The “turmoil” of the draft neighbourhood plan, the phone box in the Street and use of the JCH and sports field were amongst the topics debated by the Parish Council at its meeting yesterday evening.
Councillors Harris (Chair), Baggs, Montgomery, Kayani, Sharp and Dodge attended, as did eleven members of the public. Councillors Pfleger, Cobb and Hearn sent their apologies.
The Chairman thanked residents for their questions and said it was useful to have some of the questions written down in advance.
What is happening to the community field (former car park project)?
A resident asked whether the field could be a wild flower meadow (if it wasn’t being used for anything else). It looked very nice at the moment, and perhaps it could be returned to the type of field that we used to have before the days of intensive farming.
The Chairman explained that the Council was still considering all the options (including the possibility of it becoming a car park in some form). It had been agreed this year that it would be let out for £100 per annum for the grazing of horses.
When will the paths be swept?
The paths between the Butts and Church Path are in a state, making it hazardous for pedestrians (including those going to and from school).
The Chairman confirmed that this had been added to the Parish Steward’s list.
What is happening to the free-standing bus stops?
The free-standing bus stops, at both ends of the village, are great when they are clean, not so great when they are dirty and fall into disrepair. Could they be cleaned?
Andrew Harris said that the Council was not sure if the bus stops were the responsbility of the Parish Council or Wiltshire Council. If the former, they too would be added to the Parish Steward’s list.
What would be the cost of any defibrilator?
The resident apologised for returning to this old chestnut. However, would the Council look carefully at the cost of calibration, on-going maintenance and training before going ahead? These were potentially signficiant and, in 23 years, the resident had not seen any demonstrable need for a defibrilator.
The Chairman said this fell under Councillor Pfleger’s remit. Councillor Pfleger was not there today, but he would relay the concerns.
Why has the rubbish bin at the Recreation Field disappeared?
A resident said the bin at the JCH filed had disappeared, leading to an increase in rubbish. Can we have it back?
The Chairman explained the bin had not gone, but the Parish Council had moved it to the entrance. It had been used for dog waste, which made the bin an issue for those disposing of the waste. The Clerk explained that, in its new position, the bin waste was Wiltshire Council’s responsibility. In the former (field) location, it was the duty of the Parish Council to empty it. The Parish Council may need a waste licence to deal with it there, which would need to be added to the Parish’s costs if the bin were to be returned to its original localtion.
The resident said he felt that the problem may continue if the bin is not in the field.
Can something be done to keep the swings in the JCH field free of bird mess?
The play area is much appreciated. However, the pigeons have been prolific this year, and their mess is making the swings a health hazard. Could the Council do something (like installing pigeon spikes) to alleviate the problem?
The Chairman said it was a good suggestion. He will ask the relevant subcommitteee to look at this.
What does the Council think of the proposal to develop the land to the rear of Meadow Springs?
The Chairman said that the Parish Council had not been consulted, and no application had been formally made yet. It would consider commenting when the application was in. Before then, it was not appropriate for the Parish Council to say anything.
Mike Sharp said that he was co-ordinating residents, and concerned locals. The Chairman said any response should be made through Councillor Dodge. However, it was agreed that Councillor Dodge would continue to lead the Council’s formal consideration and response through the planning subcommittee, and that Mike Sharp would continue in his role as local resident and de facto community leader. The Chairman made the point that input in a personal capacity should be kept distinct from that of the Parish Council.
Councillor Sharp urged local residents to attend the consultation that the developers are holding on 14 July. This could best be used as an information-gathering exercise, rather than an opportunity to argue with the developers. It was felt that the latter would be futile, and possibly counterproductive. Tom Pepperell said that some people had a feeling that developers used such meetings to gather information themselves, to couch their applications in terms most favourable to themselves. Those minded to object to the prospective development, therefore, may decide not to be too forthcoming in their engagment with the developer’s informal consultation.
A resident asked about the neighbourhood plan (still in draft) and Wiltshire’s Core Stategy. Don’t these suggest that the development should not go ahead and, if so, shouldn’t the Parish Council object?
Planning and the New V Neighbourhood Plan
Tom Pepperell said that the Core Strategy gave Lydiard small village status and it was not anticpated that Lydiard would have to take any housing devleopment other than small-scale infill. There was no longer any rural buffer, although there was a policy to avoid coalescence. However, at the same time, there was great pressure to build more homes.
Councillor Montgomery said that he had spoken to a representative from Indigo Landcape Archictects, who were surveying a field between Nine Elms and Washpool. This indicates there could be prospective interest in putting a development in there too (separate from the Mews proposals).
Councillor Montgomery made an empassioned plea for residents to use the byeways, footpaths and bridleways around the village. Showing the land was well used, not derelcit and overgrown, would be one way of protecting our rural amenity.
Tom Pepperell gave an update on the neighbourhood plan, which was “now in its fourth, maybe fifth, year.”
NEWV stands for North East Wiltshire Villages. Of the original members, Cricklade and Wotton Bassett withdrew early in the process. Three more villages have now withdrawn. This includes Lydiarde Tregoze who, for some reason (not fully understood) now want to do their own thing. As previously discussed, this leaves Lydiard Milicient isolated and Wiltshire Council are saying that NewV cannot go on in its current form as the villages are no longer contiguous.They are reportedly saying, therefore, that Lydiard Millicent must leave.
An area cannot be in two neighbourhood planning areas at the same time. Because of this, Purton has started the process of formally leaving so that it can progress its own plan. By doing this, Purton thinks it can get things moving, and not be held up by the other villages who are dragging their heels or, in some cases, doing nothing at all.
However, it is unclear whether all the members of NewV must formally consent to any dissenting villages leaving. If consent is needed, Wiltshire Council (and the other members of NewV) cannot force Lydiard Millicent to leave. If this reasoning is correct, this means Lydiard Millicent can block Purton and any other dissenters from doing their own neighbourhood plan. It would also mean NewV could not progress. (It is effectively a stalemate).
Tom Pepperell said most of the work (from Lydiard Millicent’s perpective) has already been done, and Wiltshire Council should continue to give help should Lydiard Millicent leave NewV, albeit with a different officer. Realistically, he said, Lydiard Millicent cannot continue with NewV and the only choice if the village wants to progress its neighbourhood plan is to do it itself. (No formal approach had been made to Purton, but it was felt that our joining them was not a realistic option).
The Clerk said she was in touch with Wiltshire Council over what assistance Lydiard Millicent would get if it left NewV, and whether any funding would be forthcoming from the Area Board. She said that the Parish Council needed to decide whether it would agree to Lydiard Millicent leaving NewV, or whether it would hold out.
Last month, the Clerk reminded everyone, the Parish Council had approved the resolution that “It is the understanding of Lydiard Millicent Parish Council that if Lydiard Tregoz exits NEW-V, Wiltshire Council will be unable to allow Lydiard Millicent to continue as part of the NEW-V Group as this will not make sense in Planning terms. Accordingly, whilst respecting the wish of Lydiard Tregoz Parish Council it is RESOLVED TO OBJECT to their leaving NEW-V, unless Wiltshire Council can provide assurances to the satisfaction of the Parish Council that the Parish of Lydiard Millicent will not be detrimentally affected.”
The Clerk said no such assurances or new information had been forthcoming. Therefore the resolution could not be changed for six months. It means Lydiard Millicent could not set up its own designated neighbourhood planning area, but could still look at the background information and make sure that is robust. Another possibility (floated apparently by Wiltshire Council is for Lydiard Tregoze to stay in NewV, despite its resolution to leave, and to be “a silent partner”).
Andrew Harris said that if Lydiard Millicent went it alone, this could cost £10,000.
Tom Pepperell said he did not know where this figure of £10,000 came from.
Andrew Harris said that in holding out, Lydiard Millicent may get more money out of Wiltshire Council to progress its own plan.
Councillors Dodge and Sharp were also both in favour of holding out, and not agreeing to Lydiard Millicent leaving.
(Perhaps an article on the neighbourhood plan is needed. The proceedings have become almost Kafka-esque, and the only things that look certain are uncertainty and further lack of progress. Watch this space – Ed).
Other Planning Matters
Acacia Croom House
The Parish Council decided not to object to the removal of the planning condition relating to construction of the wall. (Basically, the wall has been built in the wrong place, thus contravening the condition about clear frontage imposed in the interests of higways safety). Councillor Dodge said that it was really a decision for Highways as councillors had no knowledge of the impact on safety.
New build at the Butts
The Council had no objections to this as it was infill. However, the planning subcommittee had expressed concern about the safety aspects of deliveries to the site when school children may be in the vicinity. They would like a condition restricting deliveries during drop-off and collection times. Andrew Harris questioned whether such a condition would be enforceable. It was considered there should be no objection in principle, but concern was raised over working conditions on site.
Neighbourhood Watch Report
Councillor Sharp gave an update. There have been two burglaries in the past month; one in Common Platt and one in the Beeches (where the alarm had gone off and nothing had been taken). He had attended the AGM in Devizes, and the committee were in the process of reforming. The PCC had given a presentation, as had the Chief Constable.
Andrew Harris asked about Speed Watch, and Councillor Sharp replied it had not been talked about at the meeting he had attended. The Chairman thought there was an increase in speeding in the village, and a lack of enforcement.
Unitary Councillor’s Report
Mrs Groom’s written report was read out by the Clerk. The Chair thanked Councillor Groom (who was not present), but he hoped that future reports would focus more on Lydiard, as it was a bit “disappointing that it doesn’t affect us at all.”
Future Communications with the Council
The Chairman said that it was important that residents should see the Council to be doing something about issues raised. In future, all correspondence should be acknowledged.
The Council would also consider repositioning notice boards so they would be seen by more people.
Councillor Cobb sent a written report and apologies.
Lydiard Green footpath and church chicane are now finished.
The addition of parking restrictions around the Butts would cost in the region of £5,000-£6,000, of which the Parish Council would expect to contribute about £2,500. Councillor Cobb had intimated that he wanted to progress this, but the Clerk said, as the report had not been circulated in time, it would have to be held over to the August meeting.
A metro count at Greatfield is in hand (no further details).
The issues relating to verge erosion at Washpool and Stone Lane are still current, but seem to have dropped off the issues log. The improvement to road markings at the junction between Tewkesbury Way and Washpool need to be chased up, as does the surface condition of Washpool bridge and the possibility of widening the road in that area.
The Jubilee Club House and Field
Lydiard Football Club would like to use the field more. The subcommittee tended to the view any extra games should be on Saturday mornings rather than Saturday afternoons, as local residents were more likely to be out enjoying their back gardens in the afternoon and they didn’t like the additional noise.
On the other hand, the Chairman pointed out, the field is a community asset and the Council have a duty to make good use of it. Revenue raised allows the level of precept to be kept down. Not having a policy on when the hall and field can be used makes marketing it more difficult, the Clerk said.
Councillor Baggs thought the field could be used for traditional community events, like a village sports day or fete. Councillor Montgomery suggested using it for car boot sales.
It was resolved to have a policy of accepting bookings from 8am until 6pm, for the hall or field. This is to be reviewed (on Councillor Kayani’s suggestion) after 3 months. If a particular booking looked like it might be controversial, then the Clerk would raise with Councillor Pfleger. The field would be kept open, the gate being locked at night and councillors would undertake this on a rota basis.
The Phone Box in the Street
It was agreed that the phone box would be decommissioned.
The Chairman read out a letter from a local resident saying how the phone box was valued as a treasured part of the street scene, and there were a number of offers of support for its adoption. It could be used as a book exchange, for a defibrilator if the village gets one, or advertising space, or a combination of all three. It was also agreed that the Council would adopt the phone box in Stone Lane.
The next meeting is set for 4th August, details to be confirmed.