Parish Council notes 2020

Please note that the agenda for each Parish Council can be viewed on the official PC website here  The minutes of each meeting are also available on the same web page. Our service is ‘unofficial’ but much quicker!

Please note that each month the latest update will appear at the top of this post:

N.B. The parish council does not hold a meeting during August.

From our Parish Council correspondent:

Bunbury Parish Council Meeting – 9 January 2020

The Chairman is currently unwell, so the Vice-chairman will be chairing meetings for the time being.

Before the meeting proceeded, representatives from the Royal British Legion attended the meeting to mark the 26-year contribution of Councillor Nick Parker to the organisation of the annual Remembrance Sunday Commemoration. The Chair of the local British Legion made a presentation to Councillor Parker as a thank you for all his work over the years.

Borough Councillor Report

The Borough Councillor presented her report and received questions from parish councillors, as follows:

Cheshire East is to commence a kitchen waste collection service from 6 January 2020. All households will receive a caddy with biodegradable bags for the collection of the waste which can then be put in the green/brown garden waste bin. This will then be collected and taken to the new food processing plant at Leighton to be turned into compost. The service will only work for those residents who have a garden waste bin. The Ward Councillor suggested a Bunbury Ward visit to the Plant to understand the processes and end product to report back to residents.

The state of Brantwood was raised again and the Borough Councillor agreed to contact a family member of the owner for an update on the sale of the property.

The request to turn two stiles into kissing gates along two footpaths to aid wider access for walkers was raised as no progress had been made. This would be looked at again. In addition, progress would be checked on the painting of the ‘dropping off bay outside the school, including the cutting back of nearby tress; and the potential for a strip of land on school lane to be made into a footpath for families walking to school.

A resident had raised the issue of speeding along School Lane; the results of the Autumn speed survey in the village are awaited and would be reviewed when received. The Council heard that Cheshire West and Chester Council has adopted a policy of 20mph within all village locations, but that Cheshire East has not adopted this policy and given the closeness to the border of the two councils this maybe causing confusion.

The state of the local highways, particularly the number of potholes, road sweeping, and gully emptying was raised. With regard to potholes, people were advised to report them on the council website as this would raise t he council awareness of the most offending areas. The Borough Councillor agreed to check with Cheshire East Council with regard to frequency of road sweeping within the village.

Parish Councillor Reports

A Parish Councillor referred to social media feedback via the Bunbury Journal website concerning the erection of the P parking sign at the entrance to the playing fields. Whilst some of the comments were negative about the need for a sign, the majority were supportive of it encouraging people to use a car park and avoid parking on the village lanes.

A second Parish Councillor had been contacted by the PCSO for the village with regard to a complaint she had received from a resident about the anti-social behaviour by a number of youths in the play area late at night over the Christmas period. The PCSO had met with the resident and given her number should this continue to be a nuisance in the new year. It is hoped that a police surgery event could be held in the Pavilion soon so that residents can discuss issues occurring in the village direct with representatives from the Police.

Consultation

Cheshire East Council has been running a survey for the public and Parish Councils to respond to a Community Governance Review. The Parish Council offered feedback to the question of Parish Councils being ‘effective and convenient Local Government? Feedback included the use of the adopted Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan as a framework for considering planning applications, public meetings as necessary, good contact with Police and an active full membership council. Another question referred to the interface between the Parish Council and Cheshire East Council – some members of the Parish Council felt that the pace of progress at the borough council sometimes reflected badly on the work of the Parish Council. Boundary issues was also a question and the Parish Council discussed the fact that the Yew Tree and nearby houses were actually in Spurstow although from a community point of view the Yew Tree is regarded as a village facility.

Decisions made by Cheshire East

19/3767N Decision: approved with conditions – 6 and land rear of 6, Bunbury Lane, Bunbury. Proposal Reserved Matters – Erection of 15 Dwellings

The Parish Council heard that several objections had been made to the application against the number of large houses being proposed (9 five bed homes). The Planning Officer explained that the Neighbourhood Plan only refers to a mix of houses and as there were smaller houses included in the overall figure of 15 there was no basis to refuse the application.

19/4983N Decision: approved with conditions – Brook View, Sadlers Wells, Bunbury – Single storey rear extension, single storey link and partial garage conversion with associated alterations.

Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan

Notification had been received from Cheshire East Council that modification to the Neighbourhood should be considered. This is a long-term process that would be considered over the next one to two years.

Correspondence

Mid-Cheshire Grounds Maintenance Company have written to the Parish Council offering to continue with the current grounds maintenance work for the village at the current price fixed for the next two years. The Parish Council agreed to accept the offer.

A request had been made for permission to sweep the playing field with a metal detector following the loss of a medal on the field. The Parish Council agreed but asked that if any significant digging was required Councillor Nick Parker be contacted in the first instance.

Christmas

Good weather on Christmas Eve aided a good turn-out for carols round the Christmas tree and £307 was raised for Tarporley Hospital.

Duchy have a new development (19/3767N)

Update January 2020

I regret this news has been delayed due to the website crash in December last year.

The Duchy has now been given the go ahead on this site. No changes to the application have been made and the dwellings will remain as:

2 x one bedroom bungalows

2 x two bedroom dwellings

1 x three bedroom dwelling

1 x four bedroom dwelling

9 x five bedroom dwellings

Much of the objection to this application focussed on the mix of housing. The original application that received consent proposed just 4 five bedroomed properties. The current proposal is to have 9 five bedroomed houses. Why were these objections ignored? Put simply there is no policy on mix of housing on new development. This what the PO has to say:

The Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan states within the consultation section that ‘all new housing developments shall provide a mix of size, design and type of dwellings including social, low cost market housing and starter homes’. The glossary to the BNP also includes reference to dwelling mix as ‘the mix of different types of homes provided on a site. A mix may typically include a range of house types from 2 to 5 bedroom houses’. Despite these references there is no specific policy relating to housing mix/sizes within the Bunbury Neighbourhood Plan. (My emphasis).

Officer‘s Delegated Report 19?3767N

Perhaps that is something to consider when we get to the time that the BNP is to be revised. It is not the only ‘gap’ in the ‘defence system’ that the BNP was to provide. But that is a topic for another day.

The Report goes on to reject the objection to this application on the grounds that the developer has not provided 30% of affordable housing. This debate centres round the demolition of the Retirement bungalow (No. 6) to improve access to the site. While the new build of affordable homes meets the 30% target the overall effect on the village is that we have a net gain of 4 not 5 affordable homes. If that calculation is done then the provision falls to 26.67%.

 Update September 30 th 2019

Land off Bunbury Lane: ( New Duchy Development)

My first observation about the progress on this site is what a contrast with the previous site off Oak Gardens. Duchy are experienced and know how to deal with the reserved matters, like it or not. This week has seen the arrival of application 19/4418D to discharge (most of ) the conditions laid down at the appeal 16/0646N . We have statements on construction and environment, drainage, ecological management, a topographical survey, traffic management and a Geotechnical Report on the site. Some of this work is new but others were clearly begun under the previous owner, Guinness Partnership. A couple of interesting points from the ecological work is that hedgehog gaps will be made to ensure they have free movement to the other fields around the site. As well as some planting along the eastern boundary the ‘ecological enhancement area’ on the northern edge of the site will be sown with wildflowers and native fruit trees.

The bulk  of the objections on this site point to the miss match between the original consent where the majority of houses were 4 bedroom properties and the move to 9 five bedroom dwellings. As I have pointed out elsewhere the problem with outline consents is that you just don’t know what you are going to get. Much of the material presented at this early stage can be window dressing much as we have seen in the struggles with the O ak Gardens development but also with the Saddlers Wells site that changed from the original consent. The trend is always to put in more houses and make them larger.

 

Original Comments:

At long last we have details of the development behind the retirement homes along Bunbury Lane. This site shares a bit of history with the Hill Close development. The original application was made by Wulvern Housing Association just after the afore mentioned site. The consensus at the time was broadly in favour of the site and opposed to the Hill Close development. However,  Hill Close application was, after a number of permutations, approved before the Wulvern. The original Wulvern application was then refused  on the grounds of co-location (see Policy H2a in the Neighbourhood Plan) with the Hill Close site. A battle then ensued over this application with much discussion of the meaning of ‘co-location’ ; . It went to appeal and the Inspector came down on the side of the developers and defined ‘co-location’ as being next door to another site and agreed that a small paddock was sufficient distance to meet the requirements of the policy. A serious blow to the ‘co-location’ principle. That was in 2016 and since then the Wulvern has become the Guinness Partnership and they have now sold the site to Duchy Homes. It they that have put in the application ( 19/3767N )

What has emerged? Here is the proposed layout:

Layout of site to the east of Bunbury lane

What we have then is a site dedicated to the construction of large 5 bedroomed properties squeezed into about two-thirds of the site. Four ‘affordable ‘; dwellings are planned in the least favoured part of the site where else ? direct ly behind the retirement homes. Here are the details of the affordable housing planned.

Number Plots Type of homes Tenure
2 4 & 5 1 bedroomed 2 person Bungalows Affordable rent
1 3 2 bedroomed 4 person house Affordable rent
1 1 3 bedroomed 5 person houses Shared Ownership
1 2 2 bedroomed 4 person house Shared Ownership

Next is the  market orientated housing plans :

Number Plots Type of homes Tenure
1 6 4 bedroomed Freehold
9 7 – 15 5 bedroomed Freehold

The space at the end of  plot is described as a … retained ecological area . . ‘;;; and  . . This is an important feature for the local residents and has been retained in order to strengthen links to the existing PROW while retaining the rural character.’

That is a welcome feature but also exists as a potential area of expansion for a further  6 to 7 additional houses at some point in the future. Will it have a legally binding covenant protecting it from development rather like, we are told, the paddock to the south of the site?

How has the application changed from the one presented in 2016?

It is perhaps worth looking back at the application that was given consent and looking at the allocation of housing types then envisioned.

The affordable houses were 5 in total although with the loss of the retirement bungalow on Bunbury Lane this was a net of 4 dwellings. No change. These smaller properties are sorely needed in Bunbury, a situation reflected in the most up-to-date housing needs survey completed in 2013. People want to stay in the village but down size and thereby free up family accommodation for other villagers and new comers. The real shift in provision comes in the ‘market sector’ of the  application. The original application only provided for four 5 bedroomed houses not the 9 we now have. That is a massive shift in the target market the developers are aiming at

Why we should object to the proposal in the new Duchy Home application.

A perpetual problem with developers is their unwillingness to to provide the sort of homes that are needed by the community. This problem brought about the requirement of developers to provide a specific number of affordable houses if the size of the development exceeds a certain level. The original act in 1990 was seen by the current government as a barrier to building new homes. Developers were, apparently reluctant to build because of the burden of the affordable housing requirement specified by the act and negotiated with the local authority. The new act in 2013 gave developers the ability to question the ‘viability’ of any affordable housing requirement. The result has been a significant reduction in the number of affordable houses being built.(Homes England – Housing Statistics).

The Duchy Development off Bunbury lane is pretty typical of the allocation of housing types we have seen in the village. While the building of 5 new ‘affordable’ homes appears generous we should remember that it is only a net addition of 4 homes as one of the retirement homes on Bunbury lane is being demolished to improve access to the site. That is 26% of the site allocation of 15 homes. The bare minimum .

The remaining 10 houses also reflect the market driven approach of development these days. One 4 bedroomed house and 9 five bedroomed homes . Given the evidence of the The Grange development and the prospectus provided by Duchy Homes this are set to sell at premium prices. Apart from the possibility of purchases by retired couples, the majority of houses will attract working couples and families commuting in and out of the village.

The village doesn’t need more of these large houses. The current housing needs survey(2013) did not show anything more than the addition of 1 four bedroomed per year. What it did show was the need for many single and double bedroomed houses and that scarce commodity the 3 bedroomed semi-detached house. The development next to the medical Centre offers some relief for people wishing to stay in the village, both downsizers and first-time buyers with 7 affordable homes available. A further 20 (including both Duchy sites) affordable homes are completed or due to be built from existing planning consent. That is out of a total over 100 houses built in the village since 2010.