MEETING ON TUESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2013 IN COMMITTEE ROOM 2 OF THE SEDLESCOMBE VILLAGE HALL, 17:55 TO 19:15
PRESENT: Cllr J Vine-Hall (Chairman and Chairman of the Council), Cllr R Chapman, Cllr R Eldridge, Cllr J Parsons, Cllr J Reynolds, Cllr L Fraser
Clerk/RFO: Pauline J Raymond
Also present and taking part in the meeting were advisers: Neil Homer (Planning Consultant), David Marlow (Rother Planning Strategy & Environment Manager)
85 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE. Cllr P Glew
86 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE 2012 CODE OF CONDUCT. None
87 DISPENSATIONS. The following dispensations were noted.
- Cllr P Glew - dispensation granted to allow her to participate and vote in discussions involving the allotment site despite her husband being a tenant of an allotment.
- Cllr R Eldridge - dispensation granted to him to participate and vote in discussions involving the allotment site despite him being a tenant of an allotment.
- Cllr Vine-Hall - dispensation granted to allow him to participate and vote in discussions involving possible development sites in the parish even though he owns land adjacent to one of them.
- Cllr Chapman - dispensation granted to allow him to participate and vote in discussions involving possible development sites in the parish even though he is a near neighbour of the Pestalozzi International Village.
- Cllr Fraser - dispensation to allow her to participate and vote in discussions involving possible development sites in the parish even though she is a near neighbour of one of them.
88 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. No public present.
89 MINUTES. RESOLVED: That the Chairman is authorised to sign the Minutes of the Meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee held on 22/10/13.
90 UPDATE ON SITES. David Marlow (Rother Planning Strategy & Environment Manager) would be providing a written report on each of the sites by next Tuesday. The Chairman acknowledged that, moving into a more formal stage of the Neighbourhood Planning process, more evidence will have to be provided for each of the sites, including the Street Farm site (the only remaining SHLAA site), to satisfy the District Council, especially regarding sustainability issues.
The Chairman stressed the difficulty of ensuring that the SNP would get through the Referendum stage if sites were included that did not have the residents' backing.
Neil Homer advised that Site Assessment Reports should be produced which will be available for public comment concurrently with the Pre-Submission Plan. He warned that some parishes had spent all their funding on carrying out sustainability appraisals and that the Government had stated that everything a Neighbourhood Plan Committee undertakes has to be proportionate to its size.
Mixed use sites are more likely to get Rother's approval.
91 STATE OF THE PARISH REPORT NOVEMBER 2013 AND ITS APPENDICES. The Report and its Appendices had been published on 13/11/13 and are available on the Parish Council website.
Cllr Parsons commented that, as of last night, the Sedlescombe Societies Association no longer exists as no-one had come forward to take on the running of the Sedlescombe Annual Village Fayre. Matter to be considered at the January Meeting of the Parish Council.
92 AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND NOMINATION RIGHTS. David Marlow confirmed that "Intermediate Housing" is "Shared Ownership".
The Chairman acknowledged that, in accordance with Rother's Affordable Housing Policy, Sedlescombe's housing developments will need to meet the 40% affordable housing requirement for rented social housing or shared ownership housing although this does not seem appropriate in Sedlescombe where 18% of the existing properties in the parish are "affordable". Although the percentage split between these two types of affordable housing is usually 2/3 to 1/3, David Marlow agreed that it could be reasonable, in Sedlescombe's case, for this percentage to be 1/3 rented social housing and 2/3 shared ownership. Evidence would, however, need to be provided to back this up using the Housing Register figures, the existing tenure split and the survey results.
No discussion took place on "nomination rights".
93 VILLAGE DESIGN STATEMENT. In order to have some control over the design of future properties, the idea of referring to a Village Design Statement (VDS) in the NH Plan but producing it later was discussed when Neil Homer met members of the Committee on 11/11/13. David Marlow explained that, as VDS's do not have any statutory planning status, Rother had not encouraged their production. Also that it would not be acceptable to refer in a NH Plan to a VDS that had not yet been produced . Neil Homer drew the Committee's attention to the draft plan recently produced by Lindfield where design features had been picked up.
94 DEVELOPMENT BOUNDARIES. At the earlier meeting, David Marlow had said that Rother would oppose any suggestion of designating new separate development boundaries encompassing proposed development sites. These could, if adopted, open the door for considerably more development adjacent to these boundaries which was not the intention. If a development site such as Luffs Farm was to be included in the NH Plan, the allocation of a "greenspace" area to the north of it might afford some protection.
The Clerk drew the Committee's attention to the need to make some minor adjustments to the existing main development boundary in order to regularise the situation particularly where development outside the boundary had already been approved by Rother. The idea of reducing the size of the development boundary in order to protect a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI) was not supported by David Marlow. Rather, it was suggested that "greenspace" policies in the NH Plan could give this protection.
The discussion went on to whether policies about the possible future development of other sites, particularly near the southern edge of the development boundary, should be included in the NH Plan. Members were inclined to agree that they should be included and further thought would be given to this for the next meeting. There was also discussion on whether sites currently in employment-generating uses could be used for housing or other development.
95 EXCEPTION SITE. At the meeting between Neil Homer and members on 11/11/13, the possibility of the Parish Church site being categorised as an "exception site" (ie one where affordable housing would be allowed in a place where normally building would not be acceptable) was mooted. However, it was confirmed that, as detailed in the proposed modification to the Core Strategy, building on exception sites does not count towards Core Strategy housing numbers and, therefore, would not be appropriate for the SNP.
It was agreed that the onus should be on the owner (the Diocese of Chichester) to come up with a scheme, for example, with housing akin to "almshouses" with just sufficient market housing to cover provision of the car park which is so badly needed.
96 PRE-SUBMISSION REPORT INCLUDING POLICIES (SITE AND NON-SITE).Neil Homer will draft the policies in the next two months and the Committee will write the supporting text for inclusion in the pre-submission (ie draft) SNP. Subjects covered by policies are likely to include:
- Site allocations including Section 106 agreements regarding community benefits. (CIL will not not introduced at Rother until after the SNP is likely to be approved.)
- Development boundary
- Design policy in and outside the Conservation Area
- Affordable housing policy
It is intended that the draft will be ready for the Parish Council to take out for six weeks' consultation by the end of January 2014. This will end in mid-March 2014 after which the Parish Council will work on considering and integrating amendments based on the comments. In some other parishes, it has been necessary to re-issue a pre-submission draft and to go out for a further six weeks' consultation on it. The current intention is that the plan will be ready to go to Rother for their checks on conformity by end-April 2014. If satisfied, Rother will be able to agree to forward it to the Examiner (chosen by Rother/the Parish Council).
David Marlow said that the Plan will need to go before the Cabinet although Neil Homer replied that other District Councils had not done this.
97 STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT (SEA). The Clerk had written to Rother asking for a formal screening opinion, as local planning authority, on whether or not a strategic environmental assessment will be required under EU Directive 2001/42.
David Marlow reported that he had taken legal advice and had contacted DCLG and the current opinion is that it is the qualifying body, ie the Parish Council, which will need to decide whether a SEA is required. He agreed to pass this information on to Neil Homer as it is contrary to existing practice in other districts.
Having said that, the intention is to carry out a SEA for the SNP which will be ready at the same time as the pre-submission plan. In the letter to Rother, the Clerk had said that "we propose to use most of the environmental objectives of the Rother Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal (SA) of July 2013 as the framework for our assessment:
- Improve efficiency in land use and encourage the prudent use of natural resources (Rother SA Objective No.9).
- Reduce road congestion and pollution levels and ensure air quality continues to improve by increasing travel choice and reducing car usage (No.10)
- Reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (No.11).
- Minimise the risk of flooding and resulting detriment to people and property (No.12)
- Conserve and enhance biodiversity by protecting both designated and non-designated but locally important species and habits (No.14)
- Protect and enhance the high quality natural and built environment, including landscape and townscape character and particularly the protection of the High Weald AONB (No.15)."
Also, "We do not propose to use the Rother SA environmental objectives relating to managing water resources (No.13) or to reducing waste (No.16) as the SNP will not contain policies of a scale or type where such impacts can be measured in a meaningful way."
Rother has to consult statutory consultation bodies in order to inform the screening opinion and must give them 5 weeks to reply. The Clerk had asked for a reply by the end of the year but David Marlow said that it was likely to be into the New Year before he could get in touch with the Parish Council.
It was acknowledged that data down to the parish level is sparse and, therefore, the appropriate evidence for a SEA is difficult to obtain.
98 CONTACT WITH LANDOWNERS. Although the Committee intended to meet with landowners again, Neil Homer advised against this. Members stressed that all landowners had been treated equally leading up to the Exhibition of Sites and it was agreed that this must continue. In due course, the Council will write to landowners explaining what is required. It will mean that the landowners will have to do some work themselves.
In summary, David Marlow said that the Planning Authority fundamentally has problems with the one proposed development site and that several other sites are distant from the Village centre and not as sustainable as some closer to the Village. Evidence relating to sustainability must be produced.
The Chairman thanked those who had attended, particularly David Marlow.
99 NEXT MEETING. 17/12/13 at 18:30.