INCREASING development plans in and around Torrington are raising fears for the future of the town s famous Commons. Torrington Commons Conservators met this week to discuss the problems and to search their archives and re-examine their powers to safeguar

INCREASING development plans in and around Torrington are raising fears for the future of the town's famous Commons.Torrington Commons Conservators met this week to discuss the problems and to search their archives and re-examine their powers to safeguard the 365 acres of public amenity land that borders the town on three sides.The 15-strong group of elected volunteers administer and maintain the Commons, which were given to the people of the town by Act of Parliament.Currently there are a number of development proposals for the town, including new housing, industrial units and two supermarkets.Clerk to the Conservators John Baker said: "We are not necessarily against the proposed developments. But we are trying to protect the Commons and keep them as they have been since 1889."Chairman Mike Collingham pointed out that the Commons themselves were protected against development by Parliament. But there were issues of access, sewerage and the run-off of surface water from neighbouring development. They were concerned to find ways in which they could ameliorate the adverse effects these could have on the Commons. "If surface water is just dumped on the Commons it runs down the slopes into the Commons stream and lake," he said. "This waterway is used by the junior school as part of its environmental studies and we have a duty of care."We are told that the surface water is no different than that which would run off a field, but where there is development people are washing their cars, using weedkiller and all sorts of things. All we are asking is that developers be made to carry out some sort of amelioration work before the water is allowed to go on the Commons."There were already problems along the Rolle Road footway of manholes being lifted and sewage spilling. This carried sewage from the town and the concern was that the system was already overloaded or that surface water was getting in, he said. "The Commons are used by people for walking and for a large number of events. The majority want this to be a clean and tidy place, an ecological environment and a nice place to be," he said. Conservator Brian Davies added: "We are looking after the Commons for the next generation. We are caretakers.