MINUTES FOR THE MEETING OF BARLEY PARISH COUNCIL

HELD AT THE TOWN HOUSE ON MONDAY 7th SEPTEMBER 2015



  1. Present

Cllr Jerry Carlisle (Chairman), Cllr Ian Turner, Cllr M O'Brien, Cllr G Northen, Cllr Y Lee, Mrs Laura Childs (Clerk), Mr Tim Martin (RFO)


1 member of the public


  1. Apologies

Cllr G Clark, Dst Cllr G Morris


  1. Councillor’s Declaration of Interest

None


  1. Minutes of Last Meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 6th July 2015 were read and approved.

Proposed by Cllr Y Lee and seconded by Cllr M O’Brien


The minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 22nd July 2015 were read and approved.

Proposed by Cllr G Northen and seconded by Cllr Y Lee


The minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 4th August 2015 were read and approved.

Proposed by Cllr I Turner and seconded by Cllr M O’Brien


  1. Matters Arising

Cllr Carlisle has made no further progress with regard to the cutting back of the trees on Bankside and who would be responsible for this; he agreed to speak with Gary Henning of NHDC Highways.


The pre-arranged meeting to discuss improvements to the village website unfortunately didn’t go ahead and a date for another meeting is to be agreed.


Cllr Northen agreed to put a note in The Diary asking if villagers would like their email address to be added to the Parish Council register to improve communications throughout the village.


Cllr Carlisle reported that Mr Brian Haughey had attended a meeting with County Cllr Tony Hunter and Mr Gary Henning of NHDC Highways regarding a number of issues raised at a meeting held with Cllr Carlisle earlier this year. None of the issues discussed with Cllr Carlisle had been progressed and Mr Haughey has chased these items again, in particular the incorrect signage at the crossroads of Royston Road and Picknage Road. It is understood that whilst the incorrect sign has been removed and replaced with a ‘Giveway’ sign the rest of the signage is still not correct.







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  1. Planning

Case Ref no. 15 / 01892 / 1 - Fox & Hounds, High Street, Barley, SG8 8HU - Full Planning Permission: Change of use and conversion of existing public house to provide 2 x 4 bedroom dwellings, with associated car parking spaces, new vehicular access onto High Street following closure of existing vehicular access, alterations to existing vehicular access onto Church End and ancillary works.


Case Ref no. 15 / 01893 / 1LB – Fox & Hounds, High Street, Barley, SG8 8HU - Replace three doors on east elevation with windows and internal alterations to layout to facilitate change of use of public house to 2 x 4 bedroom dwellings.


Case Ref no. 15 / 01894 / 1 – Land at Fox & Hounds, High Street, Barley, SG8 8HU – Erection of 1 x 2 bedroom dwelling with 2 associated car parking spaces, alterations to existing access onto Church End and ancillary works.


These applications were discussed at length and it was unanimously resolved to object to all three of these applications and in arriving at this decision wishes the District Council to take the following comments into account:-


The Fox and Hounds Public House can rightly be described as an "iconic" feature of Barley. It stands in the centre of the village and, with its unusual sign over Church End is a recognised land mark.

The importance of the building to the villagers cannot be overstated. This is reinforced by comments made in the recently published Parish Plan:


Policy Background


It is our understanding that National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires that planning policies are supportive of a prosperous rural economy (reference Paragraph 28). In order to promote a strong rural economy, local and neighbourhood plans should:-


The NPPF also sets out 12 core planning principles which should underpin both plan-making and decision taking. These include:-


North Herts District Council in its objectives for its Draft Local Plan acknowledges these criteria and principles, seeking:-


In support of these objectives the Draft Local Plan specifies that development proposals which will result in the loss of community, cultural, leisure or recreation facilities will be resisted unless:-


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The Draft Local Plan makes some key comments on Barley:-


Listed Building Context


Local planning authorities (LPA's) are required to set out positive strategies in their local plans for the conservation and enjoyment of the historic environment, including heritage assets most at risk through neglect or other threats. In doing so they should recognise that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and conserve them in a manner appropriate to their significance. LPA's should take into account:-


Planning Policy Statement 6, Planning, Archaeology and the Built Heritage contains key points for consideration in relation to these applications:-


NPPF also has some key observations on listed buildings:-


The Applications


The principal defining issue of these applications is the proposed change of use of this landmark building from its current use as a public house into two houses. This cannot in our view be justified and the current owner, the applicant, has done nothing to prove that The Fox and Hounds is no longer viable as a public house.


In the accompanying Design and Access Statement the applicant’s consultants, Paul Gaughan Building Consultants state:-


"The public house has been for sale for a number of months, in this time failing to attract a suitable purchaser willing to continue to trade the public house. The current owner has previously run the premises himself but was forced to close 12 months ago. Although the local community may see the public house an important village asset they fail to sustain it with their patronage. Barley is divorced from any main road and therefore cannot attract passing trade."






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This statement is factually incorrect and must be challenged:-

This statement contradicts information in the public domain:


The Design and Access Statement goes on to say;-


" The public house can no longer function as a going concern. It has been shut for 12 months. The listed building is falling into a state of disrepair and the owner is conscious of his responsibility to maintain the Historic Asset. The site currently has little value as a community asset as its recent trading history would testify and that other licensed premises in the vicinity are sufficient to satisfy local needs".


Again this statement must be challenged:-


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The Fox and Hounds is a valuable community asset on many levels, from its visual contribution as a land mark, to its longstanding contribution to village life and as a social meeting place. But importantly its value goes well beyond the immediate village to the wider context of North Hertfordshire;


In our view NHDC must support the continued use of The Fox and Hounds in its established use as a public house as it is required to;


The owner/applicant has not properly addressed any of the key questions which must be answered unequivocally before a change of use of this vitally important listed building can be countenanced. If the applicant believes that the site could be worth more as a residential site and refuses offers for the continued use as a public house, as we are advised he has done, that does not justify a change of use. The value of the property is not a planning consideration.


In the opinion of Barley Parish Council there are no planning grounds to justify consent for a change of use of this valuable iconic landmark and listed public house; we strongly urge NHDC to refuse consent. As indeed the Council did recently with regard to the application for a change of use of The White Horse at Kimpton; here the Council found that the application was contrary to Paragraph 28 of the NPPF and that the applicant had in particular failed to satisfy the test of viability:


The proposed change of use of the public house to residential use would not promote the retention of this important local facility. Moreover, the applicant's evidence on sustaining a viable business has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority. The proposal therefore conflicts with paragraph 28 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Council is required to act in a consistent manner; the application for the change of use of The Fox and Hound’s must therefore be refused.


If, however, and notwithstanding our contention that change of use should be refused, NHDC are nevertheless minded to agree the proposed change of use, we make the following comments in relation to the development/works proposed in the applications:-






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The Highway authority will undoubtedly also have concerns.


With specific reference to:

Case Ref No: 15 / 01894 / 1 Land at Fox and Hounds, High Street, Barley,

Full Planning Permission: Erection of 1 x 2 bedroom dwelling with 2 associated

car parking spaces, alterations to existing access onto Church End and ancillary

works.

Barley Parish Council has the following comments on this particular application:-

There are specific points of principle which need to be addressed:-



If, in spite of our objections to the change of use of The Fox and Hounds, NHDC are minded to grant consent, the Parish Council would make further specific objections on matters of detail to the proposed development;


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London Road and High Street. Church End is a particularly busy road as it is the location for the village school, shop and Post Office, Scouts, Church, Town House (village hall) and Margaret House Old Peoples Home. It is also a bus route.



In conclusion, the Parish Council do not consider that any justification has been proven for the proposed change of use of this iconic, landmark public house situated at the heart of the village. The development proposals are in our view wholly unacceptable for all the reasons set out above and we urge NHDC to refuse all three applications.


You should also be aware that because of the disquiet expressed by many villagers when these applications were first made at the end of July 2015, a public meeting was arranged. Despite the holiday season, it was attended by well over 100 residents; and all, bar one who expressed a neutral view, were totally opposed to the proposals. We are aware that there have been at least 63 objections registered on line and numerous other objections sent by email or post. Furthermore we are also aware that a petition (not organised by the Parish Council) signed by some 398 villagers objecting to the applications has been handed in to NHDC offices in Letchworth.


The Parish Council are separately considering applying for registration of The Fox and Hounds as a Community Asset.


Cllr Carlisle reported that he had spoken at length to District Councillor Morris who, it is understood, has asked that these applications go before the planning control committee.


Case ref no. 15 / 02100 / 1HH – 2 Shaftenhoe End, Barley – Two storey side / rear extension and part single storey rear extension following demolition of existing side conservatory and existing single storey rear extension. Front entrance canopy.


Following discussions it was unanimously resolved that Barley Parish Council objected to the application and in arriving at this decision asked the District Council to take the following comments into account:-


The proposed development, which lies outside the Barley Selected Village Policy Area, is in our view fundamentally contrary to the provisions of saved Planning Policy 30 of the current NHDC Local Plan, which we understand is the principle planning policy that applies in this case.

Planning Policy 30 states:-"For existing dwellings anywhere in the countryside outside excluded or selected villages, the Council will normally refuse proposals for their replacement or extension if a materially greater impact would result. A landscaping scheme related to the surrounding countryside will be expected. Also, extensions will normally be refused if they result in a size, scale and design out of keeping with the original building and give the effect of a new dwelling."

It is this Council's view that the proposed development is contrary to all of the provisions of this policy in relation to extensions in terms of its size, scale and design being out of keeping with the original building and gives the effect of a new building. The proposed development clearly ignores on all counts the pre-planning advice given by NHDC.

With regard to the size of the proposed extension we note that this amounts to an increase of some 224% (i.e. 2.24 times) in the overall size of the original dwelling (excluding the existing modern single storey conservatory to the side and sun room to the rear which do not in any event comply with building regulation requirements for habitable rooms and which are to be demolished under the proposals. Even if these elements were to be included as part of the existing building for the purposes of calculating size and scale, the proposed extension would still result in a dwelling some 42% bigger at ground level and over 208% bigger at first floor level. An unacceptable increase in size and scale having regard to the provisions of this policy

Furthermore the proposal would unacceptably severely impact on the design and character of this group of 2 pairs of otherwise originally identical small semi-detached dwellings, which when viewed together would have the overall composition and collective quality destroyed if the application were to be consented - paragraph 3.24 of Planning Policy 30 refers. 1108

  1. Town House

Mr Nick Shaw, Chairman of the Town House Management Committee had sent a report in his absence. The noise limiters require a service and Mr Shaw has received a quotation for £550 + VAT to check all the monitors are operating efficiently. Cllr Carlisle agreed to instruct Mr Shaw to go ahead with this. The Prompt Fire Protection certificate for the recent checking of the fire alarm system was given to Cllr Carlisle to pass on to Mr Tony Slater who still holds the Health & Safety files.


No word has been received yet on the success of the application for a grant towards the cost of new curtains and blinds, it is hoped that we should hear shortly.


The electricity supplier has been changed to EDF Energy.


Cllr Carlisle agreed to liaise with Curwens regarding the Town House hire agreement.


Cllr Turner reported that there have been issues with the sound system, the key has broken off in the lock and various plugs need to be updated to accommodate iPods, he will ask an electrician to look at fixing it and bringing it up to date. Numerous cables have recently gone missing and it was suggested that if the sound system is updated with new plugs then the hirer should be responsible with supplying their own leads.


  1. Financial Officers Report & Signing of Payments

Mr Martin reported that the following payments were due this month


Parish Council

Laura Childs Parish Clerk (July & August hours & office allowance) £ 431.60

Tim Martin RFO (July & August hours) £ 158.50

Stuart Bullard PAYE April – Clear Plaistow of rubbish at rear of Bankside £ 180.00

Mary Plowman Plan copying £ 16.00

C.P.C. Removal of wasps nest from allotments £ 36.00

Came & Co. Annual Parish Council Insurance £1776.47

B.D.O. Annual Audit £ 240.00

It was agreed that these payments should be made

Proposed by Cllr G Northen and seconded by Cllr I Turner


Town House

Alison Stacey Letting Officer & caretaking £ 315.20

Vanessa Martin Caretaker £ 50.00

Nick Shaw Refund of cleaning costs & expenses £ 90.37

Clean Cooker Oven cleaned £ 60.00

Darren Partt Kitchen & hall floor £ 1066.61

Cavendish Equipment Kitchen downstairs new cabinets £ 3892.20

Carol Robinson Cleaning (July & August) £ 167.00

Carole Turner Caretaking (June) £ 50.00

Prompt Fire Protection Annual Fire inspection £ 35.57

It was agreed that these payments should be made

Proposed by Cllr M O’Brien and seconded by Cllr Y Lee


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Deposit cheques returned

Caroline Eastman £100.00

Andrew Wallis £150.00

Liam Keen £150.00


Mr Martin reported that the Parish Paths Partnership grant has now been received for £664.84 for repairs to various benches around the village.


The bank statements were reviewed by the meeting.


Mr Martin has now calculated that he will be reclaiming VAT paid on behalf of the Parish Council and Town House up to the end of the last financial year to the sums of £1,652 and £548 respectively.


The Parish Councils internal auditors have recommended that the asset register should include the new fencing that was installed behind the Scout Hut, advising what date it was acquired, the purchase cost and where it is.


The budgeting process was also highlighted with a note that the Parish Council don’t undertake adequate monitoring and budget meetings are not minuted. It was also advised that a quarterly review should be carried out of expenditure against budgeted expenditure and a recommendation that cash income books are regularly analysed and checked.


Mr Martin confirmed that BDO have now completed their audit of the Parish Councils accounts for the year ended 31st March 2015 with no matters having come to their attention. The Annual Return was duly accepted and approved by the Parish Council.

  1. Recreation Ground

In the absence of Cllr Clark, Cllr Carlisle reported that the grass has been cut and the fences are OK although we will need to address replacing the perimeter fence as a number of the posts are now rotten particularly along the border with the Doggetts cow field. Cllr Carlisle agreed to check whose responsibility this is and who does the fencing for the Doggetts. In addition the fence around the allotments does need to be looked at as cows have recently broken through, fortunately they were spotted before doing too much damage.


Cllr Northen reported that it is now looking very unlikely that the Playground Committee will be able to raise the £55,000 funding required to install their optimum choice of new equipment. The Committee have therefore had to have a rethink and revise their plans. It is hoped that by using a local supplier they might be able to get something close to their original plans for approx. £35,000. Fundraising continues with an Auction of Promises planned for November.

  1. Scout Hut

Cllr Carlisle reported that permission has been granted for the planning application for the changing rooms behind the Scout Hut. Works to the trees need to be carried out within the next two years and the building works are to start within the next three years. Now the formal permission has been granted the Parish Council can now look to grant a new lease to the Scouts for 30 years at a peppercorn rent. Cllr Carlisle, following a long conversation with Mr Michael Richmond, has agreed to sit down with all the relevant parties involved to discuss the right of way and access issues to try and get the arrangements on a more formal basis.


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  1. Health & Safety

Cllr Carlisle advised that there was nothing to report although Mr Tony Slater is still undertaking the health & safety duties with a volunteer required to take over responsibility.


  1. Parish Plan

Cllr O’Brien reported that the public launch of the parish plan was hampered by adverse weather conditions on the day. A hard copy of the Parish Plan needs to be sent to Mr Stuart Izzard of NHDC.


  1. Correspondence

The Clerk reported that a letter of response has been received from Chief Constable Andy Bliss further to our update. Cllr Carlisle said it was important to ensure that we continue to follow up activity as whilst there were speed checks by the police early on we need to ensure this continues on a regular basis. Cllr Turner confirmed that the Speedwatch team are currently not operating due to lack of volunteers.

All other correspondence received is to be circulated amongst Councillors.


  1. Any Other Business

Further to an email from Heidi Smith of Sworders regarding the proposed diversion of footpath 15 received in late July, asking if we could advise of our comments following on from the progress now made with the proposed diversion of footpath 14 discussions took place. It was agreed to respond that any proposed diversion would see no community benefit and that the Parish Councils position on the diversion of this footpath remains the same and the position with regard to footpath 14 has no bearing on the proposed diversion of footpath 15.


Cllr Carlisle advised that comments of concern had been received from parishioners regarding the installation of two shipping containers at the home of Mr Stephen Marsh and an increase in lorry movements. Following discussions it was agreed that a letter should be sent to Mr Marsh asking for an update on progress made in relocating the business elsewhere.


Following feedback received at the Village Show interest has been expressed to adopt the BT red telephone box situated on the High Street. Following discussions it was agreed that a new application to adopt just this box should be applied for. Cllr Northen has a list of names of people who would be willing to take forward this project.


Cllr Turner asked if the bench is to be replaced at the war memorial. Cllr Carlisle confirmed that he has spoken to the family of the late Veronica Gooding suggesting that the bench that they wanted to place in her memory could perhaps be sited at the war memorial, he is awaiting their response.


Mr Stuart White has approached Cllr Carlisle asking for the Parish Council Notice board and the Village Notice boards to be renovated / re varnished otherwise he would be asking for them to be removed from his barns. Cllr Turner agreed to speak to Mr Darren Partt to ask him to carry out this work.


Cllr Turner requested that any planning permission decisions be reported at Parish Council meetings, following discussions it was agreed that planning decisions were already published in the NHDC Communications which are circulated to Councillors at every meeting.


Meeting closed at 23:00


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