THE LEIGH PARISH COUNCIL
: email@example.com : theleighpc.org.uk
MINUTES OF THE ADDITIONAL PARISH COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 13th October 2021 AT 7.30PM IN THE LEIGH PARISH CHURCH
Present: Cllr M. Chandler, Cllr L. Glazebrook (Chair), Cllr K. Morton and Cllr R. Theyer.
In attendance: K. Tilling (Parish Clerk), 2 members of the public.
1.Welcome and Apologies:
Apologies were received from Cllr Arkell and Cllr McLain.
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 planning application relating to Fieldview Bungalow. Cllr Chandler, having completed the relevant dispensation request form was entitled to remain in the room and speak whilst this planning application was discussed.
The minutes from the August meeting were approved. Proposed by Cllr Morton and seconded by Cllr Theyer. The issue of the allotments and hedges was queried. The Clerk confirmed that new contracts have been offered to the existing tenants and they have been given to the end of the month to return the completed paperwork. If they are not returned then the Parish Council will then be in a position to offer the vacant plots to those currently on the waiting list. A question was also raised about the boundary hedge between the allotments and the land belonging to the Church Hall. It was deferred to the meeting in November.
3.To discuss planning consultation requests and consider responses for the following:
21/01143/FUL – change of use of land to provide extension to existing motorhome sales business, vehicle display area at Fieldview Bungalow, Tewkesbury Road, The Leigh.
This application seeks to reinstate the idea of removing the trees and green space at the front of this location and provide a larger area to accommodate more motorhomes. Originally included in application 19/00076/FUL this was later removed following discussion with the planning officer. The Clerk will look up the reasons for removing this specific part of the application and will refer to the Delegated Report that was written at the time. The removal of the trees and greenery is seen as an attempt to urbanise a rural setting. Parish Councillors were not happy about losing the trees and hedges at a time when climate change is being openly discussed and people encouraged to plant more trees. The drainage officer has suggested a permeable surface rather than tarmac. It was felt that the current trees and the extra ones that were supposed to be planted under application 19/00076/FUL, would soak up more water by being left in situ. It is also noted that this site is located almost entirely within Flood Zone 2 as defined on the most up-to-date Environment Agency flood risk maps, although is located within Flood Zone 3 towards its far south-western side. Local knowledge and photos can also prove that the road entrance was badly impacted by the floods in 2007 and therefore any work that is likely to make this area worse cannot be supported. Concerns were raised that this could push more water into the main road and that water could be contaminated by the siting of more motorhomes. Additional concerns considered the increase of traffic movements which have a potential for creating issues with the shared entrance to the gypsy/traveller site next door. It was unanimous that the Parish Councillors were not willing to support this application.
Since the Parish Council meeting in August, the Chair has now had a group meeting with the Head of Planning –Sandra Ford. He took with him a spreadsheet of outstanding planning applications for this parish. Every Parish Council has the same issues. Prior to this meeting the spreadsheet was also circulated to the planning officers that had outstanding applications against their name. The responses to these applications were circulated to Parish Councillors prior to this meeting and continue to be monitored by the Clerk.
4.To review and respond to TBC’s Statement of Community Involvement (capturing parish councils’ experience of community involvement in planning).
Tewkesbury Borough Council is currently undertaking a review of their Statement of Community Involvement and is seeking Parish Councils views on the ways that they engage with Parish Councils and the wider community.
The current SCI was adopted in 2013 and since then, there have been a significant number of changes to planning legislation and regulations, as well as the more recent experience during the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen a move towards more online meetings and use of digital tools and methods for engaging and consulting people. There is a recognised need to make things simpler, easier for people to get involved and more appealing to a wider group of people.
The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) sets out how the Council will involve the community in planning matters. All sections of the community have the opportunity to be actively and continuously involved from the start of the planning process, including in the preparation of plans and decisions on planning applications. The aim is that by achieving greater community engagement throughout the planning process, stakeholders and other organisations will have active involvement in identifying and addressing planning issues, and in the development of planning policies and proposals. The Parish Council have been asked to consider responding to the following questions…. Thinking about your experience and knowledge of the area, what do you think has worked well (and not so well) when involving the community in planning matters? Based on your experience, we would also like to know how you think consultation and the involvement of communities in planning could be done better or differently in the future? Neighbourhood Planning. The consultation with Parishes will run until Friday 12 November.
The Parish Council actively seeks to encourage people to engage with the planning application process using email, letters or sharing thoughts at a Parish Council meeting. In more recent months/years it has become rather evident that local views have been neglected and the final decision ignored; the feelings of parishioners overlooked despite some sound reasoning based on planning policy and local knowledge. Some decisions have also been against the emerging draft Leigh Neighbourhood Development Plan and TBC’S own draft plan. The amount of planning applications being validated when the information submitted is not of a suitable quality is also under question. The Parish Council have highlighted this sub-standard work to little effect. Overall, it was felt that there is poor communication coupled with a lack of respect for dealing with part time and voluntary Parish Council staff. Consultation is not consistent and sometimes not wide enough. This very consultation is a classic example – when it was first raised at the seminar at the TBC offices on 23rd September responses were wanted back by the following week! The neighbourhood development plan has received little help and support from TBC. Support has been received using a paid professional funded by an outside grant and the most recent Regulation 16 consultation was actually circulated via the Parish Council on behalf of TBC as they were not able to deal with it quickly enough.
The LNDP has reached Regulation 16 stage. Under the Regulation 14 stage the Parish Council notified various groups and the useful responses were incorporated into the Final Draft. The Final Draft has now gone to TBC for them to publish on their website and contact the various sectors once more for further comments. To speed this process up and ensure that many were invited to contribute to the process, the Parish Clerk has emailed out to all interested parties. The consultation runs from 24th September to 7th November 2021. It is understood that following this consultation period, TBC will select an independent examiner who will inspect the Final Draft and any comments that have been submitted to TBC under the Reg 16 process. If the inspector finds the report acceptable a vote will be put to the electorate of the Parish to approve the plan. Subject to receiving at least a 50% supportive vote the NDP will be approved and carry some legal weight. A grant of £5665 has been applied for and should cover all the outstanding costs. A final submission will need to be made after the end of the financial year. Some of this grant money has already been spent and the balance left is now down to £2100.
It was suggested that the clerk resend the TBC email to remind interested parties that the closing date is approaching.
6.To consider feedback to GCC/Atkins following the Coombe Hill junction upgrade presentation.
Atkins/GGG organised a presentation to the public on 7th October 2021.The proposed improvements to the Coombe Hill junction are also available to view from 7th October to 28th October on line. The aims of these improvements are to improve the junction layout ensuring a better flow of traffic from the A38 to the A4019. By upgrading the existing traffic lights it is hoped to improve the resilience of the local network when the M5 is closed. The proposals wish to improve the pedestrian facilities which are currently very limited and introduce cycling provision at the junction as there are none. The project is funded by Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), as part of a wider package of improvements proposed for the M5 junction 10 scheme.
The plans that were shown to the public on the evening have been handed to the clerk for future reference. There was a steady stream of people visiting the event at St Catherine’s Church. Concerns were raised over a number of obvious issues – like how will the large lorries trying to turn left at the traffic lights managed to navigate the tight corner of the A4019/A38 as the A4019 road has been narrowed. Safety issues with the garage combined with the two new estate entrances almost opposite each other has not really been addressed. The opening up of Junction 10 will unlock further housing development in the area and there has been no provision for this additional traffic to be factored into any calculations. The proposed cycle path will start and finish at Coombe Hill – so there is little benefit to the parish until further funding is made available to join the cycle path to other useful routes. Concerns were raised about the livelihood of the businesses once the work starts. They have struggled with the recent temporary traffic lights whilst Kendrick Homes were carrying out planned works. It has become apparent during these recent weeks that both the contractor undertaking the road works and the traffic management company were not sufficiently competent for the works they were supposed to do. The initial work saw the workers hit the water main on the A4019 twice. Workers sloped off early each day and the traffic lights were supposed to be controlled manually for 12 hours a day. Lights stuck on all red, all green and poor sequencing all caused major issues during the extended work at Coombe Hill which should have taken six weeks from the beginning of August but is now scheduled to finish on 22nd October. The clerk has been asked to contact the junction team and ensure that these observations of how not to work on the junction are shared with all concerned. Once the plans have been agreed and approved in Shire Hall the work is expected to start in November and take about 9 months to complete. Parishioners were encouraged to attend the event and are similarly encouraged to supply a comment on line via the survey. The Parish Council will be doing so as well.
7. The Village Pond
The village pond had been cleared out. This has been discussed at various meetings during the past year or so and mainly deferred due to the costs of hiring plant to undertake the work. The pond itself was choked with over grown vegetation. The weather, an offering of free plant machinery/operatives and local volunteers all came together in a hurry at the end of September. The Parish Council have since received a complaint from a Parishioner about the need for ecology advice before the work was done and also a question mark about where the vegetation was dumped. The vegetation was taken to land nearby with the landowners’ full permission. The Parish Council accept that in future they will consider ecological advice before work of this nature is undertaken. It was noted that when the ecological survey was done in 2011 as part of the building of the flood defence bund right next to the pond, no species of a protected nature were found to be living in or around the pond. Other parishioners have been very complimentary on the work done. A thank you was noted for PJ, John Arkell, Richard Theyer and Martin Ralphs.
8. Draft Tewkesbury Borough Heritage Strategy – consultation.
The Draft Tewkesbury Borough Heritage Strategy was approved for public consultation, at a meeting of the Council’s Executive Committee on 1st September 2021. This consultation will run for a 6 week period between Friday 17th September 2021 and Friday 29th October 2021. All comments must be received by 4pm on Friday 29th October 2021. The purpose of this Heritage Strategy is to provide an evaluation of the Borough’s assets and set out TBC’s intentions for managing appropriate change within the historic environment, whilst conserving and enhancing the Borough’s Heritage Assets so that they can be enjoyed by both present and future generations to come. Non- designated heritage assets are those that have not been designated but are still of historic significance and contribute to the historic environment of the borough. Non-designated heritage assets may include archaeological features in addition to buildings and other structures. Some non-designated assets may be included on the Local Heritage List. Non- designated heritage assets have no statutory basis but, are still a material consideration in the determination of planning applications. Having looked at the local heritage list nomination form the Parish Council have decided not to respond to the request for information but would rather encourage members of the parish to respond individually if they feel they have an asset that would benefit from being added to this list.
Following the consultation, TBC will consider comments received and will amend the Heritage Strategy as appropriate, before adopting the finalised strategy.
If you wish to view the Draft Tewkesbury Borough Heritage Strategy then please visit the website: www.tewkesbury.gov.uk/heritage#heritage-strategy.
Paper copies of the documents can also be viewed at Tewkesbury Borough Council’s main offices (at the address below) and at all libraries and advice Centres in the borough – opening times and other details are available at www.tewkesbury.gov.uk.
9. Other Highways Issues
The issue of potholes between St Catherine’s and Leigh End farm have not been resolved. Cllr Glazebrook will follow this up with his Highways contact. A road sign was promised that said Church Lane leading to Leigh End – this also needs following up.
The stone driveway outside Prospect House was supposed to have some drainage fitted – needs following up.
The road signs at Coombe Hill are very over grown.
The drains at the Croft and Leigh Farm are been looked at.
There is a broken drain cover by Leigh Farm
The issues with some of the PROWS – broken/missing signs and over grown paths need to be followed up again.
There is Knotweed in a hedgerow/gate entrance close to Prospect House. GCC have been out to deal with this invasive and resilient weed on their bit of land. Under UK Law, Japanese knotweed is legally classed as a controlled plant under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 section 114 (2) (WCA 1981). It is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed on your property, but it is against UK law to cause or allow the plant to spread in the wild.
10. Financial Update
There have been few transactions on the Parish Council bank account other than the monthly known bills. There has been income to help cover for the NDP Grant and the first batch of CIL money is due to arrive at the end of the month from TBC which relates to the 25 houses being built at Coombe Hill. This Neighbourhood Allocation is subject to a 5 year ‘clawback period’ from the date that payment is made, though the regulations do give the Borough Council the discretion to extend this period if requested to do so in writing by the Parish Council, with good reason, prior to the expiry of the 5 years. The RFO and Clerk have already attended a training session about CIL money but will also look to TBC for advice and support on the spending of this money. Regulation 59 (C) states that a Parish Council must use the CIL money passed to it in accordance with regulation 59A or 59B to support the development of the local council’s area, or any part of that area. This includes the funding of the provision, improvement, replacement, operation or maintenance of infrastructure; or anything else that is concerned with addressing the demands that development places on an area. It was suggested that this topic is included on the November agenda for further discussion.
The Parish Council were asked to consider setting aside a small sum of money to help commemorate the Queens Diamond Jubilee next summer. This was deferred to the November agenda.
11. Official acceptance and signing of the EA’s Exception report.
Work to find funding for a new pump for the Leigh Flood Defence scheme has been on-going for a year. Following a virtual meeting in September and a site meeting on 12th October, the EA and GCC have confirmed that funding is to be made available. Dan Trewin from the EA has prepared the funding form and requires that it is officially signed before taking the request to the funding forum. As Cllr Arkell is not present at the meeting tonight, the clerk will arrange for him to sign the form and then get a scanned copy to the EA. Initial discussions suggested that funding would not have to run through the Parish Council accounts and the RFO was not included in any of the discussions. The flood defence scheme is managed by a private company that was formed from the houses that are closest to the bund and benefit the most from the flood prevention works. The Parish Council did not wish to be responsible for the on-going management of the scheme, hence it was signed over. This new funding request is subject to the funding being paid to the Parish Council. Parish Councillors are very uneasy about retaining the ownership and therefore responsibility for the installation and upkeep for this pump, the maintenance and the eventual replacement costs should it go wrong. Parish Councillors felt that this needs more discussion but that the progress of the funding should not be interrupted in the meantime. The VAT implications and general additional income running thought the Parish Council accounts will have a significant impact on their audit status next year, together with the additional administration involved for processing, monitoring and reporting on this type of funding. The Parish Council have no problem with the siting of the pump on Parish Council land. Further discussions at the November meeting will follow.
12. Covid19 Grant
At the Parish Council meeting in August it was agreed that the Clerk would apply for a Covid-19 Grant. An application for £1000 was made to supply and install a bench for local people to use when sitting by the pond. The Parish Council have been successful in securing a grant for £500 on the understanding that any additional funds required to complete the installation are funded by the Parish Council. A small amount of money has been allocated in the budget for a community project so this will cover any short fall. The Clerk was asked to confirm the acceptance of the grant. Once the money has been received, the order for the agreed bench will be placed.
13. Any Other Business.
There was a general discussion about light pollution in the parish … is there really a need for people to have outside lights on gate posts and frontages that are illuminated all night? Why are people not fitting lights with activity sensors? They are a better burglar deterrent and kinder to the environment.
Meeting closed 21.30
This meeting was held in accordance with the following Covid 19 Principles –
– How can you limit sharing documents and materials – copies of all paperwork is available on the Parish
Council website before and after the meeting
– Ensuring proper ventilation – can the windows be open during the meeting and beforehand if the room has
been used during the day.