PENSHURST PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Penshurst Parish Council held on Tuesday 7 April 2015 at 7.45 pm in Penshurst Village Hall
1. PRESENT: Cllr J Cass (Chairman), Mrs D Broad, J Broadhead, A Campbell, S Frederick, J Horsford, B Townsend.
In Attendance: SDCllr P Cooke, Mr R Sellings (Speedwatch & Swaylands), P Johnson (Neighbourhood Watch & Alms Houses)
APOLOGIES: KCCllr C Pearman, Cllrs I Carson, J O’Shea
2. MINUTES OF MEETING HELD ON 2 March 2015, having been circulated, were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of interests in agenda items
If a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest in an item of business this must be declared at the start of the meeting, unless dispensation has been granted. The member may not participate in any discussion, vote or discharge any function related to that business.
Non-pecuniary interests may be declared at this point if not already registered. Members with a non-pecuniary interest may speak on the subject if members of the public can do so but may not vote.
Cllr Mrs D Broad: Pecuniary interest in Planning Item 4, second item.
Cllr Townsend: Personal interest in Planning Item 4, third item.
Elections: Prospective candidates can apply for Nomination papers and Certificates of authorisation for completion at Sevenoaks District Council, further information on their website. Nomination period is 9am daily from Wednesday 1 April to
4 pm Thursday 9 April. Election 7 May 2015.
Clerk advised that in his absence Cllr Carson had wished everyone deciding to stand again success and hoped he would be able to work with the team again in the future.
3. OPEN SESSION
Members were asked if they were standing again, all present confirmed they were although Cllr Frederick was undecided.
Clerk was asked to provide attendance information for members during the current term of office, these were:
J Cass, Mrs D Broad & A Campbell: 96%; J Horsford 93%; I Carson 75%; J O’Shea 73%; S Frederick 71%B Townsend 62%; J Broadhead 55%,
The allowance of £1K allocated towards GON funding was raised, a request for this to be increased was also made; information regarding the recent Judicial Review was provided. Chairman advised no information regarding the accounts of GON had been provided as requested prior to transfer of any funds, this to be submitted to the PC via the clerk.
Potholes/collapsed road edging between Bowens Farm and the Pitcher House along Poundsbridge Lane to be reported. (Reported to Highways under Ref: 152166)
SE/15/00339: The Willows, Walters Green Farm, Walters Green Road, Penshurst: Proposed window alterations. PC Support
SE/15/00494: Hartsland Farm, Walters Green Road, Penshurst: Proposed farm workers dwelling, farm office and garage. PC Support. (Please Note: Cllr Mrs Broad did not attend this site visit having registered a pecuniary interest in the application)
SE/15/00556: 1 St. Peters Row, Fordcombe: Proposed loft conversion. PC Support. (Please Note: Cllr Townsend did not attend this site visit having registered a personal interest in the application)
SE/15/00377: Weavers Cottage, Walters Green Road, Penshurst: Demolition of existing conservatory and erection of 2-storey rear extension. The PC Support this application but note the existing garage is not included in the 50% allowance. Applicant advised that her architect had contacted SDC Planning Officer direct who purported to be happy with proximity of garage to main property.
SE/15/00723: Rogues Hill House, Rogues Hill, Penshurst: Proposed new vehicular access with new gate. The PC would support this application but would prefer the tulip trees be retained as this should not adversely affect the visibility splay. Members were advised by Mr Sellings that SDC Tree Officer had visited site and was considering the issue of the tulip tree.
SE/14/03882/3: Hammerfield Cottage, Penshurst Road, Penshurst: Four replacement windows to property. REFUSED
SE/15/00339: The Willows, Walters Green Farm, Walters Green Road: Proposed window alterations. REFUSED
SE/14/03895: The Sheiling, Coopers Lane, Penshurst: 1.8m high close boarded fence set within house cartilage 600mm from boundary. Application no longer valid – incorrect boundary line on site plan.
SE/15/00277: 1 Pumping Station, Saints Hill, Penshurst: Demolition of outbuilding, erection of single storey front extension, two storey side extension and single storey rear extension with two velux windows to side, a dormer window, a roof lantern and a flue to rear. Application Withdrawn
SE/15/00735: 8 Latymers, Penshurst: Reduce overall crown of large Ash tree by 30%
SE/15/00683: Wayside, Spring Hill, Fordcombe: Removal of 2 Horse Chestnut trees and 1 Ash tree
SE/15/00846: Fordcombe Village Hall, Spring Hill, Fordcombe: Removal of branches, and raise canopy to 5.2m to a group of Ash trees
SDC/Affordable Housing Enabler: 2nd Stage Survey: Requests for information forwarded personally by Cllrs Carson and O’Shea to Tessa O’Sullivan (Rural Housing Enabler) relating to options for site identification and survey responses circulated to members for information. PC confirmed to Housing Enabler position with regard to availability of allotment site.
Independent survey produced for Becket Trust (BT) by their architects, YOUMEHESHE and others, circulated to those involved – including the PC and SDC – and was also available on web, 23 sites having been listed. Two further sites had been put forward as a result of the public survey.
The independence of the survey was challenged, having been produced by BT architects and others who had been involved in the project and opposed the use of Forge Field for affordable housing. It was confirmed that BT had paid one sixth of the costs of the production, Messrs Barraud and Rees confirmed their involvement but were unable to provide names of other participants as part of the agreement for other contributors funding the project was to remain anonymous. The BT survey had attracted both support and complaints regarding accuracy which were being addressed. Chairman recorded a problem had arisen with many of the site owners not having been contacted regarding availability of their sites prior to publication of the report.
BT did not have funding for all sites identified but could possibly fund two of them, BT was also neutral on all sites and wanted affordable housing to become a reality. BT was willing to pay market value for land, as they previously had in 2010, financial restrictions applied to local authorities building affordable homes was not mandatory on private organisations.
In view of the increased housing requirement, ie 8 homes, multiple sites might be possible but would still be expensive.
SDC had forwarded their report on the affordable housing site survey shortly before the meeting. Of the 23 (plus 2) sites just 6 were available. All of these six sites were known prior to this exercise, Chairman confirmed the final sites identified for consideration in Penshurst were: Beckets Field Only, Forge Field, High Street; Randalls, Penshurst Road; Old Forge/Disused Reservoir and Bottle House Allotments, Coldharbour Road; Former Orchard, Grove Road.
Recommendation relating to above sites by SDC: Following the site assessments, it is recommended that Penshurst PC consider the list of available sites to determine its preferred option for affordable housing development, taking into account the requirements of Core Strategy Policy SP4, and seeking the ‘buy-in’ from the landowner and the PC’s preferred Housing Provider. It will be for the Housing Provider to determine the viability of the preferred site(s) for development purposes.
It was confirmed that BT was a registered charity.
The PC could call an Extra-Ordinary meeting to discuss the issue of affordable housing and a decision on preferred sites, Chairman would require a unanimous decision on whether to hold such a meeting.
5. MATTERS ARISING:
a. Long Bridge Project: Still no information available on the timing of work to be carried out after re-organisation of highways department.
b. Litter Bins – Rectory/Leicester Square: Clerk had obtained paint from Dunbrik depot for litter bins plus a further small supply of new paint if this proved unusable.
c. Public Toilets: Costs relating to public toilets per 12 month period: Water rates – £150; Insurance – £300; Electricity – £275; SDC Rates – £975; Cleaners/Consumables – £5500. Costs of mobile unit, ie weekly hire of ‘event style toilet’ £35 pw for basic, unit suitable for disabled access £50 – £100 pw; figures based on long term hire and assessed as suitable for use by up to 50 people for 8 hours or any combination of this figure. Units must be sited on land accessible to their delivery/collection lorries for weekly attendance, delivery and removal. Cost per extra clean £25. Toilets not lockable, therefore open 24/7. PC responsible for vandalism costs, damage etc. if stolen replacement cost approximately £800-£1000. Extra costs for delivery/collection based on distance etc and would need to be added.
Cllr O’Shea subsequently emailed suggestion that PC could open the public toilets during summer only allowing a target cost of £60-70 pw in line with Portable Toilets (non disabled unit). Cllr O’Shea assumed a reduced level of rates could be agreed with SDC ie £300 pa, therefore £150 for a half year (though ideally zero) and the cleaning costs could be reduced to £36 per week to cover two hours cleaning plus consumables. No allowance had been made for maintenance and repairs. Clerk did not feel that the options suggested by Cllr O’Shea were financially feasible.
Chairman advised the decision to withdraw the service had been due to the fact that there was little or no local benefit and parishioners had been expected to pay high costs for the service. Cllr Paddy Cooke would make enquiries of SDC regarding current position with regard to the site.
a. Sevenoaks District Councillor Paddy Cooke: Cllr. Cooke stated that with the election on the horizon there was little to report, except for the fact that for the Year Ending, Sevenoaks District Council were anticipating a ‘balanced book’ situation. This had been largely achieved by some extremely careful budgeting, introducing combined departmental roles with adjacent authorities; some minor savings, but ensuring that priority services were maintained at the same level
The Capital Programme 2015/2018 has been approved by Cabinet as recommended the Finance and Resources Advisory Committee (Cllr Cooke is a member of this Committee). One of the approved items is the Property Investment Strategy which authorises property acquisitions by the Council.
This strategy has been introduced in order to protect the residents of Sevenoaks District in the future, against the removal of financial assistance from Central Government, which is forecasted will be reduced to zero over the next five years. The support for the last financial year was reduced by a further 24%.
Cllr Cooke wished to alert Constituents of the following grants, that have become available in the recent months and should anyone require any assistance in applying, he would be more than happy to assist
Grants for War Memorials – War Memorials Trust
This scheme, funded by English Heritage and The Wolfson Foundation and administered by War Memorials Trust, is currently being reviewed. As such, information may be subject to amendment in the near future. A maximum of 75% of eligible costs are available up to a maximum grant of £30,000. Eligible projects are:
• Freestanding war memorials in England with no other functional purpose than as a war memorial (plaques, bridges and buildings, for example are ineligible)
• Projects must be over £3,000 to be eligible
Eligible works include: urgent and necessary repairs and structural stabilisation; cleaning, under certain circumstances; works relating to ‘hard’ landscaping which form an integral part of the design of the memorial; reinstatement of lost elements which form an integral part of the design of the memorial when supported by historical evidence.
Ineligible works include: new war memorials; works to graves of any type; maintenance; alterations or additions to the original design; relocation; addition of names; cosmetic cleaning; work which has already started or been completed.
Annual deadlines are 31 March, 30 June, 30 September and 31 December. The scheme is currently confirmed until 2015.
On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion Fund – WRAP
The On-Farm Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Fund has been developed to help farmers in England get financial support to build small-scale AD plants on their farms
The fund is being delivered on behalf of the government by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). WRAP understand that the main barriers to developing AD on farms are: access to finance; availability of reference sites for technologies and case studies; demonstration of the benefits of AD; the potential high cost of technology.
To address these barriers and encourage the uptake of small-scale on-farm AD in the UK WRAP has developed a programme to help farms access finance, provide case studies and demonstration information and provide support for farmers who want to use AD on their farm. The fund will be available to farms in England, that have access to slurries or manures; and who wish to build AD plants producing up to 250k/W of power.
The scheme is split into two parts:
• A business plant grant up to £10,000 to investigate the environmental and economic potential of building an AD plant on the farm.
• A capital loan up to £400,000 (or a maximum of 50% of the project cost). This is available for AD plants producing up to 250kW of power.
There is a rolling programme for applications.
Community Sport Activation Fund – Sport England
The fourth round of this Fund opened on 20 January 2015. The kind of projects Sport England expect to fund include:
• Activities reflecting a broad range of sports
• Informal opportunities which could lead to regular participation
• Multi-sport activities which provide people with a range of choices and opportunities to suit them
• Family orientated activities with a focus on the 14 plus age group
• Local activator roles that focus on directly organising and delivering new opportunities for participation.
Projects can be up to three years and grant awards will range from £50,000 – £250,000. The closing date for applications is 20 April 2015.
b. KALC: No report
c. Kent County Councillor Clive Pearman: Full report provided for Annual Parish Assembly, circulated to members. March report as follows:
This past month seems to have been a bit ‘thin’ on matters which are of relevance, let alone interest, to Parishes within the Sevenoaks South Division, but I will try and drum up a little interest in two matters which are of relevance, both of which emerged from the County Council meeting held on the 26th of March.
Firstly, agreement was secured at the meeting for the revised ‘Outcomes Framework’ which, following consultation within the community of Kent, will now called ‘Increasing Opportunities, Improving Outcomes: Kent County Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020)’. Much energy, thought and effort has gone into crafting this concise Outcomes Framework which, in a nutshell, shows the outcomes which the County Council expects to achieve from its £2bn revenue investment over these 5 years. The paper made clear that the Council’s focus will be on improving lives by ensuring that every pound spent in Kent is delivering substantially better outcomes for our residents, communities and businesses; it also provides details of how success will be monitored so as to ensure that the intentions are not merely words left hanging at the mercy of chance! The document, at last fairly concise and readable, sets the strategic direction for the whole organisation and connects with, and is relevant to, all of our residents and businesses.
Secondly and lastly from the County Council meeting was the outcome of a petition of 11k signatures from residents, virtually all of whom were from the communities along the northern edge of the County, seeking to have the Council’s decision to ‘turn off’ the street lights overturned and night-time street lighting restored. After a somewhat heated, but not illuminating (forgive the pun!) debate which was more to do with vitriol rather than common sense, the decision was made to continue with the current plan of replacing the old-style lights with the relatively new LED technology over a three-year period. By ‘politically engineering’ the petition, of course, merely heightened a sense and belief within these communities that without street lighting there will be greater levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. Research, however, proves the opposite, as most truly rural communities which have no or very little street lighting will verify. But this political football was kicked around the Council Chamber for the best part of an hour before being firmly kicked out, an unedifying spectacle for the residents who had been drawn into the petition, let alone the person who had endeavoured to address the issue out of real concern for her own situation and who had presented the petition at the beginning of the debate.
One other issue of interest has arisen as a consequence of conversations with the out-going Coalition Government and concerning the provision of financial support for education in the face of a growing population in Kent. Those conversations had resulted in the county being allocated an additional £51 million ‘top-up’ for Kent’s schools’ capital expansion programme. That said, we all must be aware of the fact that the Basic Needs per pupil allocation still only covers 52% of the capital cost of school provision and expansion; 13% comes from developer contributions, and the remainder comes from disposing of redundant property assets, and a decision to take up prudential borrowing when rates are at an all-time low. That said, however, this funding regime for education cannot continue in its present form as resources become ever more stretched and when we have to be very aware of the debt burden which this current and urgent educational need places upon subsequent generations.
With this situation very much to the fore, the county has commissioned a planning consultancy to produce ‘The Kent and Medway Growth and Infrastructure Plan’ that will give coherence across the county by joining up the twelve districts and Medway’s local plans for both housing and commercial development up to 2031. The Plan will identify the necessary infrastructure needed to manage the substantive population and housing growth, estimated at around 1% per annum, and 11% per decade. The Plan will scope the necessary capital investment required in:-
· Education facilities
· Transport (highways, public transport, rail, etc.)
· Utilities (including energy, water and sewerage, waste and communication), and
· Health (primary, acute, and community health facilities)
The Plan will broadly identify the capital costs of provision, identifying anticipated developer-contributions as well as Central Government Grants. It is anticipated that this process will identify substantial funding shortfalls which will need to be brought to the attention of the new and incoming Government if the county is to match the ‘growth across the board’ with the essentially needed infrastructure provision and whilst simultaneously not diminishing the quality of life for Kent’s residents.
And talking of infrastructure issues and following the email which I sent to Highways Department a couple of weeks ago, threatening to “scream, and scream and scream” if immediate action was not taken with regard to the unfinished projects which I have funded over the past two years, one of the Senior Project Managers from the Highways Department came out to visit the division this past Tuesday. She now has a full and comprehensive understanding of the issues and frustrations which are at the heart of all of the projects, and the following two, in particular – the Long Bridge project in Penshurst, and the interactive speed sign on the approach into Leigh from Tonbridge. I have been assured that these matters will be resolved within the next two weeks, not by any quick installation, but by confirming what is and what is not going to be done, and when. I am certainly looking for definitive answers now, with no further prevarication!
Finally, KCC’s Children’s Services are due for a full Ofsted inspection in the near future, and no doubt there will be issues to address when the final inspection report is published. Who knows what the outcome will be when inspecting this highly sensitive and important service, but I am sure that there will be a set of findings and recommendations which will pre-occupy the Council’s various Cabinet Committees in the short term. I just hope that the opposition parties do not try and turn the findings into a ‘political football match’, given the proximity of the inspection either pre or post the May General Election, and so undermine the dedication and hard work which staff put into this service.
And that, and with my personal thanks to all of you for your continued support, concludes my report for March.
d. Alms Houses: Mr Johnson advised three new Trustees had joined plus the Clerk had changed, online banking was being introduced and new mandates are being processed. An outside survey of the property had been carried out and guttering and roof repairs are to be commissioned. A full Fire Risk Assessment is to be done together with instruction on the use of fire extinguishers available in the residents’ accommodation. Ongoing problems with damp are being dealt with, this within the limits of the building construction and lack of ventilation available. The Clerk continues to be in discussion with the estate over the dangerous surface of the access drive.
e. Neighbourhood Watch: No crime reports recorded in Fordcombe, two in Penshurst relating to stolen jewellery and two bikes stolen from a garage. A shed had also been broken into in Penshurst with a considerable amount of damage done, safety equipment had been fitted to the shed.
f. Speedwatch: A number of sessions had been held, during a 75 minute period at The Glebe 46 speeding drivers had been registered, one at 53 mph.
g. Gatwick: Application for Judicial Review in relation to the CAA was served to the court on 5 March 2015 by Martin Barraud. Richard Streatfield, Chairman of High Weald Council Aviation Action Group, advised members that he had been asked to provide a letter of support of the claim to ensure Martin Barraud could prove his standing in the community and that he shared a sufficient common interest with others to make sure the claim is heard. The HWCAAG members would not be liable for the costs of the JR. Cllr Streatfield further confirmed there would be absolutely no liability for costs of any supportive organisation, John Steel QC (acting on behalf of M Barraud in relation to the JR) advised that the letter was solely to support the JR and conferred no liability. Cllr Streatfield’s action had been undertaken without the knowledge of the other members of the HWCAAG who were advised retrospectively, support for his action was now sought from the members. Cllr Campbell and the clerk raised concerns regarding the legality of the situation, clerk to check position with KALC.
A request was tabled from the High Weald group to countersign a statement presented at No. 10 Downing Street, the Chairman gave details of the content of the document and confirmed that members at the High Weald meeting had not been in favour of supporting the draft provided. It was decided not to retrospectively approve the letter, nor support any future documentation without prior consultation.
Reported Faults Update:
PROW: 862385/843172: Footpath 469 lack of stile or signs at either end, track also ploughed over – inspected and work completed; Footpath 469 Gate tied up causing difficulty on entering area – inspection January, landowner action to remedy problem, work complete on 24 March.
136309: Outside 6 Glebelands: Gully drain sinking and blocked. Site inspected, metal replacement required, work programmed.
Penshurst Bus Shelter: Repairs undertaken, wooden paneling installed.
Kerbstone – Junction Penshurst Road/High Street: No further information available on timing for corner to be painted.
Pothole: Towards Bidborough between Meadow Bank and Ashour. Issue already raised by highways officer.
150197: Culverts/Ditches: Clearance needed adjacent to Marlpit Cottages/Poundsbridge junction. Inspection undertaken 30 March 2015.
17145730: The Lane, Fordcombe: Road damaged, possible gas leak. Gas board attended site to check prior to highways visiting to assess damage. Clerk advised repairs now undertaken by highways.
Fly Tipping: Poundsbridge Lane – Long Wood bath in gateway and builders bag further along road. Area cleared.
Potholes – Bradley Road: Scheduled for work, road closure necessary for work to be carried out.
PROW: Footpath between Fordcombe Road in Penshurst and Warren Farm blocked by small fallen tree/shrub, issue resolved by PROW department.
Cllr Clive Pearman: Trying to obtain information regarding drainage issues had been promised for end of February, information regarding the Lengthsman service not received, no further information available at date of preparation of agenda.
Kent Highways: Notification received advising resurfacing work would be undertaken at Saints Hill from its junction with Saints Hill to the high friction surfacing at Colliersland bridge, and in the High Street, Penshurst from its junction with Penshurst Place to the village school. To be programmed.
The following accounts were presented and approved for payment:
Mr I Streeter Lengthsman £89.00
Information Commissioner’s Office Data Protection Registration £35.00
Chiddingstone Parish Council HWCAAG Clerical Costs £96.09
RIP Cleaning Services Dog Waste Removal £63.36
NAD Property Services Penshurst Bus Shelter Repair £80.00
KALC Annual Subscription £652.13
South East Water Water Supply, Warren Lane £12.00
a. Fordcombe Churchyard Paths: Request for financial assistance with the cost of repairing the pathways in the churchyard. Clerk approached five contractors, only one quotation received for part of the work. Further checks being made to find contractor to carry out contract.
b. GON: Cllr O’Shea not at meeting, issue deferred.
c. Fun Day: Final booking completed – core activities include garden games, large sports activities, 3 x craft activities, inflatable, board games and team activities. Optional Activity booked: Circus Skills, based on advice from organisers and relating to age group recorded as attending.
d. Bulk Freighter: Confirmation of dates of attendance: 25 April, 18 July and 17 October.
a. SDC Enforcement: PC advised of current situation with regard to complaints submitted in relation to PORC.
o A second mobile home was currently occupied by an engineer involved in on site construction installing a biomass heating system for the clubhouse.
o Site currently up for sale therefore works halted, hand over scheduled for end March. New owners would be completing the clubhouse, wheelchair track etc. after which time the caravans would be removed. Maintenance work was currently ongoing on the site.
o There is no limit to mobile homes on site, provided they are reasonably necessary; it was not considered reasonable for further homes to be required currently.
o There is no time limit for mobile homes on site, however if no works take place for a considerable time SDC would take action to secure their removal.
o Sewerage is a matter for Environmental Health, the department was already investigating various issues on site.
b. SDC: Provision of documents adopted by SDC – Allocations and Development Management Plan and Policies Map (adopted February 2015); Development in the Green Belt SPD (adopted February 2015); Statement of Community Involvement (adopted November 2014).
10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
a. Fly Tipping: It was noted asbestos left in Poundsbridge had been cordoned off with tape, it was assumed this would be collected by the relevant Highway contractors.
b. Potholes: Clerk to report potholes at the Chafford Lane/Broad Lane junction. (Reported to Highways under Ref: 152169)
c. Colliersland Bridge: Clerk to report overgrown hedging from the bridge up the hill towards Sandfield Road, (Reported to Highways under Ref: 152174)
d. Salt Bin: Clerk to report damaged salt bin at top of Smarts Hill. (Reported to Highways under Ref: 152173)
Meeting concluded 8.50 pm. Next Meeting 13 April 2015 – Annual Parish Assembly