Minutes of Extraordinary Meeting of Parish Council, 29 May 2013

Present:  Mrs Pat Clare (Chair, presiding), Mr P Wright, Mrs M Button and Mr D Hamblin (Councillors), Mr M Balmer (Clerk) and 15 Parishioners.  Apologies from Mr D Blake (District Councillor).  Mr A Gunson (County Councillor) was excused attendance.

1.  Introduction by the Parish Council Chair

Pat Clare reminded the meeting that it had been called because of concerns expressed at the AGM on 15 May about various aspects of some current planning applications in Claxton.  She said that the meeting would assess each application on its merits, and that the Parish Council would take account of parishioner views before deciding how to response to South Norfolk Council and the Broads Authority respectively.  The Council had agreed that any parishioner could state their views on the applications but that, in line with laid-down practice, there would be a time limit of 3 minutes for each parishioner.

She reminded the meeting that while the Parish Council could feed in views, final decisions were taken by the Councils themselves.  She noted correspondence had been received from Chris Allen.  She said that Mary Button had declared an interest and would excuse herself from discussion of the first application, and not participate in discussion of those relating to Staines Barns.  Mrs Button left the hall.

2.  2013/0795 – Retrospective application to convert stable block into family dwelling

John Ford said that rumours had been flying round the village, but in his view there was no reason why the applicant should not be allowed to live in the property regardless of how he came to be there.  But he wanted that to be an end to development in Church Lane, which already struggled to cope with traffic, particularly at Claxton Corner.  Phil Warren asked for confirmation that this was a retrospective application and the Clerk went through the timeline from first construction in 2004 (with the appropriate permissions) up to April 2013.

There being no other parishioner views Councillor Wright began by pointing out two apparent errors in the application form, the first being the address of the property and the second being an incorrect answer about flood risk, since the property was well within the area defined at risk by the Environment Agency.  This was an important issue for any future dwellings in Claxton, and he was convinced that a proper Flood Risk Assessment should be carried out.  Furthermore he did not want this to be seen as a precedent for others to develop stable blocks etc.  The easing of planning rules already meant that owners could increase the size of their homes by up to 15% without permission, and controls were needed.

Councillor Hamblin agreed.  He was concerned that the property was in the flood plain and outside the modest development area allocated to Claxton.  While he also had sympathy for someone wanting to stay in Claxton he felt that the application should go to the full Planning Committee at SNDC.

The Clerk was instructed to pull these comments and views together and clear a response with the Councillors before lodging it on behalf of the Parish Council on the SNDC website.

2013/0796, 0797, 0798 and 0799

The Chair explained that planning permission for all of Staines Barns had been granted in April 2013 and that the Receivers for the site were now applying for Lawful Development Certificates for all three properties.  John Garrod felt that the sooner they were built the better.  The Clerk explained that there was nothing to be done about the planning permission granted in April, but the granting of LDCs would mean planning permission would never expire, making it possible that the Council could be having a similar discussion in 10 years or more, if no further development had taken place.  Peter Lancaster expressed concern about the welfare of barn owls and bats which were known to nest in Staines Barns, and agreed to provide the Clerk with some background for the response to SNDC [now received with thanks].  Carolyn Moar asked how long the April permissions were valid for, and the Clerk undertook to check and confirm [see Clerk’s Note at the bottom of these minutes].  One Church Lane resident on the border with Ashby St Mary confirmed also that the stakes marking out the parking areas to the north-west of the site were incorrect, and that the boundary had historically curved round between Church Lane and Slade Lane, rather than being squared off as in the current plans.  The Chair confirmed she had discussed this with the Highways department at Norfolk County Council, and had been told it would take several weeks before this issue could be clarified.

The Chair concluded there were three points to raise with SNDC, viz:

  • the new opening on Church Lane
  • the position of stakes for parking and the curved nature of the property; and
  • barn owl and bat concerns

Councillor Hamblin also encouraged any villagers with objections to register these direct with SNDC, to demonstrate the weight of opposition to the applications.

The Clerk was instructed to confirm through SNDC the validity of the April permissions, and pull together a draft response to be cleared with Councillors before despatch.

BA/2013/0128/EXT8W and BA/2013/0129/LBC

There was a short discussion of the above applications, which were for further extensions to permissions granted in 2007 (and extended in 2010).  Some concern was expressed about the number of additional dwellings proposed (7 in all) but it was pointed out that the application had been approved 6 years earlier.  There was a question about listed building status but again the previous planning permission would have covered that.

The Clerk was instructed to confirm online to the Boards Authority no objection from the Parish Council to a further extension.

The meeting ended at 2015.

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CLERK’S NOTE

I spoke with the Planning Officer at SNDC (Helen Bowman) who confirmed that once the commencement conditions for the whole site had been met (meaning specific construction within the site) permission to develop did not expire, so that the developers could wait 10 years or more to do so.  The required construction work had taken place before the deadline of 11 April.  There was therefore no real need for the Receivers to seek Lawful Development Certificates, but they had done so as it would clearly aid the process of finding buyers for the properties, and was something of a legal rubber stamp to the permissions.  So in short the 2011 planning permissions have no expiry date.  She also said that they would not normally have consulted the Parish Council on these applications, except that they were aware of the extent of opposition to the development and felt it right to offer the Parish Council and parishioners a chance to comment.

That suggests that any objections by the Parish Council will be pointless.  However it was agreed on 29 May that we would object, and this will happen before the 4 June deadline.

Mike Balmer
31 May 2013

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