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Last updated: Thu 20 Jun 2013

Gloria Cawood June report

Councillor Gloria Cawood, who represents Cranmore, Doulting and Nunney on Mendip District Council, has written a report on her activities.

Cllr Gloria CawoodNew email address
Please note that my new contact Council e-mail address is Cllr.Cawood@mendip.gov.uk.

New single telephone number for Mendip
For Council Tax, Benefit, Housing, Recycling, Planning, Environmental and all other services and inquiries people can now ring one number – 0300 303 8588.

The previous 0845 premium rate, 01749 and 01823 numbers have now been stopped.

Feedback wanted
I want to know your experience of contacting Mendip on issues – good as well as bad. Do let me know what you think.

Doulting Solar Panel up-date
I met residents from Bodden at the end of May and went to view the site. Following the visit, I wrote to the Planning Inspectorate making a number of new points, including:

  • Given the level of controversy, could it not be considered in public rather than through written representation, with local people being given a chance to have their say directly to the Inspector?
  • Most local people say they are in favour of alternative energy and proposals have until recently proposals have had majority support. The visual impact of this proposal over a wide area of Mendip is the major issue here. The Inspector will see this on the site visit.
  • Screening is unlikely to mitigate the impact.
  • Valuable farmland will be lost.
  • The application turned down by Mendip was for 22,000 panels. Why is the appeal against a development of 27,000 on this site? (It has now been confirmed that it is 22,000.)

The Appeal by aee is likely to be held in mid-July. I am told that I may attend the site meeting, but that I will not be able to make a verbal representation as your District Councillor or make further comments on your behalf.

Nunney Solar Farm up-date
Aee gave a presentation at Nunney Parish Council Meeting on 1 June. Residents from Trudoxhill and Marston Bigot also attended. The plans have been submitted to Mendip. I think it is fair to say that the public in attendance were against the proposal for Little Sharpshaw Farm for much the same reasons as given for Doulting.

One interesting new fact emerged. Some of you may know that Little Sharpshaw Farm was advertised in Farmers’ Weekly for something in excess of £2m. The advert referred to the impending application for the solar farm. It appears that there is a legal condition binding any future owner to proceeding with the development to protect aee’s interest and financial investment in the proposal, which to date has been substantial. The farm is currently under the ownership of Foster-Yeoman Farms Ltd.

Aggregate Industries Wind Farm up-date
Concerns about this development were raised at Whatley/Chantry Parish Council Annual Parish Meeting. The application has not yet been received by the Parish and so comments were noted at this stage.

One big issue I am pursuing now is around the very recent proclamation from Government suggesting that local people’s views will be given greater weight under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Given that Mendip does not appear to have a Local Plan, the NPPF is of great relevance to us. The question is whether the new Guidance will come into effect prior to consideration of the Torr Works application.

Another big question being asked by the public is why people fighting Wind Farms will have greater say than those objecting to large scale Solar Farms.

Bath and West Meeting
The Chief Executive, Cabinet Members and local District Councillors met with the Bath and West to discuss their future plans. It was made very clear to B&W that the existing Development Framework did not support applications for either a palliative care home or a Free School.

We were informed by Mr Froggatt for B&W that Mendip Free School had been turned down for Government funding and there was therefore no prospect of it going forward this year. We were told that it had not been supported by County. The palliative care home is still in the frame, but the pyrolosis/anaerobic digester was dead in hte water. The photovoltaic proposal was on hold. Other proposals for the site were discussed.

It was agreed that B&W would revisit its master plan and return with proposals which would need to be sympathetic to the area, have low impact, be protective of local people and secure a future for the Bath and West Showground. These would need to be fully consulted on with local people. There was no intention at this stage to even consider a Local Development Order, which would in any case have to go through public scrutiny.

Thanks to the Parish Chairman, Paula Fidge for ensuring I was well-briefed on the views of local people, especially those of Prestleigh. I think everyone is aware of our concerns and our wish to work with the Bath and West on appropriate development for the site.

Planning Applications and the New Permitted Developments
Alternative energy proposals continue to dominate. Torr Wind Farm application is now in. No household applications have been referred to me for some months now, reflecting the low number of registrations for my Ward in recent times – perhaps..

A number of new regulations have been imposed on Local Authorities by Central Government in an effort to improve the economy by making planning permission easier for some classes. I have been told that Parish Councils will be consulted. There was an amendment to the initial Government proposals and neighbours must be consulted. I asked the Planning Board where the District Councillor came in on this and await a response, but it does not seem there is a role for the District Councillor in this. Just for tasters, here an example of what the relaxation might mean for extensions. Even one storey extensions can be controversial, so I will be watching the impact of this in my Ward!

Part 1 (Householder, Class A, Rear Extensions)
2.1 Until 30th May 2016, for a dwellinghouse not in a CA, AONB or SSSI, single storey rear extensions which do not exceed 4 metres in height can extend beyond the original rear wall of a detached dwelling by up to 8 metres, or 6 metres for non-detached dwellings. This is subject to a 6-week prior approval process to assess the impact upon amenities of any neighbouring properties if objection/s are received.

More information is available on other classes on the Mendip website. See June Planning Board, Item 6 for more details.

Contact information
Councillor Gloria Cawood
The Gardener’s Cottage, East Cranmore BA4 4SG
Telephone 01749-880404
Mobile 07815 181 393
Fax 01749880623
Email Cllr.Cawood@mendip.gov.uk
Web www.gloricawood.mycouncillor.org.uk

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