2. Declarations of Interest
None on known agenda items.
3. Public Participation
A number of residents were in attendance, mainly from Rickyard Road, South Meadows and Garstons Close, to hear the discussion on the application to build 19 Affordable Houses on the south side of Rickyard Road.
The Chairman asked whether any of those present wished to make comments prior to the Council’s discussion later in the meeting. A number of residents expressed concerns about the risk of any development on the site resulting in increased flooding problems at periods of heavy rainfall, both on the site itself and elsewhere in the village where houses have actually been flooded.
The general view was that there were too many unknown factors which currently contribute to the regular flooding incidents, particularly as no comprehensive investigation has yet been carried out into the causes.
Mr Vernon Bryant of South Meadows described conversations he had had over the past few months with officers of North Somerset Council, with Ted Smith of Johnston Smith Consulting Ltd and with representatives of the developer. He had provided details of his observations of recent flooding incidents which he hoped would be taken into account by NSC.
In addition to the concerns about flooding, many residents expressed the view that the proposal to build 19 dwellings on the site would be too dense, and would lead to increased traffic in the area. The lack of garages and storage facilities were also a concern.
Some were also unhappy about the location in the Green Belt and the consequent loss of wildlife habitat. There was, however, general support for the provision of Affordable Housing, which would provide for the needs of local people, as long as an appropriate site was used.
4. Minutes of previous meeting
The minutes of the meeting held on 18th November were reviewed and signed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
The Clerk reported that a letter had been sent to the United Reformed Church expressing concerns with regard to The Old Manse, as agreed at the previous meeting.
6. NSC South Area Planning Committee
No papers had yet been received for the meeting on 17th December.
7. Decisions Notices issued by NSC
The following planning decisions were noted:
08/P/2131/WT Raglan Farm: erection of a side conservatory and insertion of first floor window to front elevation approved.
08/P/2114/LUE The Old Manse, Ropers Lane: use of the building as a residential home Certificate of Lawful Use approved.
8. Planning Applications
08/P/2461/F land opposite 15-29 Rickyard Road: erection of 19 dwellings, layout of roads and driveways, landscaping and groundwater control facilities.
The Chairman asked members for their views on the application. Cllr Gallop said she believed that the Council should not consider supporting the proposed development until the current flooding problems have been properly resolved.
Cllr Matthews felt that the developers had employed an “expert” to propose remedies to the potential flooding problems, but this would only be concerned with the site itself, not the wider area.
Cllr Bigg suggested that the flooding questionnaires completed by residents may provide useful information, she was concerned that planning officers tend to look at applications in isolation, and it was important to make sure they look at the bigger picture in this case. She felt that pressure should be put on NSC to provide an independent expert to assess the situation.
Cllr Phillips felt that further culverting should be avoided, in view of the problems with the existing culvert. Cllr Moss said she felt that water should be diverted further upstream to avoid all the flood water coming into the village. Cllr Glynn pointed out that the report provided with the application appeared to underestimate the size of the catchment area, and that therefore the numbers used in calculating the volume needed for the proposed balancing pond might be incorrect.
The Chairman asked what members’ views of the proposal would be if the flooding problems could be overcome. Cllr Bigg said she felt that the lack of garages was a problem, and the overall density of the development is too great. Other members agreed with this view. However, Cllr Thorn felt that initially the flooding issue should be the main focus of the Council’s comments.
The Chairman then asked whether members wished to object to the proposed development, bearing in mind the range of views expressed. Cllr Matthews suggested that the Council should object on the basis of the flooding problems, until such time as the comprehensive flood risk study promised by NSC had been completed, and any mitigation measures required have been implemented. Only then should any further development be considered. This was agreed by other members.
The Chairman pointed out that in the event that NSC were minded to approve the application, the Parish Council should have a list of conditions prepared. It was suggested that this should include matters such as the number of dwellings, ensuring the needs have been properly assessed, and that the criteria are based on genuine ‘local’ needs.
08/P/2461/F Wrington Chemists, Silver Street: change of use from retail chemist to dwelling. The application was supported by a statement that the property had been marketed for commercial use, but this had not been successful.
However, members felt that there was insufficient evidence of active marketing, such as the use of a commercial letting agent, or advertising in the local press. It was also felt that the loss of retail premises would be detrimental to both the village and parish, and the statement in the application that the location was away from the main centre was not valid.
In addition, the application stated that there are currently several vacant commercial properties in the village. However, it is understood that most of these are about to acquire new tenants, or have already done so recently. It was also noted that the property has no rear access, and no parking on site, and although the application stated there would be no changes to windows or doors, the drawings supplied showed a different type of window to that currently in place.
In view of the above points, it was agreed to object to the application.
The Chairman said that two further applications have been registered with NSC, but details have not yet been received. These will be considered at the next meeting on 30th December.
9. Other Planning Issues
Core Strategy: Cllr Bigg drew attention to the report by NSC Councillors to the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel which advised that no public consultation had been undertaken by the Urban Extensions working group. She queried whether these and other NSC councillors have actually seen Wrington Parish Council’s comments, or have just been advised by the officers.
Cllr Ellis suggested that copies of the comments might be sent to NSC councillors. There was concern about a recommendation by Officers that Wrington should be included in the ‘Small Towns and Villages’ category, which could lead to ‘targeted small scale housing development’. The Chairman pointed out that further consultation on the Core Strategy is expected early in the New Year, when this and the settlement boundary would be potential issues for consideration.
Timing of Planning Committee meetings: The Chairman proposed that Planning Committee meetings should revert to a start time of 6.00 pm, as this allows members to attend the meeting and still be able to undertake other activities on the same evening. It was agreed that the new time should be implemented from the next meeting on 30th December.
There being no other business the meeting closed at 7.47 pm.