Minutes of an extraordinary MEETING OF LYTCHETT MATRAVERS PARISH COUNCIL
Held on Monday February 27th 2017 at 7:00 in the Methodist Church, Lytchett Matravers.
PRESENT were Cllrs M Colvey, A Bush, R Carswell, A Cottman, J Gracey, A Huggins, K Norris, C Wood, P Webb and Mr T Watton (Parish Clerk).
37 members of the public were also present.
1. REceipt of apologies for absence – Cllrs J Taylor and E Wilson.
2. DECLARATIONS OF PECUNIARY INTEREST; AND CONSIDERATION OF REQUESTS FOR SPECIAL DISPENSATIONS UNDER SECTION 33 OF THE LOCALISM ACT 2011. There were none. However, Cllr Colvey declared his pre-determination of the issue discussed in item 4 below and advised that whilst he would take part in the discussion of it, he would not vote on the matter.
3. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION SESSION (Standing Orders suspended)
The Council Chairman introduced Cllr Wood to the members of the public by explaining that she is Chair of the Parish Council’s Planning Committee and in that role has developed detailed knowledge of Planning matters generally and has also been in contact with the Planning Department at PDC regarding the specific application under consideration at this meeting. He advised those present that she is best placed to respond to detailed and technical questions which the public may wish to ask about the proposal.
Cllr Wood then added a few opening remarks. She advised the public that if they respond to the consultation by forwarding comments to Purbeck District Council they will be invited to speak at the PDC Planning meeting on the 31st May 2017. She advised that it would be advantageous for each member of the public who wishes to speak at that meeting to organise themselves to make maximum use of their 3 minutes of allocated time by liaising together to ensure that they make separate points which will compliment each other to build up an overall argument.
Mr. I Dunlop then opened the proceedings by reading out a prepared statement. For convenience, a copy of this statement is attached to these minutes at appendix one.
Mrs Dunlop added that she had been part of the community group which had worked towards the development of the Lytchett Matravers Neighbourhood Plan (NP). She asked what the current status was of the Neighbourhood Plan and what bearing it might have on Purbeck District Council’s consideration of this application. In response, Cllr Bush explained that the plan had been submitted to PDC Council in December 2015 and after consultation throughout the Purbeck area, had been reviewed by an external examiner. The examiner’s report had recently been accepted by PDC and the date for the required referendum within the parish had been set for May 4th, 2017. He explained that the referendum is the final stage in the plan evolution and is the opportunity for Lytchett Matravers residents to vote on the plan so that it may then be legally adopted by Purbeck District Council. Whilst the approval or not of Rural Exception Sites are beyond the direct influence of Neighbourhood Plans in that they are by definition outside of the settlement boundary, there are benefits flowing from having a formally approved NP – such as having a direct say to ensure that the published design principles for any development are adhered to; and for obtaining the Community Infrastructure Levy contributions from any development. The latter may then be used to be used to help improve and enhance the village for all residents. He therefore stressed the importance of residents voting for the NP in the forthcoming referendum.
Mr P House referred to the wording within the proposal, which uses the term “redevelopment”. Since he believes the land to be virgin greenbelt, he questioned why Purbeck District Council had allowed the term “redevelopment” to be applied to this proposal. Cllr Wood explained that she had taken this very point up with Sylvia Leonard, the Planning Officer handling this application at Purbeck District Council. She explained that the Parish Clerk had initially contacted Purbeck District Council to ask whether this proposal was in fact intended to be a Rural Exception Site at all. PDC had advised that this was so. Cllr Wood’s subsequent correspondence with Sylvia Leonard then asked why PDC had apparently not adhered to their own guidelines for Rural Exception Sites – in particular with regard to the procedures for establishing a need for an RES, and how it should then be progressed to the point of consultation. She also pointed out that this particular proposal does not fit within the Purbeck District Council’s own guidelines with regard to size or suitable location. A response on these points is still awaited from Ms Leonard.
Mr House also expressed concerns about the limited parking allocation per dwelling unit as indicated within the proposal. Given the close proximity to Deans Drove, it seems very likely that on-street parking in this area will increase even further despite it being under severe pressure already – particularly as a result of parking by parents at the beginnings and endings of the primary school day. Given the problems of limited visibility due to seriously overhanging trees, lack of pavements, and absence of verge on parts of Deans Drove, pedestrian and driver safety is likely to be seriously worsened by this development. As an aside, Cllr Colvey requested the help of local residents to identify the owners of the land on which the overhanging trees are located – so that they can be approached to have them attended to. He requested that anyone who has this information should contact the Parish Council with the details.
Mrs K Knudsen expressed concerns about the total number of dwellings included within this proposal, particularly in the light of the fact that the Lytchett Matravers primary school and local health service facilities are already oversubscribed. Cllr Wood acknowledged this point and added that this matter is made even worse in that the dwellings proposed for the Huntick Road site, redevelopment on the Wessex Water reservoir site, on land beside The Chequers public house, and also the several smaller “windfall” developments, already total nearly 100 additional dwellings within the village. This makes the pressure on local infrastructure and facilities even more severe.
Mrs. B Day gave an example of the difficulties she experiences due to existing traffic congestion both within Deans Drove and at its junction with Wareham Road – particularly at the beginnings and endings of the school day. She feared that as a result of this proposed development the safety risks to drivers and pedestrians will be worsened. It was also noted by those present at the meeting that despite the assumptions included in the plan proposal, the congestion at the Deans Drove / Wareham Road junction mean that access and egress to / from the proposed development are certain to use Foxhills Road in an attempt to avoid delays and frustration.
Mr. Hazell expressed concerns about the inability of the existing local drainage and sewerage system to cope – as a result of coverage of land with yet more non-porous surfaces. He pointed out that the current drainage in the area utilises a natural watercourse which already floods from time to time. He also noted that the developers, PDC and Wessex Water are required to plan for drainage capacity to cope with a 1 in 100 year rainfall event. He, Mrs Dunlop and Ms Johnstone were all able to refer to examples of flooding and sewerage system overflows leading to contamination of land. Mrs. Dunlop commented that Wessex Water engineers had actually attended her property on a number of occasions. In addition, Mrs. Dunlop also referred to diesel spillages on the land related to this proposal and wondered what effect this contaminant might also have. Mrs. Dunlop also noted that drainage from the proposal site appears to be routed close to an oak tree which she believes has a TPO on it. She wondered how this drainage routing might be achieved without damage to the tree. With regard to this point, Cllr Colvey encouraged her to check that the tree really is protected by a TPO.
Ms S Brown explained that she and colleagues use Foxhills road with their horses. She added to the points made by Mr Dunlop, Mrs Day and others regarding what they believe to be the inevitable increased use of Foxhills Road by traffic as a result of this development, and the pre-existing traffic congestion at the Wareham Road / Deans Drove junction. She pointed out that this will further increase the safety risk for other users of that road.
Mrs R Mason noted that submissions to the consultation on this proposal are required by Purbeck District Council by the 7th March; however formal consideration of the proposal by PDC will not happen until 31st May 2017. She wondered why there was such a long gap between these two dates. Mr House also added that he had already submitted a consultation response but was worried because it had not yet appeared on PDCs website planning portal. In response to these concerns, District Cllr Peter Webb commented that it does take time for consultation responses to be uploaded to the PDC website. He indicated that he would take up the point with PDC regarding reasoning for the lengthy gap between 7th March and 31st May.
In the meantime, those planning to respond to the consultation exercise were encouraged to make sure they meet the consultation deadline date; and also that those wishing to speak at the meeting on the 31st May should ensure they register their intention to do so with Purbeck District Council in good time. They were also encouraged to liaise amongst themselves to ensure they each maximise the use of their personal 3 minute allocation to provide a coherent and co-ordinated set of points.
4. Consideration of Planning Application 6/2016/0743 Stonewater Housing Association. Land at Deans Drove, Lytchett Matravers, BH16 6EQ. Redevelopment of the site with 19 affordable houses and 4 open market houses with associated access, parking and landscaping.
Reflecting on the points expressed in item three above, together with observations arising from a series of correspondence with PDC and Sylvia Leonard, Planning Officer, Cllr Wood summarised as follows:
It was RESOLVED by 9 votes in favour, none against and one abstention, to record an OBJECTION to this proposal on the following grounds:
1. Purbeck District Council has not ensured that this proposal follows its own current process and guidelines for the progression of a Rural Exception Site. It was pointed out that what should happen, according to PDC’s published process, is that the need for such additional housing should first be established through a “housing needs survey” and then, if such a need is proven and the Parish Council wishes to, it should initiate the process by deciding on any potential sites first and then ask for a checklist to be completed by PDC to ascertain each potential site’s suitability. None of this has happened and neither has there been any relevant contact between the Parish Council and the Housing Association involved with this proposal.
2. The housing needs survey carried out Lytchett Matravers in 2012 demonstrated no requirement for an RES. Local need which does exist is more than accommodated for within the existing agreed development off Huntick Road. Consequently this proposal is not justified by any demonstrable need.
3. Given the facts included in 1 and 2 above, the Parish Council is dismayed that Purbeck District Council has evidently the permitted the progression of this proposal to this stage. Despite the fact that there is no demonstrated housing need to justify such a proposal, the Parish Council notes that if it goes ahead it would be by a considerable margin the largest Rural Exception Site in the entire country.
4. Regarding the matter of site suitability, it was noted that its location is beyond the edge of the settlement boundary, in Green Belt, a long way from the village centre and separated from it by an area of housing which is particularly rural in nature. This site cannot be said to be in any way suitable for such a development as this proposal. If it goes ahead the development will adversely affect the rural nature of this part of the village and this is a designated character, recognised by Purbeck District Council.
5. The unsuitability of this particular site is increased further by three further factors:
(i) No public transport availability The proposal assumes occupiers of the proposed properties will make use of public transport, yet the development location is nowhere near a bus route, and buses serving Lytchett Matravers as a whole are very infrequent and inadequate to rely on to travel to and from work, shopping, hospital appointments, etc. The Parish Council wonders why affordable houses are being proposed in area with no affordable transport links.
(ii) Inadequate Highways infrastructure to support access and egress to such a development The proposal assumes that where its residents do use cars, the access and egress will be via Deans Drove and Wareham Road. This would involve traversing Deans Drove – a narrow back lane with no pavements and poor visibility which is also DCC’s designated “safe route to school”. This will also utilise the junction with Wareham Road, which even further worsen the severe traffic congestion and safety risk at that critical point. This gives rise to two points of objection related to inadequacies of the highways provision for access and egress:
(a) increased safety risk for vehicles and pedestrians on Deans Drove and Wareham Road, and (b) as a consequence of (a) it is inevitable that contrary to the assumption in the development proposal, additional traffic will be forced to use Foxhills Road. This is a rural back lane which is entirely inadequate and unsafe for this purpose.
(iii) Severe worsening of risk of flooding and sewerage overflow / contamination of surrounding properties land and water course. The proposal is on a sloping site which already has an evidence record of flooding and occasional sewerage overflow contamination to surrounding properties. While a pumping station is noted, it’s capacity was unknown and location was not deemed suitable on a sloping site
The Parish Council also wishes to further reinforce the safety aspects of the highways issues involved. It wishes the ensure that the Planning Authority is aware that both Foxhills Road and Deans Drove are DCC-designated routes to school, both for Lytchett Matravers primary school and Lytchett Minster secondary school. Also the footpath to Deans Drove opens into this rural lane which has no pavements or verges available for pedestrians to walk on. The application notes that traffic will not use Foxhills Road – but this is currently a ‘rat run’ for lorries and other vehicles using sat navs and given the known traffic issues at school times at the Wareham Road end of Deans Drove, it is inconceivable that it will not be the preferred option to get out of the area.
There being no other business, the meeting closed at 8:00
Annotated by/on …………………………….. Signed by……………………