Saturday, 12 December 2020

Old Buckenham Parish Council minutes

Plenty to discuss in December
The following notes were written by the editor of the village blog from the draft minutes and so may contain information that is amended at a later date.
Old Buckenham Parish Council met on Thursday 3 December via Zoom. Those present were councillors Jonn Hicks (Chair), Adrian Joel, Terry Cook, Andy Nicholls, Naomi Bailey and Ben Devlin. Also in attendance were Rachel Noyes (Clerk), Norfolk and Breckland councillor Steve Askew along with Jim Trice and Richard Bennet from the Met Office as well as three members of the public. Steve Milner and Mike Farrington had sent their apologies and Ben Devlin expected to be a few minutes late arriving.
The the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5 November were approved (4 in favour, 1 abstain). Matters arising from these minutes included problems with rubbish being left in the Village Hall car park and around the village as a whole. The village hall bin had been kindly emptied by Terry Cook but this is an issue will arise again as no one will agree to empty it regularly. Naomi Bailey will ask if school caretakers are able to help. It may necessary to remove bin if no one can be found to empty it. Terry Cook suggested signs put up in thevillage hall car park but it was felt that most of the rubbish appears at night from people coming in to the village and parking up and so would likely not care. Many councillors noted that rubbish was a general problem on local roads although around the Green it was much better. They will look at this issue in more depth at future meetings to see how to make the village cleaner. 
(Ben Devlin arrived)
Declarations of interests. Terry Cook has a conflict of interest with Friends of Chapel Green Precept Grant application and Ben Delvin has conflict of interest with two planning applications. Both councillors will abstain from the appropriate votes.
Financial matters. Community account balance is now £35,064.66 and allotment rents received were £80.
Payments were approved totalling £1,159.75 (5 in favour).
Correspondence. The Clerk had been contacted about flooding on Fen Street. This was after particularly heavy rainfall and lots of the village had surface water. Councillors will monitor to see how regularly it occurs. There were also comments about a ditch at Puddledock being blocked causing flooding on to the road. Steve Askew will get Highways to investigate.
Action Plan update. Notebook computer for the SAM sign ordered and received. The Handyman had been contacted and will fix notice board by the shop, make notice boards for the phone box and install a new notice board by the playground. This will hopefully be completed in December. In January, he will fix the fence around the Recreation Area.
Village Green Working Party. New trees have been planted around the village Green at the agreed locations. Unfortunately unable to get residents involved in this activity due to lockdown.
Road Safety. SAM sign moved to other location. Will also need to download data on to new notebook computer.
Play Area. Playdale were unable to come out during lockdown. They have been in contact and they have a huge backlog of work but the village is now apparently high on their list. The bin in toddler area currently locked and so not emptied. Jonn Hicks will unlock it for future collections.
Recreation Area. Unfortunately lines for football pitch have not been painted. Ben Devlin has a line marker and will mark it out in the spring as it is too wet now. Cutting the grass in this area has cost a lot of money this year so Jonn Hicks is investigating whether it might be better to buy a ride-on lawn mower. Ben Devlin said he has a ride-on lawnmower that could be used.
Councillors’ reports. Naomi Bailey said that there was lots of concern by residents and parents of school children about speeding in the village. While initial concern was around school time, this is happening any time of day. Other issues include cars blocking the flow of traffic on Abbey Road, families having to cross in front of High School and the fact a child was hit by a car earlier this year (no serious injuries she believes). The staggered drop offs at the Primary have helped a little but not significantly. Crossing in front of the High School was seen by a major problem by all councillors and wondered if the new crossing on the B1077 had encouraged more walkers and therefore made more families cross at this location. The blind bend, no set crossing point, a school driveway and a track used for parking and ‘cut through’ meant it was extremely dangerous to cross especially with small children. Possible solutions of reducing the speed limit, a small crossing, traffic calming measures or a lollipop person were all raised. Steve Askew will start investigating any possibilities with Highways. Parish Council to discuss in greater depth at the February meeting.
Adrian Joel reported that the Christmas tree on the Green was to be set up on the following Saturday morning. Unfortunately no big switch on this year because of current restrictions. Ben Devlin said that a resident had been in contact offering to donate some posts for helping to mark out footpaths. He will liaise with Terry Cook on this.
Steve Askew promised to look into various issues raised at the evening’s meeting. He had been asked about Phase 4 of March Field Way houses. Initially planned to complete in Janury 2021 but this has now been pushed back to July 2021. Will comprise of nine houses: six affordable rent and three shared ownership and will be made up of one, two and three bedroom properties. Will hopefully be for local people in same way that previous phases were. He had just received notice that solar farm application between Old Buckenham and Bunns Bank is likely to be submitted in the next week or two. He also said that he had been putting news updates on the village Facebook page which is hopefully helpful to people.
Possible weather radar tower. Jim Trice and Richard Bennett (Met Office) attended the Zoom meeting. Their original application was approximately a year ago but was withdrawn in March following feedback, especially that from Old Buckenham Airfield. The original height of the Tower would have breached an important safety layer of airspace that is linked to the airfield by three metres. New application will be for the same site but will reduce height of Tower by four metres. This lower height is possible because originally the radar had to reach above a crane that is frequently used by Anglian Water at this site, as well as trees and the local topography. Anglian Water have agreed to lower the height of the crane, which in turn means the tower can also be reduced in height. The Airfield kindly suggested a corner of airfield as an alternative location. This was investigated but as the airfield sits at a lower level, the tower would have had to be taller, not shorter. A cherry picker was used to demonstrate the possible heights at the two locations. Matt Wilkins (Airfield Manager) and the Met Office agreed that this site was unsuitable and discounted. The residents who live next to the site are concerned about the visual impact and the Met Office are open to discussing screening solutions that they would be happy with. The new planning application will hopefully be submitted in January.
Councillors and the public were then invited to ask any questions they might have.
1) There are already 15 operational radar towers, are any of them close to housing?
The majority are normally on hill tops, however some are fairly near residents.
2) Why wasn’t a site with higher elevation chosen?
Sixteen sites were considered. Old Buckenham had the lowest impact on the population, yet provided the greatest benefit in the information gained.
3) Is the radiation emitted from the radar safe?
There will be a low level of microwave radiation emitted which is safe and has no effects. The application will include a statement from Public Health England stating this.
4) Nine of the sites currently used are Anglian Water sites. Why is this?
While the majority are Anglian Water sites, the others are Ministry of Defence, Environment Agency and also private land. The life expectancy of a Weather Radar Tower is 25years and it can be difficult to find somewhere that is willing to commit to that length of time. Also, they have a similar interest in understanding rainfall amounts and therefore water management.
5) Is this Radar needed? Do we not have enough coverage already?
Lots of the UK is covered but there is a lack of data for East Anglia (and some other locations) and this tower would help provide that.
6) The option of screening the Tower was mentioned. If the tower is 25m tall, what could be used to screen something that tall? The main impact on the residents nearby will be the effect of light on to their property.
A shadowing analysis showed that the tower would not limit the light into the residence itself and would only create a partial shadow on the driveway. Will include the analysis in the new application. No decisions have been made on screening as would need to consult with the owners of the property as it would be on their land. There used to be a hedge there historically, so replacing that is one option.
(The following three questions came from the owners of Waterworks House as they were unable to join the meeting)
8) Why was a visual impact study not completed of our property? No pictures were taken from our property to illustrate the impact.
A visual impact study was completed. Someone came to visit the property.
9) Pictures were provided by us of the cherry picker yet we received no confirmation of receipt. Why have we not been contacted for such a long time?
Representatives contacted them today and will keep them informed. The pictures could not be used unfortunately due to issues with the location that the pictures being taken from.
10) Will the public be informed of the application process?
As with any planning application, Breckland Council will contact neighbouring properties. The Parish Council will be kept up-to-date and there is a website dedicated to this project which will contain all information gathered. The Village Newsletter will also be contacted and kept informed.
11) Has anyone ever successfully appealed against a Radar Tower?
Not aware of any such circumstance.
12) Does the Radar create any noise?
Radars are not noisy as they move so slowly. The Anglian Water site also has strict decibel limits that they will have to be within.
13) Are the Met Office aware of rare bats nearby? Would the Radar Tower affect them?
An ecological survey was completed but they were not informed of any rare bats in the area. Will investigate.
14) Why was the original application withdrawn?
The Planning Officer advised that the application was withdrawn due to Airfield objections and safety issues. Matt Wilkins (Airfield Manager) informed that the Airfield is a licensed consultee. The new proposed height will miss this safety surface height and therefore the airfield doesn’t have any official objections.
15) Carleton Rode residents are probably more affected visually than Old Buckenham residents. Have they been informed?
Old contact details resulted in information being missed during the initial application. Correct contact details have now been used and they are talking to the Parish Council there. There was a leaflet drop of the Carleton Rode area previously as well.
16) Would the Met Office pay for the screening?
Once agreed with the property owners and discussed with the Planning Officer then yes, they would pay for the screening.
The Village Newsletter editor requested that as there will be a lot of interest in the application from residents, he asked that people read all the information provided in the new application rather than relying on rumours.
Precept grants. 1st Old Buckenham Brownies, £500 (towards a project costing £750). Councillors were happy to see traditional activities such as Brownies were still going strong and were happy to support activities which support and develop core values in children. Propose to give the full £750 for project (approved, 6 in favour).
Robert Cocks Almshouses Trust, £500 to £1000 (towards new heating systems costing £6000 per unit). These are old properties which require expensive updating. One unit is in urgent need of a new heating system, while others will last a little longer. Propose to donate £500 and then in January look to see what is available from the Charity Account for a possible further donation (approved, 6 in favour).
Old Buckenham Cricket Club, £1404 (towards new mobile cricket cage net). One of village’s main sporting facilities for young people. It is very popular and provided excellent support to the village during summer. Propose to donate £700, half the cost, towards the new net (approved, 4 in favour, 1 abstain) (Ben Devlin briefly lost internet connection and so did not vote).
Village Hall, £325 towards new chairs. Propose to donate the full £325 (approved, 6 in favour).
Friends of Chapel Green School, £300 towards new gardening equipment. Propose to donate the full £300 (approved, 5 in favour, 1 abstain).
Precept. This will be discussed at the next meeting with Donna Oakley (the Responsible Finance Officer) attending.
Planning. To consider planning applications and to receive Breckland District Council’s decisions made on any planning applications received before the meeting. (All planning applications are available for viewing on the Breckland District Council planning portal Parish Councillors have been asked by the chairman to view the new applications in advance of the meeting.
New planning applications. Rear of 41 Hargham Road. Detached Single Storey New Residential Dwelling and construction of two bay cart lodge (3PL/2020/1217/O). Councillors felt it was unnecessary over-development of a narrow site. Not all information had been in application and was still due to be submitted. Proposed to object (5 in favour, 1 abstain).
Land at Roughlands Farm, Grove Road. Erection of a new single storey dwelling (3PL/2020/1250/F). This is the third application for this location. In order to show consistency, councillors felt they could not support it. Proposed to object (5 in favour, 1 abstain)
Acer House, The Green. Single Storey Side Extension (3PL/2020/1248/HOU). The Parish Council could see no objections to the application. Proposed to support (5 in favour, 1 abstain).
Development Plot at Poplar Farm, Fen Road. Demolition of existing building (with extant permission to convert to a dwelling) and the erection of New Single Dwelling and Cartlodge, and Change of Use of Agricultural Land to Domestic Curtilage (Revised Scheme 3PL/2020/1009/F). The Parish Council could see no objections to the application. Proposed to support (6 in favour).
Rosedale, Fen Street. Change of use from existing Storage/Industrial unit to Residential Dwelling (3PL/2020/1332/F). Councillors were concerned that this was another proposed development on Fen Street which had seen a lot of new homes built recently. The village has also already surpassed its quota. However the existing building will contribute some traffic to the roads already and so converting into residential should not change the volume of traffic much in the long term. Propose to support (3 in favour, 3 abstain).
29 Fen Street. Erection of one dwelling (Technical Details Consent following the grant of Permission in Principle 3PL/2019/1405/PIP (3PL/2020/1339/F). The Parish Council could see no reasons for objection. Proposed to support (5 in favour, 1 abstain).
'The Barn', High London Farm, New Buckenham Road. Outline planning application for the conversion of an agricultural barn to a single dwelling (3PL/2020/1356/O). This is an old barn that will soon fall in to disrepair. Development is required in order to preserve the property. Proposed to support (6 in favour).
Land to rear of development plot between Willow Cottage and Fen Street. Change of use of agricultural land to garden (3PL/2020/1075/F). Revised plans - smaller garden extension. Was discussed last month and objected to because of the size of proposed garden and it would surround a neighbouring property and suggested they decrease its size. The garden extension has now been revised to a smaller size. Proposed to support (4 in favour, 2 abstain).
Planning Decisions by Breckland Council. The following two applications have now been considered and the applications have been approved.
59 Fen Street. Single Storey Side and Rear Extensions, Conversion of Garage to Provide Additional Accommodation, Front Porch and Render to Existing External Walls (3PL/2020/1092/HOU).
Land adjacent to Keele Cottage, The Green. Variation of Condition No 2 on 3PL/2015/0513/F (approved plans and details) to allow substitution of these for as-built drawings to regularise the development (3PL/2020/1010/VAR).
Items for next agenda. Precept

The next Parish Council meeting will be held on Thursday 7 January 2021 at 7.30pm via Zoom.

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