Councillor Gloria Cawood, who represents Cranmore, Doulting and Nunney on Mendip District Council, has written a report on her activities.
Some of you will know that I have had to spend quite a bit of time away as my mum, who lives in Derbyshire, has needed more support recently. She has been in hospital for the past couple of weeks following a series of falls, but is now in physio or ‘re-hab’ as they call it to get her moving again so she can return home again with confidence.
I’ve tried to keep in touch and attended many meetings. It took until nearly the end of January to sort out Mendip and even longer with BT, resulting in some e-mails not having been received or sent. The telephone line seems to go in and out – so apologies if you have e-mailed or rung to find the line continually off the hook.
Planning has taken a good deal of my time. Here are some highlights:
Bath and West Turbine Application, Doulting: Turned down AGAIN by the Planning Board on 11 December, against the officer recommendation. Thanks to all who turned out on a rather dismal Wednesday; it really always helps your District Councillor put your case. Since the new application was so similar to the last, Mendip’s Planning Board would have looked foolish in changing its mind in so few weeks, so well done them!
Little Sharpshaw Solar Farm, Nunney: Turned down by Planning Board at Wells Town Hall on 20 November. Officer Recommendation was to Refuse. I sent a written representation supporting Nunney and the Officer.
Hurlingpot Farm Solar Farm Appeal (Doulting): Dismissed by the Inspector. This decision has been a long time coming since it was September when the appeal was heard.
Torr Works Wind Farm: was anticipated to go to Planning Board in January 2014, but Laura Mackay now tells me it should go to the Board Meeting on 26 March. Due to the scale and high level of interest it is a definite as an item for the Board. The Environmental Statement was concluded towards the end of February.
Bath and West Local Development Order (LDO): As I reported in November, Mendip has identified the Bath and West site as their first Enterprise Zone, hoping to draw down funding from National Government to allow rate relief for businesses developing on the site.
A Local Development Order (LDO) allows decisions to be made without going through the planning process, but the order still needs to be considered in public.
I have attended two further meetings on this. Once again I had to push for Doulting PC Chairman to be invited on to the Working Group and for a presentation to be made to the Council as soon as possible. At last a letter has been sent to Doulting Clerk asking for a representative and will no doubt be discussed at the February PC meeting. Prestleigh residents are understandably anxious about this. The programme has already slipped and it looks like the matter will now go to a June meeting of Full Council for adoption. Just to remind everyone, once agreed LDO status provides a big enough site for a variety of businesses and avoids a 6-9 month delay on planning applications.
100 New Houses for Nunney? For well over over a year now, I have been working with Nunney Parish Council to achieve more affordable housing for the village, which would help to ensure the school, shop, café and pub can survive.
Early discussions with the Diocese indicated that a development of around 55 houses could be built between Glebelands and the Transport Cafe, but Barratts – who won the contract – revealed plans to the Parish Council and at an exhibition in the Church to build up to 100 houses of which about a third would be affordable (social) housing. This could increase the population of Nunney by between 20-30%. As can be imagined views are mixed and considerable concerns are being raised, with developers hoping to start building as soon as possible.
2 Mells Lane, Chantry: This was supported by the Parish Council/neighbours, but the officer recommendation was to Refuse on the grounds that this was an unsustainable location. I visited the site again and contacted the one objector and neighbours. The Chair and Vice Chair agreed to my request that this was a balanced case, the Officer having shown that there were pros and cons. It went to Board last week with a written representation from me for Approval. The application won majority support at Board.
2 Detached Houses at Martin’s Paddock, West Cranmore: Appeal Dismissed. This was opposed by the Parish Council and other objectors on several grounds, including that it was outside the village envelope, highways and in an unsustainable location. Mendip’s Planning Officer was opposed to this and substantially agreed with the Parish Council. The applicant had gone directly to the Inspector on the grounds of non-determination, so Officers had to decide how they would determine it had the decision been theirs.
General Comment on Planning: Since the Evercreech Appeal there has been much pressure to modify Mendip’s Draft Local Plan it to make it sound and legally compliant. The latest Plan was submitted in December 2013 to the Inspector, who has determined that some of these modifications are to be regarded as ‘Main’ rather than ‘Minor’. The hearing on the plan will be considered in the fortnight starting 31 March.
Meantime, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and its interpretation by officers continue to carry considerable weight. The draft local plan identifies communities like Cranmore, Whatley/Chantry and Downhead as unsustainable, while Doulting and Nunney villages which both have a school, pub etc are considered more suitable for residential development. Put simply, the difference between the Cranmore and Chantry applications was that the Cranmore one was building in open countryside, while the other was in a garden.
Councillor Gloria Cawood
The Gardener’s Cottage
East Cranmore BA4 4SG
Telephone 01749 880 404
Mobile 07815 181 393
Fax 01749 880 623
Email [email protected] or [email protected]