Last updated: Mon 10 Mar 2014

Gloria Cawood March report

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

Cllr Gloria Cawood

Cllr Gloria Cawood (photo: Garfield Kennedy)

National Planning Policy Framework – New guidance on the NPPF is now available online at http://planningguidance.planningportal.gov.uk. We had been promised that the NPPF would be the slimmest ever! But as I warned some time ago, this was bound to be extended sooner or later. It seems it was need sooner.

This is particularly important for Mendip, where there is no adopted Local Plan yet, putting reliance on the NPPF which has been described by some as a developer’s charter, allowing more development on Greenfield sites. This has only just come out, so I haven’t yet been able to read it all, but it will be relevant in relation to applications currently being considered.

Proposal for 100 new houses south of Glebelands, Nunney At its meeting at the beginning of March, Nunney Parish Council agreed to hold an extraordinary meeting on 10 March at 7pm to formally discuss the Outline Plan, which came as quite a tome. There was a good turn-out of concerned parishioners at the ordinary meeting I attended on 3 March, but it was clear that an application of this size could not be done justice alongside other business. Nunney Parish Council’s extraordinary meeting on 10 March unanimously rejected the application, with traffic, flooding, impact of such a large development on the village being among the reasons.

Proposal for 48 new houses on land west of Doulting Quarry I went to the exhibition at St Aldhelm’s Church, where once concern was expressed regarding the large number of houses to be built. There was particular concern about the three exit roads from the estate and the increased pressure such a large number of new houses would have on the junction with the A361, which is already a problem, particularly at school time.

Proposal for a Local Development Order on 25 acres of land at the Bath and West Showground for B1, B2 and B8 uses I attended a Doulting PC Extraordinary Meeting where Mendip outlined the LDO proposals. There was concern about the potential loss of the Purple Car Park, increased traffic on the A361, proximity to housing.

Worries about the LDO resulting in a free for all for all sorts of industrial development emphasised the need to have very tight planning rules for the site. A planning permission, for which Mendip DC will be the applicant, is likely to come before the Planning Board – probably in July.

The application will be approved for consultation by Mendip’s Cabinet, but the decision made by the Planning Board. There was a feeling in the room that it looked like a fait accompli when the same body was considering its own application!

NEW PLANNING CONSULTATION RULES FOR MENDIP? – Mendip Scrutiny considered proposals to speed up the planning process for applicants. We were told that the reason why applicants had to wait so long was that the Government no longer set targets. The emphasis had become quality rather than speed.

Mendip was now in danger of going into administration for planning since they were among the slowest in the country. The Planning Board were now going against Officer Recommendations, with resultant expensive Appeals from developers. In the last year only 2 such Appeals against Board Refusals were upheld by the Inspector (one of which must have been Hurlingpot Solar Farm, Doulting.)

It seemed to me that the rise in the number of applications and the reduction in Planning Officers, putting pressure on existing staff, were not seen as contributing to the problem! Furthermore, it seems that Local Councillors are to blame for holding up applications! [I wish!]

It looks like Mendip will no longer give parishes and other consultees more than the minimum 21 days for what they call ‘minor’ applications. If they don’t respond (presumably including Highways, Environment Agency etc.) then their views will be disregarded.

Local Ward Councillors will have a further 7 days to consider the application and must contact the Officer with material reasons why the matter should go for or against the application. Where the officer disagrees, the matter will go to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman to decide at weekly meetings (presumably behind closed doors).

The important thing is that I need to know as early as possible whether an application is likely to be controversial. Hopefully we will be given some guidance on what counts as a ‘minor’ application.

I don’t yet know what the Cabinet decided, but it is worrying that the views of local people could carry so little weight.

Coleford Recycling Centre to Close – From the moment the County Council decided to charge for entry to Coleford Recycling Centre, it was inevitable that it would close. Cutting the opening times at all Recycling Centres by 2.5 days a week was bound to lead to more fly-tipping too. From 1 April, Coleford Tip will close.

Frome Tip will be open every day from April from 8am to 4pm and 8am to 1pm on Sundays. Dulcote will close 2 days a week as before, but open from 8am to 1pm on Sundays.

Somerset Minerals Plan out for consultation – There are to be drop in sessions on 20th. March at the Peter Street Rooms in Shepton and on March 21st. at Leigh on Mendip Village Hall, both from 12noon – 7pm. Paper copies of the plan are available at the District Council offices, libraries or online at www.somerset.gov.uk/mineralsandwaste.

Grants
Parks for People – Heritage Lottery Fund. £100,000 to £5m grants are available.
Leche Trust – Grants for up to £5K for projects that help preserve the countryside, towns and villages – includes countryside, villages, music, dance, drama, the arts, repair and conservation of buildings and church furniture. Applications for the next round should be in by 20 April 2014, then 20 August and 20 December. Links for both can be found in the March Parish Bulletin or contact sally.gubb@mendip.gov.uk.

Rural Forums do not to seem very well attended and a similar comment was made regarding the planning training events, though numbers appear to be higher for the latter. Any suggestions on why this is and how attendance can be improved? Day time rather than evening meetings have been suggested.

Superfast Broadband – We keep being told that it will be extended to rural areas, but it doesn’t look like its coming to Mendip very soon!

REMINDER: Torr Works Wind farm to go to the Planning Board on 26 March. Meeting starts at 6pm at Jardine Rooms, Kilver Court, Shepton Mallet. Nunney and Whatley Parish Councils have already registered to speak against. Papers should be available on the Mendip web site from 17 March.

Contact information
Councillor Gloria Cawood
The Gardener’s Cottage
East Cranmore BA4 4SG
Telephone 01749 880 404
Mobile 07815 181 393
Fax 01749 880 623
Email cllr.gloriacawood@gmail.com or Cllr.Cawood@mendip.gov.uk
Web www.gloricawood.mycouncillor.org.uk
Twitter @gloriacllr

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