a time while the building was undergoing some small amount of renovation work to turn it into a cafe, so that it wasn’t entirely unoccupied. this was because there had been some vandalism or something. but nowadays the only offices etc were in the connected building next door. I’m going to pick on one part of your previous comment now. I quote this ” I assume because of planning regulations.” You seem to be assuming an awful lot. Have you ever tried to ask the people there? As they seemed to be pretty open and transparent about the whole thing to me.

      • Helen

        Thanks, eyesbeingopened, for a first-hand account. I have not been there for a while now.
        I believe this issue has recently been banned from a forum in Nailsworth – not allowed to mention the name of the pub or the organisation , apparently…

  5. Scandalousemouse

    Helen, I had seen the post on the nailsworth forum. That’s what led me to developing a bit of an interest. I presumed that the thread had been locked because of somebody quite simply being abusive. That’s not entirely about the halfway house as such as somebody sticking up for Novalis I don’t think.

  6. eyesbeingopened

    Oops! You could take the names out if we are not allowed to opine on this?

    Alienation of the local community is not measured in terms of what they did or did not do when the pub closed and the cafe opened – which in my (illegal?) opinion wasn’t such a big deal in terms of a loss of amenity etc. The alienation is measured by how the community feels about the action – it’s very subjective. I am not local to Box, so it did not affect me in this way. A person living in Box may feel differently, and they have a right to feel alienated and affronted if that is how they feel. A pub is a community hub, not simply a matter of private property.

    Also, I am assuming things about planning because it is widely reported to be a planning issue which the locals have raised to do with the residential buildings, furthermore I understand from Box public meeting minutes that the blocking of the footpaths is something that happened on the actual footpaths, not on a map. Which, I suggest, is the issue there.

  7. Helen

    Whoever runs that forum decided to ban the topic. There was a lengthy, but as far as I know reasonably polite discussion going on over there for months.
    It is ok to mention it here…!
    All I try to do is keep track of what goes on in the local press on the subject. As I say, I have not been there recently.
    Scandalousemouse you seem inordinately concerned for someone who is not involved in the movement.
    If you have read much here you will know that the Novalis issue is just one part of an epic Steiner story here, and as such needs mentioning.

    • Scandalousemouse

      Well I have to say I don’t understand enough about Steiner and anthroposophical practices at this time to make an informed comment. But I will agree that I am highly concerned about this post. I just felt that information that I had gained simply by asking the cafe staff, outright contradicted several parts of the original post. Such as what goes on in the building. By simply asking about a month ago give or take when I was last there, I was able to clarify the truth of the buildings purpose, and what it is actually being used for. Unless there are hidden rooms underneath the building then I find it difficult to say that very much of the buildings space is unaccounted for. I found this out just by asking the people there. There was no secrecy or question-dodging going on. So on this particular article, I felt it was being unduly harsh and key bits of easily accessed information were simply stated as incorrect. Based I will say again, on information I was given simply by asking. I also do not feel this is particularly relevant to the actual subject of this website. If there was speculation they were using the building for their kooky gnome worship or whatever anthroposophy focuses on, then yes I would agree. However like I said. This is just about the pub/cafe

  8. Helen

    I have been a bit slow. Clearly several people are commenting under Scandalousemouse.
    It is bad manners to point out people’s grammatical/spelling errors so I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but you have now been found out.
    No more comments from you please unless you each identify yourselves individually.
    Why do Steiner people feel compelled to use underhand tactics?

  9. Helen

    Steiner activities seem to provoke strong feelings.
    It is not just about the pub/cafe. The money spent there is from charitable funds, and the kooky gnome worship as you call it takes place on the property, since the whole operation – school, woods, cafe/canteen and admin is Steiner based.
    You have provided us with your view of what is currently going on at Box, so thanks for that.
    I do not think a charity working with children should have bought such a property and spent so much money on it – the toilets you mention, I have seen those. The decor is what one might have expected in Gadafi’s palacial home rather than a country pub.
    There is a lot of bad feeling about it in the area, and Novalis, Spirit World, or whover runs it now have not made themselves many friends, that’s for sure.

    • Scandalousemouse

      I do agree. But now we’ve hit the root of the problem haven’t we? Not the pub itself, but the way that they use the money they have right?

  10. Helen

    The pub itself is the root of the the problem, as eyesbeingopened said, for the people who live in Box.
    Cotswold Chine enterprises deprived the village of the amenity of the pub.
    The issue of the money may not have surfaced if they had not closed it owing lots of people large sums, as the article above states.
    I assume I am talking to one person here scandalousemouse, as we have different devices in use and different language used?
    You may not know there has been a problem before with several people using one comment name.

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