Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Old Buckenham parish council minutes

What was discussed in April

Old Buckenham Parish Council met on Thursday 4 April 2019 in the Village Hall. Those present were councillors Jonn Hicks (Chair), Gemma Frost, Steve Milner, Andy Nicholls, Donna Oakley, Ben Devlin and Adrian Joel along with Rachel Noyes (Parish Clerk) and ten members of the public. There were no apologies for absence.
The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 7 March were approved (5 in favour, 2 abstained). It was requested that the Action Log be added to every agenda.
Public participation. A resident of Fen Street wished to highlight that the Parish Council had discussed a planning application for Fen Street at the last meeting that had not been on the original agenda. The last time this application was submitted, there was a large turnout at the PC meeting, which demonstrated the strong feelings of residents. He also felt that developers could time the submission their applications in order to avoid them being fully discussed at parish council meetings. He asked how the council can claim to represent the residents’ views if they didn’t have anyone in attendance to give their views. There was also a concern that it was opening the floodgates to other developers to build on Fen Street. Andy Nicholls and Adrian Joel explained briefly how the process works and that every consultee has three weeks to register their views. While this particular application was submitted and passed for review the same day, it has previously taken longer, so would be difficult for a developer to carefully time their submissions. It was explained by Jonn Hicks that the application only came through on the day of the meeting and, with three weeks to log the PC views, the deadline would have passed before the next parish council meeting. While councils can apply for an extension, it is not guaranteed and therefore, if it had been declined, then the opportunity to have a say would have passed. Andy Nicholls highlighted that Old Buckenham Parish Council are only one consultee and that the residents will have more influence on this decision. Therefore he encouraged residents to either email or write to Breckland Council with their opinion, whether in favour or against. Steve Milner explained that Breckland aren’t meeting their five-year housing quota so would be looking for opportunities to boost their numbers. Andy Nicholls explained that Old Buckenham also has a quota of 25 houses over the next 20 years so need to find space for them. Jonn Hicks explained that to accommodate the views of some residents of Fen Street who were present at the last meeting, a letter had been submitted raising those concerns and how to use the potential development to improve several factors on Fen Street. (A copy of this letter is printed at the end of this report.) He also explained that the application did not meet the criteria for refusal on the checklist used to analyse planning applications. He encouraged residents of Old Buckenham, and in Fen Street in particular, to write and email to Breckland Council.
The Recreation Area is seeing some use by children but villagers are asked to encourage more use over the Easter Holidays. An additional request was made as some Bee Orchids had been found in one corner of the field previously. It was hoped that this area can be sectioned off to protect them from being cut down.
The Council were asked to choose the wording carefully in the minutes to record their views on planning applications as they cannot approve them but only support applications. Also a policeman was positioned on Cake Street recently (as a result of the Speedwatch team’s observations) and recorded several speeding motorists.
Financial matters. The balance in the community account is £48,479.94 (this includes the Precept money received of £10,634.99) and the balance in premium account is £2,877.49. Payments of £1338.05 were approved (7 in favour) which included £90 for cutting the recreation area, £70 for strimming around Rod Alley pond, £450 for allotment rent and £180 to the community car drivers.
Planning applications. (All planning applications are available for viewing on the Breckland District Council planning portal www.breckland.gov.uk/article/2933/Search-Planning-Applications. Parish councillors have been asked by the chairman to view the new applications in advance of the meeting).
New planning applications. College Barn, Cake Street. Variation of condition no 2 on 3pl/2017/0927/F for the roof to be increased by 500mm as the existing headroom was too low once insulation has been introduced (3PL/2019/0282/VAR). This application was originally not supported by the Parish Council and therefore it was felt that the Council should show consistency and stand by their original comments. The proposal not to support the variation was agreed (6 for and 1 abstention).
Downmore Farm, Banham Road. An open sided turkey shed (3PL/2019/0278/F). Adrian Joel and Andy Nicholls explained that farmers are permitted to build a barn on their land and only have to provide “Notice to Build”. However this was a full application and Ben Devlin questioned why they were building a new barn – was it to increase the number of turkeys? Steve Milner found there were no environmental objections and Andy Nicholls felt it was important to support local businesses. Proposal was supported (6 for and 1 abstension).
Orchard House, Hargham Road, Loss Wroo. Removal of two extensions and conservatory and construction of two-storey extension and new fencing (3PL/2019/0237/F). It was explained that approval had already been granted for an additional house there. The work proposed would be replacing and improving existing extensions that had been built. The parish council supported the application (6 for and one abstention).
Planning decision by Breckland Council. Willow House, Mill Road. Construction of a single storey rear extension along with extending and converting a loft space over an existing garage to form addition bedroom accommodation and erection of a two-bay cart lodge with non-habitable space over (3PL/2019/0080/HOU). This application has been approved.
Chairman’s report. The Annual Parish Meeting will be on Friday 31 May starting at 7pm.
District Councillor’s report. Adrian Joel said that he was not standing for re-election as District Councillor after 24 years. He wished to thank the Parish Council and residents for their support and challenges he has received over the years. Breckland Council have received six nominations for the Parish Council therefore there will be no election necessary. The Parish Council will be able to co-opt five councillors to make the full quota of 11.
The public consultation on Main Modifications MM18, MM119 and MM148 of the Breckland Local Plan have been extended to Wednesday 15 May. Work has started on the 12 Cotman Housing Association Social Houses in March Field Way and these should be completed by the end of January 2020.
Play Area. Waiting on quotes from Playdale and another recommended company for bearings and seats of swings as this was picked up on the safety report. The report also highlighted lots of bare ground around play equipment which was leaving plastic matting showing through in places such as the bottom of the slide and under swings. Could either re-seed, which would result in closing play ground while it grew, or remove matting and fill in with sand. The easiest and cheapest option would be to fill in with sand. However it was questioned whether this was best option long term and it would just end up everywhere as children played. Rope bridge is still waiting for new rope as they have sent wrong part three times now. Also looking at getting a quote for replacing whole bridge as it is wearing in places.
Councillors’ reports. Ben Devlin had received an email from the parishioner who had installed, and later removed, wooden posts around play area. In the email, he wanted to explain that he understands the Parish Council decision but was disappointed. However, there were no hard feelings and he looked forward to continuing to be part of the village community. He also explained that he hadn’t submitted an invoice before for previous work and was asked to send in the invoice for this particular work. Ben Devlin also wanted to again highlight how grateful the Parish Council and the village were for all his hard work and contributions over the years. Gemma Frost explained that as the Parish Council and the Green Working Party hadn’t approved the works, they felt there was little option. Jonn Hicks also informed that he had had a personal meeting with the parishioner in which they discussed the situation. The Parish Council were also informed that someone had complained about the posts to Highways (as they are responsible for the verges next to roads) and they had ordered their removal.
Steve Milner reported that the stolen speed check sign had been replaced. There had been another response from Highways regarding Fen Street speed limits in which they rejected the idea of extending the 30mph zone. One resident is particularly keen to pursue and help. The loaned electronic speed sign on Hargham Road has been quite effective. Thanks to Steve Burling for placing at the end of their property. He noted that generally, people did slow down when their speed was displayed.
Steve Milner, along with Adrian Joel, had attended the meeting about the Attleborough SUE. A parcel of land that had been included was actually part of Old Buckenham parish. The developers explained that this was a mistake and would not be built on. The SUE is quite large and there will be a bus route to the edge. Adrian Joel and Steve Milner suggested that it be extended to include Old Buckenham in its route. Concerns were also raised about the already strained doctors’ surgery would cope with extra residents from 4,000 new homes. There were also concerns about how the drainage system would cope. Lastly, it appeared that the construction traffic was planning on reaching the A11 through Old Buckenham, down Hargham Rd. There is a weight limit on this road, so will need to find alternative route. Hopefully, this will be monitored and enforced during construction.
Gemma Frost reported on a successful litter pick by village residents. The next one will be on Saturday 11 May. Meet at 10am outside the Church Rooms. Several members of the Parish Council noted that they felt less litter was being dropped and so the Green was looking good, especially with all the spring flowers blooming. With the extra care and attention the Green was getting, people were respecting it more. The Green Working Party explained that they were looking at suitable flowers to plant in particular around Ottomer pond which people were also highlighting as looking good.
Adrian Joel has the paint for the phone box and is just waiting for good weather and time to complete.
Items for next agenda. None were listed because of the election being before the next meeting.

The next Parish Council meeting to be held on Thursday 9 May 2019 at 7.30pm in Old Buckenham Village Hall.

This is the text of the letter sent by Old Buckenham Parish Council to Breckland Council about the proposed dwellings in Fen Street.
Dear Sir/Madam

RE: Planning Application 3PL/2019/0231/O
On behalf of Old Buckenham Parish Council, I am writing to you regarding the planned construction of the 4 dwellings in the above application. While the Parish Council has no objections to the location in principle, there are some concerns about whether the area can cope with additional housing.
Fen Street is a very small and narrow road which already suffers with some issues. Firstly, the speeding of vehicles is a large problem as well as the weight of traffic. Both the Parish Council and Fen St residents have questioned its ability to cope with more vehicles, including large construction lorries. The dangerous nature of this road is not helped by the difficult junctions in which visibility can be poor. This in turn makes it a very hazardous road for all road users including drivers, cyclists and walkers, including children making their way to/from school.
Secondly, some utilities in the area struggle with the current number of dwellings, specifically water and sewerage. This can be frustrating for residents and there is concern about whether these problems will become exaggerated with the construction of 4 additional dwellings.
However, if these issues can be addressed by Breckland Council and the Applicants, then we do feel we could support the application. Specifically, we would like to see the 30mph zone extended to cover the entirety of Fen St and visibility at junctions improved where possible with the aim of improving safety for all road users. Additionally, we would like clarification on how the utilities will be improved for existing residents and whether they will be able to cope with an increase in population.
We look forward to hearing how the application develops.
Rachel Noyes
Clerk to Old Buckenham Parish Council

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