Minutes of a meeting of Mere Town Council held at 7.00 pm on Monday, 10th January 2022 at Duchy Manor, Springfield Road, Mere, BA12 6EW.
Present: Councillors Lesley Traves (Chair), Kate Symonds (Vice-Chair), Debbie Beale, Nick Beale, Louise Bennett, Aubrey Colman, Philip Coward, Rachael Hansford, Clive Hazzard, Raymond Hill, Glen Ings, George Jeans & John Jordan.
The Chairman convened the meeting at 7.00 pm, welcoming everyone to the first meeting of 2022 and wishing all a very Happy New Year.
Public Participation Session
Mr. Nick Beale spoke as a member of the general public in objection to the Planning Applications for Plot H, The Old Nursery Burton, Mere.
Mrs. Debbie Beale spoke as a member of the general public in objection to Planning Applications for Plot H, The Old Nursery, Burton.
Mr. Hazzard pointed out that the double-yellow lines outside the Lecture Hall are very worn and asked if the Town Council could ask for them to be repainted.
Mr. Jordan said that the paving around the bench at the bus stop, outside Balcony Cottages in The Square, was in a bad state and uneven and that someone had fallen there recently. The Clerk said that the Town Council would bring this to the attention of Wiltshire Council as well.
Mr. Philip Coward said that the road outside Park Corner Farm, towards West Knoyle, was in a terrible state. He pointed out that Wiltshire Council kept patching it but that the tarmac just comes out again.
Apologies for absence received from Cllrs. Eric Mitchell and Rodney Coward
- To receive any declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and other interests from Councillors on matters to be considered at the meeting.
- 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.
- To receive written 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. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest. If you become aware, during the course of a meeting, of an interest that has not been disclosed under this item, you must immediately disclose it. Whether you can remain in the meeting and the extent to which you can participate depends on the type of interest you have.
- Jeans said that for clarity he would like it Minuted that he had considered whether or not he had an interest in the planning application for F. J. Chalke & Son and the planning application for 11 Barnes Place and had concluded that he did not. However, he would abstain from discussion or voting on those two planning applications during the meeting.
- Councillors Nick Beale and Debbie Beale declared a pecuniary interest in planning applications PL/2021/11278 and PL/2021/11280
- Minutes – RESOLVED that the Minutes of the town Council meeting held on Monday, 6th December 2021 be approved as a correct record of proceedings on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with the unanimous vote of those present on 6.12.21.
- Matters Arising from Public Session
- Matters Arising from previous Meetings
- Reports & Consultations
- a) County Councillors Report – Cllr. Jeans reported on the winners of the Christmas light competition and requested that the names be Minuted:
1st: – Mr Bill and Mrs Kathleen Foster of 45 Bramley Hill
2nd – Mr Mick and Mrs Karen Hurst of 5 Denes Avenue
3rd – Mr Dick and Mrs Brenda Morris of 47 Downside Close
Highly Commended, Mr Geoff and Mrs Pat Sams of 38 Lynch Close
Cllr. Jeans confirmed that Wiltshire Council members would be voting whether or not to approve to tender for the replacement highways maintenance contract to commence on 1 April 2022 (the present contract is with Ringway who were drafted in after a fallout with Balfour Beatty): Cllr. Jeans said that he had asked if the intention was to continue to include the Parish Steward service within the contract and confirmed that he was told that it would. He said that there had been some criticism on social media relating to the fact that contractors had not moved the flower tub when they resurfaced the footway in The Square recently and upon taking this matter up with the Highways Authority Cllr. Jeans said that he had been told it was our fault, we knew that the work was taking place and we should have used our initiative and moved the tub as they would not have wanted to take responsibility for breaking it. Cllr. Jeans also confirmed that he would be installing the community’s speed indicator device along Shaftesbury Road but warned that it would be installed within a 40 mile an hour limit but the setting of the speed indicator device was 30 mph so it would flash when speeds of 30 mph were exceeded. Cllr. Jeans said that he was aware that the Carnival Committee was facing difficulties in that it was very short of members he pointed out that the Town Council have always convened the Carnival Committee’s AGM in order to have an official record of their committee members and financial status and he asked for this to continue.
- b) Chairman’s Report on remote Introductory Meeting with the Leader and Chief Executive of Wiltshire Council – the Chairman reported that she and the clerk had attended a virtual teams meeting with the leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer and Andy Brown, the Deputy Chief Executive: she said that this was obviously an initiative whereby they were booking in slots with all Wiltshire Town Councils but Mr. Clewer said that he was keen to have a different relationship with town and parish councils and wanted to place more emphasis on partnership working. Their priority was how they could support High Streets & Wiltshire Council’s economy and they finished off by asking whether we thought there might be some appetite from the town Council in taking on responsibility for Mere Library. We took the opportunity to point out that we had experienced problems with legal work for leases i.e. car parks and toilets office and children’s centre and that we had asked for an asset transfers of the public toilets but were told that this would not be possible. The Clerk pointed out that she felt that Wiltshire Council were looking to offload assets that were a financial drain to them but not so keen to offload anything that may provide income. She confirmed that she had informed Cllr. Clewer that his question about the library would be raised as a future agenda item and advised members that it would be on the agenda for February. We were also invited to a physical gathering of Town Council’s which would be held later in January but we have subsequently heard that this has been postponed due to COVID-19.
- a) Applications for consultation response – (All applications can be viewed on Wiltshire Council’s Planning & Building Control Public Register – https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/ – type in the relevant
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Replacement of antennas on existing monopole telecommunications mast, addition of 1 no. ground based equipment cabinet and ancillary development.|
|Site Address:||Pitching Piece Farm, Charnage Mere, Warminster, Wiltshire , BA12 6AP|
|Planning Register link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Aqpe
RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote. In order not compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Erection of a single storey wash bay extension to an existing workshop|
|Site Address:||F J Chalke Ltd, Salisbury Street, Mere, BA12 6HE|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Aqzc
Cllr. Hazzard said that he had made a site visit and confirmed that the proposal was to extend the workshops towards the bungalow on the eastern boundary. As the bungalow was under the ownership of the applicant, Cllr. Hazzard could see no issues with the application. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Mrs Beale and carried with a majority vote in favour. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
|Application Type:||Householder planning permission|
|Proposal:||(PART RETROSPECTIVE) Construction of single storey side extension and single storey outbuildings following demolition of existing single storey outbuilding and swimming pool within raised terrace|
|Site Address:||11 BARNES PLACE, MERE, WARMINSTER, BA12 6DN|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Aj4A
Cllr. Mrs Symonds said that she had made a site visit and felt that the application was probably an improvement. RESOLVED to recommend approval of the above application on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs Symonds, seconded by Cllr. Nick Beale and carried with a majority vote in favour. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from voting on this planning application.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Proposal:||Hardstanding for use of caravan and parking of two cars Polytunnel Green House & Wooden Shed (Solar panels on roof and mains electric connection. Agricultural water supply complemented with large water butts. A small compostable toilet bathroom with sink that drains to grey water reedbed system) Creation of three ponds|
|Site Address:||Land at the Old Nursery Burton Mere BA12 6AU|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Aj3v
Having declared a pecuniary interest, Cllrs. Debbie Beale and Nick Beal left the room and took no part in discussion or voting on this planning application. Cllr. Philip Coward said that he understood that this site had some special status relating to the aquifer due to its proximity to the pumping station. Members felt that this was an attempt at residential development through the backdoor. Cllr. Hazzard said that he felt the most important aspect of this planning application was the hazardous vehicular access onto and off the A303. He said he would have thought that the Highways Agency would be making an objection. Cllr. Jordan said it was a nonsensical and ill thought-out application. RESOLVED to object to this planning application for the following reasons:
- Dangerous and hazardous vehicular access – the only vehicular access is restricted in width and is unable to allow two vehicles to pass which may result in traffic having to stop on the A303. Traffic may also need to cross the westbound carriageway but this access is near the point that the dual carriageway becomes single carriageway and is also just past the brow of a hill and so visibility for oncoming traffic when coming out of this access is poor. The A303 Trunk road has a high rate of Personal Injury Accidents and fatal accidents in the Mere area. In the A303/A30/A358 Corridor Feasibility Study prepared for the Highways Agency in February 2015 by CH2MHILL it names Chicklade Bottom to Mere as being one of the three poorest performing sections of the A303 in terms of fatal accidents and that it was one of the worst performing sections in terms of the total number of personal injury accidents. The Town Council fears that any development on this land that encourages the use of private vehicles will exacerbate the road safety issues on the A303 in this location.
- Overdevelopment – The whole plot is about 40m X 57.5m and within that area the applicants intend to have a caravan parked on hard standing, 3 ponds, and a reed bed area, a worm farm area, a polytunnel and composting toilet & sink, a parking area for 4 bikes and hardstanding for 2 cars, an area for recycling bins and a tool shed with solar panels. The proposed development of this site would be unsympathetic to its natural landscape setting and would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area, and conflict with CS Policies CP51 and CP57.
- Justification – In a recent planning appeal decision on an adjacent plot on this same site, the Planning Inspector stated that planning permission is not required for the use of the land for agriculture, the growing of vegetables and fruit, or as a nursery. However, It would appear that the scale of the horticultural/agricultural activity to be carried out on the site would be extremely small and although the applicants seem to place emphasis on increasing biodiversity and improving wildlife habitats on the site, there is no evidence to suggest that the amount of horticultural or agricultural activity taking place is sufficient to require the level of development proposed or to justify the requirement for a caravan, mains electricity connection, water connection or composting toilet to be provided within the site. It is necessary to have flowing water for trout to survive and therefore it would not be possible to grow trout in ponds. It is also necessary to have flowing water for a reed bed composting system to work. Furthermore, the development of a reed bed composting system with or without flowing water would be a cause of concern for stream water contamination given the close proximity of the Ashfield Water.
- Character & appearance – the site can be clearly seen from the public footpaths which run close to the southern & western boundaries of this site. The western boundary consists of a line of beech trees with are protected with a Tree Preservation Order. There are concerns that any ground works relating to the development proposed for this site may cause harm to the root system of the beech trees. The Town Council feels that this development would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area and conflict with CS Policies CP512 and CP57. Security lighting on this plot is a cause of concern. The area of Burton is on the edge of the Cranborne Chase AONB and the dark skies status of this area would be affected by security lighting that may be triggered at night, either by activity from the occupants or by wildlife.
- Contamination of aquifer/groundwater – the site lies within the Environment Agency Source Protection Zone and the Town Council would be concerned about the effect that these proposals would have on the aquifer/groundwater. There is no historic evidence of this land flooding or of any water runoff causing flooding to the stream that runs to the south of the site or damage/pollutant to the stream. However, the Town Council is concerned that the creation of ponds and a reed bed composting area without running water, could cause issues for groundwater and/or stream water pollution. The Town Council would urge that an Environment Impact Assessment for Groundwater should be applied to this planning application.
Proposal made by Cllr. Hazzard, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a majority vote in favour. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire Councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting on this planning application. All members present voted in favour of asking Cllr. Jeans to call in this application to committee if he considered that the officers’ recommendation would differ with the Town Council’s submitted objection.
|Application Type:||Full planning permission|
|Site Address:||Land at the Old Nursery Burton Mere BA12 6AU|
|Planning Register Link:||https://development.wiltshire.gov.uk/pr/s/planning-application/a0i3z000017Aj45
Having declared a pecuniary interest, Cllrs. Debbie Beale and Nick Beal left the room and took no part in discussion or voting on this planning application. RESOLVED Cllr. Mrs Symons proposed that the Town Council should object to the application above for the following reasons:
The land was historically used as an old horticultural site with greenhouses which stopped being used some 30 – 40 years ago and fell into decay. Whilst the glass cannot decompose, the area had been left to nature during that time and had become a wildlife haven until it was sold off in small plots in 2020 and the land disturbed. The bunds appear to have been made up of surface scrapings and the applicant suggests that the purpose is to help with land flooding and to create boggy ground. There is no historic evidence or local knowledge of the land flooding and there is therefore no evidence to suggest that bunds are needed for drainage purposes and therefore they are not reasonably required or justified. The Town Council is surprised at the following statement on the application ‘On buying the plot we did not realise that beneath the nettled, brambled overgrowth were literally tonnes of glass panes, metal support poles and brick pillars.’ The sale particulars of the estate agents that sold the plots clearly state that ‘the land was formerly a horticultural nursery’ and at any viewing of the site before purchasing it would have been very evident that the ground was contaminated with glass. The Town Council feels that the appearance of these bunds which are visible from the public footpaths to the east and west of the site are out of character with the surrounding area and cause harm to the appearance of the area. An enforcement notice against bunds on an adjacent plot within the site was upheld by a planning inspector on appeal in May 2021 and therefore this application, if approved, would set an adverse precedent. The Town Council concludes that aesthetically the bunds are an unnatural landform and is unnecessary development that is detrimental and unsympathetic to its setting in the rural countryside and feels that the ground levels should be restored to match the profile of the land that existed prior to this unauthorised development taking place.
Proposal seconded by Cllr. Rachael Hansford and carried with a majority of vote in favour. In order not to compromise his position as Wiltshire councillor, Cllr. Jeans abstained from discussion or voting on this application. All members voted in favour of asking Cllr. Jeans to call in this application to committee if he considered that the officer’s recommendation would differ with the Town Council’s submitted objection.
- b) PLANNING APPEAL DECISION – PL/2021/03847 – Highbrook, Mere BA12 6EA – APP/Y3940/D/21/3280158 – the clerk reported that she had received the inspectors decision on the appeal which was dismissed. The reason for dismissal was mainly due to its effect on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
*c) Report + Q&A on CPRE’s Neighbourhood Planning Webinar held on 9th November – Cllr. Rachael Hansford (report attached) – members discussed the report, stating that commitment to a Neighbourhood Plan would be a tremendous amount of work, not helped by the fact that the government kept overhauling the planning system. Cllr. P. Coward asked if it would not be better for the town to have a design statement. The Clerk explained that, as far as she was aware, design statements did not achieve the same amount of ‘gravitas’ as a Neighbourhood Plan because it was not approved by public referendum and was not given supplementary planning guidance status. Cllr. Jordan said that he spent some considerable time with a gentleman from Gillingham who had created a design statement and after five years they got a neighbourhood plan and then their design statement didn’t carry that much punch. Having said that, it would be a good idea to have a Mere Plan which, if nothing else, would justify to the community that the Town Council thinks about how we want to see the future of Mere being shaped- similar to the document ‘Mere Parish Plan’ that was produced in 2005. Cllr. Jeans said that he thought it was a good idea but pointed out that it is all very well saying you want to build there and you want this area to be used for housing and this area to be used for employment land but it doesn’t always happen, as is now evident with the employment land allocation between Quarry fields and Hill Brush. Cllr. Rachael Hansford suggested that she contact the Wiltshire Area Localism and Planning Group to find out more information on their purpose.
- Highways, Rivers, Footpaths, Traffic & Transport
- a) To identify jobs for the Parish Steward, Sparkle Team and MyWltshire reports – Cllr. Ings reported that the Parish Steward had filled potholes in Denes Avenue but the filling had since come out and now the road is left with potholes and lumps of tarmac. Ings also reported that the road near the roundabout area outside the Walnut Tree Inn is also very poor.
- Buildings, Open Spaces, Play Areas, Sports Grounds, Car Parks, Allotments & Cemeteries
Cemetery wall – Cllr. Raymond Hill reported that the storms at the end of November had caused a tree to blow over from the cemetery into the garden of a property in Pettridge Lane and in so doing, had knocked a boundary wall over between the two properties. The Town Council’s grounds staff have cleared up the tree but there is now the problem of the damaged wall to deal with. Cllr. Hill has been to see the property owners who have confirmed that the wall on the opposite side of the garden is on their deeds. The wall that has come down lines up with the old wall that we had in the cemetery that we have subsequently removed and therefore Cllr. Hill deduced that the damaged wall belonged to the Town Council. The property in Pettridge Lane is on the market and the property owners would like to have some confirmation from the Town Council that we will take responsibility for the wall (they are not necessarily expecting it to be done immediately but they want something to show potential buyers who may have concerns). It is a long patch of stone wall and we would have the option of repairing it with blocks on our side and stone facing on the property side as the wall can’t be seen from the cemetery but it would not be possible to replace it with a wooden fence. The Clerk said that she had made enquiries with the Town Council’s insurance company who had indicated that it may be possible to make a claim for the repair of the wall as being storm damage and they had sent the clerk the relevant papers to submit but the clerk could not confirm an insurance claim outcome at this stage. RESOLVED that the Town Council should write to the owners of the property telling them that we will take responsibility for the repair of the wall and that we should try and pursue an insurance claim on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Ings and carried with a unanimous vote
- Finance, Policy & Resources
*a) Payments – RESOLVED to authorise payments as set out in schedule of payments (attached) on proposal made by Cllr. Mrs Symons, seconded by Cllr. Nick Beal and carried with a unanimous vote.
*b) To approve and adopt Draft Document Retention Policy (attached) – RESOLVED to approve and adopt Document Retention Policy on proposal made by Cllr. P. Coward, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Beale and carried with a unanimous vote.
*c) To approve and adopt draft Complaints Policy (attached) – RESOLVED to approve and adopt Complaints Policy on proposal made by Cllr. Rachael Hansford, seconded by Cllr. Mrs. Beale and carried with a unanimous vote
- d) Is the Council happy for Cllr. Hazzard to investigate purchase and payment options for replacement tractor & implements? – Cllr. Hazzard said that given the concern for the state of the Town Council’s tractor he wanted the Council’s approval to investigate options for the council to purchase a new tractor. He said that it would be useful for the council to have a machine that is capable of being used for more than just grass cutting (something that we could perhaps over a period of time buy attachments for hedge cutting, woodchipping etc). Hazzard said it would be tricky to get three like-for-like quotes but with the help of Cllr. Rodney Coward and Cllr. Eric Mitchell he would do some research & visit outlets and retailers and bring the best options to the Council. He would also provide potential payment options at this time. Members were happy for Cllr. Hazzard to proceed as outlined above.
- General Items
- a) Flood Plan for Mere – Cllr. Jeans said that he had arranged for a meeting with Wessex Water but pointed out that recent heavy rain pointed out some problem areas. He said that the Highways Engineer has been really helpful and arranged for about 60 gullies to be cleared but it has been pointed out to him that the purpose of these drains is to take the water off the road and they are not there to protect property from flooding. Cllr. Jeans said that there is an area in Shaftesbury Road where a resident says there is a blocked culvert under the road and it is this sort of local knowledge that is really helpful. He said he was not sure how to move forward with this but felt that something should be done and suggested that this should be an item to be raised on the agenda every six months or so. The clerk pointed out that she had carried out some work on a Flood Plan for a neighbouring parish and was aware that there was a template for a Flood plan on the environment agency’s website but she pointed out that the Flood Plan required community volunteers, a fair amount of work and placed a fair amount of responsibility on property owners. The clerk also pointed out that advising members of the public to report blocked drains on the Wiltshire reporting pages was not necessarily appropriate as she had discovered that very often these reports were just marked as closed and no action taken. It was pointed out that there has been a fair amount of misinformation and confusion on this subject in social media recently and it was agreed that the Town Council should write an article “What do I do if I get flooded” on the website and that the chairman would also include this in her report for Mere Matters and that people should be made aware of their responsibilities.
- b) Briefing Note No. 21-27 COVID-19 Update (attached) – noted
- Future meetings and events
- a) CATG meeting Wednesday, 23rd February – Cllr. Jeans said it would be nice if someone could go and support the issue for Shaftesbury Road.
- Future agenda items
- Cemetery Wall – Cllr. Hill
- Climate Webinar –– Cllr. Mrs. Beale)
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