Friday, 11 October 2019

Old Buckenham Parish Council

October's discussions

These notes have been written by the blog editor from the draft minutes and so may contain information that is amended at a later date.
Old Buckenham Parish Council met on Thursday 3 October in the Village Hall. Those present were councillors Jonn Hicks (Chair), Steve Milner, Adrian Joel, Mike Farrington, Trevor Cook, Gemma Frost and Ben Devlin. Also attending were Rachel Noyes (Clerk) and 14 members of the public. Andy Nicholls had sent apologies for not being able to attend and Donna Oakley has resigned as a councillor but will continue to work as Responsible Financial Officer (RFO).
The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5 September were approved (7 in favour). It was reported that county councillor Stephen Askew is chasing up some small improvements/repair work resulting from the pedestrian crossing roadworks. It was noted that Ben Devlin had a planning application on the agenda.
Public participation relating to agenda items. Discussion on a potential DEFRA application by the Green Working Party and the latest news of County Broadband Limited were discussed later in the meeting). Chapel Green School are planning their summer fete on Saturday 27 June next year. Please avoid that date for any village fete. A parishioner queried what does the new term “Permission in Principle” (PIP) on some planning applications mean? Adrian Joel explained that it is very similar to Outline Planning and can only be granted for minor housing-led development.
Financial report. Community account balance is £49,949.43. Income received was £10,634.99 (the second Precept Payment).
Payments approved totalled £3,792.83 and included£763.44 on the phone box refurbishment and £2220 on further defibrillators. These payments were approved (7 in favour).
Planning applications. College Park Caravan Park, Doe Lane. Retrospective planning application for change of use from agricultural land to leisure use (3PL/2019/0958/F).
Ben Devlin has had the site for three years. Application being completed now due to development of the site and business. Ben Devlin said that the application started a while ago but a Breckland officer who was helping left, which delayed the process. Number of caravan sites has increased from 5 to 20 due to demand. Highways concern was about visibility of the entrance have been addressed and they are coming to re-assess.
Supported by the Parish Council (6 in favour, 1 abstain).
Downmoor Farm House, Banham Road. Change of use of free-standing wooden building previously used as financial services, (change of ownership) (3PL/2019/1020/CU). External business is now going to be run from the property. Supported by the Parish Council (6 in favour, 1 abstain).
Land to the north-west of 29 Fen Street. Erection of one detached dwelling (3PL/2019/1165/PIP). Applicant explained that they were planning to build a house for their son as he can’t afford housing locally and that it has its own separate driveway. Some councillors felt it was good to infill these small spaces in the village rather than spread further out. All felt it was important to support local people trying to stay and live in Old Buckenham. Supported by the Parish Council (7 in favour)
Land to the west of 49 Hargham Road. Permission in principle for erection of four detached dwellings (3PL/2019/1164/PIP).
Application has been submitted and withdrawn previously. Adrian Joel explained a few key points that were important to consider: the houses would overshadow properties opposite due to their size and higher elevation, it is on a particularly narrow part of Hargham Road and they would be unable to put a footpath in place. Other councillors agreed that a footpath was important to safely connect the properties to the village and encourage more walking. It was also felt by some that the large properties proposed would be unaffordable to local people. A proposal to approve was not supported (2 in favour, 4 against, 1 abstain).
Planning decisions by Breckland Council. Site at Harlingwood Lane. Construction of two new dwelling houses and garages (3PL/2019/0333/F).
Post Office, The Green. The installation of three steelground power-operated roller shutter doors (3PL/2019/0550/F).
These two applications have now been considered and the applications have been approved.
Roughlands Farm, Grove Road. Change of use of agricultural building to dwelling (permitted development), Town and Country Planning ( General Permitted Development) Order 2015 Schedule 2, Part 3 Class Q (3PN/2019/0042/UC). The above application has now been considered and the application has been refused.
Coffee traders. A local mobile coffee shop had enquired about selling coffee to parents on the school run by setting up in the VH car park. They explained that they have a 5* Hygiene Certificate and they have enquired about the necessary licenses from Breckland Council but were told that if they had permission to be on site, they did not need one. They already sell at several locations locally. The Parish Council explained that they don’t own the car park and so they would need to get in contact with the Village Hall Management Committee. There were concerns by some residents that it could cause problems as people crossed the road/queued along the road therefore more children around the car park for longer. It could also cause problems with the flow of cars and people coming in/out of the car park.
Community allotment. A local resident had contacted the Parish Council about setting a community allotment. They wanted to check if this was possible in theory, before writing a full business plan. They explained that they wanted to work with a wide range of people including the elderly, those with mental health problems, etc. The benefits of gardening and working outside have been well documented recently and they wanted to help pass on those benefits to the local community. The Parish Council thought it was a great idea and were very positive about setting it up and therefore offered the allotments free of charge. The Parish Council just highlighted the need for the relevant checks for working with potentially vulnerable people and that working with the village schools could be an idea too. The resident will now write up a full business plan for the project and return it to the Parish Council for full approval once completed.
Ponds. Jon Hicks explained that an officer from Natural England had commented on the large number of fish living in Rod Alley Pond. This could be limiting the growth of the fish and also reducing the amount of oxygen available (and could have been a contributing factor to the problems experienced during last summer’s heatwave). Jon Hicks proposed removing some of the fish and re-locating them to Ottomer Pond and also to Old Buckenham Country Park. He has been advised that the end of October is the best time to do this as the water is the best temperature to kill all the bacteria. Two quotes have come in at £325 and £335. This action was approved (7 in favour).
Manor Pond now appears completely dead with no wildlife. This is due to the pond weed overgrowing the surface. It has been treated several times in attempt to kill the weed but this hasn’t worked. Steve Milner explained that the problem lies with water running into the pond will be carrying too many nutrients which then causes the quick growth of the weed. Gemma Frost will take the issue to the Green Working Party for them to get an expert opinion on a possible solution.
County Broadband Limited. Jonn Hicks had been asked about whether the Parish Council would support County Broadband. He explained that the Parish Council could not endorse any company. A parishioner explained that he felt there were a lot of misunderstandings by residents in Facebook discussions, etc, and that other Parish Council’s had supported the company and now benefit from faster broadband. A second parishioner, who works within IT also encouraged the Parish Council to think of it as investing in the infrastructure of the village as the current technology and equipment is dated and has a limit to what it can achieve. A representative from County Broadband was invited to the meeting by a parishioner. He explained that while there had been a lot of postal advertising, there would a little more to promote another meeting on Tuesday 15 October in the Village Hall. He also explained that they have the funding secured for the work but just need people to sign up before they can start. When asked about the number of residents that had signed up, he explained that it was currently around 14% but need 30% in order to start in March as planned. Clarification was needed about whether the areas of Puddledock and Stacksford were included in their plans. The issue of customer service was raised by Trevor Crook who had not had any calls returned which he felt was poor. The County Broadband representative apologised and was going to raise the issue with the team. The Parish Council agreed that while they cannot endorse any company they would encourage people to do their research and find out information through attending meetings, etc, about the potential benefits.
Policies. Old Buckenham Parish Council policies need reviewing and ensuring that they are up to date. Adrian Joel explained that he has been previously informed that National Association of Local Council’s policies are good and could be used as a basis for ours. Rachel Noyes is to research this.
Chairman’s report. A suitable laptop has been found for use by the Parish Council Clerk. Will also need to also buy bag, Microsoft Office software and security. Total cost of £949 was approved (7 in favour). This will be purchased once Barclays finalise bank account changes. Paper will soon be needed for the village newsletter. The newsletter editor is to purchase and the Parish Council will reimburse him. Work on the phone box has started, just waiting for good weather for second coat of paint. Two defibrillators have been ordered.
Village Green Working Party. The Parish Council was informed that the Green Working Party were investigating the possibility of DEFRA managing an area(s) of the Green. There would be an initial cost of £1100 + VAT to get the land surveyed and £500 to £600 a year after that. Depending on the scheme that they sign up to, there is the possibility of receiving £1500 to £2000 a year from DEFRA. Gemma Frost explained that she felt the conditions were a little vague about what we can/can’t do with the Green and that it was a large initial outlay of money with no guarantee of receiving a grant. Jonn Hicks agreed and explained that when he approached 100 households in the village, only 1 was in favour of letting DEFRA manage it. The main issue residents had was that it would go back to the condition it was several years ago in which it was left to grow very long making it difficult to use. He also explained that he was told that the Parish Council could only receive between £300 to £1500 a year from DEFRA. The Parish Council has spent a lot of money recently on the Green and does not want to see that money and effort go to waste. It was proposed not to go ahead with this (5 in favour of not going ahead (2 abstaining due to wanting more information).
Road Safety. The SAM 2 equipment has not arrived yet. Issues to raise with Highways included a Give Way sign down on Grove Road/Mill Road and increased traffic observed by residents on Grove Road and Ragmere Road.
Play Area. Path in the play area is falling apart. Quote received for £1740 (including VAT) to remove footpath and area around the roundabout and lay a new path. Bins are to be replaced, bearings on roundabout replaced and the chicken toy to be moved further away from fence. Playground will be closed the week before half term (from Monday 14 October). Quote finally received from Playdale to repair rope bridge at £3000. Quote for a new wooden bridge was £550. The Parish Council agreed to have a new bridge installed (7 in favour). ROSPA advise removing chippings from below climbing frame, replace with a new membrane and cover with sand. Jonn Hicks to get another quote.
Councillors’ reports. The Clerk wrote to gentleman who owns the beehives in the allotments to clarify their location and the state of plot. Adrian Joel received a phone call to inform him that he has permission to place beehives in field next to allotments (Adrian Joel to confirm) and that he will tidy some of his rubbish from his plot but some needed.
Terry Cook reported that the Village Hall Management Committee meeting discussed precept. Paper bank will not be collected by the same company any more, need to find a new one. Thanks to the Parish Council for organising the clear up around the Village Hall.
Steve Milner said that Gamekeeper has been put on the market for £420,000, although no inventory of what’s included. He had a viewing and noted that upstairs layout doesn’t work currently, unclear about what land is included, flat roof at back appears in poor state, evidence of infestations, great kitchen space but don’t know what’s included in the price. Still struggling to get people involved and drive it forward. The resident leading the group has backed out and money hasn’t even been discussed yet. Therefore, the group have decided to not proceed with any purchase of the Gamekeeper. The Clerk is to inform Breckland Council.
Points raised by Ben Devlin included a damaged tree by the High School, a footpath is to be placed between Old Buckenham Country Park and Ragmere Road (by the allotments) which will allow easier access to the village, and parking problem on the Green again as the track between the Clinic and the schools is being used as a “rat run”. Bollards could be investigated.
Items for next agenda. These would include the Neighbourhood Plan (three councillors are attending a course in October), May Bank Holiday (VE Day celebration plans), the Action Log, update on the Met Office proposal and activities on the Green.

The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday 7 November at 7.30pm at Old Buckenham Village Hall.

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