Minutes of Council Meeting held on the 20th September

Minutes of Council Meeting held on the 20th September

Birdham Parish Council

Minutes of the Meeting of the Council

held on Monday 20th September 2010

at 7pm in Birdham Village Hall

Present:                    Cllr Meynell (Chairman), Cllr Mrs Parks (Vice-Chairman),

Cllr Tilbury, Cllr Mrs Barker, Cllr Mrs Leach, Cllr Mrs Cobbold, Cllr Churchill

Apologies:                Cllr Tilbury and Cllr Ms Huskisson and WSCC/CDC Cllr P Montyn

In attendance:         The Clerk, Cllr P Jones (WSCC & CDC), PCSO A Bromley and twelve members of the public.

49-10 Declarations of Interests

There were none.

50-10              Urgent/Additional items notified to the Chairman or the Clerk prior to the meeting.

There were none.

51-10 Minutes of the meeting held on the 19th July 2010

.Resolved: that the minutes of the 19th July 2010 be signed as a true and accurate record.

Proposed by Cllr Parks and seconded by Cllr Leach

52-10              Matters arising from the Minutes

i) Land Bequeathed to the council – The Clerk reported that he had received a number of communiqués from Thomas Eggars with documentation and plans received from the Bolithio Way solicitors. Thomas Eggars is of the opinion that there remain a number of problems with the documentation in terms of the actual registration since the death of Mr Adams, and also with site layout and access points. Thomas Eggars have requested a meeting with representatives of the Council during the first full week in October. It is recommended that those attending should be the Clerk, the Chairman and Cllr Tilbury.

53 -10 Clerks’ Report:

i) During the summer recess activity has been very, very quite. The main and major piece of work produced by CDC has been the consultation document released on the proposed extension of the Dog Control Order. The consultation period runs from 13th September until the 14th October 2010. There is little in the amendment that concerns Birdham other than all play areas enclosed by means of a fence and gate and owned by CDC or any City, Parish or Town Council within the Chichester District will be placed within the Order.

The Clerk was asked to write to CDC requesting that education of dog owners be the first plan of action rather than what was considered to be rather draconian measures contained within the draft Dog Control Order.

ii) No reports have been received from CDC.

iii) Reports from Members of WSCC/CDC

There were none.

54-10              Planning matters including CDC decisions:


BI/10/03175/DOM The Snipe, Lock Lane, Birdham

The Snipe dates back to the building of the Chichester Ship Canal and has been successively the lockkeeper’s house, a public house and a private residence. It lies within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but outside the Settlement Policy area for Birdham. The present owner has tidied the property up considerably, removing unsightly and inappropriate extensions, and has incorporated another adjacent building into the residential accommodation. This application is a simplification of the link between the two building (with a decrease in the amount of glazing – which had been a concern in our previous response), changes to the chimneys, and some amendments to the layout and fenestration of the annexe. The Council notes with approval that windows are being provided only at the sides of the two dormers which face the neighbouring property and raises NO OBJECTION to this application as a whole.

BI/10/03007/DOM Woodhorn Farmhouse, Sidlesham Lane, Birdham

This is an application to replace the existing garage and workshop with an extension and to carry out some alterations. The papers provided to the Council did not include an Access and Design statement. It seems to be the plan to demolish and rebuild the garage/workshop and to rebuild on the same footprint with improved foundations. Two drawings of the proposed ground plan were provided (drawings 7 and 7a). The Council has no objection to either scheme of internal division. One of them shows a self-contained bedsit which we assume will be for normal domestic use. If this is not the intention we believe that other use should be specified and conditioned appropriately. It seems unlikely that the annexe could be disposed of separately from the main house but we would like this to be a condition of any permission. The Council raises NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03224/EXT Birdham Business Park, Birdham Road, Birdham

This is the renewal of an extant approval to which this Council did not object on the first application. We do NOT OBJECT on this occasion. E pointed out in our previous response that it could be that the windows facing the main road could be used as a shop window for retail use. We note that the design now includes a substantial hedge. From our previous experience elsewhere we would ask that there should be a condition that proper attention is given to the preparation of the ground for the planting of this hedge so that it may have a reasonable chance to grow to the height shown in the time shown.

BI/10/02483/FUL Field south of Seldens, Bell Lane, Birdham

This is a further amendment to the plans refused by the Development Control Committee (South) and repositions the stable building in relation to the foul water sewer under the site and the power lines over it, problems which were pointed out in our response to the original plan. It fails however to address the main point of the refusal by the Committee, as we said in our response to the first amendment, to which we would refer you.. This was concerned with the loss of amenity to the neighbour to the north of the site. We therefore maintain our OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03896/FUL Wophams Lane Nursery, Birdham Road, Birdham

Wophams Lane Nursery lies just outside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Over the years the Nursery has developed a considerable number of green houses on this site, producing plants under the title Blue Ribbon Plants. It has also developed an extensive area for the public to pick their own soft fruits. This has come under economic pressure because of competition from the supermarkets and Greenhouse A will be built on the “pick your own” land and used for the production of bedding plants. The other two greenhouses in this application are replacements for older buildings. They are sited in among the existing greenhouses and cause us no concern. Greenhouse A lies at the south-western corner of the site, adjacent to a residential property, St  Aubins. It is however separated from St Aubins by a well-established, traditional English hedgerow of indigenous trees and bushes. The hedge appears to be owned by the adjacent property. At the point where the proposed greenhouse is closest to the property there is a thick hedge. There is however a window in the extension to the house adjacent to the boundary but this window has restricted light because of the hedge.  The hedge will also serve to obscure the greenhouse from the main road as it is estimated to be more than 7 metres high in places. We are therefore of the opinion that the closeness of the residential property is not an issue here under Policy RE10. Access to the greenhouse will be from the far side, away from the house. We do consider that conditions should be placed on any permission to limit the working hours in this greenhouse and to ensure that lighting is not used at night in the production of the plants leading to loss of amenity for the neighbours and light pollution in a rural area adjacent to the AONB, contrary to Policy RE10.

In general, the Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03553/DOM The Old Poorhouse, Alandale Road, Birdham

The Old Poorhouse lies outside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the SPA for Birdham. We had the opportunity to comment on the original plans for the makeover to this property, which, despite its age (parts of it are thought to date back to the 15th century), had little architectural merit left after a series of extensions over the years. We did not object. This application is to extend the previously permitted tidying up of the building by extending it by 3.65 m2 at its western end. The property is bordered by a thick hedge at this point and the Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03631/DOM 5 Springfield Close, Birdham

The Agent for this application is the Chairman of the Parish Council and he has declared an interest and taken no part in the discussions on the application.

The aim of this application is to make the existing conservatory into a more permanent structure by roofing it to match the rest of the house and to carry out some minor work to achieve a harmonious exterior.

Because it will be tiled with concrete tiles, the roof will be slightly higher than the existing roof of the conservatory. The footprint will be exactly the same. The view is across an open field and it will not interfere with the amenity of neighbours. The Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03705/FUL Itchenor Caravan Park, Shipton Green Lane, Birdham

The Caravan Park lies within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and outside the SPA for Birdham. This application is to double the size of the office accommodation for the site which is an extension of the house Copsefield. The ownership of the land at this point is rather complex but the papers presented to us appear to show that the proposed extension would not encroach onto the adjacent Common Land. At the rear of the proposed extension there appears to be a drainage ditch under some thick planting, running in the direction of the house Mullions. We would not wish to see this ditch interfered with. The design of the extension is in keeping with the house and the present office and the Council has NO OBJECTION to this application.

BI/10/03606/DOM 6a Burlow Close, Birdham

6a is the last house at the end of this cul-de-sac which is also a private road, maintained by the riparian owners. It lies within the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and on the very edge of the Birdham SPA. Recently the bungalow which stood on this site was divided into two residential properties, one of which is occupied. This application refers to the other. The intention is to extend the property at the rear by 3 metres and at the side by 4.2 metres.  This is a considerable increase in the footprint of the building but, as the building is a semi-bungalow, the increase in floor area is probably less than 50%. The extension at the rear will bring the building out to the building line of the adjoining property but create a curious “well” between the two. The adjacent property has windows looking into this well which will receive less light as a result of the extension.

The applicant also makes play with the fact that the property will be used by a lady with sight and mobility disablement and uses this to justify the considerable extension to the side of the existing property. We have doubts about the provision by way of wider doors and ramps for a disabled person.

This side extension also causes us another concern. In paragraph 3.1 of the Design and Access statement, the applicant remarks that his client has acquired a small section of land allowing a more regular and spacious garden. It appears on the Ground Floor plan that the site boundary now runs in a straight line parallel to the side of the proposed extension. Another dotted line appears to denote the present boundary, which we have seen. This present boundary is also the edge of the SPA so the acquired land has the effect of encroaching outside the SPA. On the site plan the boundary of the SPA runs along the ditch at the rear of the properties in Florence Close, not along the fence line shown further out (see the map attached to the Local plan 1999). It appears that the extra land for 6a Burlow Close is not being used solely to make a bigger garden but also to allow for the increase in the size of the property. The Council is not happy with this crumbling away of the edge of the SPA.  Also, the acquired land consists largely of a considerable ditch on this northern edge of the property which is part of a network of ditches which drain the farmland at the rear of the property. We are not told what the intention is as far as this ditch is concerned. Houses further down Burlow Close have been subject to surface water flooding.

We note that the building line at the front of the house (eastern side) coincides with the line of the present garage and with the building line of the adjoining property.

There was considerable concern from neighbours when these properties were being developed from the original bungalow because of the narrowness of Burlow Close for contractors’ vehicles. The entrance to the site is, according to the Design and Access statement 4.4 metres; by our measurement it is 3.2 metres. On the left of the approach to the site the neighbour has protected his lawn with a series of stones; these also protect mains services under the grass which are at risk of damage from heavy vehicles. Now that the site is only half the size it was when the bungalow was divided there is even less room for the storage of materials, the parking of tradesmen’s vehicles and for larger vehicles to turn when on site.

Because of the uncertainty about the increase in the footprint of this house, the apparent attempt to crumble away the border of the SPA and concerns about the safety of the immediate neighbours the Council feels it must OBJECT to this application until these matters are clarified and a clear and enforceable safety policy is shown to exist.

The owner of the property was present and circulated a letter which contained detail that was not contained within the original application relating to the drainage. The Chairman suggested that in the light of the additional information the applicant should consider withdrawing his application. The applicant agreed that this would be a consideration.

It was resolved that the Clerk be instructed to forward the decisions of the Council to the Planning Department of CDC.

Proposed Cllr Leach seconded by Cllr Barker

CDC Decisions

BI/10/02410/FUL Mr Michael May Houseboat Coot Club Chichester Marina Birdham Replacement of an existing houseboat. PERMIT

BI/10/02561/FUL Lippering Farm Lippering Farm Birdham Road Birdham

To convert existing redundant agricultural store to form 1 no. holiday let. PERMIT

BI/10/02569/DOM Mr V Meynell Broomfield Lock Lane Birdham Demolition and removal of caravan and construction of replacement tractor and implement store. PERMIT

BI/10/02615/DOM Mr Stephen Porti Manhood End Farm Birdham Road Birdham Erection of a porch. PERMIT

BI/10/01707/NMA Mr S Porti Manhood End Farm Birdham Road Birdham 2 no. solar hot water panels, 1 no. roof light in storage attic, 1 no. roof light over hall (amendments to BI/06/03232/FUL). PERMIT

BI/10/03175/DOM Mr And Mrs R Marshall The Snipe Lock Lane Birdham Alterations and extensions to dwelling. Amendments to details relating to approval BI/09/05164/DOM, including alternative location and material for sitting room chimney, changes to fenestration, additional roof lights and associated works. PERMIT

BI/10/02483/FUL Mr Jon Parker Field South of Seldens Bell Lane Birdham Construction of 4 no. stables and hay store together with access drive and hard standing area. REFUSE

55-10 Correspondence:

i)             A press release from CDC concerning a planting event to take place on the 26th September from 2 - 4 pm by the FORT Cancer Charity.

ii)            The summer edition of the Countryside Voice has been received

iii)           A copy of Fieldwork has been received and circulated

iv)           A consultation document on the Future of Day Services and Activities in West Sussex has been received and circulated.

v)            As a follow up to Sam Irvings presentation two publications had been received on the Chichester Rural Housing Partnership FAQ’s and a ’Ten Stage Guide to Developing Rural Affordable Housing’. Both of these documents are also available to download via www.chichester.gov.uk/chichesterruralpartnership

56-10 Reports:

i)      Play area and playing field – The Clerk reported that a complaint had been received from a member of the public concerning the recent repair work that had been carried out to the slide. The complaint was based around the method of repair and the protection of the public. The mini digger had been parked in the play area instead of the car park and the warning fencing was thought to be less than adequate. The Clerk has written to both the complainant and the company who carried out the work. A reply is awaited.

ii)     Village green and pond – The promised report has still not been received despite a large number of emails and ‘phone calls. Follow up will be continued.

iii)     Police and Neighbourhood Watch – PCSO Ann Bromley reported that problems had arisen during the summer months with ‘travellers’. They had been parking illegally and moved on but, then had broken into Pump Bottom Farm and assaulted the owners. Arrests had been made. In addition fly tipping had taken place in Sidlesham Lane, an incident involving driving away from a garage without payment, a break-in to a private garage had occurred in Church Lane with items stolen and there were reports of youths behaving in an unsociable way. A large number of thefts of garden furniture and statuary had taken place.

PCSO Bromley also stated that the police would be happy to arrange property marking free of charge and gave out her ‘phone number for people to contact her to arrange this.

iv)    The Chairman reported that the Harbour Conservancy are in the process of developing a set of ‘Design Guideline Proposals’. This will impact on smaller properties being developed into much larger properties. In some cases properties had been increased by more than 50% which was having a detrimental impact on the AONB.

57-10 Finance:

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

Balances held at Bank: £56333.80

Designated Funds: £25557.04

Creditors: £2751.42

Resolved: To accept the financial report.

Proposed by Cllr Parks and seconded by Cllr Churchill

The Clerk submitted the report recently received from Mazars the External Auditor. The report showed that Annual Return gave ‘no cause for concern’. They did however, remind the Council that it must review the effectiveness of its systems and internal audit each year.

It was Resolved to accept the External Auditors Report and the action to be taken.

Proposed by Cllr Barker and seconded Cllr Meynell.

58-10 Web Site

A general discussion took place which included suggestions from members of the public. Cllr Way elected to take this back until further and more detailed discussions had taken place.

59-10 Reports from Councillors attending meetings

There were none

60-10 Public session:

Mr S Crossley had submitted six questions which he considered to be relevant to improving the democratic process within the Parish of Birdham. The questions he raised were as follows;

1. What does Birdham Parish Council consider can be done to improve the local electoral process in Birdham?

2. What steps will Birdham Parish Council take to improve the local electoral process in Birdham?

3. It is understood that Birdham Parish Council had previously declined to join The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme. Please could the Council explain why?

4. Will Birdham Parish Council now join The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme 2003? (Can it be noted that North Mundham Parish have passed quality tests recently).

5. If Birdham Parish Council do not agree to join The Quality Parish and Town Council Scheme 2003, what are the reasons?

6. How does Birdham Parish Council feel about Councillors serving a minimum term and actively encouraging other members of the community to dutifully stand for election so as to cover forthcoming vacancies?

The Chairman gave a comprehensive answer to the questions posed by Mr Crossley as summarised in the following response;

1.    Why doesn’t Birdham Parish Council hold elections?

Technically it does. Parish Council elections are held every four years at the same time as the District Council elections.  If, at the time of an election, the number of candidates equals the number of vacancies, the Returning Officer (the Chief Executive of the District Council) declares them elected – not co-opted. If a Parish Council election were necessary in Birdham the likely cost to the residents would be about £2,500, charged to the Council Tax, so it is a responsible decision to avoid unnecessary elections, provided that anyone who wishes to stand has the opportunity to do so. Before anyone can be co-opted to the Council between the four-yearly formal elections, the vacancy must be advertised and, if necessary, a by-election held. Only if there are no volunteers for election can the Council proceed to co-opt.

2.    The Parish Council does promote elections as comprehensively as it can.

The fact that an election is to be held is advertised by the Returning Officer in newspapers and by notices (legally necessary) on the Parish Council’s notice boards (at the Church, the Village Hall and Birdham Stores). We also issue newsletters advising residents of elections and the role of Councillors. And all meetings of the Council are open to members of the public.

3.            The assumption appears to be made that Councillors who serve for extended periods may not be serving the public interest.

There is no evidence that this is so in Birdham and we have a good turnover of Councillors. In the past ten years Rosie Fanshawe, Gill Barrington, Pippa Woodruff, Jan Rees, Clive Loseby, Ann Farmer, Ema Baillieu, Alan Drew, Martyn Kyte, Colin Robinson and Bill Howatt have retired from the Council. Those joining it have been Roger Tilbury, Rachel Huskisson, Emma Bailieu, Alan Drew, Martyn Kyte, Colin Robinson, Carolyn Cobbold, Sheila Leach, Gordon Churchill, Bill Howatt, Nick Way and Marion Barker. The Council consists of nine members. Those serving more than ten years are Richard Meynell and Angela Parks.

4.            The Clerk to the Council is its “Proper Officer” and responsible for seeing that the Council follows best practice and complies with guidance and legislation. All members have to declare any outside interests (personal and public) which might affect their judgement of matters before the Council. All members sit as politically independent and I know of no occasion in the last ten years when any member has tried to make a party-political statement in the Council even though individual members have stood as party candidates in other elections. It is not clear what change of attitude is being called for.

5.            Birdham Parish Council has debated becoming a Quality Council on several occasions since the legislation was brought in.

The aim of the legislation was largely to raise standards and to bring to heel rogue administrations like Doncaster Borough Council. Birdham invited a District Council Officer to put the case to them. Their conclusion was that there were two main benefits on offer: access to some grant money only available to Quality Councils, and the ability to provide some services to residents which are at present provided by the District Council (for example, rubbish collection). The Council’s conclusion was that a village of 1400 people could not afford to take over services even if it wished to. (There was no guarantee that the money would follow the services from the District Council)The Council decided to position itself to be able to apply for Quality Council status in the future, if that should become desirable, by, for example, having a clerk who held the recognised qualification for clerks. Our previous Clerk, who died a year ago, was close to completing this. It was also interesting that at a meeting of the local Parish Councils – the Peninsula Forum – the scepticism about the relevance of Quality Councils was widespread, especially as the Parishes resented that the criteria for “quality” were handed down from Whitehall rather than being decided by the residents whom the Councils serve.

6.            We already encourage people to take an interest in the Council and always welcome expressions of interest from those wishing to join the Council, as the turnover in 3 (above) illustrates. A balanced Council contains a mixture of experience and newer members, and there is no lack of new ideas. One Councillor who joined the Council earlier this year is already running a working party on how the Council can make better use of its website for the benefit of residents. Whenever there have been major decisions or initiatives in the past ten years the Council has informed itself about the opinion of residents by holding public meetings. Examples would be the refurbishment of the Village Hall (for which a loan of a quarter of a million pounds had to be taken out), the development of Longmeadow (which drew an audience of over a hundred) and the survey on surface water drainage (where fifty-four people attended and twenty-four volunteered to monitor the ditches over last winter).

A member of the public asked if the dates of future meetings could be published in the minutes of meetings. It was agreed this would happen in future.

61-10 Items for inclusion on the Agenda for the next meeting

There being no further business to be dealt with the meeting closed at 9.06 pm

The next meeting of Council will be held on the 18th October at 7pm in the Village Hall.

Signed ___________________________   Dated ____________________