Ordinary meeting minutes 01/03/2010


Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Penshurst Parish Council held on Monday 1 March 2010 at Fordcombe Village Hall
1.         PRESENT:   Cllrs R Sellings (Chairman), Mrs D Broad, A Campbell, S Frederick, M Gilbert, Mrs A Hill, R Horsford
APOLOGIES:     Cllrs D Geal and C Viccars – These were approved.   KCCllr P Lake.
2.         MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 1 February, having been circulated, were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest in Agenda Items
If a Member has a prejudicial interest, this should be declared at the start of the meeting.
Personal interests may be declared at this point or alternatively can be declared at the time when the specific item is being discussed, if a Member wishes to speak on an item in which s/he has a personal interest.      None
a.         Fordcombe Hospital Bus Stop:     Spire Hospital acknowledged information provided by clerk regarding lack of progress. Cllr Viccars had advised the hospital that the PC had no plans to introduce a costly bus shelter but thought that a small hard standing would solve the problem.   Cllr Horsford to check with landowner regarding offer to permit hard standing on land.
b.         BT Payphone: Telephone box repaired!                                                
c.         Saltbins:   Options for salt bins included 160, 370 and 800 Litre sizes holding 200 kgs, 450 kgs and 1000 kgs of salt.    Costs varied between £135 and £315 including VAT and delivery.    Sue Ireland advised that policy with regard to salt bins remains as existing, position will be reviewed later in the year.   If PC wish to purchase own bins, these will remain the responsibility of the PC and must be sited on private land.    SDCllr Cooke advised that Kent highways would provide salt for any bins purchased by the PC but the PC could also make application for provision of salt bins by highways. (Cllr Cooke advises the salt bin at Poundsbridge is serviceable with a small stock of salt, application submitted to Sue Ireland for new bins)
d.         Salmans Lane Bridges:   Reported to highways again as further movement seen, report also made on damage seen on bridge near pill box, Cllr Sellings met KCC engineer on site who confirmed this was not the responsibility of KCC Highways.    Respective landowners aware of repairs required, repairs or costs not the responsibility of the PC, Cllr Sellings advised that one landowner had reported that he would be inspecting the bridge during June, the smaller bridge was being assessed for repairs. 
e.         Dogbone Lines:   Highways provided further information on policy requirements for introduction of white lines to deter parking where it would cause an obstruction, this reiterates the previous lengthy procedures involving logging parking and confirms costs must be borne by person/organisation initiating the request.   Cllr Lake was critical of the complexity of the procedure.
f.          Poundsbridge Manor: Problems with drainage reported to highways under reference 4492, website states officer in receipt of report on 18 February, no further information available.   Members noted that considerable work had been carried out last year at this site but the flooding problem still persisted.
g.          Public Toilets:   Clerk had received official confirmation that, in view of the donation of £3K made by the PC towards the running costs, these would remain open for a further year.
4.         REPORTS:
a.         Swaylands:    Cllrs Sellings and Geal had attended a recent meeting when problems with compliance with the Section 106 had been recorded. Cllr Cooke advised that the SDC Chief Planner had appointed an officer to monitor the S106 compliance, the site had not yet been signed off by the planning department.
b.         Kent County Councillor:        No report
c.         Sevenoaks District Councillor:  Budget: Cllr Cooke provided information relating to the budget recently set at SDC.   An Audit Commission report identified good work carried out by SDC in connection with vulnerable and young people plus extra grant funding had been obtained for community safety projects. There had been £5m in savings during the previous five years and a further £1m would be saved, hopefully without cutting front line services, there had been no redundancies. The final figure set had been £181.89 for Band D properties, when KCC, Kent Police & Fire authorities and the Parish precepts were included the total for the year would be £1,462.15 at Band D, the overall increase on the previous year being 2.4%.   Sevenoaks received one of the lowest sums from the government at £64.   Polytunnels: A retrospective application had been submitted to SDC for erection of polytunnels relating to both areas of land tunnelled during the past four years.   The area adjacent to Salmans Lane which constituted two thirds of the development was due to be removed in November 2010.   The two areas should have the wire arches uncovered with the polythene laid between the tunnels for storage when not in use; one area being between February and August and the other March to November.   Information had been collated for an enforcement notice but, having consulted a barrister to provide clarity on previous permission ambiguities, this had not been served due to the imminent submission of the application.    SDC would have been penalised had they issued an Enforcement Notice knowing that an application was being formulated.   It was Cllr Cooke’s prerogative to call in the application for committee decision if the views of the officer differed from that of the Parish Council.   The application details should be available on the website with effect from Wednesday.   Arrangements were being made for Cllr Cooke to meet on site with Cllr Sellings and Adam Shorter to ascertain the exact areas covered by the application.
d.         KALC:    Cllr Mrs Hill advised a meeting was scheduled for 19 March 2010
e.         Community Officer :   No report
f.          Alms Houses:    Mr Peter Johnson, Clerk to the Trustees, reported that problems had been experienced with the drainage system possibly caused by incursion of tree roots and collection and blockage by baby wipes.   These had been cleared by contractors.    The parish clerk had suggested Mr Johnson contact the utility company and request information on the pipework installation in order to check where the various run of pipes were before any further problems occur.
5.         HIGHWAYS:
Slippery Pavement Surface:    Work was now due to commence on 2 March.   (Confirmation from Cllr R Sellings, work commenced 2 March)
Longbridge:   Confirmation received from Transportation Engineer that agreement given for white lining to be painted, classified as low priority but should be completed by end of summer.   Works to resume at beginning of new financial year (April/May 2010) when weather suitable, exact start date to be advised when known.       
River Medway Bridleway Bridge: Nicky Biddall (Footpaths Officer) had advised a parishioner that the contractors scheduled to undertake the repairs had been sacked and that the date for completion had been extended to 26 August.   Clerk to register concerns at further delay due to heavy use of bridge by walkers.
Verge Mowing and Hedge Cutting:   Clerk to write to landowners concerned regarding overgrown hedges.   (Penshurst Estate contacted regarding their properties/tenants, letters to be forwarded to others)
Penshurst Junction:   Clerk advised Transportation Engineer aware of request to build up edge of road to prevent motorists cutting corner at high speed, he is liaising with Highways Engineer with regard to the work.   Sue Ireland advises this work should commence on 1 March.
New Road:    Manhole cover on grassed area in front of houses broken, highways website indicate this work has been completed. Cllr Sellings reported that the cover and tape erected by the resident had not been moved and the work had not been completed, clerk to report to highways. (Clerk contacted SDC as possibility land is owned by district council, confirmation awaited at time of preparation of minutes)
Road Surface – Fordcombe:   Reported to Sue Ireland, outcome of investigation awaited.
Interactive Road Signs:   Cllr Lake advised a decision for siting of these units would be made, councillors requested that the PC be involved in the final decision of siting for the two units. Highways to be requested to add ‘School’ sign to upright when sign installed.
Penshurst Churchyard:   Work confirmed by Nicky Biddall as scheduled for completion by end of March.      
Potholes:   Report received from resident of potholes along roads to Penshurst and Bidborough, reported under references 3708 and 3710, website shows work completed.    Potholes reported approximately 10-12’ long and 6/7” deep at the end of The Lane near Hickmans under reference 4494, website indicates repairs sent to utilities/third party for action.   Clerk to report potholes again, Silcocks address to be advised to highways. (Potholes reported again, already listed on system but being chased)
Fordcombe Drainage:   Members were advised by Cllr Lake that further work to clear the drains in Spring Hill/Manor Drive area would be carried out when equipment was available.   (Reported direct to Sue Ireland)      
River Blockage:   Fallen oak tree reported to Environment Agency at junction of Eden and Medway, reference 754071.   Conditions too wet to allow machinery with winch on site to remove tree, anticipated another month before work completed.
A parishioner raised the issue of polytunnels in the parish and stated that the section nearest Warren should have been removed by November 2009 with the area nearest Chiddingstone being removed by November 2010.   Frames which should have been removed by November 2009 were still in situe.   The rows nearest Chiddingstone had not been taken down between November and February as required in the conditions imposed when planning permission was awarded.   This indicated a total disregard for the conditions of the planning consent.   The site generally was an absolute mess.  
At the November meeting the applicant had indicated to the PC that a planning application was imminent, it was now March and it was still not available for consideration.   Non compliance with the original conditions had not been pursued by SDC and due to the time scale involved in the planning process, ie application, consultation, decision, appeal; a further growing season would occur without planning permission having been granted.   The parishioner considered that planning permission was no longer required if this was the way applications were dealt with by SDC.  
The PC was asked why it had not pursued the applicant to speed up the submission, the clerk advised the meeting that the PC had neither right nor remit to instruct any applicant when they submitted applications to SDC.   Although it had been some months since the original information regarding submission had been provided, in view of the complexity and contentious nature of the application this was not an exceptionally long time for the issue to be discussed with planning officers prior to the final preparation of the documentation for decision.  
Clerk confirmed it was an unfortunate fact that the planning laws could be manipulated to the benefit of applicants who were adept at taking advantage of them.    With regard to the condition of the site Cllr Sellings had discussed this with the farmer, clerk had also advised the Enforcement Office of the problem.
It was noted that commercial vehicles also used the area to service an adjacent property at the site.   The farmer admitted that they had struggled in recent months with the very poor weather conditions but hoped that as soon as these improved they would be able to make the site more visually acceptable, he also stated that the planning application had not been deliberately delayed, but of necessity, as reports required had been awaited and had only been received the previous week.
Clerk was asked to write to SDC registering the concerns of the parishioner at the length of time that the planning application had taken to process and the lack of action with regard to the non compliance with conditions imposed on the original planning consent.
6.         PLANNING:
SE/09/02815:   Walters Green Farm, Walters Green Road, Penshurst: Erection of single 10KW Wind Turbine.   PC Response:   The Parish Council has visited the above site with the applicant and would comment as follows with regard to the application:
a.         The Parish Council are against the application.
b.         There appears to be some confusion over the site of the wind turbine, the drawing shows that it is  close to both buildings and oak trees, the applicant indicated the possibility of the unit being sited at         the top of the hill nearer an oak tree in the corner of the field. The PC would comment that
i.          the site shown on the plan, if correct, would mean an impact on the adjacent domestic property and
ii.          possible restriction on the efficiency of the unit due to the surrounding buildings and trees.
c.          We are advised the buildings mentioned above are Grade II listed buildings in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we note however that it states in the applicant’s Design and Access Statement that the unit is ‘on agricultural land, away from residential dwellings’ as stated under Point 1.2 of the Introduction.
d.         The siting of the turbine would affect the visual impact from the local road, public footpaths and       surrounding settlements, contrary to the statement contained in Point 8.1 Bullet Point 3.
e.         The PC would dispute the suitability of the existing highway and agricultural access to facilitate the  supply and erection of the unit, contrary to the statement in Point 10.2
With regard to the Planning Statement we would point out:
Item 3.6 – The applicant states that the proposed location is on the edge of an existing farm building complex but omits the fact that many have already been subjected to change of use to domestic dwellings.
Item 3.8 – The PC are of the opinion that the turbine would indeed conflict with Point 3 of the Green Belt Definition, contrary to the applicant’s statement, in that approval of this application would set a precedent for future applications to site such turbines along the ridge of the property.
Item 3.11 – The PC do not consider careful consideration has been given to the siting of the unit as stated in Para. 13 given the criteria set out within PPG2.    Applicants are required to ‘demonstrate very special circumstances that clearly outweigh any harm which may occur’.   One reason given is ‘wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources’.   The PC do not consider the energy provided by this unit can be considered to be sufficient to warrant the application being approved on this site.
Item 5.4 – Green Belt: The PC refute the statement that the proposal will not materially prejudice objectives of the Green Belt and it will adversely affect the openness of the Green Belt and visual amenity value.
Item 5.6 – The PC asks if an ecological or nature survey has been undertaken for this site
Item 5.8 – The PC notes there was no acoustic report, this point was raised by the Senior EHO, Environmental Protection also
Item 5.10 – The PC ask how suitable wind speeds were assessed
In conclusion the Parish Council would strongly request that this application be refused on the grounds of design, appearance and materials being unsuitable for the application site, visual impact on the area together with the noise disturbance resulting from use of the turbine on adjacent domestic dwellings.
Application Withdrawn.
SE/10/00416: Walters Green Farm, Walters Green Road, Penshurst:   Erection of single 10 KW Wind Turbine.   Members would peruse the documentation for this application but initial concerns included the visual impact which would reach as far as Bidborough.
SE/09/02937:   Beech Glade, Doubleton Lane, Penshurst:   Single storey extension to dwelling.   REFUSED
10/00274/WTCA: Elliotts House, Rogues Hill, Penshurst: Remove 1 Thuja tree.
10/00276/WTCA:   Public Toilets, Penshurst Road: Reduce crown of 1 Oak tree by 10%
a.         SDC: Local Development Framework Consultation
8.         FINANCE:
The following accounts were presented and approved for payment: 
Mr I Streeter                                          Lengthsman                                                                   78.00
RIP Cleaning Services                             Dog Waste Removal                                                      35.25
Information Commissioner’s Office           Data Protection Act Fee                                                  35.00
Mrs E M Divall                                        Balance of Salary for 2009/2010                                  1182.67 
a.         Walters Green:   Cllr Frederick report that fly tipping had occurred in this area
b.         New Road:   Cllr Mrs Broad advised that further accidents had been caused as a result of the ice pockets on this stretch of road.   Clerk to request highways consider providing ice warning signs prior to bend and further along the road towards Penshurst to warn motorists.   (Request submitted to Sue Ireland as interactive website not working)
c.         Footpath:   Cllr Horsford reported that the Footpath sign and stile had been damaged at the bottom of Manor Drive. (Reported to Nicky Biddall for inspection and report)
d.         Public Toilets:   Cllr Sellings confirmed that the ivy encroaching on the building had been removed
e.         Penshurst Church Wall:   Cllr Sellings advised this had still not been repaired.
Meeting concluded 9.20 pm                                       Next Meeting: 6 April 2010 – Penshurst