Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held on Monday, 2nd November 2020 at 6.00 p.m. at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW and on Zoom
Present in the room: Councillors C. Hazzard (Chairman), E. Mitchell (Vice-Chairman), A. Colman, R. Coward, R. Hill, G. Jeans, A. Mead, B. Norris, Mrs. K. Symonds & Mrs. L. Traves
Present on Zoom: Councillors P. Coward, J. Jordan & R. Sims
Also: Mr. Shaun Lyons, Abi Kirk & Bradley Cassell, David Hytch, Patricia Hills & Anthony de Ritter.
Mr. Shaun Lyons spoke in objection to the planning application for the gypsy site at Jane Oaks Farm stating that it was contrary to policies within the Wiltshire Core Strategy and was also wholly disproportionate to its surroundings and would have an unacceptable impact on both the landscape and on the amenity of neighbouring property.
Bradley Cassell & Abi Kirk spoke about their application for the garden room at Martone in Springfield Road in order to clarify their intentions for use and alleviate concerns raised by a neighbour. Abi said that both she and her partner were self-employed and wanted to build this garden room to provide a quiet space away from the family bustle in order to complete paperwork and also to store garden toys. The garden room would be ancillary to their house and would not be taking on a commercial role. She also spoke about the positioning of the garden room, the visual impact and the reasoning behind the decision to replace the hedgerow with a 1.8m high closed board fence.
Mr. David Hytch spoke in objection to the planning application for the gypsy site at Jane Oaks Farm stating that the proposed development would be on a fairly narrow road that was becoming increasingly busy, there was no mention of how sewage and waste water were to be managed and the increased width of the access to 5 metres must take account of the Oak Tree which was now the subject of a Tree Preservation Order. He said that there was no justification to sacrifice this agricultural land particularly when there is already a nearby site for gypsies and travellers but if it was necessary to grant any planning for the site then conditions should ensure that no commercial activity is conducted on or through the site. He also pointed out that there were errors with the address & postcode on the application.
Mr. John Jordan said that Mere Footpath Group had recently cleared Mere FP 66 from Lordsmead and had made it wider, although it still had a very poor surface.
Mrs. Patricia Hills spoke in objection to the planning application for the gypsy site at Jane Oaks Farm stating that she was one of the nearest residents to the site and was an adjacent landowner and yet she had only just been made aware of the planning application. She said that the site was not suitable for any type of access and that drainage would be of concern. She also said that this application would have a detrimental impact on the landscape.
Mr. Anthony de Ritter spoke in objection to the planning application for Jane Oaks Farm. He said that his concerns were 4-fold: the scale and size of the proposal was excessive with 8 caravans on a very small field: road safety was another concern with the application site being accessed from a single-track road with no pavement: the ecological impact of the proposed development would create permanent disturbance/damage to wildlife, habitats and water courses. He also said that it was unreasonable for the settled community of Huntingford to have more than one gypsy site within close proximity.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr. Glen Ings.
- To receive declarations of interest from members and to consider requests for new DPI dispensations.
Members are invited to declare disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests in items on the agenda as required by the Mere Town Council Code of Conduct for Members and by the Localism Act 2011.
- To receive Declarations of Interest relating to matters contained in this agenda, in accordance with the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972 in respect of officers and the Localism Act 2011 in respect of members.
- Mitchell declared a personal interest in planning applications 20/08238/Ful & 20/08738/FUL
- Mrs. Traves declared a personal interest in planning application 20/08738/FUL
- Hazzard declared a prejudicial interest in Minute No. 160 a) [Recipient]
- To consider any dispensation requests received by the Town Clerk.
- None received
- Minutes – RESOLVED to approve Minutes of Town Council meeting held on Monday, 7th October 2020 with the inclusion of Cllr. A. Mead having been present at the meeting. The Clerk apologised that she had not been able to prepare a draft of the Minutes of the Town Council meeting held on Monday, 12th October 2020 in time to send out with the agenda papers and said that these Minutes would need to be approved at the next meeting instead.
- Matters Arising
- a) Minute No. 144a) Report on meeting between Chairman & M.P. Dr. Andrew Murrison – update on correspondence from Dr. Murrison, MP – the Chairman reported that Dr. Murrison had raised various concerns with Wiltshire Council following his meeting with him in October. Murrison had now had a response to two of these concerns as follows:
- The library service is currently finalising plans to reopen Mere library, a date has yet to be confirmed as we are waiting information about volunteer availability, but is likely to be towards the end of October. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the service will operate for customers to browse and borrow for up to 30 minutes and book a computer for up to 45 minutes. Opening hours will initially be reduced but there will still be a mixture of library staff and volunteer sessions. The service and opening hours will be extended as soon as it’s possible to do so safely. Wiltshire Council are committed to a library in Mere and would welcome working in partnership with the Town Council in this area.
- Fives Court is not a building that is fit for purpose for modern care. It was built in the 70s and rooms do not have en-suite facilities which are expected for our customers. CQC’s judgement is that the environment does not meet the standards of care. Additionally, its location means it is economically unviable. The home is built for 39 residents and for some time the Council has been unable to place more than 19 customers. In respect of disposal of any property, a 6 monthly report goes to Cabinet to seek their consideration. As with any recommendation, Councillors and residents can raise questions on the recommendation which would be made following the service declaring it surplus.
- b) Notice of Casual Vacancy – the Clerk reported that Richard Pester had handed in his resignation as a Town Councillor with regret due to him not being able to commit enough time to the role. The Clerk would therefore inform the Returning Officer of the vacancy and would publish the Notice of Vacancy as and when it arrived.
- a) Applications: (All applications can be viewed on Wiltshire Council’s website http://planning.wiltshire.gov.uk/Northgate/PlanningExplorer/ApplicationSearch.aspx – and type in the relevant application number)
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Retrospective permission for erection of a garden room/shed and new 1.8m high fence along boundary of side garden|
|At:||Martone, Springfield Road, Mere. BA12 6EW|
An objection received by the Town Council from a neighbouring resident was read out. Cllr. Norris pointed out that the old boundary hedge was a lot higher than the fence that has been erected and the visibility was worse when the hedge was there than it is now. He said that in comparison to what was there before a 1.8m fence doesn’t make much difference. Although the building does not look much like a garden room, I note that it going to be used for administration and am happy to support the application. Cllr. Jeans pointed out that if the applicant wishes to use the building ancillary to their property, for incidental office purposes, then this would fit in with permitted development rules. There would be a requirement, however, for planning permission for a fence that is higher than 1m where it is adjacent to a public highway as is the case with this application. Cllr. P. Coward said that it was a pity that the application was retrospective but he agreed that the application be supported. RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Norris, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a vote of 10 for and 2 abstentions. (In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting.)
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Change of use of land to use as a residential caravan site for 4 gypsy families. Laying of hardstanding, access improvements and erection of two amenity buildings.|
|At:||Land at Jane Oaks Farm, Mere, BA12 6LJ|
The Clerk said that she had received copies of a number of objections to the above planning application but all were of a similar vein to the objections and concerns raised by members of the public during the public session of this meeting. Cllr. Mrs. Traves said that she remembered the difficulties of dealing with a gypsy site when she was Chairman and the planning application for Mapperton Hill was being considered. She said that one of the potential problems was ensuring that these sites stay as detailed because they often start off as one thing and then grow into another. Cllr. Colman said that he did not think the site was large enough to accommodate the 4 mobile homes, 4 tourers, 2 amenity buildings, bin store. He said that he thought the access was inadequate and there would be insufficient space for vehicles to turn. Cllr. Jordan felt that this was not an appropriate place for a site for 4 gypsy families and questioned where all the waste was going to go. Cllr. P. Coward said that from a planning point of view this was inappropriate. Drainage and waste was not being considered and felt that members of the public had made very good points with their objections. Cllr. Jeans said that he was not going to vote on this matter because it could well be taken to committee and he wanted to keep an open mind now so that he could vote at committee stage. However, Cllr. Jeans pointed out that Core Policy 47 of the Adopted Wiltshire Core strategy was the relevant policy for this application. Core Policy 47 being:
Proposals for new gypsy and traveller pitches or travelling showpeople plots/yards will only be granted where there is no conflict with other planning policies and where no barrier to development exists. New development should be situated in sustainable locations, with preference generally given to previously developed land or a vacant or derelict site in need of renewal. Where proposals satisfy the following general criteria they will be considered favourably:
- No significant barriers to development exist in terms of flooding, poor drainage, poor ground stability or proximity to other hazardous land or installation where conventional housing would not be suitable.
- It is served by a safe and convenient vehicular and pedestrian access. The proposal should not result in significant hazard to other road users.
- The site can be properly serviced and is supplied with essential services, such as water, power, sewerage and drainage, and waste disposal.
- The site must also be large enough to provide adequate vehicle parking, including circulation space, along with residential amenity and play areas.
- It is located in or near to existing settlements within reasonable distance of a range of local services and community facilities, in particular schools and essential health services.
- It will not have an unacceptable impact on the character and appearance of the landscape and the amenity of neighbouring properties, and is sensitively designed to mitigate any impact on its surroundings.
- Adequate levels of privacy should be provided for occupiers.
- Development of the site should be appropriate to the scale and character of its surroundings and existing nearby settlements.
- The site should not compromise a nationally or internationally recognised designation nor have the potential for adverse effects on river quality, biodiversity or archaeology.
RESOLVED to recommend refusal on the grounds that, not only would it constitute development in the open countryside, on agricultural land that has not previously been developed or is a derelict site in need of renewal but that the site fails to meet a significant number of the 9 points of criteria that are laid out in Core Policy 47 of the Adopted Wiltshire Core Strategy document.
Due to the unfortunate experience noted by nearby residents following the granting of planning permission for a nearby gypsy site, members of the Town Council also felt it necessary to RESOLVE that, should the Planning Authority deem planning consent for this application then this should be conditioned to encompass the criteria in point iii of Core Policy 47 – In other words, that the site should be supplied with essential services, such as water, power, sewerage, drainage and waste disposal prior to any residential occupation and also that hardstanding surfaces and access points should be installed prior to any residential occupation being allowed.
Members of the Town Council also RESOLVED to request that Cllr. Jeans ask for this planning application to be ‘Called In’ for committee consideration if the planning officer is minded to consider granting approval of the application. Proposals made by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a vote of 10 for, 1 against and 1 abstention.
(In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor. Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.)
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Extension to existing light industrial and storage building and renovation of existing lean-to building.|
|At:||Yard at Wet Lane, Mere. BA12 6BA|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Norris and carried with a vote of 10 for & 2 abstentions. (Having declared a personal interest in this application, Cllr. Mitchell abstained from voting.
|Application for:||Listed Building Consent|
|Proposal:||Replacement of two garages with a holiday cottage|
|At:||The Butt of Sherry, Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6JE|
The Clerk informed members that this planning application had been withdrawn.
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Erection of an agricultural barn for the storage of fodder, machinery and livestock|
|At:||Land North West of Black House Farm, Wet Lane, Mere. BA12 6BA|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. R. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Mead and carried with a vote of 9 for and 3 abstentions. (Having declared a personal interest in this application, Cllr. Mitchell & Cllr. Mrs. Traves abstained from voting. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor. Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.)
|Application for:||Work to Trees in Cons. Area|
|Proposal:||T1 Ginko 1/3 reduction|
|At:||The Old Rectory Cottage, Church Street, Mere. BA12 6DS|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote.
|Application for:||Work to Trees in a Cons. Area|
|Proposal:||T1 Cherry tree – fell|
|At:||Waterside Villa, Waterside, Mere. BA12 6EE|
RESOLVED to recommend the above application for approval on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Mrs Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.
Cllr. Jeans pointed out to members that the application to vary the conditions for Ashmere House (old Lloyds Bank) had been refused by the planning authority. However, this had brought up some interesting points and revealed that Wiltshire Council’s policy for parking was unenforceable. Cllr. Jeans felt that this should be brought to the attention of the planning authority and it was agreed that he would get together with the Clerk to draft a report for councillors to consider at the next meeting.
*b) To acknowledge submission to Government’s White Paper: Planning for the Future – Members were fully supportive of the submission that had been made and the Clerk was asked to note in the Minutes that the Town Council had praised her for the amount of work she had put into preparing this submission.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team of MyWiltshire reports (Parish Steward is in Mere 3rd & 4th November): The following jobs were identified:
- Street light out on Newport House
- Pothole in Pettridge Lane on left hand side near Michaelmas House
- Deep pothole in Boar Street opposite the Post Office
- Moss on manhole cover outside one of the 3 cottages along Edgebridge
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Allotments & Cemeteries
- a) Report on RoSPA Play Area Safety Inspections carried out in September – the Clerk reported that “the annual RoSPA Play Area Safety Inspection was carried out in September on our three play areas and our skate park. We have received the four written reports which identify an overall Risk Assessment for each site and individual Risk Assessments for each piece of equipment – ranging from Urgent, High Risk, Medium Risk & low Risk. The report then lists various remedial tasks that should be carried out to reduce risks etc. Apart from the skate park which is a High Risk item due to its usage (not due to the equipment which meets required standard), I am pleased to report that we have no ‘Urgent’ or ‘High Risk’ equipment identified and there is nothing contained within the reports that has given us cause for concern. We were aware that we had a damaged piece of equipment at Castle Hill Play Area and we are currently assessing whether or not replacement parts can be purchased so that we can carry out repairs in house. My grounds staff have been given copies of the reports and we will work through them to carry out as many of the remedial tasks as we can.
- b) Notice of Tree Preservation Order made by Wiltshire Council – noted.
- c) Review of HLS Scheme – the Clerk informed members that the HLS agreement for Long Hill & Castle Hill is due to end in September 2021 and she had received an email from Natural England to say that there was a potential opportunity to extend the agreement beyond this date; initially for another year, but with the option of further annual extensions. However, this would entail Natural England carrying out a review of the agreement before the end of November to check if it is eligible/suitable for extension. The review covers a range of aspects including whether the agreement is delivering against the objectives etc. The Lead Adviser from the Wessex Area Team at Natural England said that, based on her site visits in the last 2-3 years, she was happy that the agreement is continuing to deliver the intended outcomes, so provided there are no other issues preventing it she would be minded to recommend it for extension. Members unanimously agreed that they would be happy to continue with the scheme if permitted.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
Cllr. E. Mitchell in The Chair
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to approve payments set out in payment schedules attached on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs. Traves, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote of those present. Cllr. Hazzard, having declared a pecuniary interest in this item, left the room whilst the matter was discussed and took no part in voting.
Cllr. C. Hazzard resumed as Chair
- b) To decide on details for Annual Budget meeting – the Chairman said that it will be necessary to hold the Annual Budget meeting before the end of December. The following councillors agreed to form the Annual Budget Committee who would meet to make recommendations for the Full Council to consider.
Chairman, Cllr. Clive Hazzard
Vice-Chairman, Cllr. Eric Mitchell
Cllr. Aubrey Colman
Cllr. Philip Coward
Cllr. Raymond Hill
Cllr. George Jeans.
Cllr. John Jordan
Cllr. Mrs. Traves
It was agreed that the Clerk would email the above members with suggested dates/times to meet.
- c) Report on staff related matter – The Clerk informed members that Mr. Cliff Stafford, the Town Council’s part-time Street Orderly, had found it necessary to hand in his notice due to his other work commitments and time constraints. At the request of the Clerk, members agreed to wait until the New Year before considering advertising for a replacement as this would give more time to consider the future of this role in relation to financial implications and/or budget constraints. RESOLVED to Minute the Town Council thanks to Mr. Cliff Stafford for the hard work he has done for the Town Council during the time he has been with us.
- General Items & Consultations/Briefing Notes
- a) Invitation to Seeds4Success 2020 AGM via Zoom on Wednesday, 18th November from 7.00 pm – Cllr. Jeans said that he would join the meeting and the Chairman said that he would try to join the meeting.
*a) Briefing Note No. 20-33 – Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) -– members noted the information contained in the Briefing Note which was distributed with their agenda papers.
- Future meetings and agenda items
The Chairman thanked Cllr. Jeans who had provided the Town Council with a second-hand 55inch television for our Zoom meetings at a special price. Members were happy to continue with the hybrid meetings as long as they complied with government guidelines and were happy to meet at 6.00 p.m.
- Emergency Item – Going forward after new Lockdown-2 announcement
The Clerk said that she was taking steps for measures to be in place by 5th November in accordance with the Prime Minister’s new Lockdown announcement at the weekend. New guidelines were being drafted but it was understood that the government wanted play areas to remain open but grassroots sports would not be taking place. The sports facilities including the pavilion, changing rooms and tennis courts and Multi Use Games Area would therefore be locked and out of use. The Clerk was waiting for further guidance on skate parks. The Clerk intended to keep the one accessible toilet open during the existing opening hours as this seems to be working fairly well. The Clock Tower will remain closed. All Town Council staff would continue coming into work as it was not possible to work from home, the Town Council offices would remain open although we will encourage all general public enquiries to take place via telephone or email.
The Clerk had received an email today from Richard Jefferies giving an update on the Community Support network with the list of telephone co-ordinators. I will be speaking to him tomorrow about getting some kind of reassurances out to people via Facebook and via the Town Council’s website that the Community Support network will continue. There are a few less volunteers because some of the previous volunteers have returned to work but there is still plenty of willing help available.
The Government’s guidance on Remembrance Sunday is going to be updated and we are expecting this during the middle of the week. If nothing is received by then, then it seems likely that the easiest way to resolve the problem will be to cancel any arrangements that we did have in place and ask people to go and lay their wreaths individually – on their own or in their own bubbles.
Note: Members are reminded that the Town Council has a general duty to consider the following matters in the exercise of any of its functions: Equal Opportunities (race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status and any disability), Crime and Disorder, Health and Safety and Human Rights.
*Further information on these items enclosed/attached