Minutes of the 20th December 2010

Minutes of the 20th December 2010

Birdham Parish Council

Minutes of the Meeting of the Council

held on Monday 20th December 2010

at 7pm in Birdham Village Hall

Present:                    Cllr Meynell (Chairman), Cllr Mrs Barker, Cllr Mrs Cobbold, Cllr Churchill, Cllr Tilbury, Cllr Mrs Leach

Apologies:               Cllr Mrs Parks, Cllr Way, Cllr Ms Huskisson, Cllr P Montyn & Cllr P Jones (WSCC & CDC) and PCSO A Bromley

In attendance:         The Clerk and six members of the public.

89-10 Declarations of Interests

There were none.

90-10              Urgent/Additional items notified to the Chairman or the Clerk prior to the meeting.

The Chairman wished Cllr Mrs Cobbold a very Happy Birthday

91-10 Minutes of the meeting held on the 15th November 2010

.Resolved: that the minutes of the 15th November 2010 be signed as a true and accurate record.

Proposed by Cllr Churchill and seconded by Cllr Cobbold.

92-10              Matters arising from the Minutes

Land Bequeathed to the council – The Clerk reported that progress was slow and was becoming increasingly frustrating in the attempts to obtain answers or action from the solicitors acting as executors to the will. In response to questions from Councillors, the Clerk advised that the Council should proceed in the current format to bring the process to a successful conclusion. Any attempt to involve the Law Society or the Solicitors Ombudsman would in his opinion slow, or stop, the process even further whilst those august bodies deliberated, and decided the outcome of any complaint made to them and could increase the costs of settlement. The Clerk went on to say that the time to seek an answer to the complaints of Council and possible financial restitution was after the Council was the legal owners of the land and even then careful consideration should be given to the possible costs of such an action.

93-10 Clerks’ Report:

i)             The Clerk reported that he had received from WSCC the Adult Social Care Consultation Document that would be placed in the Councils notice boards. There was also a web site address for those who preferred to communicate via electronic means at www.westsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay

ii)            Information has been received from WSCC concerning the clearance of snow and ice. Concerns had apparently been raised regarding the legal liability of carrying out any clearance, the Government has stated that provided all reasonable care is taken then the issue of liability does not occur.

iii)           The Clerk has received the up to date issue of the Electoral Register

iv)           Reports from Members of WSCC/CDC

No members of either WSCC or CDC were present for this meeting

94-10              Planning matters including CDC decisions:


BI/10/04363/FUL Bell Caravan Park, Bell Lane, Birdham

The creeping use of holiday caravans out of season in this area has reached the point where it would be perverse of this Council to object to this application. We can only agree with the applicant’s agent when he states that those who abide by the 1st March to 31st October restriction place themselves at a commercial disadvantage. The Council therefore has NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/04925/FUL Allmans Business Park, Birdham Road, Birdham

This is an application following the expiry of permission  granted to application BI/07/01208/FUL. The proposed building is exactly the same as that which was granted permission at that time. Some  changes have been made to the external arrangements.

Along the south side of the proposed development is a buffer zone between the industrial estate and the access road to neighbouring properties at Cowdry Farm and the dwellings to the rear of it. This Council was concerned that this buffer zone should be maintained and the concern is noted in the Design and Access statement. Nonetheless the zone has still been used to supply the extra parking spaces needed by the development.

In the winter of 2009/10 Birdham Parish Council carried out a survey of the land drainage in the Parish. There is a ditch which runs along the south east boundary of the proposed building site to a rife bordering the east of the site. It carries surface water from Birdham Straight and run off from the application site to the rife, which is exposed at the point where the two watercourses meet but almost immediately enters a culvert downstream of the junction. The water in the site ditch contributes to sudden rises in water level in the rife because of the rife’s constriction by the culvert and causes flooding at Cowdry Farm and the adjacent dwellings. We are therefore concerned that the incursion of parking into the buffer zone which includes the ditch may limit the natural absorbtion, will provide extra run off from the hard surface and thus exacerbate the problems at the Cowdry Farm dwellings. We would be reassured by a formal Drainage Survey and Plan for this part of the site.

We note that the application is for B1 use and would ask that a condition be applied to preclude any sort of noise-making activity because of the proximity to the Cowdry Farm access and the dwellings there.

We also note that the number of parking spaces has reached 97. We are aware of another unimplemented planning permission for a building on this site adjacent to Birdham Straight and are becoming concerned at the amount of traffic generated by this site in the context of the increasing pressures on the A286 Birdham Straight because of development on the western Manhood Peninsula.

We would also ask that the metal cladding of the building is of a colour to blend in to the background of the buffer strip and the hedge and that there should be no interference with trees  on the site in this somewhat bleakly industrial environment.

In the assumption that all these matters will be looked into by the Officer and satisfactorily resolved with the applicant the Council raises NO OBJCTION to this application.

BI/10/05283/TPA Whitewater, Lock Lane, Birdham

This is an application to repollard to the previous pruning points two oak trees, subject to the TPO of 2008.  Numbers of other trees are referred to but are not the concern of this application as they are not subject to the TPO.

These two oak trees form part of an avenue leading from Lock Lane to the Egremont Bridge on the Chichester Canal. It was to protect the amenity value of the whole avenue that the Parish Council asked for a TPO on all the trees in the avenue in 2008. We asked that the tree which was removed to create the new entrance would be replaced; this could be done between the two oak trees in this application. The trees which are the subject of this application cannot therefore be seen in isolation.

The council is of the opinion that pollarding is much too radical an approach to these trees in their context. It therefore OBJECTS to this application and asks the Tree Officer to offer advice to the applicant on how these two oak trees can be managed by a qualified tree surgeon so that they are re-established as fine trees and can play their part again in the quality of the avenue of which they are part. A tree surgeon should be able to advise on how this might be done while obviating any danger from falling limbs.

BI/10/5158/FUL Moorings, Westlands, Birdham

This application is a substitution for the application earlier this year BI/10/01871/DOM and subsequently withdrawn. The application is now for the demolition and replacement of the dwelling. He site lies on the edge of Chichester Harbour and within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We visited the site at the time of the previous application.

At the time of the previous application we remarked that we have begun to be concerned about the number of applications to extend already considerable properties on the edge of the Harbour. We are concerned about the effect of this trend on the visual amenity of the Harbourside and we warned that our failure to object to the previous application should not be seen as a precedent for further increases in the future on this site or elsewhere.  We are concerned about the application of Policy H12 (paragraphs 2 and 3) and Policy C1.

This new application therefore causes us great concern. We estimate that there would be at least a 25% increase in the silhouette of the building. The comparison between the existing footprint and the proposed footprint is misleading in that it does not show the height of the building which is largely two storey and replacing buildings which are up to 50% one storey. The mass of the building would be obtrusive towards the Harbour.

The amount of glazing gives us grounds for concern that the reflection from it would be excessive when viewed from the Harbour or the opposite side of the channel in the late afternoon and evening in the summer.  The fenestration consists of a concoction of styles making little visual sense and is un-neighbourly towards the properties on either side. This would result in a loss of privacy to the neighbours. The general design of the proposal seems to us to represent a lost opportunity on a significant site.

The Council therefore OBJECTS to this application.

BI/10/05313/FUL Mansfield, Church Lane, Birdham

This is the third attempt to build a bungalow on the land to the rear of Mansfield.  Two of the previous attempts were taken to a Planning Inspector. This application shows a lower roofline for the building and a redesign of the driveway with screening from Church Lane. It is also claimed that the barn style responds to the semi-rural setting.

Mrs Manning has lived in the village with her husband for many years and at one time they owned most of the land surrounding their house. It has been sold off in parcels over the years, including Hoots Barn at the rear of Mansfield. These parcels of land have been of roughly equal size to that of Mansfield itself. One of the previous applications was made at about the time when Mr Manning became disabled and Mrs Manning could no longer manage the garden on her own. She applied for permission for a small dwelling for herself in the hope that her family might take over the main house and help her to care for her husband. Mr Manning died about two years ago. When that permission was refused she fenced off and abandoned the far end of her garden and this is the “unused land” referred to in this application.

In 2001 Inspector Isobel McCretton (APP/L3815/A/01/1059130) said that this part of Church Lane was characterised by a feeling of spaciousness in contrast to the higher density development opposite and in pockets such as Springfield Close. She went on to say that, despite back land development elsewhere in the village, this case had to be considered on its own merits. She concluded that the benefit of one additional dwelling to the building stock would not outweigh the harm to the local character. She also concluded that dwelling on this site, so close to the boundaries with Mansfield and Hoots Barn would involve a considerable loss of amenity to both and there would be unacceptable noise and disturbance to Mansfield because of the proximity of the drive access, contrary to policies BE11 and BE12 of the Local Plan.

Inspector Paul Jackson, in 2003 (APPL/L3815/A/03/1124539), reminded us that, however much sympathy we may have with the circumstances of the present occupant, paragraph 38 of PPG1 indicates that personal circumstances would seldom outweigh more general planning considerations. He also pointed to LP Policy BE13 which indicates that proposals which would increase the proportion of hard surface, such that the garden would be significantly reduced, will be refused. Although this present application makes use of permeable surfacing there is still very little left in the way of garden. He agreed with the previous Inspector that close proximity to the neighbours was a serious objection to the development.

The applicant may argue that she has done her best to meet the criticisms made of the previous applications and, in the screening and the removal of the drive from directly outside the windows of Mansfield, may have mitigated the situation somewhat. The criticism which she cannot overcome however is that the development of a third dwelling on the site, at right angles to the road, would constitute overdevelopment of the site which would seriously detract from the character and appearance of the area, bringing an urban element to a rural environment. The decision of the District Council Planning Officer of 19th March 2002, paragraph 1, is still valid.

The Parish Council therefore OBJECTS to this application.

BI/10/05039/DOM Martins Cottage, Martins Lane, Birdham

In our response to the original application (BI/09/03422/DOM) we agreed with the applicants’ architect that this probably nineteenth-century cottage has been the subject of incremental extension over the years and the proposal  would have the effect of tidying up the building and consolidating the extensions into one building. It is unfortunate that the original cottage will be rather lost in all this but inevitable after the previous extensions. We did not object.

The effect of this proposal is to amend one or two aspects of the design by adding glazed double doors on various elevations, adding a chimney and changing the cladding from wood to render in places. None of this makes a material difference to the design but we would ask that consideration be given to a suitable colour for the rendering so that the enlarged building blends with its environment. This is especially important on the south east elevation which faces towards the road. We would also like to see a condition to maintain the height and density of the hedge on the roadside for the same reason.

The Council raises NO OBJECTION to this application.

SI/10/04990/FUL Easton Farm, Easton Lane, Sidlesham

Birdham Parish Council wishes to comment on this application since aspects of it will affect Birdham Parish.

1.    We note that the proposal is outside Chichester District Council’s designated Horticultural Development Area at Batchmere/Almodington and therefore to approve this application would be contrary to the Council’s policy RE11B. We believe that it is time for the Council to revisit the HDAs with a view to designating new areas, close to communication hubs, for this important local industry.

2.    PPG7 also states as key principle iv that:

“New building development in open countryside away from the existing settlements, or outside areas allocated for development plans, should be strictly controlled; the Government’s overall aim is to protect the countryside for the sake of its intrinsic character and beauty, the diversity of its landscape, heritage and wildlife, the wealth of its natural resources and so it may be enjoyed by all”.

LP Policy B5 (para 2, last sentence) also applies here

3.    We also understood it to be the Council’s policy not to encourage large scale development south of the A27 until improvements are made to the road.

4.    The preferred access to the site from the A27 and Chichester is via the A286 to Birdham and thence via Sidlesham Lane, Batchmere Road and Almodington Lane. We note that the applicants have already constructed an entrance to the site which we have measured at thirty feet wide (9.1 metres), whereas the road outside the site (Almodington Lane) is sixteen feet (4.85 metres) wide.

To locate industrial/commercial greenhousing of this scale at the end of the Manhood cul-de-sac will mean that Almodington, Birdham and Donnington will be impacted by increased heavy goods traffic as well as traffic associated with employees commuting to the development, contrary to LP Policy TR6. The applicant’s estimate is 8.5 HGV movements and 85 to 115 employee movements, each way, per day on average (which implies that for half the time they will be higher). Our research shows that the average width of a heavy lorry (of the sort used to collect and deliver horticultural produce in this area) is 2.5 metres. The applicant’s Road Safety Audit says that this problem, on a road 4.85 metres wide in places, will be overcome by some trimming back of hedges and by patching some potholes. We do not believe them.

We do not find convincing the developer’s assertions that employees will be encouraged to arrive by bicycle or bus to Almodington, which is not on or near a main bus route. The road network in the centre of the Manhood comprises narrow, quiet roads, which are used by cyclists and horse riders – a facility that will become increasingly valued if green tourism is encouraged. There are considerable surface water issues in Almodington Lane. HGVs also collect produce at unsociable hours. Horticultural traffic starts at 5.30am on the A286. But, conversely, if collections are restricted to 9am to 5pm this will create congestion problems, particularly in the summer when the queues to West Wittering beach frequently stretch back to the Stockbridge roundabout on the A27. Local farmers are already inconvenienced because grain collection vehicles are unable to make collections during harvest time because of this congestion.

The access issues are therefore clearly in contravention of the Council’s policy RE11A (4) which precludes such development if there will be “an unacceptable reduction in the safety of road users or unacceptable harm to the amenities of the occupiers of nearby residential properties or the character of the surrounding countryside”.  “Nearby residential properties” must apply in this case to all those along the route likely to be taken by the increased HGV traffic, especially, as far as Birdham is concerned, to Batchmere Lane and Sidlesham Lane. The applicants might be required to undertake a survey of the foundations of all properties along the route to ensure that there will not be structural damage.

5.    Part of the surface water from Birdham drains though Batchmere and Almodington to the Easton rife. In Appendix A of the Flood Risk Assessment the application includes a map  of the drainage area of Ditch 1 which shows that it drains an area back to Cowdry Farm in Birdham and our own drainage survey (2010) confirms that the watershed is just south of Cowdry Farm. The Flood Risk Assessment was largely limited to the application site; other matters were a desktop exercise based on sparse data. It admits at this point that their area of drainage may be a poor estimate and yet states on page 12 that the capacity of Ditch 1 is “important in understanding the context of ditches to the proposed development and the requirements for sizing channels and culverts to route the ditch through the site”.

Other surface water from Birdham (from the southern half of Whitestone Farm which has persistent problems of flooding) drains via Earnley to the Earnley rife but        will be diverted towards this site under the Medmerry plans.

The Easton and Earnley rifes at present join in the intertidal area adopted by the Environment Agency and Chichester District Council for the Medmerry Coastal Realignment Scheme.  The northernmost defences of the realignment scheme will be on the south side of Easton Lane, opposite the southern edge of this development. We are concerned that the Environment Agency is at a very early stage in assessing the impact of the scheme and it is not yet clear whether there will be sufficient surface water storage capacity in their proposal when the rifes are wholly or partly submerged at high tide. It could be that, despite the attenuation reservoirs and diversions, the drainage ditches shown on this proposal will be    needed for freshwater storage from beyond the site as well as for the increased run-off from the greenhouses referred to in para 6.2.1 (p17) of the Flood Risk Assessment, especially as groundwater levels are very important contributors to flooding in this area and are estimated by the applicant’s Assessment as between “0.8m and 1.6 metres consistently”.

It would be foolish to sanction development which might compromise the realignment scheme as well as producing backflow problems. As the applicant states on page 13 of the Flood Risk Assessment, “The flood flow estimate is, as the name suggests, an estimation. The scientific methods do come with uncertainties. We have proved reasonable estimates here, based on the data available. It does not mean that the flows cannot be exceeded”. The Environment Agency’s Flood Risk Mapping and Data Management Technical Specialist states that the EA does ‘’not have a detailed fluvial or tidal modelling in the East Wittering to Pagham area’’ and ‘no detailed coastal modelling for this area.’ As a result, ‘for these reasons (the EA is) unable to supply a range of fluvial and tidal flood risk outlines and levels at this time.’ For the residents of Birdham this is hardly encouraging; it will be they who have flooding from the backflow if the estimates are wrong now or in the future. This lack of certainty must ensure that a precautionary approach is adopted in this area.

Birdham Parish Council therefore feels that it must again OBJECT to this proposal.

It was RESOLVED to instruct the Clerk to forward the decisions of the Council to CDC Planning

Proposed Cllr Churchill and seconded by Cllr Cobbold.

CDC Decisions

BI/10/04039/EXT Mr Peter Lansdale Premier Business Park Birdham Road Application to extend the implementation period of existing Planning Permission BI/07/02832/FUL.  Replacement office accommodation. PERMIT

BI/10/04896/NMA Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton Woodhorn Farmhouse Sidlesham Lane Birdham

Non-material amendment to planning permission BI/10/03007/DOM.  Refurbishment of dwelling and exterior to be clad with weather boarding. PERMIT

BI/10/03705/FUL Mrs C Pratt (Green Wood Parks) Itchenor Caravan Park Shipton Green Lane Two storey extension to the existing office and provision of a disabled toilet: Both to serve the existing Caravan Park. PERMIT

The Council Resolved to NOTE the decisions of CDC Planning.

95-10 Correspondence:

No further correspondence had been received that had not already been circulated to Councillors.

96-10 Reports:

i)      Play area and playing field – The Clerk reported that the hedging & ditching work had been carried out. He was now awaiting the work on the trees to be completed by Arborotech, this would be done when the weather conditions were suitable.

ii)     Village green and pond – The Clerk reported that the long awaited report from CDC Environmental Officer Sarah Hughes had been received. However, whilst talking to Natural England to obtain a license to carry out the work required it was discovered that the Council would need to use a licensed contractor. In locating such a contractor it was then discovered that a Great Crested Newt survey was required. This follow-on work would cost in the region of £350 plus expenses plus VAT to determine if a full GCN survey was needed. It was felt that the Council had no other option but to have the work carried out. The Clerk was authorised to issue the necessary order to have the survey carried out as early as possible.

iii)     Police and Neighbourhood Watch – PCSO Ann Bromley gave her apologies brought about by sickness. She had not submitted a report.

97-10 Finance:

i)      A financial paper had been prepared by the Clerk and was circulated to Councillors. This showed:

Balances held at Bank:      £49776.29

Designated Funds:              £25557.04

Available Funds:                  £24219.25

Creditors:                               £1102.80

Resolved: To accept the financial report.

Proposed by Cllr Leach and seconded by Cllr Tilbury

ii)     The Clerk opened the debate on the Precept explaining that he had based the budget on the known levels of expenditure in the past year to date. He had allowed for all rises and costs that were known about, such as the 7% rise in electricity costs, the likelihood of a contested election in May of 2011 and the subsequent training costs that might be required and the legal costs likely to be incurred in obtaining ownership of the Adams bequest.

The base estimated gross expenditure was £44302.00; this was offset by a brought forward figure of £4271.50, an estimated income of £800.00 and a figure of £5448.50 from reserves. The advised precept was set at £33782.00 which equated to a Band D tax of £44.00. This was the same as the previous two tax years.

The Council Resolved to accept the advice of the Clerk and authorised him to submit the Precept demand to Chichester District Council.

Proposed by Cllr Tilbury and seconded by Cllr Cobbold.

98-10 Web Site

This item was deferred in the absence of the Cllr Way, the lead Councillor on the subject.

99-10 Reports from Councillors attending meetings

A brief overview of the CDC ‘Meeting with the Parishes’, was given by Cllr Churchill, prior to the written submission he was in the process of compiling.

100-10 Public session:

Mr S Crossley asked what progress, if any, had been made on the Councils idea to hold a Democracy Meeting. He was informed by the Clerk that the meeting had been arranged for the 20th January the detail was as reported in the Councils November meeting.

The Chairman wished all Councillors and members of the public a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

There being no further business to be dealt with the meeting closed at 8.52 pm

The next meeting of Council will be held on the 17th January 2011 at 7pm in the Village Hall.

Signed ___________________________   Dated ____________________