Minutes of the Council Meeting held on the 20th June 2011
Birdham Parish Council
Minutes of the Meeting of the Council
held on Monday 20th June 2011
at 7pm in Birdham Village Hall
Present: Cllr Parks (Chairman), Cllr Tilbury, Cllr Cobbold, Cllr Finch, Cllr Barker,
Cllr Grafham, Cllr Crossley, Cllr Bolton.
Apologies: Cllr Leach, Cllr Montyn (WSCC & CDC), PCSO’s Bromley and Bainbridge
In attendance: The Clerk and Eighteen members of the public.
16-11 Urgent/additional items notified to the Chairman or the Clerk prior to the meeting
There were none
17-11 Public Question Time in accordance with SO’s 1d -1l
There was none but, Mr P Johnson – Head of Birdham CE Primary School – requested to speak to the Council on an important matter which was granted further down the Agenda.
Ms S Lillywhite said that the Nursery School would close its doors at the Village Hall and re-open them on the Birdham CE Primary School Campus at some point in the future.
18-11 Declaration of Interests.
There were none.
19-11 Approve and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on the 16th May 2011
The Clerk pointed out that there were three amendments to the circulated minutes. Those being the title which should read Annual Meeting, in minute 5-11 Crooked Lane should read Church Lane and minute 15-11 had been re-written to reflect what was actually said. With these amendments it was Resolved, that the minutes of the 16th May 2011 be signed as a true and accurate record.
20-11 Land Bequeathed to the council
The Clerk reported that the Councils Solicitor had, together with the solicitors acting for the other parties, completed the necessary documentation to transfer the land to each of the beneficiaries. This has since been sent to the solicitors acting as the executors in a further attempt to speed up what had become an unnecessary and drawn out process for no discernable purpose or reason. The Councils Solicitor has been instructed to determine what course of action can be taken against the executors and to remind the executors of their responsibilities in maintaining the land until the transfer is completed.
21-11 Clerks’ Report:
i) WSCC – The Clerk reported that he received a letter from WSCC concerning the Street Lighting PFI together with an invoice for maintenance of the lighting columns in Birdham. The invoice showed an increase of almost 30% over last year’s costs and would increase still further in 2012 by a further 5.1%.
ii) CDC – The Clerk had received a copy of the Standards Committee Minutes which showed that there are currently six vacancies but, more importantly showed the problems associated with the Government’s intention to dissolve the Standards Board and, currently, offer no substitute.
iii) Other related matters – The Clerk has received both the Agenda and Minutes of CDALC and wished to know if it was possible for Cllr Cobbold, the Councils representative, to attend and if she was still available to become the nominated representative on the Harbour Conservancy. Cllr Cobbold agreed to both requests.
On a separate matter the Clerk reported that he had received a copy of the Fifth Draft of the Manhood Peninsula Partnership entitled Towards ICZM. He suggested that as the author, Cllr Cobbold, was present he felt that it was the ideal opportunity for her to perhaps outline both the purpose and ramifications of the document.
A brief discussion then took place post which the Council requested that the Clerk respond to the Draft Report on behalf of the Council.
22-11 Planning matters including CDC decisions:
BI/11/01674/DOM 3 Whitestone Cottages, Main Road, Birdham
This application is a modification of application BI/10/02247/DOM and so many of our previous comments apply. Whitestone Farm lies outside the Birdham SPA and outside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Farm dates back, at least to 1258 and probably to 1169, but the present farmhouse is of comparatively recent construction and of no architectural merit. It does however sit well in the landscape.
Number 3 forms part of the division of Whitestone Farmhouse into three cottages. The proposal will have the effect of tidying up some ad hoc extensions which have appeared over the years and extending the property under a complicated but workable roof structure. We previously drew the Officer’s attention to the entrance hall which incorporates the outside structure of a chimney to the lounge fireplace and will also necessitate some thought in moving a soil pipe shown adjacent to the chimney. We understand from the applicant that the access to the shared sewerage which runs under the new entrance hall will be by a sealed manhole. More thought is being put into the interface between the new east wall of the entrance hall and the adjacent garage and we assume that this will be sorted out and be the subject of building regulations conditions at a later stage.
We are satisfied that this proposal is suitable in this location and that there will be no loss of amenity as the site is surrounded by hedging and fencing which will make it invisible across the open farmland to the north and east. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/01837/DOM 10 Burlow Close, Birdham
The wife of the applicant is a member of Birdham Parish Council and has taken no part in this decision.
This is a resubmission of an application we have already approved. We understand that the reason for the resubmission is that the applicant asked for a Certificate of Lawful Use rather than a Planning Permission. The Council continues to have NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/01761/DOM 5 Burlow Close, Birdham
This application lies within the Birdham SPA and the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Burlow Close is a private road composed mainly of bungalows. The front gardens are unfenced but are fringed here and there by shrubs. The application site lies at the corner of the dog-leg in the road and so is both side-on and facing the road on the south and west sides respectively. A close boarded fence has been erected from the road on the south side and marks the rear (eastern) curtilage of the property. It is not clear from the plans if the intention is to extend this close boarded fence along the south side of the property adjacent to the proposed conservatory; at present there is a shrub hedge with trellis here and there. The erection of a close boarded fence along this south side would certainly affect the streetscape of Burlow Close and we consider that the present hedge and trellis afford sufficient privacy to the proposed conservatory. We also assume that there is no intention to extend the fence along the west side of the property.
The proposed conservatory is modest in size. It will be visible mainly from the house on the other side of the road (number 9) and we are told that all external materials will match the existing property. We feel that the finial on the top of the roof of the conservatory jars with the existing clean lines of the main house.
We can find no planning issue on which to object to this application but would draw the Officer’s attention to our concerns about the possible extension of the fencing which is alien to this street and could form a precedent for a patchwork of alterations elsewhere. The Council raises NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02077/PLD Hollybank, Martins Lane, Birdham
Hollybank lies within the Birdham SPA and in the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The proposal is for extensions to the property to make a garden room ad to extend the kitchen. It has been presented as an application for Lawful Development. No work has been carried out on the site. The extensions would both be single-storey with pitched, partly-glazed roofs and our concern was mainly with the loss of amenity to neighbours. We have visited the site and are satisfied that the ground floor windows will not affect the neighbours and the Velux roof lights are at a height where they will not constitute a loss of privacy. We understand that there is already a condition on the hedge marking the SW boundary, that it be maintained at a height of twelve feet. We would wish this to be confirmed.
The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02064/TPA The Snipe, Lock Lane, Birdham
The applicant is the wife of one of the District Councillors for The Witterings.
This oak tree represents all that Tree Preservation Orders are meant to stand for. It is a beautiful tree in itself and it stands at a point where its amenity value in the landscape – at the entrance to the Chichester Ship Canal – is significant. We agree with the tree surgeon that the tree has been badly treated in the past and are pleased that the sensitive restoration of the tree, described in the application, is to take place. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02208FUL and BI/11/02211/FUL Granary East and Granary West , Westlands Farm, Birdham
Birdham Parish Council was appalled by the previous applications for a Certificate of Lawful Use in respect of the above properties and The Stables on the same site. It was unfortunately unavoidable that the Certificate was granted in respect of The Stables and we understand that Enforcement notices are still operative in respect of Granary East and West. We are anxious that nothing in this response should interfere with due process in these matters.
These applications are an attempt by the new owner of Westlands Farm to regularise the situation which he has inherited. These cottages lie outside the Birdham SPA and within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is most unlikely that they would have received planning permission, had they not been originally designated as holiday cottages. The proposal is that Mr Barber should be allowed to continue to reside at Granary West but, should he leave the property, it should then be available only as a holiday cottage and for no other purpose. In the case of Granary East, the cottage may be used in future only as staff accommodation or holiday accommodation and for no other purpose. The new owner is concerned for the security of his property and accommodation for his employees.
It is making the best of a bad job but the Council has NO OBJECTION to the proposed conditions. We would add that it should be a condition that none of these cottages may be sold in future separately from the main Farmhouse. It might be worth considering an agricultural tie on all of them.
We support the motion passed by Development Control Committee (South) at the time of the consideration of these matters, that the Planning Authority should keep a register of conditions so that a property nearing the end of ten year period should be inspected in good time, to avoid more situations like this.
BI/11/01392/ELD Home, Shipton Green, Birdham
This property lies within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but outside the Birdham SPA. The application is that land adjoining the property should be recognised as sui generis, that is land associated with a residence but outside the domestic curtilage. It is further maintained that the land has been used in this way for more than ten years and that a Certificate of Existing Use should therefore be allowed.
Our concern is that, by recognising the land in this way, it may open the possibility now or in the future for development of this land as, for example, residential property. We have been assured by the Officer however that, although recognition would make it easier to apply for a change of use, in practice such an application would be subject to normal planning procedures and, at this point in the AONB and with the ambience being essentially rural at this point; such permission would be difficult to achieve. To the best of our knowledge the statements by the applicant, that the land has been used in this way for more than ten years, are true. We would nonetheless like to see a Condition applied to the grant, if possible, excluding the land from use for building development now or in the future.
BI/11/02115/DOM Land south of Manhood End Farm, Birdham Road, Birdham
This is an application to add a conservatory to the existing house. Our only comment would be that the finials on the ridge of the conservatory are out of character with the roof lines of the rest of the property and should be omitted. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02113/FUL Harbour House, Greenacres, Birdham
This is an application to demolish and replace the existing house and follows the grant of an application in 2010 to extend and refurbish. The house lies within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and outside the Birdham SPA.
We have noted the design guidance of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy and stated previously our own concerns about the trend to build bigger and bigger houses along the Harbour. The interpretation of Policy H12 still needs re-examination as it is not clear whether it refers to the footprint of the dwelling or the floor area of all storeys. It also claims to apply only to houses with less than 90m2 floor areas which would not apply in this case. The footprint of the proposed dwelling appears to us to be an increase of 23% on the existing house (with its later additions) and the silhouette facing the Harbour an increase of 22%. (The Conservancy recommends a maximum of 50% for the footprint and 25% for the silhouette)
We were also concerned about the ridge line of what is now a three storey house – especially as this had been of concern to a neighbour under the 2010 application. We note however that it is comparable to the approved ridge of the 2010 application.
A further concern is the amount of glass facing the Harbour. Once again, however, this is comparable with the 2010 approval but we would ask that consideration be given to using non-reflective glass to avoid glare from the windows towards the Harbour in the late afternoon. Fenestration on the east and west elevations, facing the neighbours, has been kept to a minimum and mostly at ground floor level. Above the ground floor, where possible, it should be obscure glazed to preserve the privacy of neighbours. We note that the building will be of unpainted brick which will make it less obtrusive into the landscape and we hope that a palette of darker colours will be used for the paintwork.
We approve the reinforcement of the hedging with native species.
We assume that the proposed garaging will have a Condition that it may not be sold separately from the main house. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02235/DOM Tradewinds, Lock Lane, Birdham
(There seems to be some confusion about the address on the front of the application form)
This is an application to erect a new garden store on the forecourt of Tradewinds. The issues are mainly to do with tree preservation and avoidance of interference with the ambience of this part of Lock Lane.
The oak tree avenue on either side of this part of Lock Lane was the subject of a Tree Preservation Order in 2008.We note the thorough report by Arbortech (Consultancy) and the impact assessment they have prepared.
The store itself has no dimensions marked but our estimate is that it is 3.1m high to the ridge. Because it will be largely hidden behind the hedge and trees we do not believe that it will have a detrimental impact on the streetscape at this sensitive point.
Provided that the Arbortech advice is followed to the letter during construction and the soft planting consists mainly of species which preserve the green screen throughout the year, the Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
BI/11/02305/DOM Shalford, Lock Lane, Birdham
This is a resubmission of application BI/10/05078/DOM which was withdrawn because of criticism of the design and scale of the dormer windows on the west elevation, on which we commented at the time. The only issue is therefore whether this latest design meets the objections.
We note that the dormers on the west elevation have been converted to pitched roof styles and that the proportions now have greater coherence and are less heavy in appearance. We repeat our request that the materials used should help the structure to blend into the open landscape. We have some doubts about the off-white render in the open landscape. We look to a condition on the height to be maintained on the hedge by the footpath to the west of the site.
We would also draw the attention of the applicant’s architects to the fact that these plans were very difficult to read on-line. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.
It was resolved that the Clerk forward the Councils decisions to Chichester District Council
BI/11/01325/DOM Mr and Mrs Hutchinson Pooh Corner 1 Westlands Estate Birdham
Single storey side and rear extension, alteration to roof and other amendments. PERMIT
BI/11/00632/DOM Mr Stephen Alcock Mile Cottage Main Road Birdham
Side and rear extensions. REFUSE
BI/11/01370/DOM Ms Ann Beazer Summer House Westlands Estate Birdham
Garden studio. PERMIT
BI/10/03606/FUL Ellen Chapman 6A Burlow Close Birdham
Alterations and extensions to the existing building, change of use of small area of land in northwest corner to domestic garden, remediation work to the existing drainage ditch along the northern boundary. PERMIT
It was resolved to note the decisions made by Chichester District Council
23-11 Sportsmanship First (SF) Cllr Crossley requested that, as it was rather a long Agenda, this item, upon which he was due to report, be deferred to the July meeting. This was agreed.
24-11 Communications – Cllrs Finch and Grafham presented a paper on the subject of communications within and from the Parish Council to the residents. The paper was warmly received and both were congratulated on the work that they had undertaken. It was requested that the paper be included as an annex to the minutes of the meeting and that a working group consisting of Cllrs Finch, Grafham and Barker with support from the Clerk.
25-11 Potential Changes to Supported Bus Services – The Council had debated this subject via email owing to the rather short time frame of the consultation process, and had submitted a series of comments to the Clerk. This information had then been collated and submitted to WSCC as the response from the Parish Council.
Mr P Finch – a resident – felt that the Cllr Montyn WSCC should have been there in order to have heard and addressed the genuine concerns that residents felt about the potential loss of these services. Cllr Crossley reported that he had had various meetings with members of CDC, WSCC and concerned residents and that he and others would be meeting with Stagecoach to present some ideas which may save the service
26-11 Financial Regulations & Standing Orders
The Clerk reported that a correction notice had been issued to item 32 – Variation, revocation and suspension of Standing Orders – and suggested, that if Councilor’s were minded to agree, the figure required should be five in which case he would issue the amended page.
It was resolved to accept the Clerks recommendation.
27-11 Correspondence – In addition to that already circulated.
i) A letter had been received from the CPRE inviting a member to attend its 38th AGM. The Clerk asked for volunteers to attend and if there were none he would try and get there himself.
ii) A letter of thanks had been received from Victim Support for the Councils donation of £100.
iii) An email had been received from Mr Brian Smith – a balloonist – requesting permission to use the playing field as a takeoff point between May and September, and probably no more than five times during that period and only for people who are prepared to make a donation to CHASE, the childrens charity.
It was resolved to grant permission provided that Mr Smith would supply copies of his documentation to the Clerk and check with the Clerk any proposed flight dates were clear of other users.
i) Play area and playing field – The Clerk reported that he had received a quotation from Pro-Teq to resurface the very badly damaged area of surfacing under the roundabout. This led to a debate on the suitability of the play area with suggestions that local people were going to a neighbouring parish to use a much better, up-to-date playground. It was resolved that the Clerk should go ahead with the resurfacing work and that a proper debate be held at some point into the future on the play area.
In addition the Clerk reported that at least one of the goal nets had been stolen. This had been reported to the Police by a resident who witnessed the theft. Since then the Council had received an anonymous donation from a resident to pay for new goal nets. It has now been arranged that the goal posts will be repainted prior to the new nets being fitted.
ii) Village green and pond – The Clerk reported that all of the required GCN surveys had now been carried out on the pond and none had been found. In the process it was noted the deterioration of the pond possibly indicated that the water voles had moved on. EPR recommended that a further water vole survey be carried out and should this confirm the indications that no voles are present then this would make it easier for the Council to carry out the work required in de-silting the pond and other remedial work.
It was resolved to instruct the Clerk to have the additional vole survey carried out.
In addition the Clerk reported that the damaged spars and posts to the small fence surrounding the pond had been replaced.
iii) Police and Neighbourhood Watch – In apologising for her non-attendance due to work commitments PCSO A Bromley asked that the following report be read out-
May 18th – Theft of steddle stones from Walwyn Close
May 18th – Theft of Outboard motor from Main Road Birdham
May 21st – Break in at Birdham Stores – cigarettes stolen
June 3rd – Break in to motor vehicle – Main Road
June 6th – Theft of outboard motor from Birdham Pool
June 15th – Barn fire at Russells
Should anyone like to have their garden property marked please call Anne on her mobile 07881 518742.
iv) Other – Mr P Johnson – Head of Birdham CE Primary School – was given the opportunity to speak at this point. He raised the point of the nursery closure and its move to the main school campus, although he was unsure when this was likely to happen.
His main concern was that of traffic and the mix of children and vehicles and the potential for a serious accident to occur unless the problems associated with car parking at the Church and along Crooked Lane were addressed.
He spoke about the travel plan and other methods of sustainable transport and his awareness of concern about traffic issues in and around the area. He has been, and will continue, talking to parents in an attempt to persuade parents to be more considerate when dropping off and collecting children.
In summation he invited the Parish Council and the School to work together, in partnership, to resolve the continuing problem.
i) The Clerk presented the financial report which had been circulated to members which showed the figures;
Balances held at Bank: £47020.33
Designated Funds: £25557.04
Available Funds: £21463.29
Creditors: £ 3510.82
It was resolved to accept the financial report.
30-11 Reports from Councillors attending meetings
Cllr Tilbury reported that he had attended a meeting of the Village Hall Trust at which the subject of the Nursery move was raised, and whilst this was seen as disappointing it was also seen as an opportunity for the Village Hall to widen its appeal to residents and external users. He emphasised that although the loss of the nursery would be a financial loss to the Trust, the Trust was financially secure
There being no further business to discuss the meeting closed at 2100 hours
Signed ___________________________ Dated ____________________
Annex A to the Minutes of the 20th June 2011.
In the 2011/2012 budget money had been allocated for newsletters (£250) and to revamp the web-site (£1500). Councillor Grafham and Councillor Finch have consulted councillors and the clerk and carried out research to prepare this discussion document to support the agenda item.
Why continue to make improvements to communication rather than maintain the status quo?
- There is general agreement amongst the councillors that it is important both to the perceived and actual success of the council that communication is improved in both directions – to get information out to more residents and to open up more opportunities for residents to share their concerns and their aspirations for Birdham.
- The expectations of residents have naturally changed as methods of communication have changed. The Council will need to consider these new methods while retaining more traditional routes in order to remain engaged with the widest possible range of residents.
How should we communicate, bearing in mind it needs to be 2-way?
- Meetings: The council has already recognised the need for monthly council meetings to feel as inclusive as is possible, while maintaining the appropriate framework for legally valid decision making. To this end the physical layout of the meeting has changed in recent years and councillors make efforts to be as welcoming as possible to members of the public who attend. In addition there have recently been changes to the agenda so that the opportunity for public questions falls nearer the beginning of the meeting. Significant issues, such as flooding, encouraging residents to stand for council, the church extension and public concerns over the Longmeadow development have also been tackled in dedicated meetings.
- to extend the presence of councillors in the Village Hall before and/or after the monthly meeting;
- to hold a ‘surgery’ in a smaller location and/or at different times (not just a weekday evening for example);
- to have a welcome party for new residents, in collaboration with the Church.
- Printed communication: It has been previously proposed by the council to issue a council newsletter 4 times a year (June, September, December and March). When issued this has been distributed by councillors to all houses in the parish. Additional notices of special meetings have also been distributed this way. Notices are placed on the council noticeboards at Birdham Stores, the Church and the Village Hall.
- to assign production of the newsletter as an action (see “Who” later)
- to issue the newsletter at the intervals detailed above and before the council meeting of the month in question, except this year to issue in July to get the process started again and introduce the new council
- to prepare material about Birdham Parish Council for inclusion in the Church welcome pack
- to assist the Church in identifying new residents
- to agree a delivery scheme which ensures delivery areas are fair and appropriate (covers Birdham parish)
- to encourage residents to register for delivery of newsletters and notices via email to reduce paper/printing costs and delivery
- to determine an appropriate, cost effective and sustainable method of printing
- Electronic communication: The council have a web-site, developed by a local company, which contains minutes of meetings, agenda’s etc. The council have recognised the web-site could be improved for users and for administrators and to this end £1500 has been included in the proposed 2011/2012 budget.
- To review the options and costs for updating the website, e.g. updating the current site or redevelopment with a new provider (see Website Analysis document for more info)
- To review the content provided on the website
- To consider how the user interacts with the council via the website
- To include relevant links to other local organisations and businesses
- To include the website address in all other communications, e.g. the newsletter
- To engage with social media sites, e.g. Facebook and Twitter, both of which are well-used by other councils and council associations.
- To engage with SALC and NALC to seek advice/review guidelines for on-line communication.
- To create a working group to manage the process of review and set a ‘project schedule’, breaking the process down into manageable stages with delivery milestones.
What should we communicate?
- Future: Currently the future items for discussion are detailed in the agenda issued one week before the monthly meeting and posted on the noticeboards and web-site.
- To provide links to CDC/WSCC items which are coming up
- To post items to website/Facebook about future items/issues/events which may be up for discussion at later meetings than the next one
- Past: Minutes are posted on the website.
- To post all documents (correspondence, etc.) that may be requested under FOI
- Current: Councillors are listed on the website with contact details for the clerk.
- To list parish/district/county councillors relevant to Birdham on website and noticeboards.
- To provide contact details on the website/noticeboards for those happy to have these publically available
- To provide a photo on the website of those happy to have a photo
- To put a group photo of the parish councillors into the July newsletter
- To include informative pieces on the website covering the duties and responsibilities of the council, how parish councils work, planning, current newsletter, etc.
- To create a ‘sister site’ to contain non-council information such as links to Birdham businesses, Village Hall, etc.
How do we make sure all this happens?
- Council Meetings: Communication comes up regularly in various guises in council meetings. A small group formed in 2010 to look at the web-site has dissolved due to loss of one of the councillors.
- To add “Communication” as a regular agenda item.
- To form a small group (terminology) who will ensure the necessary activities are completed and any decisions for the council are raised under the agenda item. Members of the council would contribute to the work of this group according to their interests and relevant experience, with a core team of Councillor Grafham, Councillor Finch and the clerk. The group would consult with residents who have a particular expertise to assist in the development of social media.