MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF BALCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL HELD ON MONDAY 5th MARCH 2012 AT 8.00 PM IN THE W I ROOM, BALCOMBE VICTORY HALL.
Present: Messrs. Robin Williamson (part of meeting only), Robin Lindsay Stewart, Rodney Saunders, Peter Huxley, Mike Talman, Alan Dearden, Simon Greenwood. Mesdames Alison Stevenson, Catherine Dennison & Carol Jarvest.
In attendance: Richard Greig – Clerk to the Council.
2870. Public Participation
5 members of the public attended. The Chairman welcomed Cllr. Gary Marsh, our MSDC District Councillor.
Nicky Evans who played an active role in organisation of the Royal Wedding celebrations mentioned that there had been little response to recent appeals for assistance, without which she would be unable to proceed with organisation of a similar Jubilee programme. Both the Chairman & Cllr. Jarvest said that possibly the school could promote through the PTA & that they would help with contacts. Nicky was thanked by Members for her offer of help in organising.
Cllr. Marsh spoke. MSDC was not providing any funding for Jubilee events. He drew attention to recently released information from Gareth Giles providing an Informal Guide to Section 106 Contributions and how this funding source can be accessed to help deliver infrastructure projects in our areas. The Guide provides a brief overview of the process and a step-by-step guide on how to request funding and who to speak to at the District Council. Categories receiving assistance could include Formal Sport Play Spaces / Parks, Public Art, Local Community Infrastructure, Community Buildings, Recycling TAD (Sustainable Transport), Affordable Housing
The emphasis would be on assisting projects benefiting the community. It was recommended that we should collate a list of suitable projects & pass details to Cllr. Gary in the first instance. Almost certainly improvements to the pavilion would be considered.
2871. Declaration of personal or prejudicial interest
Cllr. Greenwood declared prejudicial interests in respect of
(BA)/12/00415/FUL & 00416/LBC – Pilstye Farm & Fracking matters under 2879.
Cllr. Huxley declared a personal interest in respect of (BA)/12/00351/FUL & 00352/CON – Bretts.
2872 Apologies for Absence
Cllr. Linda Short (in Australia).
2873. To approve Minutes of the Meeting held on 16th January 2012
The minutes, having been circulated to all Members, were approved & signed by the Chairman as a true record after one minor correction.
2874. Matters Arising
2858 – Bagpiths Cottage (BA)/11/04052/FUL & 04053/LBC - the Clerk mentioned that he had now received MSDC confirmation that the application had been withdrawn.
Switchover Meeting - AirS had made a good impression & the event had been well attended by residents seeking information.
Jubilee Celebrations - Refer comments under Public Participation above.
Finger Posts – Cllr. Jarvest, our newly nominated point of contact, would be making contact with Marcus Slegg following the last meeting’s findings.
2868 – W3. Cllr. Jarvest updated Members on school places & mentioned work on the long term plans in progress. Also school improvements that were planned.
Other 7 – Home Buy. As agreed details of the forthcoming event had appeared in the Parish Magazine.
2875. Urgent Matters – items not on the agenda that the Chairman of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.
No additions required.
a). Cash Book Receipts & Payments for February 2012 – noted as presented.
b). To finalise the 2012/13 Budget. Cllr. Williamson, current RFO, advised Members of the current situation. Noted that
- Routine payments likely to remain at 2011/12 levels
- Victory Hall grant remains @ £4.5k
- Youth Club grant to be reduced at their request to £3k
- Snow Plan contingency agreed @ £1.5k net of WSCC contribution
- Provision of £20k for a Neighbourhood Plan
- £800 allowed for Traffic Calming Expenses
This would end the year 2012/13 with a likely reserve of £10k. Proposed by Cllr. Huxley & seconded by Cllr. Saunders all Members were in favour of the budget being accepted.
c). To note RBS Year End Close Down on 23rd April. Noted. The RFO would assist beforehand & liaise with the Clerk after completion of the reconciliation relating to the last financial year.
2877. Working Groups & reports from Group Leaders on
a). Housing & Environment - refer comments on Neighbourhood Plan.
b). Safety & Security – Cllr. Dearden reported that he would be holding a meeting with the Wynstay taxi owner shortly. The Clerk mentioned that use of the garage facility on the site was not available to him.
There had been recent vehicle thefts reported to the police. He would report on whether co-operation from a resident would be possible with a view to minimising vehicle obstruction within the village centre at the next meeting. A question was raised as to whether BT would be likely to consider a commercial request for use of land at the Tower House exchange site for parking to ease Stockcroft Road congestion.
c). Young People
Allocation of £9k S106 money available. Proposals for using this
- 2 concrete table tennis tables around the toddler marking area
- a tree house with slide, in the centre of the obstacle course in the playground
- some trees around the new siting of the circular tables currently being made by Wood & Wisdom
- As MSDC unwilling to allocate any bike/pump track process they agreed that if we wanted to buy the quarter pipe that has been allocated by the YOF, we could and they would maintain it.
- This can be sited at the edge of the basketball court closest to the playground if we remove one of the existing basketball nets, far away from residents and using existing tarmac area as a run.
- Cllr.Jarvest proposed that we communicate to residents in the parish Magazine and specifically to those closest to the playground of this proposal and ask for feedback, including the removal of existing basketball provision.
- Meeting held with Thomson Estate Management and Simon Bishop to run through materials and possible siting of a bike/bump track. Rupert confirmed that no planning consent would be required if we wanted to site something sandwiched by the playground and basketball court and a rubberised material which would be used on top of any track & mounds would maintain the ground and give bikes the grip they required. TEM asked to quote for a bike track provision as a starting point.
d). Traffic Matters – Cllr. Saunders reported
- An email had been received from Peter Bradley advising that the DOT had refused reinstatement of the Stop sign @ Threads on the grounds of “insufficient accident rate”. Agreed unsatisfactory & Members discussed next action. Agreed that initially Cllr. Saunders will establish contact with Elaine Emmett, the newly allocated Highways Officer from the Gatwick Diamond to discuss the matter.
- The new school Crossing Officer would start duties shortly.
- The WSCC Cabinet Member for Transport, Piers Montyn, had replied, unsatisfactorily in our view, following our complaint about the delay in dealing with the promised traffic survey. Members suggested that this should continue to be followed up, possibly every 2 months, to ensure that our concerns did not disappear into the system.
School Parking. PCSO Jayne Milne assisting but WSCC representative unable to attend recent meeting. Possible solutions might include restriction of access into Westup & temporary introduction of coning at selected times of the delay. Discussions with both Balcombe Estate & WSCC will continue with a view to solving this increasing problem.
e). Local Societies/Facilities & Amenities. Cllr. Talman reported that a new outside tap had been installed at the pavilion for washing down boots. He was considering modifications to the snow plan arrangements by including additional roads, dependant on cost. Certainly more community involvement would be necessary to clear pavements & a letter drop should be considered stating H+S liabilities. Agreed that we should look again at the London Road to Newlands footpath in the light of possible S106 funding availability.
2878. Neighbourhood Plan
Cllr. Marsh opined that it might be possible for this Council to receive a £20k grant via DCLG towards the cost of preparation. He mentioned that other Parish Councils had been successful. It was noted that information sessions for residents were planned on 21st & 25th April in the Parish Room & that covering flyers would be distributed. Care would need to be taken in display; regarding boards we should pre-advise our requirements to Gary for MSDC assistance. Likewise for a visual loop system (as used for the traffic calming event in the past). Concerning Section 106 it was confirmed that in future this would be replaced by a Community Infrastructure (CIL) scheme. Before its implementation it would be in town & parish interests to consider claiming from existing 106 monies held & with this in mind a comprehensive paper had been received from Gareth Giles detailing procedures to be followed.
Cllr. Marsh reminded Members that the plan will set the overall framework for planning in Mid Sussex over the next 20 years, and will show how it is intended to meet local needs, including the requirement of 530 new homes per annum (10,600 over the 20 years). The draft District Plan takes account of the existing commitment to delivering about 4,300 homes on sites that have planning permission or are allocated for development in the Mid Sussex Local Plan or the Small Scale Housing Allocations Document. It also includes the strategic development proposed by Burgess Hill Town Council, which includes 3,500-4,000 new homes. However, this leaves 2,300-2,800 new homes to be found across the district.
We had earlier been asked to confirm the correctness of information given in the Infrastructure Development Plan & to provide information on appropriate levels of development and possible sites to be considered through our resultant Neighbourhood Plan, both by 30th March.
The latter information is needed to enable MSDC to produce a housing supply document so that the Inspector can be satisfied that there are sufficient opportunities in the area to meet its needs, and that there is
commitment from the Towns and Parishes to progressing Neighbourhood Plans.
The Chairman thanked Cllr. Marsh for his attendance & confirmed that we would be in regular touch concerning progression of the Neighbourhood Plan.
2879. Fracking Working Group
Cllr. Saunders reiterated that fracking is currently suspended by agreement. The inaugural meeting had been held & the next scheduled for 8th March. It was anticipated that the final report setting out the benefits and risks associated with the proposed exploration for, and extraction of, oil or gas at the Lower Stumble site and which may involve the use of the fracking technique, to be available to residents in early May.
a). For representation by 2nd March 2012 (extended by agreement)
(BA)/12/00351/FUL & 00352/CON – Bretts, HH Road – demolition of existing garage & petrol pumps & construction of two new semi detached dwellings. (new application).
This is an almost identical application to one submitted and rejected in Jan/ Feb of this year. The two changes are the loss of the fussy dormers to the smaller upper windows of the front elevation and the lowering of the roof height by 600mm. Both of these are welcome revisions however there are matters which remain.
Because of the importance of the listed building Members were unanimously of the view that we were in danger of approving a damaging application just because we are tiring of the repetition.
To try to persuade MSDC planners of the pitfall the following detailed submission was submitted:
Whilst welcoming the revisions BPC have much the same objections to the proposal.
- Damaging to the setting of the listed building at Bretts
- Loss of amenity space for the listed building at Bretts
- Inadequate parking/pedestrian access
- Overlooking of adjoining properties. Damage to the future of Bretts
Commercial to Residential
BPC objected to the conversion of warehouse in the previous application. It is both BPC and Mid Sussex District Council policy to refuse such conversion without first testing the market for the commercial premise. Since then and throughout the last 18 months the property has been marketed and a report is included in the application. I would like to note that the property has been marketed in a very dilapidated state with budlia now growing freely in the forecourt and no attempt to make it an attractive proposition. It is unclear as to whether this application is made by the original owners of Bretts or by a new owner. If a new owner then we can only assume that it was bought in a speculative manner with the intention to acquire the warehouse and seek conversion to residential rather than pursue a commercial use.
However BPC is prepared to drop its objection to change of use if a suitable form of residential development is put forward.
At this time we think that the proposal is too large for the site and maintain our objection to the form of the new property.
Site in general
Bretts building consist of the main 15th century timber framed house, sub divided into the larger main house a smaller adjoining cottage, and 2 warehouse type buildings. The cottage has now been sold separately so that the rear cottage is now held under separate ownership.
History of recent applications
This application is to convert one of the warehouses. Within the last 5 years the main house has been converted to residential from mixed residential/ commercial by removal of a former car show room which had been run as a shop until about 7 years ago. BPC supported this as an exception as the original conversion had damaged the listed building and on balance its renovation outweighed the loss of a commercial premise. Further applications have been made for a bungalow to replace the rear warehouse and to remove the former garage canopy to this warehouse. The canopy was approved but fierce opposition to conversion of the rear warehouse led to that application being withdrawn.
The complex as a whole formed 3 commercial premises and should this application be successful only the rear warehouse would remain. Despite the previous conversion application that is now successfully let/owned as commercial premise.
Errors/ Omissions in the application
Curtilage/ Boundary Issues
We are advised that some of the land bounded red on the plans actually belongs to Little Bretts and that their deeds confirm this. In particular the western hedge and part of their parking bay. It seems odd that this remains on these plans. A site visit shows the hedge and garden clearly form parts of Little Bretts. There is pedestrian access out onto the driveways to the houses behind Bretts.
Form of Proposed Buildings.
Although disappointed by the outcome of attempts to continue commercial use our concern now is to the form of the proposed building.
Our objections form;
- Damaging to the setting of the listed building at Bretts
- Loss of amenity space for the listed building at Bretts
- Inadequate parking/pedestrian access
- Overlooking of adjoining properties.
- Damage to the future of Bretts
Although the current application is lower than previous it has the same footprint and this causes a number of problems.
The Haywards Heath Road consists almost entirely of Georgian and Victorian houses with the occasional earlier timber framed property such as Bretts. The proposed building would undoubtably form a large feature on the street scene. It presents a front facade that is twice that of Bretts and larger than Prospect Cottage to the north. The buildings in the immediate vicinity are rendered and we feel that the expansive brick and tile hung facade will cause the building to be dominant in the street scene in this location.
In addition the parking along the forecourt is an exceptional detail for this setting and will further detract from the street scene. No other properties are fronted by parking in this way.
The warehouse sits entirely within the natural curtilage of the Listed Building at Bretts.
Loss of amenity space for Bretts is a large concern. The current land division is odd and is attributed to a fairly recent separation of Bretts and Little Bretts in inheritance. The warehouse sits on land that would naturally form the garden to the main house Bretts and the garden to the rear of the warehouse which would naturally form the garden to Little Bretts became the garden to Bretts. The application seeks to make Bretts garden, to the rear of the warehouse, into the rear garden of the proposed houses. Indeed the subdivision may already have occurred if the warehouse has been sold as overbearing close board fences now separate the parcels of land.
Without transferring the rear garden the proposal becomes unfeasible and yet the houses at Bretts lose the same amenity space in order to do make the proposal work.
Access and Parking
Parking remains a very great concern with this application. The plans show 4 parking spaces on a forecourt to the front of the property. A site visit quickly demonstrates that this proposal is unworkable. Four cars would not be able to park as shown on the drawings. The forecourt is too small to allow this. The spaces are shown as 2.4m wide. Good practice would allow 3.5m. It would be difficult to get children in and out of a car parked as illustrated. Even the bin doors on the plan don’t open when there is a car parked in the rear spaces. On the road side there is nowhere to stand but in the road to open the car doors. This is dangerous! There should be a pedestrian buffer between the parking and the carriageway.
There is insufficient space for manoeuvring and turning into and out of the spaces and requires the vehicles to reverse right up to the front doors of the property. Again this is dangerous. It’s unworkable.
There is simply too little space to provide off street parking for 2 houses worth of building and it’s a busy B road. No one parks on Haywards Heath Road for its entire length from village centre to village edge. It’s too busy to do so.
Furthermore there is no proposal to provide pedestrian access to the new houses. As ownership and use of the Warehouse and Bretts were once the same pedestrian access to the site was always through the forecourt of the showroom at Bretts and along into the forecourt of the Warehouse/garage building. The forecourt at Bretts has now been bounded by sleepers and in filled with gravel, effectively cutting off the proposed properties. Indeed the crossing to the existing footpath on the east side of Haywards Heath road has been cut off by the gravel. The steep bank on the opposite side of HH road makes crossing the road at this point very difficult and the only way is to walk in the carriageway to then cross and join the footpath.
The proposal needs to provide a bigger forecourt that allows safe access and egress from vehicles, sufficient manoeuvring space and a method of safe pedestrian access to the houses.
The bungalow to the rear/west of Bretts is very close to the rear boundary of the proposed gardens and would be in full view of the rear windows of two houses built at greater height than the existing warehouse. The result will be bedroom windows directly looking toward the existing bungalow where there are presently none.
The occupants/ owners of Bretts are not objecting but they are the proposers, who stand to gain financially from the scheme. Were the two properties separately owned we feel that there would be a strong and very valid complaint of overlooking and overbearing from the occupants at Bretts and an even larger outcry at loss of the garden.
Listed Building Consent and Sub-divison
Although the application does not affect the fabric of the listed building it does halve in size, and transfer ownership of, the amenity space of the listed building and we would like clarification as to whether the application should be a Listed Buildings application.
Whilst the sub-division is now addressed in the design statement it still remains an issue for the residual value of Bretts. A large house in need of repair on a busy road is very unattractive with so little outside space, and Bretts is Listed and in need of care and rapidly losing her assets.
A better scheme for this plot would be for a single, smaller, rendered dwelling. There would be space to allow effective and less dominant parking. There would be better separation and better match of scale with the neighbouring buildings. A better division of the amenity space could be devised.
This solution would appease the street scene issues and ensure a better future for Bretts.
For representation by 9th March 2012
(BA)/12/00415/FUL & 00416/LBC – Pilstye Farm, Rowhill Lane – extension to boiler house to house new heating/HW boiler for main house. Extension to small barn to accommodate logs & water tank for new boiler, plus new access. Erection of covered way to rear to replace dilapidated timber building.
There were no objections to the extension of the boiler house or the new access or to the covered way, which be an attractive addition to the house. However concerns were identified over the rebuilding of a larger barn. Whilst the new barn is not an issue the demolition/ dismantling of the existing outbuildings (assume pre 1947 themselves) is of some concern as they have charm and context with the listed house. MSDC will be notified accordingly.
b). to consider any additional applications received by the date of the meeting
For representation by 2nd April 2012
WSCC Reference BG/TS0866 – Tourist Signs on the Highway for Wings – Members were acquainted of the Museum’s request for self-funding a total of 12 new signs at agreed locations & after studying the accompanying documentation raised no objection.
M1. Repeat of January information (M2) - Community Infrastructure Levy – NB section B9 re Balcombe. Noted.
M3 – It was agreed that a testimonial be prepared for Rob & Jen Morris on their retirement. Members approved of the draft made available.
2882. Exchange of Information
No matters raised by Councillors.
There being no further business the Chairman closed the main meeting at 22.15 hours.
Date: 16th April 2012
THE NEXT MEETING OF THE COUNCIL WILL BE HELD ON MONDAY 16th APRIL 2012 AT 8 PM