Venue: Village Hall, St Leonard's Street, Mundford IP26 5DW (Location Map Enclosed)
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Introductions round the table were made.
The Chairman then outlined the purpose of the meeting, which was the second of a series of four meetings being convened to consider preferred options for the Site Specific Policies and Proposals Development Plan as part of the Local Development Framework process. Parishes were invited to consider if they wished to put forward any other reasonable alternatives to those being proposed.
A draft document would be submitted through the Overview & Scrutiny Commission and Cabinet prior to its submission for public consultation in April 2010. There would be a further public consultation process, prior to consideration at the Public Examination, when there would be another opportunity to make representations.
Mr. Cowen sought confirmation that the document before the meeting today was not the final document to be submitted to Cabinet and this was confirmed by the Chairman.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2009.
A correction in the final paragraph on page 56 was noted amending the reference to Mr. Borrett from Ward Representative to correctly read “Council’s Historic Buildings Champion”.
The minutes, as corrected, were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Mr. D. Myers and Mr. R. Childerhouse.
To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any item of urgent business.
Declaration of Interest
Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests pertinent to the items on this agenda. The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal or prejudicial interest.
The following declarations were made:
Non-Members wishing to address the meeting
The following Ward Members were in attendance:
The following Parish Council representatives were in attendance to make representations:
Note Members are kindly requested to bring to the meeting their copies of the Site Specific Policies and Proposals Issues and Options Consultation document (orange cover) and Additional Sites Consultation Spring 2009 (purple cover) for reference.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer introduced the report and explained that it was the second of four reports presenting options for the review of rural settlement boundaries in Breckland as part of the Site Specific Policies and Proposals document.
The purpose of the report was to set out the preferred options for a new set of rural settlement boundaries and to obtain the views of the Task and Finish Group on whether there were other reasonable options that Cabinet should be asked to consider as part of agreeing a Preferred Options document for a further six-week consultation in Spring 2010.
The background information and issues were as fully set out in paragraph 3 of the report.
Rural settlement boundaries were a planning tool, identifying areas where further development was possible without upsetting the nature and character of an area.
There were three broad options to be considered:
To amend existing boundaries to either tighten up development areas
to exclude back land or infill plots, loosen boundaries to include
small scale development plots, or to update boundaries to take
account of inconsistencies and existing permissions.
To keep existing boundaries where they remained fit for purpose but
allowing for some slight ‘tweaking’ for Positional
Accuracy Improvement to align with Ordnance Survey
mapping (minor amendments of 1 or 2
metres to fit hedge lines, fences).
c) To delete settlement boundaries from small settlements, i.e. those that have less than two key rural services or where there is either very limited or no capacity within that boundary for further development.
It was explained that this was the first stage in the process. There would be a public consultation on the draft document in April 2010, the results of which would be reported back to the Task and Finish Group. A final document would be submitted for a further period of public consultation in October 2010, prior to proceeding to Public Examination.
The proposals for the following Wards were then considered in turn, details of which were as set out in the appendices to the report.
This was one of two Local Service Centre Villages in the south-west area of the Breckland District. The village was not identified for a positive allocation of growth but the range of services needed to be protected and where possible extended. Five minor amendments to the existing settlement boundary were proposed.
Mr. Eyles of Mundford Parish Council expressed concern that there had been insufficient time for him to consult with the members of the Parish Council.
Mr. Eyles asked whether the proposed removal of the settlement boundary at neighbouring Ickburgh would mean that there could be no further development or extensions to houses in future. The Senior Planning Policy Officer replied that the removal of the settlement boundary would mean the area would be treated as open countryside for planning purposes but that it would not impact on applications for regular domestic housing extensions or conservatories.
The Ward Member added her concern about the length of time available to parishes to consider the proposals and further clarification was sought. She asked how affected individuals would be consulted.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer replied that it was not intended to write to individual property owners but consultation would be notified in the normal way, through statutory and other press notices and in Voice magazine etc. in accordance with Regulations.
The Ward Member asked how Parish Meetings without a Parish Chairman would be consulted. It was replied that the assistance of the Ward Member would be sought in such instances.
A further question related to whether a six week consultation period was sufficient, bearing in mind Christmas holidays etc.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer replied that the material for the next meeting was due for completion by 22 December and that the next meeting was being put back to 19 January 2010.
Furthermore, the letter to parish councils explained that where there was a known strong view from the last consultation in 2008, parishes were invited to bring them forward through this process but there would be a formal six week consultation process in April 2010 for parishes to respond.
The Ward Member responded that the letter to parish councils did not make clear that the nature of the discussion was in relation to settlement boundaries.
A member referred to the proposed amendment MUN.3, which he felt was inconsistent with the approach taken on a similar site considered at the last meeting where the boundary had been extended. He queried whether the amendment was necessary in this case, as there appeared to be no access to enable any development behind the existing property.
The Senior Planning Policy Officer acknowledged that the proposal appeared different to the approach taken at the last meeting. However, the Special Protection Area on this side of Mundford related to the Woodlark and Nightjar species (not the Stone Curlew). In addition, the rear garden areas in this case were larger than in the previous case, so the intention was to tighten the boundary.
Referring back to the ... view the full minutes text for item 41a
Two minor amendments to the existing settlement boundary were proposed in this case.
Mr. Rogers, Ward Member, declared a personal and prejudicial interest as he had submitted an application for land in Carbrooke under the LDF.
Mr. Rogers added his strong concerns to those of Mr. Cowen about the current process for considering settlement boundaries. He considered there was a case to be made for the matter to go to judicial review.
No other representations were made.
Five minor amendments to the settlement boundary were proposed.
No representations were made and it was noted that none had been received from the Parish Council.
A correction to the report was made in column 2 on page 18 to read “Existing settlement boundary – Amend settlement boundary”.
Four minor amendments to the settlement boundary were proposed in this case.
Mr. F. Ulrich, Chairman of Griston Parish Council, stated that the Parish Council was very disappointed at the process of consultation. He said the Parish Council had not had the opportunity to consider the proposals and he was unable to speak as he had a submitted application in the LDF. He stated that the previous representations of the Parish Council had not been taken on board.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer outlined the Parish Council’s views previously given in relation to three sites.
Mr. Rogers, Ward Member, referred to land to the south of Thorp House. There were existing submitted planning applications for this land. He felt the applicants would be penalised if this land was taken out of the settlement boundary.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer explained that the existing settlement boundary formed part of the saved Local Plan policies contained within the new Core Strategy. Any existing planning application or applications submitted during this process will be considered. The position would change only if and when the final policy document was found sound and adopted, which was not expected to be until mid or late 2011.
The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group advised those present that they should not lose sight of the fact that this was the first stage of consultation in the process and members had the opportunity to put forward amendments to the proposals.
Mr. Cowen expressed concern at the apparent inconsistency in the approach being taken in the proposals. He was also not clear about whether the maps fully detailed areas with existing planning consents or where applications were under consideration. He felt no decisions could be made without such information.
The Chairman noted the point, stating that they could deal only with information as presented.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer explained that the maps did show all sites with planning permission but it would be unreasonable to show sites that were the subject of an application which had yet to be determined.
Mr. Cowen replied that this excluded currently submitted applications or those applications presently the subject of appeal. He felt these needed to be shown on the plans. Without this, ... view the full minutes text for item 41b
The proposal in this case was to maintain the existing settlement boundary.
Mr. C. Wiltshire for the Parish Council disagreed with the recommendation, explaining that the Parish Council had submitted proposals for six small changes as part of the 2008 consultation process.
In support of the Parish Council’s views, he explained that the village had key services and, while the parish did not wish to see any large-scale development, there were some inconsistencies that needed to be addressed. A map indicating the six sites in question was displayed, with the sites thereon marked a – f. Mr. Wiltshire explained the reasons for inclusion of these sites within the settlement boundary as follows:
Site a – there was an existing planning permission.
Site b – would enable some small development
Site c – existing children’s centre with planning permission
Site d – to align the boundary which presently runs across a field
Site e – would allow small development of 2 or 3 houses
Site f – would tidy up an existing inconsistency
The Parish Council felt these minor amendments would not change or harm the form and character of the village. Furthermore, there was no infill land existing and the inclusion of one or two sites for small-scale development of 2 or 3 houses would support the village’s sustainability.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer advised that the report gave the officers’ professional opinion but the Task and Finish Group had asked in other instances for a matter to be reviewed with the Parish Council with a view to seeking a reasonable alternative or compromise recommendation on a site.
So far as the Parish Council’s proposals on sites b, c and e were concerned, the Principal Planning Policy Officer maintained the views against their inclusion on the grounds relating to landscape, form and character.
Mr. Wiltshire contended that potential development by one or two houses at the location of sites b and c would have no impact. A question of the boundary with the village primary school was also raised.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer stated that the area beyond the school was marked by a strong natural hedgerow boundary, separating the built environment from the rural character.
The Ward Member spoke in support of small scale development in villages. This village had the facilities it needed and account needed to be had of the needs of young families for the future. He felt the Parish Council’s views should be heeded and proposed that the matter be reviewed with the Parish Council.
Other members expressed their support for the views of the Parish Council and the case made to amend the existing settlement boundary. One member made the point that the proximity of the area of future growth along the A11 corridor would have an impact on future housing need in neighbouring villages such as this and some provision within the settlement boundary for extra housing would be beneficial to the whole area.
Mr. Cowen as Ward Member supported ... view the full minutes text for item 41c
Three amendments were proposed to the existing settlement boundary.
Mr. R. King for the Parish Council stated that the Parish Council had not had the opportunity to meet to consider the proposals in this case. He felt that while there was little to say against the recommendation, he foresaw a need in future to tighten the boundaries. He was somewhat confused by the previous discussions above to change recommendations and so was unsure how the proposals in this case should be approached.
Mr. King sought clarification on the position relating to the separate part of Croxton adjoining the Thetford town boundary.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer reiterated the importance for parishes to respond to the formal public consultation period in April and also explained that, as in other cases, there was an option for the proposals in this case to be discussed with the Parish Council.
So far as that part of Croxton lying within that part of the Thetford Area Action Plan (TAAP) area, this would form part of the consultation process of the TAAP in April/May next year and through this Task and Finish Group.
In answer to a question from a member, it was explained that there would be an opportunity to look at subsequent changes in circumstances as part of the periodic review of the LDF (anticipated in approximately four years’ time).
A proposal was made to support the amendments as recommended but additionally to further review the position with the Parish Council.
There was no existing settlement boundary in this case and no changes were proposed.
No representations were made.
Three minor amendments were recommended to the existing settlement boundary.
Mr. Duigan recorded the fact that he had received representations from the Ward Member in this case.
Mr. Monson referred to views submitted by the Ward Member in respect of amendment WEE.3. It was felt this employment area should be retained within the settlement boundary, bearing in mind that it could potentially benefit from any future development of a bypass for Brandon.
The Principal Planning Policy Officer advised that the matter of the Brandon bypass / relief road was contained within the LDF being prepared by Forest Heath District Council. As a local planning authority, Breckland was not supporting that document until such time as the issues and funding involved in the dualling of the A11 / Five Ways trunk road had been resolved. It was also important to bear in mind that no prospective route for such a bypass had as yet been defined.
So far as the employment area in WEE.3 was concerned, this remained as a defined employment area. However, due to the fact that it lay within a flood zone area, it was not considered suitable for any further additional development, which instead would be directed to the new protected development area as indicated on the map.
The issue had been discussed with Weeting Parish Council and it was understood the parish would not support further expansion ... view the full minutes text for item 41d
To note that the next meeting will be held on Tuesday 12 January 2010 at 09.30am in the Merryweather Room, EcoTech Centre, Swaffham.
The change of next meeting date was confirmed as 19 January 2010, to be held at 9.30 a.m. at the Ecotech Centre, Swaffham.
It was also confirmed that the next meeting would consider the following rural north-western Wards in the District:
A member asked that it be ensured that Ward Members received a copy of the agenda and that information was circulated to parishes as early as possible. He also asked that the maps contain a key to the coloured areas used and, if possible, that A3 maps be produced rather than A4 size as at present.