SPC logoSedlescombe Neighbourhood Plan Project Group - Minutes

MEETING ON TUESDAY 7 MAY 2013, 18:30 TO 20:45

PRESENT: Cllr Jonathan Vine-Hall (Chair), Cllr Pauline Glew (Vice-Chair)
Cllr Roy Chapman, Cllr Rod Eldridge (part), Cllr Jenny Mitchell, Cllr John Parsons, Cllr John Reynolds, Lindsay Fraser
Parish Clerk - Pauline J Raymond
Norman Kwan, Senior Planning Officer at Rother District Council
Anton Draper, Decentralisation and Neighbourhood Planning Team, DCLG, London (part)





  1. Evidence Sources. David Marlow of Rother Planning had provided a list of links which will provide background evidence.

    Locality's "Quick Guide to Neighbourhood Plans" lists other evidence sources to be considered such as socio-economic data from the census, transport studies and public transport data, mapping of the local area, conservation area appraisals, listed buildings, historic environment records, details of environmental protection designations, such as tree preservation orders, plans from other public bodies or statutory undertakers, existing parish plans, business surveys, vacancy/floorspace surveys, land values, employment needs survey, housing condition survey, housing needs survey, audit of community facilities, transport linkages, schools capacity, traffic/pedestrian flow surveys, etc. NB Although Locality's Guide was mentioned by the Clerk, the detailed list was not provided at the meeting but is included in these Minutes in order to give a useful record.

    The Environment Agency had provided a further leaflet entitled "Planning for the environment at the neighbourhood level" which should be also added to the list.

  2. E-mail database. Members had agreed to contact various village organisations in an effort to get more people to join the e-mail Neighbourhood Plan database so that they can be kept informed.

    Cllr Glew reported that she had contacted Thursday Club, Short Mat Bowls, Flower Club, Allotment Society members.

    Pauline Raymond had contacted the Cricket Club. No Sedlescombe Cricket Club members currently live in Sedlescombe parish.

    Lindsay Fraser had contacted the Wine Club and a Badminton Club.

    Cllr Mitchell had contacted Sedlescombe Green WI where very few members have a computer.

    Cllr Parsons will contact Garden Society members who have not already registered.

    Cllr Vine-Hall is contacting the Royal British Legion Sedlescombe Branch.

  3. Street Champions. Cllr Glew reported that she had managed to find enough people to cover between half and three-quarters of the streets in Sedlescombe parish. However, she had not been able to raise any enthusiasm for a street champions' meeting. She would instead keep them informed by e-mail.

  4. Developing criteria for site assessment. The Chairman stressed the importance of setting criteria for assessing possible sites and the agenda listed criteria included in the published flyer. However, no decisions were forthcoming.

    David Marlow, Planning Strategy and Environment Manager, had sent a letter with Norman Kwan in which he discusses site criteria. He drew the Group's attention to
    • Policy OSS3 - for use in defining development boundaries
    • Policy OSS4 - general factors for the location of development
    • Policy OSS5 - general development considerations
    • Policy RA1 - general approach to villages
    • Policy EN1, EN2, EN5 - regarding conservation of the built and natural environment
    • Policy EN7 - regarding flood risk
    • Policy LHN1, LHN2 - regarding housing need/mix
    • Policy CO3 - leisure and recreation provision
    • Policy EC3 - existing employment sites
    • Policy TR3 - accessibility consideration
    • Policy IM2 - infrastructure
    David had also highlighted impact on nature conservation which is included in para 117 of the NPPF and Core Strategy Policy EN5 which had been omitted from the criteria in the Sedlescombe leaflet.

    Other documents mentioned in the letter are: Rother District Council's Landscape Character Assessment for Market Towns and Villages and the Conservation Area Appraisal in respect of conserving historic character.

    A misunderstanding was noted in that David Marlow seems to believe that Sedlescombe is intent on development of less than six houses but, instead 6 is the number that is being aimed for in each development. The Clerk will clarify this position with David.

    Issues around sustainability of development were discussed, particularly as it is very difficult to encourage people to walk, even when living close to the shop, buses are infrequent and there is no guarantee that other amenities, such as the village shop, will be able to continue. Anton Draper from DCLG suggested that Sedlescombe should factor in specific circumstances with local amenities when considering sustainability of new development. It was admitted that the situation in towns is different.

  5. "General Conformity with the Development Plan for the Area". Anton had been asked to advise on the meaning of "General Conformity". In answer, he quoted the Upper Eden Development Plan Examination Proposal Inspector (December 2012) as follows:
    "It is clear to me that the reasoning behind the use of the concept of general conformity is to allow a degree of flexibility in drawing up neighbourhood plans and proposals. Without such a concept drawing up a neighbourhood plan to reflect local priorities and conditions would be a futile exercise." and

    "...it is clear that this draft policy stretches the bounds of general conformity but in my view not beyond what is reasonable."

    He added that local need and local criteria should drive the Neighbourhood Plan but must be clear-evidence based.

    Norman Kwan added that any divergence from the Core Strategy needs to be accompanied by a robust reasoning that is likely to be accepted by Rother District Council and by the Examining Inspector. If the stage is reached that Sedlescombe and Rother cannot agree, it is likely to put the Inspector's approval of the Plan in jeopardy.

  6. Advice from East Sussex Highways. The Clerk had written to the Chris Stanyard (Acting Assistant Manager (AIM Section), Transport Development Control, East Sussex County Council and he had replied that, once a list of sites that may be suitable for development has been identified, he would advise on any potential highway issues.

  7. Advice from the Environment Agency. Jennifer Wilson (Planning Specialist at the Environment Agency) had provided advice regarding possible development adjacent to and within a Flood Zone 2 area.

  8. Opportunities to benefit the Sedlescombe community that could be highlighted. Further consideration will be required but footways and parking areas were mentioned.

  9. Resident Survey Distribution. Date amended to first week in July to allow it to coincide with the Bulletin deliveries. It will also allow the survey (to be drafted by Cllr Vine-Hall) to be considered by the SNPPG at its meeting on 17/06/13.

  10. Planning Consultant quotes. Quotations were opened at the meeting from two out of the three consultants who had been invited to quote in accordance with the Brief issued by the Council. Members will be e-mailed the quotes for consideration prior to the Finance Meeting to be held on 14/05/13 after the Annual Council Meeting.

  11. Monthly Meetings. Dates of monthly meetings up to end of 2013 were noted as follows: Monday 17/07/13 and Tuesdays 16/07, 20/08, 24/09, 22/10, 19/11, 17/12.

21 Contact made with Landowners. The agenda lists contacts made with landowners in the Village.

22 Red Barn Field Nature Park. Members considered whether Red Barn Field, or a part of it, should be proposed as a possible building site. The suggestion had a mixed reaction from members. Although it was not supported as a first choice, some thought it should be kept in reserve for building or, maybe, for use as an enlarged village hall car park if needed. From those opposed, its retention for its wildlife habitats and general pleasant environment were supported and there was concern that housing in Red Barn Field could mean that there would be some parking overflow from the houses onto the village hall car park to the detriment of the hall. Cllrs Glew and Mitchell, together with the Clerk, were asked to put together a paper listing the advantages of retaining the Nature Park as it is. It was suggested by Norman that Natural England should be asked for advice about environmental matters and he agreed to provide a contact.

As the Parish Council owns the freehold of the land, housebuilding would provide income to the Parish Council which could be used for capital projects eg provision of footways or parking laybys.

Some members wished to see the site included in the mix of sites submitted for consideration by the public in September. The subject is on the agenda of next week's Council Meeting.

23 Possible development sites (closing date 20/05/13). The Clerk reported briefly on the list of 18 sites so far received. It was noted that several of them had problems that may or may not be able to be overcome. For further consideration at the next meeting.

Norman was asked whether inclusion of employment sites outside the development boundary which might be suitable for mixed use housing/employment sites could be acceptable. The discussion centred on previous and existing employment uses surrounding the Sedlescombe Sawmills site. Norman referred the committee to Policy EC3 in the Draft Core Strategy.

The suspended Core Strategy Examination will probably resume towards the middle of the summer. Rother DC must show how it will conform to the NPPF with a considerable rise in housing numbers by the end of May. To achieve this, Rother Strategy Planners are reconsidering all SHLAA sites including red ones across the District and are, or will be, consulting with parishes regarding possible increases in housing development. Norman suggested that, for Sedlescombe, we should submit all sites that have been put forward for consideration in the Neighbourhood Plan. The Chairman reminded him that, at meetings with Rother Planners this year, it had been confirmed that because Sedlescombe has an emerging Neighbourhood Plan, its numbers would be left out of calculations. Norman will re-check and come back to the Council.

Norman offered to map the sites identified through the Neighbourhood Plan process.

24 Preparation of Background Information. The Clerk will provide some background information for the beginning of the Plan. 2011 census figures are now available. The Clerk will check with ESCC regarding the figures shown as the "parish of Sedlescombe" in case they really are "lower output figures".

25 Funding application. Applications for grant aid up to £7,000 can be made online. Finance Committee to consider next week.

26 Housing Register. Rother District Council applies local connection criteria to its lettings. Only applicants who meet the local connection criteria will be eligible to join the housing register. Applicants will be given local connection to each parish in Rother where they meet the local connection criteria. For the purposes of allocations, the parishes have been separated into three parish cluster groups. Applicants with a local connection to a parish will also be considered to have a local connection to each parish within that cluster group. (Taken from Rother's "Local Connection Verification Form")

The accompanying map shows the following parishes in the same parish cluster as Sedlescombe: Bodiam, Salehurst & Robertsbridge, Brightling, Dallington, Ashburnham, Penhurst, Catsfield, Crowhurst, Westfield, Battle, Mountfield, Ewhurst and Whatlington.

It was reported that the Parish Clerk had asked to see the analysis of the Housing Register to see how many were eligible for affordable housing in Sedlescombe but this information could not be made available.

The Chairman reminded members that between now and the next meeting:

Date of next meeting: Monday 17 June 2013