Minutes of the Additional Parish Council Meeting – Wednesday 12th April 2023

Minutes Uploaded on August 9, 2023


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Present:  Cllr. J. Arkell (Chair), Cllr. L. Glazebrook, Cllr. P. Howse and Cllr. R. Theyer.

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

1. Welcome and Apologies:

Councillors and parishioners were welcomed to the meeting.  Cllr Morton was not able to be at the start of the meeting but arrived in time for the Planning Application discussions.

2. Declarations of Interest:

There were no Declarations of Interest required in relation to items on the agenda.

3. To provide a brief update on the Wharf Lane landslide.

Sometime during the night of 16th/17th March there was a major landslide part way along Wharf Lane. Fallen trees, mud and other materials had slid down the bank preventing vehicle access for all those living down the Wharf.  Highways did attend the scene quite quickly but after surveying the area the residents were advised that the work required would require some serious planning and machinery. To complicate matters the residents were currently using a large generator supplied by National Grid due to a damaged electricity supply. The generator was running out of fuel and the access to fill it with the tanker was now blocked. Highways were unable to put any rescue package in place until after the weekend. It was left to the residents to try and refill the generator despite being told that the whole bank was unsafe and to avoid if possible. Since then, large diggers have arrived and there were plans to remove around 70 metres of bank taking all the spoil to be disposed of safely. The Parish Council have not been approached by Highways at any time. The Clerk sent an email asking for an update and received a response from Max Kelly, Local Highways manager for the Northern Area on 3rd April as follows: “Our infrastructure team have led this scheme and I can provide you with the following update:

  • The last of the slipped material should have been removed late Friday afternoon
  • There is a meeting taking place today (Monday 3rdApril) to understand the stability of the slope a Lego block retaining wall at the base.
  • Once the stability is understood and the geometry of the wall is considered, an instruction will likely be made to excavate the toe of the slope and immediately place the Lego blocks in this excavation. The details of this will be discussed in the meeting on Monday 3rd  A smaller excavator will be required for this as the one currently on site is too large to reach the base of the slope adjacent to the excavator.
  • However, until this happens the slope remains potentially unstable, and we will ensure the road is kept closed to traffic until the Lego block wall is in place.
  • The crew placed barriers 1m away from the base of the slope over the weekend to fence of areas where clay and soil from the slope may fall into the road.

In terms of our communication with the residents, we sent out a letter Friday last week to residents giving an update on works to date. We will send out a further letter to residents hopefully today or tomorrow and official opening will depend on the Lego block installation (if appropriate).”

It must be noted that as the road was blocked, the postman was unable to deliver his post. Residents were told that a further two more days of work were required before the road could be partially opened. Once open, access is limited to residents and the postman only. A series of large temporary lego like blocks have been placed at the base of the bank. It looks like more blocks are needed to complete the second row. The reason behind the land slide and where ultimate responsibility lies is still under investigation.  It is noted that the new resident at the Wharf, Mr Steadman has been brilliant at organising help and support. As this repair is only temporary, a full report from Highways, including how the bank is going to be retained for the future is now required. There have been talks about replacing the concrete blocks with Gabions (metal baskets filled with interlocking angular stones) and are seen as a longer-term fix.

The only official way out for residents was via the few PROWS that are in the vicinity.  It was reported that one of these PROWS is completely overgrown, therefore blocking one of the routes out.  The Clerk will contact the PROW officer and asked if this can be cleared as a priority.

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

22/01165/FUL: Evington Manor, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill, Variation of Conditions 1,9,10 of appeal decision 17/00478/FUL to allow retention of part (comprising former side bathroom, store, and hayloft above) of building known as Vine Tree Farm, to form store and bat roost space above, after demolition of remainder, and in lieu of the erection of new bat house (amended description).

The Parish Councillors have taken the time to acquaint themselves with the full history of this site and the many planning applications and subsequent comments relating to this site. There was also some disbelief that the owners are still trying to retain a building that has a condition attached to it ensuring that it is demolished. Three Planning Appeal Inspectors, several Full Tewkesbury Borough Planning Committees and various Planning Officers have all said the same thing so why is there a need to revisit this yet again and why is the building still standing? There followed a detailed discussion about the reasons behind conditions and the need to ensure that these conditions are upheld.  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 last planning application (21/00063/FUL) went to Appeal and in June 2022 was dismissed; the inspector was also of the same mind and stated that it was ‘necessary to secure the removal of Vine Tree Farm’. Discussions focused on the requirement of a new Bat house and the subsequent new ecology reports and bat licence that come with this condition. It was noted that the Ecologist was querying the suitability of the existing farmhouse. A farmhouse that was initially in such a poor condition that it required the rebuilding and repositioning of a dwelling on site. Suddenly and without any approved restoration is now salvageable according to a report written by the applicant. Parish Councillors were reminded that this lower end of the site should be subject to annual winter flooding. This has not been evident for the last few years, and it raises the question that soil levels have never been returned to their original levels to that of 2014 and before.  Retaining a building within Flood zone 3 is also mentioned by Inspectors and it has been stated that the Bat house is to have no windows or doors to ensure that any flood water can pass through the structure. Anything that impedes the flow of floodwater or adds to flooding elsewhere in the Parish will not be supported by the Parish Council. There is also a condition that states no lighting in the vicinity of the bat house. Parish Councillor’s also noted that the original plans submitted for this application intended to retain the whole farmhouse building, turning the main part into stables, a store and tack room. These have been removed for now, but this applicant has a track record of removing areas from plans only to reinstate them once a building principle has been established.  The Parish Council are now seeking a finite demolition date for Vine Tree Farm to ensure that ALL the planning conditions attached to this site are completed in full. The Parish Council is unanimous in their objection to the proposal.

22/00208/CLE: Fieldview Trailer Park, Tewkesbury Road, The Leigh. Use of the land as a residential caravan site by people from both the gypsies and travellers’ community and from the settled population. This application is seeking a Certificate of Lawfulness.  Having looked at the portal it has become evident that the site and its neighbour (the Motorhome business) were once one much bigger site. The planning history for the caravan pitches on the trailer park and motorhome business have now become confused with some applications showing on both sites but not all. The Parish Council do not have a problem with the granting of the certificate. The trailer park is very well run.  The Parish Council are however concerned that there could be a loss to the gypsies and travellers which would affect their number of designated pitches. These pitches are already under pressure to deliver as part of the JCS so the need to preserve what is already there is paramount. The Parish Council was under the impression that this site was a designated traveller site so by changing this status would this have a detrimental effect? The Clerk was asked to contact TBC and ask how many pitches were still considered to be for gypsies and the travelling community, as opposed from the settled population. How many pitches were permitted for the whole site?

5. To provide a brief update on Coronation activities.

At the last meeting it was agreed that hiring marquees, DJ’s etc would be investigated. It was found that these have all been booked out so there will be no party being arranged. It was suggested that the Parish Council could plant a coronation tree, and this was thought to be a good idea. As there are sufficient trees around the village pond it was suggested that a suitable tree be planted in the church yard if permission from the PCC was granted in writing.  Cllr Morton agreed to contact the PCC. It was agreed to visit a local tree specialist – seek their advice on a very English type of tree with a budget of around £500 and then purchase a memorial plaque to go with it.

Other suggestions for the coronation and spending of CIL money relates to the purchase of a flagpole and flag and commemorative coins for our young parishioners.

These items were proposed by Cllr Glazebrook and seconded by Cllr Morton. Cllr Glazebrook agreed to research the purchase of the coins.

6. Any other business.

Villards Close – a search on the planning portal has revealed that one of the new houses on Villards Close has already applied for planning permission to convert their attic space and insert Velux windows. As this is being undertaken under Permitted Development Rights the Parish Council have not been involved but do hope that the house that is adjacent to this site has been informed.

Accounts – these are being audited by Hazel Cotton and should be ready for a meeting in May to be signed off by the Parish Council.

Parish Council Elections – Elections for Parish and Borough are scheduled for 4th May. There is also the sudden and sad loss of Cllr Awford from the County Council.  The Election Nomination posters will be displayed on the notice boards after this meeting. No one from the Parish has put their name forward for a new four-year term of office and this parish is not the only one.  A lack of support and misunderstanding about what the Parish Councillors try to achieve has left them feeling very undervalued. This is a voluntary role. There are times when parishioners think it is ok to encroach on councillors’ personal time. The Parish Council is the voice of the parish when individuals feel unable to voice their own concerns for fear of a reprisal, but this cannot be at any expense. The Clerk explained that a further Election is to be called for this Parish, but the date has not been published.  Existing Parish Councillors have all expressed a concern that to have no Parish Council when there is considerable funding from the CIL money coming through, is also disturbing. They have decided to put their names forward for the rescheduled Parish elections.

Elections Booths/Hut – it has also been voiced that the current location for the election booths is also unsuitable. People want the hut moved back to Coombe Hill for various reasons.  Once the 95 house are built then the greatest volume of people will be at Coombe Hill and within walking distance.  People have complained that the Coombe Hill site was on a bus route if they needed to get there without a car. Now it isn’t.  The road leading to the current site is narrow. There are dogs that run out and some people do not like this. The Clerk will speak to the Elections Office.

Meeting closed at 21.35pm