Sorry Led Zeppelin fans, Rock FM isn't a new radio station, but an oddly named fellow who has been accompanying Gail Mayhew to GNDP meetings recently. Gail gets everywhere (or at least tries to), and manages to ingratiate herself with members of just about every committee that has anything to do with the North East Norwich Growth Triangle. Her efforts aren't really surprising, in view of the fact that her family own not only Thorpe's woods but most of Sprowston's too, as well as many hundreds more acres of land in the Triangle.
But I digress - the surprising extent of the Mayhew / Meath-Baker families' landholdings will be the subject of another article. The point of this article is to introduce you all to Rock Basil Hugo Fielding-Mellen, or Rock FM for short. Rock really is his first name, but he prefers to drop most of the rest of it when it seems expedient to appear ordinary: Rock Fielding is how he's signed himself in to the meetings he's attended with Gail. Both have put themselves down as representatives of the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust (the most recent being a meeting at County Hall in June, to discuss "Green Infrastructure Maintenance").
Rock's mother is Amanda, Countess of Wemyss and March. Rock's ancestors include the Earl of Denbigh and the Marquess of Bath. Rock is posh, just like 'Barney' Mayhew and Justin (Meath-)Baker. And like them, he seems to want to portray himself as just an ordinary person when it suits his interests. Not only is he posh, with all the family wealth and influence that goes with poshhood, and not only is he a key figure in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, he is also the founding director of Socially Conscious Capital and Socially Conscious Capital (Norwich).
"Socially Conscious Capital". Sounds intriguing but whatever could it mean? Helpfully, Rock and his pals have provided a website to explain exactly what it means (http://www.sociallyconsciouscapital.co.uk/). SCC is a company run from Rock's mum's house on Chelsea Embankment - in common with several other oddly named businesses, none of which seem to do much business, if any. Rock apparently likes dabbling in entrepreneurial enterprises but rarely seems to get much further than setting a company up, appointing a few mates as directors and then waiting for things to happen. SCC is pretty new, so maybe this one will break the mould?
They've certainly got themselves a nice looking website, which tells us, among other things, that "we are very selective about the projects we take on" - (so selective they haven't taken on any yet - or have they?)
The explanation continues: "Our key criteria for taking on a new project include: the site itself must have sufficient natural advantages to make a high quality new developemnt feasible" - well, Thorpe's woods have plenty of natural advantages but they make any kind of developemt completely unfeasible.
Furthermore, the website specifies: "The landowner must be willing and able to take a longer term view with regards to maximising the value of the site" - T&FT have no problem fulfilling that criterion, they've been trying to get permission to build all over the woods for over ten years and show no sign of losing interest.
Perhaps most interestingly, SCC's website states: "We are not shy of taking on sites with problems and obstacles, or sites that have a history of unsuccessful promotion" Hmm, so the upstart SCC, with all of Rock FM's massive lack of business experience behind it, thinks its very frst project can succeed where Andres Duany, DPZ and the Matrix Partnership failed?
SCC Norwich is even newer than SCC. There is no website or any other information on SCC Norwich, other than the companies house record that it was founded in February 2012. It doesn't look like a subsidiary of SCC, but more like a whole new partnership. Rock's partners in SCC are his mum, his stepdad and a couple of mates from Eton/Harrow or wherever. But his partner in SCC Norwich is one Giles Cherry, a London-based property developer and private landlord. In the absence of any published information we can only assume that Gail has long been acquainted with Rock from her own days at the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and is turning to his experimental company as a bit of a last resort. Whether it is the original SCC, or the Norwich offshoot, that is now working for the T&FT we can only guess: it seems probable that the Norwich offshoot was created especially to cater for Gail's family's 'needs'.
It makes little difference either way. However fancy SCC's / SCC Norwich's corporate gloss, facts are facts, and they'll soon come up against some pretty insurmountable ones where Thorpe's woods are concerned. If only it were true that these woods are nothing more than miserable, ecologically barren conifer plantations - life for the aspiring development consultant would be so much easier.
There's a lot more to be said on Rock FM and Socially Conscious Capital, but - as is the case with what's to be said on Gail's family's land-holdings around Norwich - that will have to wait for another time.