MINUTES OF MEETING OF STERT PARISH COUNCIL
held in Stert House on 24th and 26th April 2017
Clive Boyes (CB), Chairman
Alick Edwards (AE), Dty Chairman
Sam Deacon (SD), Councillor
Lucy Barker (LB), Councillor/Treasurer
William Howkins (WH), Councillor/Clerk
1. Apologies for absence
Chris Lawrence and Cllr Philip Whitehead (WC) sent their apologies.
2. Declaration of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
3. Claironailes Planning Application 17/02151/FUL.
Prior to the PC meeting, a site meeting took place at 6.30 pm. Present were: Ian James (joint applicant) and his son-in-law, Mike Lloyd, and George Lewis (architect); Clive Boyes, William Howkins, Lucy Barker and Sam Deacon from Stert PC; and John Clements, Steve Depoix and Elaine Meyrick as interested neighbours.
CB began by welcoming Mr James as a potential new resident to Stert and saying how pleased the whole village was to hear a single dwelling was proposed on the site.
Mr James informed that he had not yet purchased the plot; the plot’s vendor has imposed a deadline of the end of June for the deal to be completed, and this depended on planning permission being obtained by then. If the application was not approved, then Mr James would withdraw.
Letters of objection to the plans had been posted directly to WC by residents of adjacent properties, Hill House and Landor House, on the grounds that the new house would unduly impact their privacy. John Clements asked Mr Lewis if there had been any pre-planning consultations with the neighbours and Mr Lewis said no.
45 minutes of discussion ensued during which the PC raised the neighbours’ concerns and tried to explore possible revisions to the plans: moving the house east, making it single storey or a dormer design, or digging down into the slope to reduce the height. All were rejected by the Mr. James or Mr. Lewis due to cost or time constraints. Mr Depoix and Ms Meyrick expressed concern about the height of the garage. The architect said this could be lowered by 2-3 feet, and Mr Depoix and Ms Meyrick said that on this basis they could support the application.
LB said she really regretted the situation the PC had been put in with no room for compromise and how much easier it would have been if the plans had been discussed at an early stage with the owners of Hill House and Landor House. Mr Lewis agreed that in retrospect this would have been useful.
At 7.30 the meeting then adjourned to Stert House, but without Mr James, his son and Mr Lewis.
Also present at Stert House were Alick Edwards (parish councillor) and Stert residents Valerie Fairbank (mother of Mrs Ian James), Brian Phelps and David Stephenson.
CB gave a brief summary of the discussions at the site meeting. SD asked whether tree planting for screening would reduce the impact of the proposed house.
Mr Phelps and Mrs Fairbank both said the village should welcome the proposed house as the occupants would make a very positive contribution to the village and the house itself would enhance the village scape. The alternative would be a developer buying the site and applying to build several houses. Mr Stephenson said he felt the design was out of proportion to the site and the surrounding area. He felt the developer/multi dwelling threat was bringing unreasonable pressure to bear on the PC. WH read out a summary of the responses from Stert residents to the request for comments on the proposed house and garage where the majority welcomed a single dwelling on the site but were concerned about the size and height of the proposed house and it’s not being in keeping with the existing neighbouring houses.
WH also felt the PC had been put under undue pressure to approve the application as a fait accompli to prevent a developer from building a row of houses on the site and he would like time to consider all the views that had been expressed before coming to a decison. AE agreed with this. As it was also felt the PC needed time for further consultation with WC about planning policies, it was agreed to adjourn the meeting until 26th April.
The meeting reconvened on 26th April when Councillors CB, WH, LB, SD and AE were present as well as John Clements, Stert resident.
WH reported he had received a telephone call and email that morning from Mr James to say he was withdrawing the planning application due to the objections to the plans expressed at Monday’s meeting, but thanked the PC for its time spent on discussing it.
CB then reviewed the reasons for adjourning Monday’s meeting and outlined the information he had been given by Mr Morgan Jones, WC’s planning officer. The relevant policy is given in WC’s Core Strategy 2015-2026 and in HC25, adopted by Kennet Council and incorporated into WC’s planning policy in 2004.
CB confirmed that Stert is classified as “open countryside” and therefore, according to HC25, where permission to build a replacement building is sought:
The siting should be closely related to the existing footprint
The scale of the proposed building should not be significantly larger than the existing.
The impact of the proposed building on the wider landscape should be considered.
Since these restrictions would also apply to any proposed future development of the site, the PC saw no reason to recommend waiving HC25 for this application. SD mentioned some recent planning cases in Wiltshire where applications for multiple dwellings on a former single dwelling plot had been refused.
The meeting was then adjourned for Mr Clements (JC) to speak:
JC was concerned the PC had been too focused on the lack of prior consultation whereas it should have been focusing on the building plans themselves. In his view the PC should have been more prompt in considering the plans. In reply, he was told the PC had only learnt of the very tight time constraint on Monday night when the architect should have been more proactive in addressing PC’s concerns. WH said he had held site meetings with Mr. Moody and Mr. Lawrence early in April.
JC asked if the PC was confident it would always be able to stop future multi-dwelling developments at the site. CB replied that the research done by the PC in the last 2 days had given it very useful information which would enable the PC to put up very strong arguments against future over-development of the Claironailes site and a precedent for rejection where plans contravened the provisions of HC25.
The PC meeting then reconvened. It was unanimously agreed to object to Planning Application 17/02151/FUL due to non compliance with WC’s core strategy 2015 and the policy given in HC25.
4. Minutes of previous meeting
There were two sets of Minutes to be approved: PC meeting of 12th December (proposed by AE and seconded by LB) signed by CB, and Special PC Meeting of 11th March 2017 (proposed by WH and seconded by LB) signed by AE.
Since the last meeting, interest of £2.27 has been received into the PC account. There has been a single item of expenditure, £202.50 to Clive Boyes for the Christmas party. The balance of the account on 31/3/17 stood at £2023.57 (confirmed by WH), which is therefore the reserve.
LB handed out a copy of the 2016/17 accounts which need to be sent to Neville Burrell, the internal auditor, for his approval.
CB confirmed that there has been no change to the village assets register.
LB raised the subject of the annual budget. The PC’s income for 2017/18 will be £915, being the precept. The total expenditure for the year ending 31/3/17 was £1073 or, deducting the cost of the two village parties, it was £695. Assuming these expenses will be unchanged for the coming year, LB proposed a budget £700 for essential expenses and to cancel the summer party this year. The PC should review the accounts in the autumn before deciding a budget for the Christmas party. In future, the Treasurer’s Report on expenditure will state whether or not it is in line with the budget.
The next PC meeting must be held before June 5th to sign and approve governance and accounts, in order to meet the deadline for them to be submitted to the external auditor.
6. Neighbourhood Watch
WH reported that apart from some routine warnings from Wiltshire Police, which he had passed on to residents, there was nothing particular to report. AE said there was a caravan parked up by the road above the Monument, but the police had been there.
7. Tinkfield Recycling Centre.
WH had contacted Mr. Dean Thomas, the responsible planning officer at WC, to ask him to follow up on the retroactive planning application to be submitted by Tinkfield. He had been assured that this was being prepared and he should receive it in 2 to 3 weeks when we would receive due notification. WH promised to follow up on this before the next PC meeting.
SD said she had requested a copy of the operations permit for the site from the Environment Agency. CB noted that the mud on the road was still a problem and there had been no sign of the promised concreting of the internal site roads.
8. A342 verge maintenance
WH said he had entered an application on 13/2/17 under the Parish Steward Scheme to have the verge and hedge maintained. CB thought this had been done as it was now possible to walk from Stert to Clock in on the footpath.
9. Loss of View from Churchyard.
SD said she is planning to remove some of the leylandii on her property in the near future subject to planning permission which would help to improve the view from the churchyard. These would be replaced by indigenous tree sorts. An application from Mr. Tregoning would also be needed for removal of the single leylandii tree at Orchard Cottage.
10. Salt spreader status.
WH and AE had taken the spreader out for a trial of its settings, but had yet to receive formal training by WC.
LB asked AE what he proposed to do in the way of verge maintenance through the village. He suggested cutting the verges 5 – 6 times at the entrance to the village and 3 – 4 times through the village. The first cut would be done when the cow parsley had flowered. He confirmed he was willing to do this for £300, as in previous years.
12. Next Meeting
The next meeting will be the Annual Meeting of Stert PC, held on Monday 22nd May at 7.30 pm in Stert House, being 14 days after the new council takes office on 8th May.