Minutes of the online
virtual meeting of Litton Cheney Parish Council
held on Tuesday 14 July 2020
Present: Bill Orchard (Chairman); Kathryn Brooks, John Firrell; Andy King; Andrew Price; Bella Spurrier, Maggie Walsh (Clerk). Also in attendance: Cllr Mark Roberts; Mr Will Wallis (Planning agent); applicant’s representative and 2 others
3. Democratic time – a request was made that the PC resume posting details of planning applications on village notice boards. The PC undertook to display notices at as many locations as possible. The PC no longer received copies of plans but any villager unable to view plans online could approach the PC for alternative arrangements to be made.
4. Planning application WD/D/20/001114 Siting of a mobile home for seasonal occupation; construction of hardcore access track for caravans and parking. Construction of small fish “stocking lake” – fishing lake at Charity Farm, Litton Lane
The Planning Agent, Mr Wallis presented the application – there had been camping at the lake from time to time for 13 years and this application was to regularise the situation.
Planning Policy supported diversification of farms: this application would do that; it was sustainable, supported tourism, would provide local employment, bring income to the local economy and support local businesses such as the local Public House.
In response to PC questions and comments, Mr Wallis provided the following clarification.
· Question with regard to the intensity of use of the site. Response: The applicant had indicated there had been a maximum of 20 caravans using the site at any one time. With up to 100 scout tents at the annual camp. It was envisaged the level of use would continue at current levels. If the PC wished to limit the number of caravans this would be considered.
· Question with regard to the agent’s perceived status of the mobile home. Response: a hut was permitted in 2006 but never erected, as the remainder of the application had been implemented, this permission remained extant. A mobile home had since been placed on the site in a different location to the proposed location of the permitted hut. The current mobile home did not have planning permission.
· Question about conflicting statements in the supporting information for the application. The mobile home was described as “for seasonal occupation”, whereas the supporting statement stated that “hardcore access track for caravans” “will allow the business to operate throughout the year”. Response: the level of seasonal use was undefined but the mobile home would not be occupied all year. Some aspects of maintenance such as bookings and site maintenance would continue all year round.
· Question as to why the description of the application was for construction of the hardcore access track, but did not appear to address the primary breach of planning regulations i.e. the change of use of land from agricultural to use for camping and parking. Response: the agent had discussed and agreed the wording with the Enforcement and Planning Officers. If the PC felt it was incorrect, they should raise it with the LPA.
· Question as to why the application referred to the new access track as the main road to the fishing lake when there was already an existing fishing access track. Response: either track could be used for the fishing lake. If the PC was unhappy with this part of the application, they should raise it with the LPA.
· The scout camp was not indicative of level of camping activity as it was an annual event and took place in a different field. Response: it was still part of the same business.
Parish Councillors felt the application was poorly prepared and contained conflicting and insufficient information. Their primary concern was that the application failed to adequately deal with the change of use of land from agricultural to use for camping and caravanning: a new/additional business use on a different piece of land adjacent to the established fishing lake. The PC needed to understand exactly what they were being asked to agree.
In response to the validation letter, the agent stated that a transport assessment was not required as the development had already taken place and had not given rise to a significant increase in the number of visitors. However, the suggestion that up to 20 touring caravans had been using the site was contested by the PC, as was there being 100 tents for the annual scout camp. Parish Councillors had noted a maximum of 6 caravans on the site which were mostly stored there as opposed to touring.
Parish Councillors agreed that the site looked attractive and that, at its current level of use, was reasonably well concealed. The PC understood the need for diversification and that the applicant wished to make a financial return on his investment in the site but questioned what impact the site might make on local employment.
However, the PC felt that the application was inadequate in its current form, with the primary concern being the potential increase in the number of vehicles and towed caravans passing through the village. The application was for retrospective permission, but no information was provided about the maximum numbers of pitches for camping and caravanning. The site could accommodate significantly more than the previous maximum of 20 caravans as stated by the agent but disputed by the PC.
Without information on the location, size and number of pitches, length of season, and any ancillary facilities required such as disposal of waste, it was not possible to reach a considered view.
It was Proposed by Cllr Orchard, seconded by Cllr Brooks and carried unanimously that the PC OBJECT to the proposal on the grounds that the application contained insufficient information to enable the PC to reach a considered view with regard to impact on traffic through the village, and visual impact on the AONB. The PC wished to be reconsulted and were prepared to reconsider its representation should additional information become available. Precise wording to be approved via email. MW
5. Approval of minutes of the Virtual Parish Council meeting held on 12 May. It was proposed by Cllr Orchard, seconded by Cllr Firrell and carried unanimously that these be approved.
6. Matters arising since previous meeting not part of this agenda Cllr King reported that bell ringing would recommence on Sunday mornings.
7. Dorset Council overview – Cllr Mark Roberts reported that the two significant issues during COVID-19 continued to be Adult and Children’s services. DC had distributed £100m government grants to local businesses and £6.4m in discretionary grants for organisations/businesses not covered by other grants. B&Bs had each received £2.2k. DC was convening more virtual meetings but these required additional staff. The situation had been manageable since businesses began reopening. He would obtain an update on the Planning Peer Review and on planning application validation arrangements. MR
8. Finance report and invoices for approval (Clerk and RFO) At the time of publishing the agenda, Parish funds stood at £18,019.43 Expenditure was on track against budget. Spend since the previous meeting was £1,552.01 comprising £1,161.44 employee costs; £345.20 Public Liability; £20 DAPTC training; £14.39 Zoom Licence; £10.98 for padlock and chain for playground. Income since last meeting was £303 comprising £302.79 VAT refund for previous year and 21p interest.
The following invoices were for approval
Annual DAPTC subscription
Reimburse Clerk for Zoom licence
It was proposed by Cllr Firrell seconded by Cllr King and carried unanimously that these be approved.
It was proposed by Cllr Firrell seconded by Cllr King and carried unanimously that the PC again make annual donations of £75 to each of the Bridport CAB, D&S Air Ambulance and the BVN. MW
Marie Curie had written to Parish Councils requesting donations. The Clerk reminded the PC that the donations budget had been increased by a small amount. Parish Councillors felt there were likely to be a number of worthy causes during the pandemic and agreed to review the situation nearer to the end of the financial year.
9. Councillors’ portfolios:
Footpaths/Rights of Way/Risk Assessment/Transparency Code/Annual Report (Bill Orchard, Chairman) – One stile had been repaired. Repairs to a further two were outstanding: the footpaths officer reported a backlog. He was also looking at a few damaged gates. He had taken on the vacant Risk Assessment/Transparency Code/Annual Report portfolio and was liaising with the Clerk.
Highways/Transport (Andrew Price): he had revisited Hines Mead Lane with Blair Turner, who had now returned to cover West Dorset. The subbase appeared to be deteriorating in places and required more than just pothole repairs. BT had asked Building Control to pursue the issue of the crumbling wall with the owner. BT had identified a number of locations on Whiteway were minor improvements were required to reduce/prevent debris washing down Whiteway with rain water run off. They also planned to revisit Main Street, where the carriageway needed attention in several places and the bollards had been damaged opposite Charity Farm. The PC had written to the owner of Charity Farm about the damage. Cllr King asked if DC could be asked to review line markings at the junction of Whiteway and Redway as he had witnessed near misses and believed that simple changes to line markings would reduce risk. AP
Playground/Playing Field/Allotments (Andy King): The allotments were full and looked great. The basketball net had been replaced. Cllr King had undertaken a visual risk assessment of the Playground. Repairs to the climbing wall were outstanding but, in his opinion, it was not unsafe and removing it or taping around it would create a bigger hazard. Parents were supportive and would help to keep the equipment clean. Sanitiser would be donated. Cllr King proposed that the Parish Council pay for the printing of a sign and reopen the playground on Saturday 18 July. This was seconded by Cllr Firrell and carried unanimously. AK
DC did an excellent job mowing the grass and it was good to see the playing field being used: although it was a shame some users left litter behind.
Village Fabric/Maintenance/BLAP/DAPTC (John Firrell) The turnstiles were being constructed and he hoped would be installed within the next few weeks. He had attended a virtual BLAP meeting. Arrangements were in hand to participate in the Great British Litter Clean which had been rearranged for September.
Agricultural Liaison (Bella Spurrier) there had been some issues with dogs off leads. A local farmer had removed a tennis ball from a prize cow’s mouth – this would have killed the cow had it swallowed the ball. Dog owners are asked not to throw balls, to keep dogs on leads on farm land and to dispose of dog poo either in the litter bin or preferably take it home with them.
Planning/Climate Emergency (Kathryn Brooks) Cllr Brooks understood there had been problems with validation and processing of applications and that an external agency was being used to help reduce the backlog.
Cllr Roberts reported that Anna Lee lead Planning for the Western Area (Service Manager for Development Management and Enforcement) and that Darren Rogers managed the Enforcement Team and any issues should be raised with them.
There had been one new application and one notification since the last meeting (items 4 and 10 of the minutes).
The following planning matter was outstanding
BEECH HOUSE, HINES MEAD LANE - Internal alterations to include changing layout of shower room, form partitions to create two cupboards, remove electric boiler and replace with oil fired boiler and extend wet heating system to add radiators and installation of flue (WD/D/20/000562) - The Conservation Officer had requested that the flue for the boiler be a balanced flue rather than
vertical pipe and revised plans had been submitted. The case officer had advised that, due to the current backlog of applications, it would not be determined for at least six weeks.
Cllr Brooks would circulate the draft PC Climate Action Plan for comment: there were various things the PC might do. Cllr Roberts reported the PC would shortly receive a consultation about DC’s position on climate change, which the PC might find helpful.
10. New planning applications for consideration at the meeting
Since publishing the agenda, one notification had been received: VARIOUS SITES IN WEST DORSET – notification of intention to remove 23 public payphones (including Litton Cheney) (WD/D/20/001582). - No calls had been made from the payphone in the past year. The PC had previously acknowledged there was no justification for objecting to the removal of the payphone and had agreed to adopt the kiosk. Cllr Firrell proposed that the PC object to the proposal, on the grounds it did not object to removal of the payphone, but intended to apply to adopt the kiosk. Use of the kiosk to be agreed following discussion at the Annual Village Assembly. Meanwhile, the PC would complete the adoption process. This was seconded by Cllr King and carried unanimously. MW
11. Discussion of use by Parish Council of social media as a means of communication. Parish Councillors had no objection to the Chairman, Bill Orchard, using the local Observer Facebook group to highlight forthcoming Parish Council meetings. However, whilst the benefits of using social media were well documented, should the PC wish to set up a dedicated social media account, this would require an understanding of the pros and cons and formulation of a policy.
12. Correspondence not dealt with as part of the agenda - none
13. Date of next meeting Tuesday 8 September. The PC looked forward to resuming meetings at Litton and Thorners’ Community Hall as soon as central government guidance made this possible. Apologies in advance from Cllr Firrell.