Minutes from remote Parish Council Meeting on 14th April 2021

Minutes Uploaded on October 28, 2021


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Present: Cllr J. Arkell (Chair), Cllr M. Chandler, Cllr L. Glazebrook, Cllr P. Hooton and Cllr K. Morton.

In attendance:   K. Tilling (Parish Clerk), Cllr Awford and 1 member of the public.

1. Welcome and Apologies:

There were no Councillor apologies for the meeting. In light of recent events, a one-minute silence was held as a mark of respect following the recent death of HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.

The restrictions caused by the coronavirus are still on-going which means that there are no physical meetings at present. The restrictions are due to be lifted in May 2021 and the Parish Council will return to physical meetings as the virtual meetings are no longer covered by any extension to this legislation. These regulations require the council to offer remote access to meetings until 7th May 2021.

Addendum to the Agenda: 3a. Leigh NDP Regulation 14 consultation feedback.

2. Declarations of Interest:

Pursuant to the adoption by the Parish Council on 14th November 2012 of Leigh Parish Council’s Code of Conduct, effective from 14th November 2012 and set out in the minutes of 14th November 2012, Parish Councillors are invited to declare any interest they may have in the business set out on the agenda to which the approved Code applies. The following declaration was made: Cllr Chandler declared an interest in the two planning applications relating to Leigh Court. Cllr Chandler would leave the virtual meeting whilst these planning applications were being discussed

3. To formally approve the Minutes of the last meeting:

The minutes from the previous remote meeting on 10th March 2021 were approved. Proposed by Cllr Glazebrook and seconded by Cllr Hooton. All were unanimous.

3a. To receive feedback and consider the next stage of the Leigh Neighbourhood Development Plan:

Colin Withers gave detailed feedback on the current progress of the Leigh NDP. He confirmed that he had spent a full day working with Andrea Pellegram, the professional consultant. They collated all the responses from the recent Regulation 14 consultation and used them to formalise the report ready for the Regulation 15 stage.

The number of responses was lower than expected, but enough. However, their content was excellent and they will be summarised and included as an appendix in the report.  There was also a good response from the extended mailing list; a copy of the documents was sent to numerous statutory consultees and planning agents. Their responses have also been very detailed.

It was suggested that a copy of the Reg 14 documents be sent to the Inspector currently in charge of the hearing for the Bovis/Hitchins Appeal.  Colin explained that clarification was being sought regarding the need for a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) or Habitat regulations Assessment (HRA).

This work brings the process to the next stage which has 3 options.  The Parish Council could authorise Colin to proceed as he sees fit, a meeting called to ask the old committee members to consider the proposals or report the final draft at the next Parish Council meeting and be formally approved at that meeting by the wider parish.  After careful consideration it was agreed that the document would be discussed and its approval considered at the AGM/Parish Meeting next month. Councillor Morton also reminded fellow Councillors that there was an additional financial advantage for Parish Councils that held approved Neighbourhood Developments Plans. (In March 2019 TBC reported that the Neighbourhood Allocation of CIL money was 15% to Parish Councils with a responsible financial officer (59A (7) subject to a cap of £100 per existing dwelling) or 25% (uncapped) to Parish Councils with a ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plan).

4. To discuss planning department consultations and consider responses for the following:

21/00063/FUL: Removal/variation of Condition 1 (approved plans), Condition 8 (Protected Species Method Statement) and Condition 9 (Demolition of Vine Tree Farm) of the planning application reference 17/00478/FUL, to allow the original dwelling house on the site to be retained for use as a bat roost and ancillary storage in association with Evington Manor, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill.

Parish Councillors have taken the time to reacquaint themselves with the conditions attached to the site known as Vine Tree Farm. There followed a detailed discussion about the reasons behind conditions and the need to ensure that these conditions are upheld.  If they are later amended then it questions the need for them to be made in the first place.  As many of the conditions for this site were stipulated by both the PINS Inspector and TBC, it is thought that there is an over whelming need to ensure that these conditions are not only retained but are enforced.  The site has seen a history of planning applications and amendments since 2014, including the appeal of 17/00478/FUL. Following a site visit on 5th June 2018 the appeal was allowed and the decision publicised on 13th July 2018. There was a schedule of conditions attached to the decision which clearly identified which plans/drawings were to be used together with various timescales for these conditions.

Whilst under construction the Parish Council have made numerous approaches to TBC Planning and the Enforcement Officer, highlighting concerns that planning conditions continue to be breached or ignored without any real contestation.  TBC were notified last year that the house was occupied and therefore in breach of the condition relating to the paragraph 11 of the schedule of conditions and then subsequently paragraph 9.  Paragraph 11 specifically states that “unless within 2 months of the decision date the ground levels shown within approved drawing P103 of planning permission Ref 15/01007/FUL within the wildflower paddock area have been implemented the house shall not be occupied until such time as they are implemented. Upon implementation of the ground levels specified in this condition, those ground levels shall thereafter be retained”.  This was included to ensure that the ground levels on the western part of the site were returned to their original levels as identified by the early plans of 2014 and earlier outline planning application from the previous owner. The Environment Agency objected to this part of the proposal as this section of the site is within the historic flood plain of the River Severn. It has been stated that the levels on this part of the site need to be returned to the approved drawing P103 for the fall-back position.  There was no dispute that these previous levels could be achieved but to date there has been no work to ensure that these original levels have been returned. TBC have been reminded of this requirement.  This is also evidenced by looking at the neighbouring fencing.

There is no reason why removal or variation of Condition 1 is required and therefore must remain.

Condition 8 has only been partially discharged.  Checks outlined in a timetable have now expired.  The Protected Species Method Statement is no longer fit for purpose as it is out of date and the monumental impact that construction has had on any wildlife that once lived in the area.  It has been noted that despite the dwelling being sited in a Landscape Protection Zone and bordering an SSSI they have been allowed to install artificial grass and plastic ivy, all of which has not been mentioned on any landscaping plans. The Protected Species statement makes reference to low lighting provision to ensure that nocturnal animals are not disturbed. The current lighting of the back garden contravenes this statement as lighting can be seen from both sides of the PROW at the Coombe Hill Canal and Nature Reserve. Without an up-to-date protected species report it is impossible to say how few animals are now living on site, so a new one is required to make an informed decision. The Inspectors comments were very clear that “at no time shall doors be installed to enclose the Bat House, hereby approved, and at no time shall any lighting be installed on or within that building or within 10 metres of the vicinity of that building”.  Clearly this condition cannot be met by moving the Bat House to the old Vine Tree Farm Building especially if this building is going to be used for ancillary purposes. Any usage will create noise, light pollution and the building will have doors and windows. There is no reference to the badger sett that was on site.

Condition 9 refers to the demolition of Vine Tree Farm; the outbuildings were demolished at the start of the construction period. The Inspector and TBC have made it very clear that the existing dwelling known as Vine Tree Farm, as originally shown on the various plans submitted, was to be demolished.  This building therefore should have been demolished before Christmas as no different period of time has been agreed in writing with TBC. The Inspector was very precise in his report confirming that the proposal has always been “for a replacement dwelling in an area where a new dwelling would otherwise normally be restricted it is necessary to condition the demolition of Vine Tree Farm. The ground levels within the Wildflower Paddock area are required to be restored to that indicated to ensure that flood risk elsewhere is not increased”.

The Parish Council strongly objects to the variations and amendments to this site for reasons outlined above. The conditions need to be upheld as they were applied for a reason. Build the bat house in the lower section of the paddock to comply with the planning permission and pull down the old farmhouse. There is no requirement for an additional building to be left on site as there is more than enough space within the new four storey house, orangery and garages to accommodate all the necessary ancillary equipment required for this site.

21/00158/FUL – Creation of a new driveway access at 4 Pancake Lane, The Leigh, Gloucester.

This application seeks to create a new driveway direct onto the lane.  The owners currently have a shared parking area with houses 1 and 2.  The new access will not really be seen by anyone nor will it create any additional traffic use of the narrow lane. It was noted that the gradient is quite steep from the lane to the house.  Glos Highways will have an interest in this new access as they are responsible for the lane.  There is a PROW which runs the length of the garden and this must not be blocked or altered as a result. See PROW ALH27 for more details.  It was also noted that many of the PROW directional arrows are missing from the various routes in the area.  The Clerk was asked to contact the PROW Officer and ask if new arrows could be made available. There were no perceived issues with this application.

21/00210/FUL – Erection of a milking parlour, cattle handling facilities building and external cow collecting yard (retrospective) at Leigh Court, Church Lane, The Leigh.

This is a retrospective application following investigations by the Enforcement Officer. Last year parishioners made the Parish Council aware that planning  permission had not been built in accordance with approved plans for a hay barn. (See Enforcement 20/00110/ENFC dated 21st May 2020). Reports have been received that there are now a lot more lights on at night – the need for them to so bright and left on all night long was questioned.  The Parish Council strongly believes this site should be classed as an Intentional Unauthorised Development since the preparation for this building work took some organising.  It is understood that following a Government Statement in 2015, IUD’s are a material planning consideration, yet the Parish Council notes that TBC failed to act in a timely manner when the information was given to them The buildings have been erected with a blatant disregard for the planning process.  It is a great pity that this application was not submitted in the correct way. With the correct paperwork and the required accompanying reports, it is quite likely that this would have been fully supported by the Parish Council. The Parish Council cannot be seen to support retrospective applications that are forced following an enforcement investigation.  It is noted that there is a lack of useful supporting information. Further information is required on the ammonia release statement.  The new drawing shows that drainage is via a pipe to an existing slurry store.  The Parish Council are not aware of a slurry store in the position marked on the map. Either the arrow is pointing in the wrong direction or a new slurry pit has also been created and not been included in this application.  This needs to be clarified before any permission is granted. The Parish Council cannot condone or encourage behaviour where a change of use is so very different to the planning permission for 18/00970/APP that was granted in 2019 and expired on 14th February 2021.

21/00212/FUL – Erection of a cow cubicle house (retrospective) at Leigh Court, Church Lane, The Leigh.

This application is also a retrospective application following enforcement investigations during 2020 and relates closely with planning application 21/00210/FUL. (See Enforcement 20/00110/ENFC dated 21st May 2020). This animal house was built without any efforts to apply for the appropriate planning permission in advance and was hidden by a high wall of hay bales during its construction. To build something with the intention to by-pass the planning procedure is known as an Intentional Unauthorised Development. It is understood that following a Government Statement in 2015, IUD’s are a material planning consideration. It is noted that the neighbouring farm has also applied to rebuild their cow cubicles and have applied for this following the correct procedures. This application for a retrospective application should be treated in such a way that both applications for the same kind of building are treated in exactly the same way i.e., all the reports etc that are being requested for application 19/00857/FUL should also be submitted for this application.  The Parish Council are unable to support this application due to the way that the building has come about.

21/00258/FUL – Variation of Condition 2 (approved plans) of planning application ref number 18/00173/FUL to allow for minor repositioning of plots 24 and 25 at the Swan, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill.

The variation to move plots 24 and 25 is very minor when looking at the site as a whole and no objections were raised to this amendment.  Of more concern is the obvious lack of being able to stick to planning conditions. The Parish Council believe that the current planning permission saw an open fronted development, but now see that a high wooden fence is being constructed. If the fencing around the site is close board fencing panels, then what is the point of installing items like the hedgehog domes – if there are any hedgehogs still in the area then they will not be able to access the site.

21/00039/EHFB – Non-compliance with condition 3 (Tree Protection) of planning permission 18/00173/FUL at Part Parcel 8917, The Swan, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill.

The Parish Council were asked for help by neighbours to this site on 11th March 2021 and a series of photos were taken to show the destruction of the site by the new developers, Kendrick Homes. Site clearing work was actually started in February and on 19th February 2021; TBC was made aware that the developers were allegedly not adhering to planning conditions.  A clerk hand delivered a copy of the planning permission to the site manager on 11th March 2021.  TBC were contacted on a number of occasions and several site visits were promised but did not materialise.  One resident did encourage the local paper to take up the story and it has been noted that several neighbouring Parish Councils have also lodged complaints to TBC.  TBC has not responded positively to anyone to date. Local residents are naturally concerned that this developer will now build what and where he wants knowing that TBC will not enforce the conditions attached to this small site.

5. Matters arising from previous minutes.

The clerk followed up a story in the media about rehoming red telephone boxes. The idea would be to repurpose it and it could become a defibrillator point. Sadly the BT offer was only available to those that had an existing old BT phone box.

The contracts have now been issued to the allotment holders and the annual fees have been paid.  The Clerk visited the site on the Thursday before Easter to view the site and redraw the plan of the area.  The metal gate that gives access to plot 3 is still there, the hedge either side needs pruning to give easier access. The internal access to plot 3, according to the map can be anywhere along the fence line to the plot. There is a pile of old hedge cuttings closest to the gate that appears to have been there for some time. These can either be removed or the entrance to the plot moved up.  The Parish Council have started a waiting list for those interested in renting a plot. Having the history to the allotments has been useful.

6. Returning to face-to-face meetings from 7th May 2021 and the Annual Parish Meeting.

The legislation enabling the virtual council meetings to be held remotely will end on 6th May 2021 and the government does not intend to revisit the legislation.  Parish Councils have been asked to consider a number of options including holding the Annual Meeting remotely before 7th May or holding the meeting outside.  Annual Meetings have to be held between 1st March and 1st June.  For councils that do not have parish/town council elections it is acceptable to hold the meeting before 7th May 2021. If there are Borough Council elections then the meeting will have to be held between 11th and 25th May 2021. There is some research being conducted about how remote meetings have been used during the pandemic. With this information in mind, this Parish Council will be holding its Annual Meeting on Tuesday 4th May 2021 at 7.30pm. Zoom details will be made available.

7. Any other business.

Finance – the RFO wanted authorisation to pay some invoices; to pay for the work on the Leigh NDP for Colin Withers and Andrea Pellegram, plus Clerks Salary for April.  Once these bills have been paid there is little money left in the current account.  It is hoped that the Precept will be paid before the next invoices are due otherwise authorisation to move money from the deposit account will be required. The Parish Council have received a request that Parish Council money is used to purchase a seat that will sit on the bund by the village pond.  This would be a future consideration.

The RFO also sought permission to ask Mr Brian Bramley to audit the books again this year.  The RFO’s requested were proposed by Cllr Hooton and seconded by Cllr Chandler.

Meeting closed 20:58