Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of the Town Council held on Monday, 5th October 2020 at 6.00 p.m. at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW (the meeting was held inside with restrictions to meet the Town Council’s COVID-19 Secure Risk Assessment)
Present: Cllrs. C. Hazzard (Chairman), A. Colman, P. Coward, R. Coward, G. Jeans (from 6.32 pm), J. Jordan, B. Norris, Mrs. K. Symonds (from 6.15 pm) & Mrs. L. Traves
Also Mr. David Drewett & Mr. John Gammie.
The Chairman convened the meeting, welcoming everyone present and read out the consent notice for names of members of the public to be recorded in the Minutes.
As he had attended the meeting the Chairman took the opportunity to thank Mr. David Drewett for the splendid work he had done in repainting a large number of the street name signs around the town and he said how smart they now looked.
The Chairman also made the very sad announcement that Sue Luffman (nee Ings) had died and said that she had been a Guider for Mere Brownies/Girlguiding for 40 years. The Chairman wanted to Minute the Town Council’s appreciation for all she had done for Mere.
John Gammie had attended the meeting to speak in respect of the planning application for the Butt of Sherry to develop garages into a 3-bedroomed house. Mr. Gammie said that the Butt of Sherry Preservation Society objects to the planning application and has instructed a specialist planning consultant to help with their objection submission. He also said that the immediate neighbours have got 8 pages of objections already and he was hoping that the Town Council would support us in our objections.
David Drewett expressed his concern relating to the outline application that had just been submitted for up to 70 homes to be built on the Beaumont’s Business Park site. He said that it was often the case that outline permission was granted for a number of homes and then when a full planning application was submitted it was for a much higher number of homes. He also said that all the traffic would be funnelled down one side of the town and he could envisage a future where there will be 200+ homes (400 cars) accessing Woodlands Road. The Chairman confirmed that the Town Council would be holding a separate meeting on Monday, 12th October to discuss this application.
John Jordan said that he would like to speak in the public session because he thinks it may be inappropriate for him to speak as a councillor. He said that he felt that Castle Hill Lane was inappropriate for any more residential properties. Everyone who lives along there knows how congested it can get with two-way traffic trying to negotiate access in an out of their homes along a single-track road.
Lesley Traves said that she wanted to reiterate everything that John Jordan had said about Castle Hill Lane.
The Chairman said that he wanted to thank the Clerk for all her hard work she had done in trying to get the sports facilities and other council facilities reopened. He said that this involved risk assessments, the purchase of various items to make them comply with govt. guidelines and much communication with the sports groups and users. He asked for the Council’s thanks and appreciation to be Minuted for the Clerks work in keeping everything open.
- Apologies for absence were received and accepted from Cllrs. Raymond Hill, Glen Ings, Eric Mitchell, Richard Pester & Roy Sims.
- 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.
(a) 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.
- Jordan declared a personal interest in planning application 20/07711/FUL
- R. Coward declared a personal interest in Minute No. 148c)
(b) To consider any dispensation requests received by the Town Clerk.
- None received
- Minutes – RESOLVED to recommend approval of the Minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 20th July 2020 and Minutes of the Town Council meeting held on 7th September 2020 on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Traves and carried with a unanimous vote of those members present.
- Matters Arising
- a) Report on meeting between Chairman & M.P. Dr. Andrew Murrrison – the Chairman said that he had held a meeting with Dr. Andrew Murrison on Friday where he had discussed the Town Council’s concerns about three issues: The closure of Fives Court, the fact that Mere Library had not yet reopened and the unauthorised encampments and issues taking place at Burton Field. Murrison had agreed to try and get some clarification about these points and said he would bring them b ack to the Town Council.
- 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:||Variation of Condition|
|Proposal||Variation of Condition 2 (approved plans) to regularise the as-built floor plans.|
|At||Ashmere House (former Lloyds Bank) , Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6JE|
The Clerk explained that this application related to the former Lloyds Bank building and that the original application was made in 2018/19 (18/11174/FUL) for the conversion of the existing bank to create 3 X 1-bed flats and 1 X 2-bed flat. The Town Council objected for reasons of overdevelopment and insufficient parking. This planning application was called in by Cllr. Jeans due to local concerns and was subsequently considered by the Southern Planning Committee on 7th February 2019. Cllr. Jordan who was the then Town Council Chairman, attended the meeting during which Cllr. Jeans argued for the refusal of the planning application on the grounds of overdevelopment. This was against the officer’s recommendation for approval. The view of the Town Council was recognised – that there were problems with parking – however the committee did not support Cllr. Jeans and voted to approve the application on the grounds that the development included parking spaces for all of the apartments. Therefore, the application was approved subject to the development being built in accordance with the plans submitted.
It is evident from this planning application that the development was not built in accordance with the plans submitted and approved. The new plans that have been submitted show the flats with different layouts. It is interesting to note that the layouts show separate dining rooms in the flats but in fact, there is evidence that the flats are currently being marketed as 2-bedroom flats with the dining room being shown as a bedroom on the estate agents floor plans online.
It was pointed out that whether you call a room a bedroom or a dining room was up to the occupant but members felt that the rules were being stretched and the resulting consequences would only exacerbate the parking problems in the town centre. Cllr Norris said that he did not support this application in the first place and the fact that it was granted by Wiltshire Council did not change his view.
RESOLVED to object to the application on the basis that the Town Council was unable to support the original plans under 18/11174/FUL due to ‘Overdevelopment’ and ‘Insufficient Parking’ and the fact that these new plans only served to exacerbate the Town Council’s original concerns. It was further agreed to ask our Wiltshire Councillor to ‘call-in’ this application to be determined by the planning committee if he felt that this was necessary. This resolution was carried on a proposal made by Cllr. Norris, seconded by Cllr. Mead and carried with a majority vote. (In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor. Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.)
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Conversion of 2 garages to holiday cottage|
|At:||The Butt of Sherry, Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6JE|
The Chairman said that he drove up Castle Hill Lane to view the site this morning but could not get through the lane and had to reverse back and this confirmed his thoughts that the site is not suitable for residential conversion. Cllr. Colman said he thought the application would result in overdevelopment of the site. Cllr. Norris said that the planning application stated that there were parking spaces for 2 vehicles which was not correct and he said that there were a number of inconsistencies with the planning application. Cllr. P. Coward said that he recalled that the Town Council had adopted a policy of no new residential dwellings along Castle Hill Lane due to the poor access. RESOLVED to recommend refusal of the above application for the following reasons:
- Lack of off-street parking
- Access – Castle Hill Lane has two-way traffic but is a single-track road with no pavement for pedestrians. There is a children’s play area halfway along the lane. The lane is not appropriate for any further development.
- Precedent – There are a number of properties in Castle Street that have garages backing onto Castle Hill Lane. Approval of this planning application would set a precedent for other property owners to apply for garage conversions along the lane. This would further exacerbate the on-street parking problems in Castle Street and Castle Hill Lane.
- Detrimental effect on neighbours – The conversion of these garages into a residential dwelling would create an unacceptable loss of amenity to the neighbouring property and would have a detrimental effect on their property and the surrounding properties.
It was further agreed to ask our Wiltshire Councillor to ‘call-in’ this application to be determined by the planning committee if he felt that this was necessary. This resolution was carried on a proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Norris and carried with a majority vote. (Having declared a personal interest in this application, Cllr. Jordan 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 a Cons. Area|
|Proposal:||Silver Birch – reduce back overextended limbs by up to 3 metres|
|At:||Vine Cottage, Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6JH|
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Traves and carried with a unanimous vote.
|Application for:||Full Planning|
|Proposal:||Conversion of barn to residential dwelling|
|At:||Barn A, Church Farm, Wet Lane, Mere. BA12 6BA|
Cllr. Jordan said that it looked like a nice conversion which seemed to be in keeping with the integrity of the building and the surroundings. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Norris and carried with a majority vote. (In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor. Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.)
- c) Planning for the future – Consultation on proposals for reform of the planning system in England from Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government: The Clerk pointed out that there were actually three consultation documents that had been issued by the government to reform the planning system.
- Changes to the Current Planning System – Consultation closes 11.45 pm on 1st October https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system
This consultation seeks views on a range of proposed changes to the current planning system including: changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need, securing of First Homes through developer contributions, temporarily lifting the small sites threshold and extending the current Permission in Principle to major development.
- White Paper: Planning for the Future – Consultation closes at 11.45 pm on 29th October https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future
This consultation seeks any views on each part of a package of proposals for reform of the planning system in England to streamline and modernise the planning process, improve outcomes on design and sustainability, reform developer contributions and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.
- Transparency & Competition: Data and Land Control – Consultation closes at 11.45 pm on 30th October https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transparency-and-competition-a-call-for-evidence-on-data-on-land-control
This call for evidence seeks views on proposals to require additional data from the beneficiaries of certain types of interests in land – rights of pre-emption, options and estate contracts. It also seeks views on the design of the policy and additional evidence on the impacts of the policy.
*Please see attached Briefing Note 20-31 from Wiltshire Council + report from Town Clerk.
Members noted the information above and the Briefing Note and report from the Town Clerk. Cllr. Jordan said he had tried reading the consultation document and felt that it had no commitment to affordable housing or council led housing and seemed to be pressing the notion of supply and demand. There were concerns that the government were trying to take planning away from the local people who know the area and members felt that local voices should be heard more. Cllr. R. Coward said his objection is that vast areas of greenfield sites will be lost to housing and against the loss of greenfield sites where there are brownfield sites to use first. Cllr. Mrs. Symonds asked if Mere would ever get any credit for the large number of houses we have already absorbed. Cllr. Colman expressed concern about the reductions to CIL payments. Cllrs. Jordan and Hazzard agreed to submit responses to the Clerk who, in turn, was delegated to submit a response on behalf of the Town Council, encompassing their comments above.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team of MyWiltshire reports (Parish Steward is in Mere 6 & 7th October) – The Clerk pointed out that Mr. Drewett had suggested various jobs for the Sparkle Team on their next visit. It was pointed out that the surface of the path going down the middle of Jubilee Gardens was in poor condition but the Clerk pointed out that this was the Town Council’s responsibility.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries,
- a) Lighting for Andy Young Pavilion car park – Cllr. A. Mead was concerned because it was difficult to see, in the dark, where the potholes were and felt that this would pose a safety hazard for people who were using the pavilion during the evening. The Chairman said that the pavilion was not being used at the present time and certainly not during the evening for meetings and expressed his concern about the Council spending money on providing lighting for the car park when the school’s plans for extending the car park were unknown. He said he understood the safety concerns and thought it might be possible to erect some temporary lighting. RESOLVED to raise this as an agenda item when the building is being brought back into use of an evening.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to approve payments set out in payment schedules attached on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
- b) Request to give financial support (donation) to the following Area Board Grant Applications:
- Healthy Mere Walking
- Our Time Project
At the Area Board meeting last week both projects were approved without condition of a Town Council financial contribution. However, as the Healthy Mere Walking project had previously asked the Town Council for a contribution it was RESOLVED to recommend a grant to the Healthy Mere Walking project of £50. Members agreed that if the ‘Our Time Project’ specifically asked Mere Town Council for a grant then this should be raised as a future agenda item for consideration.
*C) To discuss the setting of a policy for sports coaches or sports businesses using Town Council or Charity facilities. – Cllr. R. Coward had previously declared a personal interest in this item and offered to leave the room but the Chairman deemed that this was not necessary. The Town Clerk had distributed a draft policy for members to consider and Cllr. Jordan felt that the recommendations contained therein should be put into practice although he expressed concern as to how they would be enforced. Cllr. Colman said that he was acquainted with an LTA Coach who uses facilities and pays £10 per hour for their use. Cllr. Symonds said that the policy would need to be advertised and expressed concerns about where the Council would stand if there was an accident and also said that we did not want to set a policy that would cause too much administration. Members then talked about the level of charges that should be made with Cllr. Jordan having suggested £8.00 per hour for classes of fewer than five participants and £20 per hour for classes with more than five participants. The Clerk offered to ask other Town & Parish Council Clerks for examples of their charge rates and to present this to the Council at a future meeting.
- General Items & Consultations
*a) Wiltshire Council’s Area Board Boundary Review – The Clerk pointed out that the Area Board boundaries were being reviewed to fall in line with the electoral boundary review that took place last year. It was pointed out that the SWW Area Board boundary was not changing and Cllr. Jeans said that it was people power that worked on this occasion. It was agreed to submit a response confirming that the Town Council was happy with the SWW Area Board boundary.
- b) Arrangements for ‘scaled back’ Remembrance Service – The Chairman reported that there would be no plans to hold a Remembrance Service in The Square this year. There will, however, be an Act of Remembrance held outside elsewhere where there will be a wreath laying service for invited members of official organisations. The wreaths will be moved to the War Memorial later on in the day and there will be a church Service of Remembrance in the afternoon.
- c) Plans for Xmas Lights & Xmas Activities – RESOLVED to erect Xmas lights as usual but that there would be no switch on ceremony.
- d) Open Consultation. Pavement Parking: Options for change https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/managing-pavement-parking/pavement-parking-options-for-change Closing date: 22.11.20
The Clerk reported that a consultation into pavement parking has been launched by the Dept. for Transport (DfT). Current law prohibits parking on pavements in Greater London but elsewhere in England the practice is legal unless explicitly prohibited. Local Councils have reported that pavement parking is a widespread problem and the government is considering increasing local authority powers and current legislation to allow councils to issue £70 fines to owners whose vehicles are found to be “causing an unnecessary obstruction of the pavement.” Another option is a nationwide ban on pavement parking, although this would entail a significant change to English parking law and would require all councils to conduct an audit of roads. Cllr. Norris felt that we ought to discourage parking on pavements as, apart from the obstruction issues, it usually leads to damage to the pavements because they are not as robust as highways. It was also pointed out that the police do not get involved in pavement parking issues at the present time unless it is an extreme case. RESOLVED to support a nationwide ban on pavement parking on proposal made by Cllr. Norris, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
- Future meetings and agenda items
It was agreed that the next meeting of the Town Council which would be held next week, should be a hybrid meeting with some councillors attending in person (those that do not have the capacity to join a virtual meeting) and the remaining councillors and all members of the public being invited to join via Zoom.
Meeting closed at 8.10 p.m.
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
MERE PEACE MEMORIAL SPORTS AND RECREATION GROUND
Registered Charity No. 1093497
For Trustees to consider:
- Mere Youth Development Centre –Report & update on building project. Update on project and approval of granting of 25-year lease which will involve surveyors’ fees & solicitors fees (approx. £1500). It was reported that there were a number of questions that needed consideration by the Town Council in more detail and it was agreed to provide these questions in more details at the meeting next week.
- To discuss the setting of a policy for sports coaches or sports businesses using Town Council or Charity facilities – as Trustees, members were happy with the recommendations in the draft policy but agreed to wait until more information was provided before agreeing on fees to charge.
- RESOLVED to approve the following payment:
Water2Business Standing Charge for supply to old Cricket Club in Rec. 15.49