KING’S SOMBORNE PARISH COUNCIL
Minutes of the Extraordinary Parish Council Meeting
held in the Epworth Hall commencing at 7.30pm on Monday 16th March 2020
Present: Cllr I Beacham
Cllr R Harwood
Cllr L Hodge
Cllr K Hughes
Cllr G Searle
Cllr M Qassim
Cllr O Wales
Cllr R Webb
Cllr S Whitehead
In Attendance: Mrs G Foster (Clerk to King’s Somborne Parish Council)
Also present: 15 members of the public were present for part of the meeting.
340. Apologies for Absence
341. Declarations of Interest and Requests for Dispensations
341.1. Cllr Hughes advised that she lived on Eldon road near the allotments.
341.2. Cllr Hodge advised her residence backed onto the site of KS7 and was opposite SHLAA 81.
341.3. Cllr Wales advised he lived next to KS6.
342. Introduction and explanation for calling the meeting.
342.1. Cllr Hughes explained that the meeting had been called as the Neighbourhood Development Plan had been going on for some time and all Councillors needed to be brought up to speed with developments as the Steering Group was no longer viable.
343. To hear and explanation of Terms, and reports that have been commissioned.
343.1. Cllr Searle gave a presentation and explained that the writing of the full plan had been contracted to South Downs National Park Authority, (SDNPA) who were currently working on the second version of the plan.
343.2. The plan starts with a Visions and Objectives summary which informs the overall Sustainability Appraisal Scoping report. This has been completed by SDNPA.
343.3. The next document is the Sequential Test Report which is under revision by SDNPA.
343.4. This is followed by the Sustainability Appraisal Strategic Environmental Assessment report which has been received in draft and is interlinked with the overall NDP. If this document changes, then the entire NDP must change, so these two documents should be presented as a pair when the NDP is completed.
343.5. Next document is a Flood Risk Study prepared by Waterco, which was completed in August 2018. This report is still relevant as it considers the same sites as are currently being proposed even though the building area has been reduced on those sites. It incorporates comments from Parishioners and comments from the Environment Agency at the back of the report. Some of the comments are currently being reviewed and revised by SDNPA.
343.6. The next document is the Site Assessment Summary Table, which is included in the Sustainability Appraisal Strategic Environmental Assessment report.
343.7. A further Scoring Summary Table had been populated by SDNPA to show the scoring of each site according to every assessment criteria. (Agreed in Dec 2019 meeting.) Cllr Searle noted that different planners had given conflicting advice whether this document was needed or not. Cllr Searle asked that advice be taken on whether the table should be included in the plan. It was noted that Sarah Hughes from TVBC had advised in the May 2019 NDP meeting that a scoring table should be drawn up and included in the final version for the inspectors to see how the sites had been selected. Further advice from SDNPA would be sought. Action: Clerk.
343.8. Cllr Hodge clarified that Scoring Summary Table had been meant to be a working document and a tool to help Councillors make informed decisions. It had been colour coded as the scoring was too difficult to summarise. Cllr Hodge also noted that not all information in the Scoring Summary Table from SDNPA was included in the Site Assessment Summary Table in the Sustainability Appraisal Strategic Environmental Assessment report. An example of a missing aspect was site access.
343.9. The last document included in the plan was the Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment which will need to be updated from the previous version as the NDP will have different policies from the previous version and amendments will need to be updated and aligned. This will be done by ECOSA after the Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment is revised.
343.10. A summary of the reports that will be included in the NDP are:
a. Flood Risk Study (Waterco)
b. Sequential Test Report (SDNPA)
c. Complete Neighbourhood Development Plan (SDNPA)
d. Site Assessment Summary Table (SDNPA)
e. Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report (SDNPA)
f. Sustainability Appraisal Strategic Environmental Assessment Report
g. Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment (ECOSA)
343.11. Cllr Hodge asked for clarification that the Sequential Test report was being revised, and Cllr Searle advised that the Steering Group had been responsible for making comments to aid the revision, but he was not aware how they had been communicated back to SDNPA. The Clerk had not sent the comments so South Downs would be contacted and asked for a copy. Action: Clerk.
344. To consider the Housing Paper Revision 2.0 1c, and if appropriate to approve the version.
344.1. Comments had been received from TVBC, the public and SDNPA stating that all housing needs should be amalgamated into one paper which had been done. After receiving advice from SDNPA, the selected sites were now not prioritised into any order.
344.2. Further advice had been received stating that each site should define the type, size and number of houses and placement of them on the site in order to limit numbers of dwellings and their positioning. This had been included in a table within the housing paper which stated the maximum number of houses that could be accommodated, and the number of dwellings the plan would limit each site to.
344.3. Test Valley had imposed the requirement that 40 houses should be accommodated by the Parish, and if the plan went through, this figure could not be amended. However, until the plan was finalised there was a risk that the number could be challenged or reviewed by TVBC.
344.4. The housing density that had been calculated was 30 dwellings per hectare which aligned with TVBC calculations. TVBC’s figures included roads and recreational areas in the calculation, this meant the housing density for the NDP would be slightly better for the Parish as recreational areas did not need to be included.
344.5. It was questioned if there was any flexibility on density depending on site and its proximity to listed buildings. Cllr Searle said he did not think that was possible, but that each site had a number of houses delegated to it which should be sympathetic to both the density figure and the surrounding buildings.
344.6. It was questioned if it was mandatory to include the density of houses in the paper. Cllr Searle confirmed it was not a requirement, but the Steering Group had been advised to include this in order to limit the areas of development. Each site had a policy drafted for it, and these figures would end up in the policy and the site would therefore be ringfenced for a certain quantity of dwellings.
344.7. The buildable area in each site would also be stipulated so that the entire sites could not be built on and only the buildable area would be added to the settlement boundary.
344.8. Cllr Searle advised that any houses built inside the settlement boundary prior to the NDP being accepted would NOT be included in the 40 houses allocated to the Parish for building. He had been told this by the Chief Planner at TVBC, and by SDNPA. Cllr Hodge explained that Sarah Hughes at TVBC had recently advised that houses built inside the settlement boundary would be considered as “windfall” sites and they WOULD be included in the number. Additionally, a resident had received a letter from Caroline Noakes appearing to confirm that windfall sites might be feasible. A definitive answer was needed and TVBC would be written to again. Action: Clerk.
344.9. Cllr Beacham asked if no areas or sites were identified in the Plan, but very strict policy statements were included, specifying for example density, quality, positioning, etc, then would it be up to developers to put in applications in accordance with those policies and then for the Parish Council and ultimately TVBC to assess the applications against? He further asked what would be the advantage of identifying sites now, given that there was a limit of 40 houses already agreed. Cllr Searle advised that if sites were not specified, then it would be a free for all to put in applications within the settlement boundary. He also advised that the limit of 40 houses would not stop further development in that case. As part of the NDP there would be a right for the Parish Council to amend the number in of houses in the NDP if a substantial development was passed for a significant amount of houses, then the total amount could be reviewed with Test Valley Borough Council but would require justifying why the request should be undertaken.
344.10. Cllr Hodge asked for clarification on whether a whole SHLAA would become part of the settlement boundary if an application for development was passed on a small part of the site. It was confirmed by Mr Brock that this was correct.
344.11. Cllr Searle further advised that there could be no restriction currently on building within the settlement boundary (other than usual planning considerations) but that on extra sites identified by the NDP, caps could be put on the number of houses for each site.
344.12. Councillors had reservations with regards to the sites stated in the Housing paper given that the actual sites had not yet been approved by Council. It was Resolved: by majority, with two councillors objecting and two councillors abstaining, that the Housing Paper be approved by Council subject to any consequential revisions being required if the sites stated within the paper were to be changed.
345. To consider the Green Space Paper Revision no. 2.0 and if appropriate to approve the version.
345.1. Cllr Searle advised that the only change to the version was the area behind Manor Farm House on Winchester Road which had been amended. The area that was originally KS7 or SHLAA 80A/B had been altered so that a smaller part (closer to Spencer’s Farm) was now designated at KS7 and as a result of the feedback and objections from parishioners and Historic England the rest of the site had been designated as a LAGS. Cllr Hodge advised councillors that the whole of the field was assessed in the original green spaces paper and was the only site to tick every required criteria. It was questioned how this area has selected to have any building on it given that it would have been the first choice for a LAGS and in fact is the picture on the front of the green spaces document. Cllr Searle advised there was a limit to the size of a LAGS, but the actual limit was not known.
345.2. It was Resolved: by majority with Cllr Hodge abstaining, that the LAGS in KS7 be extended north to the maximum permissible size according to TVBC rules, Cllr Searle would re-draw the map. Action: Cllr Searle. The maximum size of LAGS would be queried with TVBC. Action: Clerk.
346. To note comments provided by SDNPA with regards to the site selection Scoring Summary Table.
346.1. Councillors had been provided with a Scoring Summary Table received from the consultants as well as SDNPA’s comments as to the interpretation of the information. This had been posted on the website for the public to view. It was noted that SDNPA had not endorsed the decisions taken by the Steering Group and had merely tabulated the scores from the site selection tables. The selected sites for the NDP had been chosen by the Steering Group without guidance from SDNPA.
346.2. SDNPA had raised concerns over using the final score as the only way to assess the results and recommended a balanced view when making a judgement on the site preferences. They had also queried whether some categories should be prioritised over others.
346.3. All councillors confirmed they have received and read the data.
347. To receive councillors’ further questions relating to the scores on the Site selection table as provided by SDNPA.
347.1. Councillors agreed that the table did not provide them with a clear justification of the sites that had been selected for the NDP.
347.2. It was agreed that some categories had been covered multiple times in the table and as such appeared to give heavier weighting to those scores compared to other categories. An example given was biodiversity, which also was covered by ecology in the site assessment forms.
347.3. Cllr Hodge explained that councillors needed to agree where duplications were in order that they were not counted twice.
347.4. Another example was “Views in” in the site assessment forms, which are taken from the Landscape assessment (LVIA).
347.5. Cllrs had agreed at the Dec 2019 that a matrix needed to be provided in order to assess each site, however the scoring on the table provided was not complete and was questioned regarding having a leaning towards bias on several categories. It was agreed that it needed more work and that the flood report from Waterco should be added. SDNPA would be advised. Action: Clerk.
347.6. Cllr Hodge explained that understanding the scores and their methodology was only possible if you had read the papers and policies that made up the NDP so far, however, it was agreed that a matrix with missing data or question marks was not useful as it would be more helpful to see Red / Orange or Green.
347.7. Cllr Harwood asked how the sites had been selected at the public NDP meeting. Cllr Searle advised that a list of SHLAAs had been provided and those present were asked if additional sites should be considered. The site assessment forms were subsequently completed from the agreed list of SHLAAs and the results of the site assessment forms had provided the Steering Group with the information leading to the selection of the sites. Comment was made that it was difficult to understand how final selection had been arrived at and the matrix that had been provided was not yet complete enough to aid that comprehension.
348. To consider if any categories should be given higher priority or importance.
348.1. Councillors discussed that some categories were easy to score, examples being if the site was in a conservation area or not, or whether there were TPOs on the site. Other categories were more subjective, and the methodology needed to be understood to understand how to score the site. Consideration was given to giving some categories a higher weighting than others, in line with the advice from SDNPA. Cllr Searle advised that the Visions and Objectives and SEA scoping report should be reviewed before making suggestions for giving certain categories higher priority.
348.2. The Chairman invited a member of the public to speak, who advised that originally there had been concern raised that the questions and subsequent answers that had been received from the original Parish Survey in 2016, had not been sufficiently statistically strong enough to create the Visions and Objectives policy. There had been no consultation on prioritising views over TPOs or any other category. It was therefore important to take into account feedback given at the later stage when considering the weighting. Each councillor had previously been given feedback to assess and this would be reread.
348.3. It was Resolved: by Majority with one councillor abstaining and one councillor objecting, that the table would be reviewed and the Visions and Objectives would be re-circulated and re-read. Suggestions for duplicate categories would be made and each category would be revalued as high, medium or low importance for site scoring. Action: All.
348.4. The matrix would need Historic England’s comments added to it. Action: Clerk.
349. To consider if councillors are informed enough to approve the sites selected and if appropriate to vote or decide on further action.
349.1. It was Resolved: By majority that Councillors did not feel informed enough to support the sites that had been selected at this stage.
350. To consider and discuss the NDP Analysis document as prepared by Cllr Searle, and consider actions to take.
350.1. Cllr Searle advised that a program was required from SDNPA so that progress could be made.
350.2. However, it was noted that the consultant could not move forward with the plan until the site selection had been agreed. Residents feedback comments needed to have been checked as being included in the Response summary document. These were actions that needed completion by Council.
350.3. If a change in sites was agreed, it would drive a change in most of the other documents and probably only the Vision and Objectives wouldn’t change. Cllr Searle advised we may need to pay to the consultants if this was the case because although revisions may need to be made due to feedback from residents, the site had been given to SDNPA by the Steering Group.
350.4. A formal timetable would be requested again from SDNPA. Action: Clerk.
350.5. It was noted that it was very difficult to plan the next meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that SDNPA may have staff shortages.
350.6. Cllr Searle asked that the communications plan be considered, as well as a public presentation and consultation. This would be reviewed in a month’s time due to the Coronavirus situation.
350.7. A quote would be requested from SDNPA to analyse the second round of feedback. Action: Clerk.
351. To receive points from the Floor.
351.1. It was asked if feedback from Parishioners had been reviewed by SDNPA and by councillors. The Chairman confirmed this had been done. It was then asked if the reviews had changed any of the site selection scoring on the Matrix. Cllr Hodge advised the matrix had been produced from the pre-consultation site selection forms, which had not been updated since receiving feedback.
351.2. Cllr Hodge asked if there was a reason the site assessment forms had not been revised. Cllr Searle believed that SDNPA were not going to update the forms but would take the feedback into account which may include revising the site assessment forms for the next round of consultation.
351.3. A member of the public asked if a formal response could be obtained from SDNPA confirming they had read the full feedback given by the public. Action: Clerk.
351.4. Another resident stated that greater transparency and consultation with parishioners would be appreciated. Mr Brock advised that the revised plan would show the feedback had been taken into account. The Clerk advised a “summary of responses” had been sent by SDNPA to Council for review some months before and Councillors had been asked to read specific feedback from residents and confirm that it had all been addressed by SDNPA. That action was still outstanding and would be followed up and would need to be done prior to the table re-weighting action. Action: All Councillors.
351.5. The Chairman asked if residents were seeking to view the summary of feedback and where specific points had been taken into account prior to the publication of the next Plan for consultation. It was agreed that this would be a better idea rather than waiting for the revision of the plan. Cllr Hodge explained that the summary document did not include points that had been considered irrelevant, which meant the summary was not as helpful as it could be and this was why councillors needed to do the checking to see what had been missed, (so that it could be inserted in the summary) and if points had been raised that were not relevant, they would need to be marked as such. The summary of responses would be resent to all councillors. Action: Clerk and Councillors.
351.6. A member of the public stated that his complaint about flooding had not been responded to and that he wanted to be able to see the comment in the summary and where it had been addressed in the plan. SDNPA would be asked to document where the response had been addressed once the table had been completed. Action: Clerk.
351.7. It was asked if there was a planned completion date. It was estimated to take approximately four months from the agreement of the sites, if every process ran consecutively and there was no change to the sites. A notice of update to the Parish with regards to the state of play may be in order. Action: Clerk & Chairman.
351.8. Cllr Hodge asked if it was worth trying one last time with TVBC to find out if it was imperative to have sites selected. It was agreed that this had already been done, but asking for a written statement as back up would be helpful for councillors to feel confident in their decisions. Action: Cllr Hodge.
352. To agree the required reading list for the next Full Council meeting.
352.1. Councillors would re-read the Objectives and Visions part of the NDP and also re-read the feedback from residents that they have been previously allocated to review. A check would be made to see that all comments had been addressed by SDNPA. Action: All Councillors.
353. Date, Time and Place of Next Meeting – Monday 6th April 2020 at 7.00pm in the Epworth Hall, Winchester Road, King’s Somborne
There being no further business, the Chairman thanked everyone for attending and closed the meeting at 22.17 pm