Minutes of the Full Parish Council meeting 10th August 2022

Minutes Uploaded on February 23, 2023


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Present: Cllr P. Arkell (Chair), Cllr Glazebrook, Cllr Morton and Cllr Theyer.

In attendance:  K. Tilling (Parish Clerk) and 4 members of the public.

1. Welcome and Apologies:

No apologies were received.

2. Declarations of Interest:

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

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

The minutes from the previous meeting in July 2022 was approved. Proposed by Cllr Moreton and seconded by Cllr Theyer. All unanimous.

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

 22/0036/TWR3MJ – Coombe Hill Junction, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill, Gloucester. Improvements to the existing junction of the A38 and A4019 at Coombe Hill, consisting of the upgrading of the existing left turn lane from the A38 onto the A4019 with a longer signal controlled left turn lane, improved facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, and associated infrastructure.

This consultation is being organised by Gloucestershire County Council.  It is understood that letters have been sent to householders that live in the vicinity asking for their comments. The application has been submitted by GCC/Atkins so they are looking after their own planning application.  This work was initially part of the larger scheme of upgrading the M5 junction 10 further along the A4019. For reasons best known to GCC, the upgrade of the traffic lights has been annexed from the bigger scheme and is being pushed ahead. Whilst there has been some engagement with Atkins/GCC there has been very little useful information produced when questions have been asked.  The Parish Council are under the impression that the start of this works is to be postponed by 3 months but are not sure why as there has been no communication from the GCC/Atkins team.  A consultation meeting was arranged last Autumn which was attended by a number of parishioners and gave them access to large scale maps and the ability to ask questions from the officers present.  Some of the answers gave great cause for concern, ranging from a real lack of knowledge about the area, topography of the ground, flooding impact on the road closest to the Bellows, lack of improved safety for horse riders, a cycle lane that goes to and from nowhere, no requirement to introduce extra street lighting, the impact on the junction when the M5 is closed coupled with the impact on the wider road network when the work is being carried out etc.

The Parish Council wish to challenge the 4 objectives and it obvious to those that live closest to the proposed site that an opportunity to change the road junction completely was missed before the houses were approved on the land that borders both the A38 and A4019.It was noted that consultee comments were limited on the portal but hopefully there will be more to come (but too late for this meeting)  Severn Trent seem to think that there will be minimal impact on their public sewerage system – not surprisingly that is because there is no mains sewer running through Coombe Hill. National Highways are suggesting that the scheme is postponed and the GCC Heritage team are suggesting that further archaeological work is required following some recent finds on the adjacent building site. The road works from last year were undertaken on behalf of the developers of Villard Grove and gave everyone a taste of what it’s like to have temporary traffic lights at Coombe Hill and the chaos and delays it caused for all those living nearby or trying to travel through the area. The contractors work was of a poor standard and slow. Traffic flow was poorly arranged by third party contractors that were rarely seen on site working.  It is hoped that GCC/Atkins and the contractors employed to undertake the proposed work are fully conversant with all this issues and lessons have been learnt. Contractors must not be allowed to store their materials and machinery on the road. They must be made to source and then store everything on land nearby. Parishioners at the meeting understand that additional lighting is to be introduced at the junction. The Parish Council will strongly oppose any such introductions. There is simply no need. There have been no accidents at the junction due to poor lighting.  The lighting itself will cause harm to residents and wildlife with the intrusion of unwanted light pollution and night glow.
The Light impact statement makes no mention of working with local businesses, the GWT Wetland Reserve or when lights will be turned off. Coombe Hill is known for its black skies. The Parish Council have made enquiries about reducing the speed limit to 40 mph through the built up area but have told this is not possible. Other villages have lowered speed limits so why not Coombe Hill? It is also worth pointing out that the speed limit for Wharf Lane is 30 mph. There is no speed sign to remind drivers of this fact so everyone thinks its 40 and then drive even faster. A new sign needs to be placed at the top of this lane. Residents at the newly established Villard Grove are already experiencing problems getting in and out of this estate. The Parish Council raised this with the planners at the time but this was ignored so are not surprised. Road works on the A38 will only make matters worse for these new residents as they were not living in their houses when the last road works were and therefore have a very limited idea of the chaos temporary traffic lights will produce for them. The Parish Council are trying to establish what benefits this upgrade will bring to the area but with a cycle path that goes to nowhere and changes to the road layout that will cause issues to larger lorries traveling through the junction and wish to turn left on the A4019, there is little positive comment to make.  The introduction of pedestrian crossings could be a small benefit but the locals have managed to survive without them. There is little or no mention of the impact on buses during this time either. GCC are trying to get the community to use more public transport but this is more likely to put the new residents off.   The Parish Council would also like to see neighbouring Parish Council brought into the consultation process as these works have considerable impact on their residents traveling through the area.

21/00655/FUL – Windyridge, Tewkesbury Road, Coombe Hill, Gloucester. Erection of 1 no. dwelling following demolition of the existing agricultural building and associated works. Revised details.

As was reported at the last meeting in July the clerk picked up that revised details appeared on the planning portal dated 10th June. The Planning Officer failed to notify the Parish Council, a Statutory Consultee  As the alterations are not considered to be trivial and there is the issue of development in the greenbelt, the Parish Council are entitled to be consulted.  After discussion, it was decided that the Parish Council were still minded to refuse this application. It was noted that there is a fall-back position, and that this is the only legally acceptable ‘loop hole’ position for this site. A suitable note was added to the planning postal.

The Parish Council received an email from the Planning Officer on 25th July 2022 which finally acknowledged the revised plans but also tried to convince the Parish Council that “On this basis it is considered that the material planning objections raised by the Parish Council have been addressed and the application will be determined under officer delegated powers”. The comments from the planning officer make no reference to the National and local planning policies, especially as the TBC policy were recently adopted on 8th June 2022. The local Leigh NDP is also close to being adopted by TBC members. Parishioners recently voted in favour of the plan with a 90% majority, one of its policies seek to protect the Greenbelt from Development. It also purports to a feeling that this application is now a done deal. The Parish Council were grateful for the applicant attending the meeting to provide additional information about the planning application. The applicant openly admitted that he had received much guidance from the Planning Officer and that the Class Q build is a very complicated process. He confirmed that all the trees would be retained. The new access would be removed and the proposal would now share the access with the existing dwelling on site. The potential new house is smaller; reducing the size of the house would also reduce the curtilage. The height of the new build would be slightly taller but the footprint is approximately the same as the barn. When asked about the Class Q permission, the applicant explained that it is very restrictive and very expensive. Both these reasons for not pursuing the Class Q build are not material planning considerations.

Parish Councillors confirmed that the site is not in a designated area for development. The application is in conflict with policies from the JCS, TBC and the LNDP.  It is noted that there are a considerable number of barns attached to houses on the south side of the traffic lights (all in Greenbelt). The Parish Council are very uneasy that once an exception is given to one application, then others will follow.  The only other recent Parish application for development within the Greenbelt was refused (Villa Farm House). This site is simply on the wrong side of the road where there is a Greenbelt policy in force and a legal loophole to convert using Class Q permission has been applied. Previous applications to build a new house on this site have been refused by TBC and there are no changes in policy that allow this application to be considered any differently.  The Parish Council’s previous comments still stand.

Planning updates.

The Appeal lodged for Fieldview Bungalow has been decided. The application to alter the frontage of the motorhome site has been refused.

Parish Council comments relating to the Leigh Farm dual applications and Windyridge (as discussed at the July meeting) have been lodged on the planning portal.

5. To consider a response to NALC on their Short Term Holiday Lets policy consultation:

This was a request from NALC about Short Term Holiday Lets and the problems that this is causing.  There have been changes and growth in the short term letting market and NALC have put forward a request for mandatory registration and strengthening of legislation to bring Air BnB’s under the same heading of regulation as other landlord systems. This would see the powers of local inspection and monitoring to be delegated to the LPAs and in turn, the LPAs would be properly resourced. Parish Councillors decided that there are only a few residents within the village that could be affected by these changes and it was unanimous that the Parish Council would not respond to NALC.

6. To approve the Financial Statement:

The RFO confirmed that it is a bigger audit this year. There have been lots of questions but all good so far. An update of current finances was not available for the meeting but the RFO will circulate the information to Parish Councillors before the next meeting.  There is a need to start planning the expenditure of the CIL money. It was suggested that each parishioner was offered a tree from CIL money and the Parish Council are still keen to see this happen.  There is also a need to site a noticeboard on the new housing estate at Coombe Hill. Cllr Moreton will see if the site manager is still there.

7. To consider a response to Licensing Act 2003: Statement of Licensing Policy consultation:

The Parish Council decided not to respond to this consultation request.

8. To consider a response to Gambling Act 2005: Statement of Principles (Policy) consultation:

The Parish Council decided not to respond to this consultation request.

9. Update on Highways issues.

The Parish Council have received complaints about the footpaths and overgrown hedges that connect Coombe to the Leigh on the east side of the A38 especially between the bus stop at Coombe Hill and Pancake Lane. There is also the hedge on the corner of Church Lane. Cllr Glazebrook was asked to contact Highways and get them to make contact with local land owners and request them to cut back hedges on the grounds of Health and Safety.  The path at Coombe Hill between Windyridge and Leith House needs to be inspected for rabbit damage, they are undermining the tarmac again and holes are appearing.

Residents of the Wharf are very concerned about speeding in the narrow lane. There is no 30 mph speed sign at the top of the road. Lack of signage adds to the confusion, as elsewhere the speed limit is 40 mph.  The residents are asking if CIL money can be used to conduct a vehicle survey. A request for 20 is Plenty speed signs would also be welcomed together with any other initiatives that would help to slow traffic in the lane.  The Wharf householders have met with the GWT staff and all are happy that something needs to be done before there is a serious accident.  Cllr Glazebrook will investigate the installation of speed reducing gates and signs. Possibly create a small pedestrian safety zone and line the road with white lines.

The pot holes at the top of Church Lane need to be reported again.

Signage is work in progress

The ditch outside Wellcroft is barely there now and needs to be dug out again. It was also noted that dirty water is being discharged into this ditch and was discussed at the July meeting. The incident will be reported to the EA and TBC’s EH for further action.

 10. Update on the Neighbourhood Development Plan.

25% of the residents voted at the recent election for the adoption of the Leigh NDP.  Of these, 90% were in favour and therefore the document will be presented before the TBC Committee on 22nd September 2022.  The document should help to provide guidance and protection towards further development within the Parish. The Parish Council formally wish to thank Colin Withers for all the work that has gone into producing the plan, together with the professional support of Andrea Pellegram and the parishioners that took part in the early stages of collecting vital information plus submitting contributions and ideas. The plan itself has a finite date. It will be subject to modifications in a few years’ time.

A request from Cllr Moreton for the Parish Council to write and adopt a Communications Policy. This will outline how Parishioners can contact the Parish Council and how the Parish Council will then respond to the various requests. The Parish Council has an official email address and website and encourages people to use these as a method of communication. The Parish Clerk also has access to Facebook but this is not a recognised form of communication. Parish Councillors are also unhappy about parishioners cold calling when is very evident that there is a family event taking place.

Meeting closed at 21.05