Minutes of Town Council meeting held 1st March 2021
Mere Town Council
Town Clerk – Mrs. L. C. Wood
Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held on Monday, 1st March 2021 at 6.00 pm online at Zoom.us
Present on Zoom: Cllrs C. Hazzard (Chairman), Mrs. D. Beale, A. Colman, P. Coward, R. Coward, G. Ings, G. Jeans, J. Jordan, E. Mitchell, B. Norris, & Mrs. K. Symonds
Also present on Zoom: Mr. Mark Bassett from Freeths, Mr. & Mrs. Brown and Sandra Catley.
Mr. Mike Brown explained that he was the owner of 3 The Paddocks and had submitted a planning application to extend the property. He explained that he and his family had strong local connections and loved living in Mere and the purpose of this planning application was to enable them to stay in Mere for the long term. Mr. Mark Bassett from Freeths said that he had joined the meeting to answer any questions relating to the planning application for the care home on land adjacent to Quarryfield Industrial Estate.
Apologies for absence – Cllrs. R. Hill, R. Sims & Mrs. L. Traves tried to join the meeting but were unable to due to technical issues relating to joining Zoom and sent their apologies. The Chairman also informed members that he had today received a resignation letter from Cllr. Alan Mead and he thanked Cllr. Mead for all the work he had done during his time as a Town Councillor. The Clerk said that due to the closeness of the elections, it would not be necessary to declare a vacancy and co-opt another councillor.
- 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.
- P. Coward pointed out that he may have a declaration of interest in the planning application 20/11079/Ful as he is Chairman of Hillbrush which is near to the application site.
- To consider any dispensation requests received by the Town Clerk.
- None received
- Minutes – RESOLVED to approve the Minutes of the meetings held on Monday, 1st February 2021 on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote of those present on 1.2.21
- Matters Arising
- a) Report on Wiltshire Council’s cabinet meeting on 2nd February regarding re-charge of Town & Parish Council election costs – the Clerk informed members that the issue had been withdrawn from the agenda and was not discussed at the meeting. She confirmed that Wiltshire Council were unlikely to impose any re-charges to Town & Parish Councils for elections this year.
- 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:||Proposed new shed and driveway alterations|
|At:||40 North Road, Mere. BA12 6HQ|
The Chairman said that he had been to the site and spoken to the applicant who currently has a shed which is hidden behind a hedgerow. The applicant would like to replace this with a new shed which will protrude further out at the front of the garden and also wanted to widen his driveway so as to accommodate more vehicles. As the house would have been a local authority house at one time, the Chairman wondered whether there were restrictive covenants which precluded development on front gardens as there are in other areas of Mere. Cllr. Jordan pointed out that there had been no objection raised from the Highways Department. RESOLVED to support the planning application adding an informative with the advice that Title Deeds should be checked for restrictive covenants. Proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds 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:||To replace and extend the roof of the property with an increased pitch to form three bedrooms and bathrooms in the roof. Other alterations to include creating a balcony as part of the roof, the removal of the chimney and alterations to ground floor windows.|
|At:||3 The Paddocks, Pettridge Lane, Mere. BA12 6DG|
The Chairman pointed out that the Town Council had received an objection from the owners of Greystones and the Clerk read out the email which was objecting to the windows on the east elevations on the basis that they would overlook Greystones. The email stated that the addition of an upper floor will mean that the proposed large window and the dormer on the front of the building would overlook the rear of Greystones and impact on their privacy and went on to suggest an alternative scheme/proposal that would cause less impact. Cllr. Jordan said that he thought the proposal was aesthetically pleasing but agreed that the eastern elevation did seem to overlook neighbours. He said that he initially had some concerns about the balcony overlooking the cemetery too but had been reassured by comments made by the applicant in the public session. Cllr. Norris said that he was a bit uncomfortable about this planning application and Cllr. Colman said that he felt it did impinge on neighbours privacy. Cllr. P. Coward felt that the plans could be tweaked quite easily to make them more acceptable. He said he could see exactly why the applicants wanted to extend the bungalow but he agreed that the big window would cause a privacy issue. RESOLVED to approve the planning application ON CONDITION that the proposals for the feature window and dormer on the eastern elevation are altered to reduce the overlooking and infringement of privacy on the neighbouring property. Proposal made by Cllr. Jordan, seconded by Cllr. P. Coward 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:||Extension and alterations|
|At:||18 Lordsmead Road, Mere. BA12 6BZ|
The Chairman said that he had visited the site and could see not obvious reasons to give concern about this application. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the application on proposal made by Cllr. Norris, seconded by Cllr. Ings 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:||Proposed new rear conservatory|
|At:||7 Walnut Road, Mere. BA12 6FG|
The Chairman said that he had visited the site but found it difficult to assess how it would affect neighbours but it was pointed out that other similar conservatories had been approved in the area and a precedent had been set. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the application on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward 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:||Proposed refurbishment of existing dwelling including removal of existing roof keeping the existing first floor structure, new half storey over and new roof. Amendment to 20/01804/FUL|
|At:||Rick Stones, Castle Hill Lane, Mere. BA12 6JB|
Members said that they had struggled to see what the amendment related to. The Clerk pointed out that in the Design & Access Statement it says that the amendment is to cover a change from reusing existing concrete plain tiles to a new natural slate tiled roof. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the application on condition that the amendment relates to the roof materials only on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds 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:||Alterations to previously consented Part Q farm building conversion|
|At:||Barn B, Church Farm, Wet Lane, Mere. BA12 6BA|
Cllr. Mitchell stated that this planning application would affect the owner of the middle barn who has raised no objection. However, Cllr. Mitchell pointed out that the existing barn has no window on the western elevation and noted that the proposals were to introduce a window on this elevation and Cllr. Mitchell felt that this window would face into the middle barn and cause an unacceptable level of overlooking and loss of privacy. Cllr. Jordan said that he agreed. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the application ON CONDITION that the window on the western elevation is removed completely so as to avoid overlooking and loss of privacy to neighbours. Proposal made by the Chairman 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:||70 bed care home with associated access, parking, sprinkler tank, bin store and landscaping|
|At:||Land adjacent Quarryfield Industrial Estate, Castle Street, Mere. BA12 6LA|
Cllr. Colman said he thought that the plan would be very suitable for the area but questioned whether there was sufficient parking space for the workers. Cllr. Norris said that he could not understand why anyone would want to build a care home and place our most vulnerable people outside the settlement area and in so doing we would be using up valuable industrial land. Cllr. Jordan said that it is a 3-storey building and it would be preferable to have a 3-storey building in this location than it would be in the middle of Mere. However, he felt that it would tower over its neighbour, Boundary House. Cllr. P. Coward said that he had written a letter in to the planning authority on behalf of Hillbrush. Hillbrush do not have any objection to the application but they have concerns relating to the need to change the classification of the land allocation which currently has planning permission for B1 and B8 industrial use which does not cover care homes. Whilst Hillbrush does not emit much noise in the course of their day-to-day activity, they do have a number of heavy and light goods vehicles entering the site each day and would not want complaints about this due to the proximity of a care home. Furthermore, they had raised concern about the number of car parking spaces and the likelihood of visitors for the care home attempting to park on Hillbrush site or on the access roads if they could not park in the care home’s designated parking spaces. The Chairman said that he was quite surprised that the applicants had not been in touch with the local doctor’s surgery. He confirmed that he had contacted the Doctors at Mere Surgery who had said that they would in principle support further residential capacity for the local residents in light of the recent Fives Court closure. The Chairman said that on the issue of car parking he noted that the idea was for staff to walk to the site from Mere and he pointed out that it was not safe to encourage pedestrians to walk this route due to the visibility difficulties at the B3092/3095 junction. He said that he would like to see some improvements made to this junction to improve safety for pedestrians to walk to the site from Mere. Cllr. Colman said that he could not believe that people would walk to work there because of the shift patterns involved in this type of work. Cllr. Rodney Coward said that this was the only site he was aware of locally that could accommodate such a building with the associated parking. Cllr. Jeans reminded members that the land is technically within the parish of Zeals although this employment allocation for B1 & B8 within the Local Plan has been envisaged for Mere employment. The use of the land has much more impact on Mere than it does for Zeals and that will be a consideration when it comes to CIL funding. Cllr. Jeans reiterated that the land has been allocated as employment land for the last 30 years and has had very little take-up from businesses although there is an extant planning permission for land adjacent to the care home site but this is for an office-based business. Cllr. Jeans said that he had received confirmation that the width of the road is 6.3m and the pavements were 2.5m wide and therefore he felt comfortable that visitors could park on the roadside without causing an obstruction. He also pointed out that there would be restrictions for years to come on visitor numbers to care homes. The Chairman closed the meeting in order to allow Mr. Mark Bassett to speak and Mr. Bassett confirmed that there were 30 parking spaces shown on the plans. He pointed out that he thought it would be possible to achieve an additional 4 parking spaces and possibly another four but he doubted whether the last four would be acceptable to the Highways Department. He said he therefore had authority to submit a revised plan that would include 38 parking spaces. He also confirmed that the number of jobs created would be 73 staff, working in shifts of 37 over a 24-hour period and that they would recruit as many as possible from the local area. The Chairman said that he was in favour of this planning application and was happy to ask Cllr. Jeans to take this to committee. RESOLVED to recommend approval of this planning application with the following CONDITIONS
- A revised application is submitted showing as many parking spaces as possible
- To make adaptations to the B3092/3095 junction to improve pedestrian visibility when crossing the junction from west to east (from the care home towards Mere), in order to improve pedestrian safety.
- The Town Council request that Cllr. Jeans ‘call in’ this planning application on the basis that it is a departure from the Industrial Classifications previously applied to this employment land allocation and giving consideration to the fact that Zeals Parish Council’s consultation submission is, as yet, unknown.
Proposal made by the Chairman, seconded by Cllr. Jordan and carried with a vote of 7 for, 1 against and 2 abstentions (Cllr. P. Coward and Cllr. G. Jeans). Cllr. Norris asked for his vote against this planning application to be recorded in the minutes. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting.
*b) Wiltshire Local Plan Review and Gypsy and Travellers Plan – to consider consultation response. (Report prepared by the Clerk attached) – With reference to the report that had been prepared by the Clerk & distributed to councillors, Cllr. Mitchell said that he thought the Clerk had done a lot of work on this submission report and congratulated her on an exceptional job and he asked for this to be Minuted. Members agreed and thanked the Clerk for preparing this submission report and it was RESOLVED to send this submission to Wiltshire Council as the Town Council’s formal response with the following additions: Cllr. Rodney Coward raised the question as to whether it was fair to impose the same requirement of affordable housing on the development of a brownfield site as was being required for the development of a greenfield site. He said that some incentive needed to be provided to encourage development of brownfield sites and given the fact that it would generally be necessary to factor in site demolition/clearance costs which would not be necessary on a greenfield site. Cllr. Jordan said that he would be happy with a reduction in the percentage of affordable housing but he was not happy with the fact that some developers tried to get away without providing any affordable housing by stating that it was not financially viable. Cllr. P. Coward said that affordable housing is worthless to developers so if there is a requirement for 40% affordable housing then it makes the other 60% much more expensive. RESOLVED to add the following paragraph on proposal made by Cllr. Mitchell, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote: Mere Town Council would prefer to encourage residential development on redundant brownfield sites than use a greenfield site to provide the housing target figures. However, there should be a small allowance either in S.106/CIL payments or affordable housing percentages in recognition that it may cost the developer more money to clear a redundant brownfield site than it would to start from scratch on a greenfield site. It was also agreed that the Clerk should add a paragraph relating to requirement for more employment allocations – Cllr. Jeans said that he had local knowledge of businesses that would like to come to Mere but have been prevented from doing so due to the lack of employment allocations. It was agreed to ask Wiltshire Council to revisit their calculations on employment allocations as we suspect there is a deficiency.
- c) Liaison with Gillingham Town Council over Dorset Local Plan vs Wiltshire Local Plan – The Clerk said that she had received contact from Gillingham Town Council ‘Our councillors are currently reviewing the Dorset Local Plan and I presume your councillors are doing the same with Wiltshire. We are also reviewing our Neighbourhood Plan. We do not have the capacity to comment on the Wiltshire Local Plan just now (except if anyone wishes to do so as an individual) and wondered whether there were any issues in the Wiltshire Local Plan that concern Mere and would benefit from the support from Gillingham Town Council. Likewise, we may have some issues with the Dorset Local Plan that may benefit from your support. For example: both towns will have designated gypsy sites planned about 2 miles or less either side of the county boundary. The southern extension will provide 2000 homes plus but yet we have developers hot on our heels to the north and west of the town to provide yet another significant number of homes.’ The Clerk said that she had spoken to Gillingham Town Council and the Clerk’s had suggested that, given the consultation deadlines, it would be a good idea to send each other copies of our respective formal consultation responses with permission to extract excerpts, paragraphs and information therein to use as responses to the respective Local Plan reviews. Members agreed with this suggestion.
- Reports & Consultations
- a) To receive and consider report from Wiltshire Councillor – George Jeans confirmed that he had attended a Licensing Committee meeting recently whereby it was confirmed that if food stalls were on the highway or Wiltshire Council land then street trading consent would be required although there are exemptions under the scheme for fetes, carnivals or similar community based and run events e.g. Xmas lights switch-on events and non-commercial, community or charitable events where the profits are not used for private gain or are wholly passed to a charity or political/educational organisation. Also, if the food stall were on private land more than 10m from the highway, then consent would not be required. Cllr. Jeans said that he had asked the South West Wiltshire Area Board for a councillors initiative to have a study done for Mere to benefit from Electric Vehicle Charging Points and to have an electric car sharing club which would be self-funding.
- Highways, River, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) Response from Highways England regarding cyclists diversion signs – the Clerk confirmed that she had written to Highways England asking if it would be possible to reduce the number of cyclists diversion signs but they had responded: ‘we have to follow Chapter 8 guidance of the Traffic Signs Manual. This is to ensure that we’re diverting people in the safest possible manner. If we don’t and someone were to be injured as a result of taking the wrong route, we would be criticised for not following the correct guidance. We’ve tried to reduce the number of signs by not putting arrow signs for ‘straight on’ at every junction. But we do need the ones that are currently in situ to remain. We’ll monitor the need for them and if it’s deemed that the requirement is not there we can look to reduce them.’
- b) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team or MyWiltshire reports
- Jeans reported – in Water Street, opposite the entrance to Dark Lane there is an issue with a gully & drain where surface water is not draining away. The gulley is raised and needs attention.
- R. Coward reported – potholes at top of Warminster Hollow along to Roman Road.
- Mrs. Beale reported – Burton Footpath where it goes to Burton Field. If there is any tarmac could it be used to fill the cracks in the footpath.
- Mitchell reported – road to Hinks Mill needs a lorry load of tarmac
- Mrs. Beale reported – at either end of Southbrook there are signs saying ‘No traffic for Woodlands Road’ designed to keep the Fry’s Development traffic off the lanes. However, the sign on the A303 end keeps being knocked down and Cllr. Beale wondered if the Parish Steward would be able to fix this in some way.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
*a) To approve plans for proposed new building for Seeds4Success – With reference to the plans that had been provided by Mr. Ross Coad, the Clerk informed members that the kitchen and office areas would be transposed – the kitchen would be on the north-west elevation and the office on the south-east elevation. The Clerk also suggested that the cars shown at the front of the building should be removed as there is adequate car parking provision in the existing car parking area. Members felt that they were insufficient information within the plans provided on which to base an opinion and asked the Clerk to write back requesting further information: Members would like to see a site location plan so that they can assess the footprint of the new building in comparison with the footprint of the existing building with details of how far it is proposed to locate the new building away from the hedge line. Members would also like details of the proposed materials for roofing, elevations, window frames, doors etc. Cllr. Coward suggested that it might be a good idea to move the proposed new building in a north-easterly direction.
*b) To consider plans for expansion of school and car parking and effects this will have on sport & leisure facilities – illustrative plans had been distributed to members with their agenda papers although the Chairman stressed that these would need to be amended as the Council had pointed out that there were access issues that had not been addressed and that there were other ongoing issues relating to suggested proposals for the foyer/town council office areas. Cllr. Jordan said that he could not see how a coach could possibly turn around on the site with the parking layout shown on these plans and that it was fairly obvious that these drawings had been prepared from a desk and the designer had not actually been on site. Members had the following observations and comments to make:
Cllr. Jeans – the Town Council has a long lease on the site. The Town Council should keep control of that lease and, if necessary, should sub-sub lease this land back to the LEA.
- Will the parking area contain any electric vehicle charging points?
- Members stressed that designated town council parking should be a requirement.
- Who will be responsible for maintain all this car parking area?
- Mrs. Beale – concerned about maintaining access to the MUGA, particularly for maintenance vehicles etc.
- P. Coward – any agreement should be conditional on the Town Council not being out of pocket on the costs incurred to fill the swimming pool site.
RESOLVED to add these comments and reiterate to the comments made 16 months ago.
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to approve and authorise payments as shown in payment schedule attached on proposal made by Cllr. Colman, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Symonds and carried with a unanimous vote.
- b) To set date, time and membership for Annual Risk Assessment meeting – it was agreed that Cllrs. Colman, Mrs. Traves & Mrs. Symonds would form the working group and would meet with the Clerk in order to make recommendations to the Town Council before the next Town Council meeting.
- c) To consider quotation for Tree Condition Survey Report (re-survey) – Before reading the quotation, the Clerk pointed out to members that she had not asked for three quotations in this instance but had gone to the tree specialist that provided the Town Council’s last Tree Condition Survey because she was aware that he had all the trees marked, mapped and reported previously and therefore calculated that any other specialists would be more expensive as the foundation work would need to be done again. RESOLVED to accept the quotation provided by the Council’s previous specialist and not to request further quotations on proposal made by Cllr. Jeans, seconded by Cllr. R. Coward and carried with a unanimous vote.
- d) Report on Community Infrastructure Money received 12.1.21 – £274.97 – deferred to next meeting.
- General Items, Consultations & Briefing Notes
The Chairman said that there had been a lot of talk on social media about dog fouling and that he had included this within his Chairman’s report for Mere Matters. He said that he had asked Rachel Hansford & Debbie Beale to get together to make a report for next month’s meeting. Cllr. R. Coward said that over the last few days he had seen scores of people with dozens of dogs & letting dogs run loose on the farmland. He said that dogs were allowed to foul the open fields where farmers have livestock and that dog owners should pick it up.
Cllr. Jeans stated that election packs are now available to download from the Electoral Commission website. However, once completed the nomination forms have to be physically taken into Wiltshire Council offices. Cllr. Jeans felt that time was of the essence if people wanted to print off nomination packs, fill them out and get them submitted in time for the deadline.
- Forthcoming meetings/events
Meeting schedules for April & May owing to elections and does the Town Council wish to convene an Annual Town Meeting via Zoom?
Extra Town Council meeting – The Clerk informed members that it would be necessary to have an extra Town Council meeting between now and the next meeting on 12th April in order to consider a number of planning applications that had been received and that this meeting would be held on 29th March.
Annual Town Meeting – The Annual Parish or Town meeting is not a Council meeting. It is a meeting of the parish or town electors taking place between 1st March and 1st June. Electors can contribute to the agenda and in practice these meetings often celebrate local activities and discuss local issues. The Chairman of the Council, any two councillors or any six electors can call the Annual Parish or Town meeting. The 2020 Regulations enabled local councils to hold remote meetings (including by video and telephone conferencing) for a specified period until May
next year. They also remove the requirement to hold an annual meeting. It is Mere Town Council’s practice to convene the Annual Town Meeting in April. In view of this, the Chairman asked members whether or not they wished to hold the Annual Town Meeting remotely in April this year in view of the fact that it would need to be held virtually and also the fact that there have been few local activities to report on. RESOLVED that the Town Council should not convene the Annual Town Meeting in 2021 on proposal made by Cllr. Norris, seconded by Cllr. Colman and carried with a unanimous vote.
Annual Town Council meeting – the Clerk informed members that in the year of ordinary elections of Town Councillors, the annual meeting of the town council shall be held within 14 days after the day on which councillors take office. Therefore, the Annual Town Council meeting would be held on Monday, 17th May 2021.
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
Members of Mere Town Council are sole trustees of Mere Peace Memorial Sports & Recreation Ground Charity (Mere Recreation Ground Charity).
For Trustees to consider:
Plans for proposed new building for Seeds4Success – Trustees reiterated the comments they had made as members of the Town Council i.e. There was insufficient information within the plans provided on which to base an opinion and asked the Clerk to write back requesting further information