Councillor Gloria Cawood, who represents Cranmore, Doulting and Nunney on Mendip District Council, has written a report on her activities.
Cllr Cawood published her report in two parts, a report for August plus an update for September, due to technical problems.
Community Environment Grants
I now have 6 grants in the pipeline that I know of, with Nunney PSA grant for Muddy Puddles [Mucky Pups, ed.] gardening activities agreed.
Solar and Wind Farms
Thank-you to all those who have copied me in to their comments and especially to the Parish Councils who have some difficult decisions to make and have had to arrange extra meetings.There is very little new to report on this since last month.
We had expected a date for the Hurlingpot Solar Farm appeal, but as of this week no date has been given. It has been confirmed that this will be decided on written evidence.
Although it is outside my Ward, you will recall that I went to Trudoxhill Parish Council’s Special Meeting on the Monksham Farm application. It was attended by about 100 people, largely strongly against and the Parish Council recommended Refusal. This proposal is to be considered by Mendip Planning Committee on 7 August, and the officer recommendation is for Approval. It might be worth you looking this agenda item up on Mendip’s website where you can find the dates of meeting and agenda papers. There are similarities in the objections, though the sites are very different.
It really is time Mendip’s Local Plan seriously considered guidance on alternative energy since the Planning Inspectorate has little option but to turn to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which favours sustainable alternative energy. Somerset’s failure to meet its targets is also proving an issue.
Progress Report – Highway Minor Works Programme
A361 Doulting/Cranmore Road Safety Measures according to the latest report are scheduled for completion between July 13th.and August 13th. We are told that the works task order has been issued and that the contractor is going through the drawings with the designer in anticipation of programming. Consultation has ended and they are now into the construction phase. I have no idea whether the design has altered since I stood down as County Councillor.
You will recall that following a number of objections to the Abbey Barn ‘hump’, I agreed that this should be referred to the new County Councillor after the election. I have heard nothing from County Councillor Ham and no response from e-mails I have copied him into or sent, but the Parishes and individuals may have some feed-back from him on this? Do let me know.
Traffic Calming at Stoke St Michael – The Parish Council has worked really hard to bring about improvements based on massive consultation over 7 years embedded in their Village Plan. They have had to make some really tough decisions, especially on the roundabout and I admire members for sticking to their guns. Almost predictably, there have been complaints from some residents as the work has started. The work has gone ahead to plan, with ‘gateways’ being phased so that the village has not been completely cut off at any point.
Speed Reduction on the A359 Wanstrow (including SID) – The anticipated date for completion is October –November 2013. Currently this is at design and consultation phase. Before I stood down I asked that new information from the community was considered and that there would be an on-going dialogue before the final plans were drawn up. Thankfully, the officers have honoured this request. The initial feasibility study was completed and the final design is being reassessed in the light of further community requests.
I attended a Seminar on Rural Planning at Shrewsbury Council on 16 July. In Shropshire there has been a big push to find local solutions for local places. There are local joint committees and the Parish Plans/Neighbourhood Plans are a big influence on the Local Development Plan. Here’s a couple of things you might find interesting.
A fair deal was needed for rural areas, which recognised the special problems to be faced. Like Wiltshire, Devon, and Cornwall, there were Local Joint Committees building links with the police; transport, health and other authorities. Shropshire has 28 such committees. (Remember when we had Area Committees in Mendip?)
A Community Infrastructure Levy is being introduced in Shropshire (an option for Councils under the Localism Act, which Mendip has not taken up.) This works by the Council imposing a levy on new builds, including extensions. 90% of this is paid directly to the Parish, with 10% being kept back for infrastructure. Parish Councils would get £3,000 per new house, while £13,000 would be allocated per ‘affordable’ home with £3,000 going to the Parish and £10,000 to the Housing Association. The idea is to make funding available to the Parish Council to give it a bigger say in development and help to ensure the facilities are available to cope with a growing population as a result of it. My understanding is that this is in the early stages and already review is underway as there have been negative reactions from applicants and developers! The notice of the charge comes with the planning permission. Interesting? What do you think of this? Keep the ideas rolling in.
Mendip Community Environment Grants
There is only £2,000 over 2 years available from this Mendip pot and now over 6 expressions of interest. The minimum grant available is £200, so to be fair to all my Parishes I have been looking to a maximum of £500 per Parish. Unfortunately, there is not enough money in the pot to cover this. The maximum that can go to any project now (and all so far are worthy) is £350, but even that relies on some bids coming in nearer the £200. Indicating that you are able to go ahead with the project if you get a grant between £200 and £300 and letting me manage the amount would be helpful and speed up one of the most cumbersome processes for small grants I have ever had to deal with.
Solar and Wind Farms
There is still very little new to report on this since last month. There is no date for the Hurlingpot Solar Farm appeal. As previously reported, this will be decided on written evidence, but I am told that it is not unknown for the Inspector to visit the site without informing the Council!
Trudoxhill’s Monksham Farm application was turned down by the Planning Committee on 7 August and has gone to appeal. The Officer recommendation was to approve.
Bath and West Turbine: This has been held up as a result of a further noise report ebing commissioned following concerns being raised by Somerset Community Trust which is concerned about the effects on them and their volunteers as tenants of the B&W.
Bath and West Housing : Officers tell me that that there have been no planning changes which would allow the building of 90 houses on the Bath and West Showground.
Manor Farm, Prestleigh Turbine: The application has been declared invalid as the applicant has not supplied by the necessary information. If this is received by the Council it will validate and register the information and consult the relevant parties.
Little Sharpshaw Solar Farm: Officers tell me they are still awaiting some additional information. If this is received in time this month it will go to the October.
Torr Works Wind Farm: Officers asked for further information, particularly on ecology and heritage issues. It may be necessary to undertake further consultation on that submission. Currently this is expected to go to the Planning Board in November.
Councillor Gloria Cawood
The Gardener’s Cottage
East Cranmore BA4 4SG
Mobile 07815 181 393
Email [email protected]