Draft Minutes of an extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday 2nd April 2013 at Houghton Village Hall


 Draft Minutes of an extraordinary meeting held on Tuesday 2nd April 2013 at Houghton Village Hall 

Present:                  Cllr P Page (Chairman), Cllr G Butler, Cllr P Kennesion, Cllr C Bradby, Mrs B Barker (Clerk to the Council) and fifteen members of the public.

31/13                  Apologies:  Apologies were received from Cllr T Scougall, Cllr I Burt, Cllr A Young

32/13                  Declarations of Interest/Amendment to Registration of Financial Interests

There were no changes to the record.

33/13                  Local Plan

Graham Smith, the Planning Policy Manager at Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) attended the meeting to speak about and answer questions about the ‘Revised Local Plan’.  The Local Plan for Test Valley will set out the framework for making planning decisions until 2029.  Houghton Parish Council had made recommendations to TVBC in February 2012 in respect of what was then called ‘The Core Strategy’ and it felt that its recommendations had not been taken into account when TVBC had drawn up the settlement boundary for the village.

Mr Smith explained that the Local Development Plan documents are part of the TVBC Local Development framework.  TVBC has entered into a new consultation which ends on 26th April 2013 as a result of changes since January 2012, namely the revocation of the South East Plan and updated evidence and considered public comments since its consultation on the core strategy at the beginning of 2012.  It is now the responsibility of TVBC to determine its requirements for housing numbers and to look at the evidence from developers regarding the identification of viable sites.  The consultation is important to ensure that TVBC produce a sound development plan.

There is a housing requirement of 10,026 for the whole of Test Valley, including a requirement in Northern Test Valley (of which Houghton is a part) of 6,516/362 per year.  No new employment allocations are required.

As part of the local plan, TVBC has drawn up settlement boundaries for villages and towns, within which the general principle of development is accepted.

The purpose of the settlement boundary is to define the existing settlement area rather than areas of countryside or agricultural land.  The village envelope approach has been drawn to follow peoples gardens, employment sites etc.  Residential property and curtilages including gardens and other areas of a domestic nature such as orchards are included in the village envelope as well as employment sites, public open spaces such as recreation grounds, childrens’ play areas, village halls etc.

Agricultural land would therefore not be included in the ‘village envelope’.  TVBC cannot include areas of countryside that an individual, landowner or parish council believes may be appropriate because this would set a precedent  for inclusion of numerous sites across the borough.

Outside the settlement boundaries/village envelopes there is a policy of restraint against development with certain exceptions as follows:

  1. Rural Exception Sites – providing agricultural dwellings or 100% affordable housing if a need identified
  2. Community Led Development – Where the community (led by the Parish Council) can prove that there is a need for the development.  Community led development would be permitted:
  • If the proposal is supported by evidence that there is a need for the development and it helps deliver community benefits
  • It is demonstrated that the proposal is supported by the community
  • The proposal, if for residential development, satisfies the affordable need in accordance with the thresholds contained within the council’s affordable housing and rural exception affordable housing policies.

Mr Smith made it clear that the conservation area boundary is not the same as the settlement boundary.  He clarified that, after the consultation period, the final drafts would be produced by the end of September followed by a further public consultation period for approximately six weeks and the final submission would take place in February 2014.  The government’s planning inspector would examine the plans and, once accepted, the policies would be adopted in October 2014.

Parish councillors and members of the public were then given the opportunity to ask questions of Mr Smith.

Please note these are not verbatim.

Q: Why does the settlement boundary proposed by TVBC bear no resemblance to that recommended by Houghton Parish Council?
A: The settlement boundary defines ‘what is here’.  TVBC cannot define a boundary to include potential areas of countryside that might be developed, however the Parish Council can use ‘rural exception sites’ and ‘community led’ proposals.

Q: What if the housing need changes substantially?
A: Ideally housing surveys should be carried out every five years.

Q: What percentage of houses on a housing site needs to be affordable?
A: As a rule 40%

Q: Have TVBC considered that rural communities need more than one car and the impact as a result of that on traffic congestion, parking etc?

A: There is a move from the type of development in the 1990s whereby no parking or limited parking was provided for each dwelling on housing developments.

Q: Can Greenfield sites be developed?
A: Proposals for affordable housing/community led development would be considered.

Q: What has changed since 2011?
A: We have looked again at settlement boundaries.

Q: Why is the paddock at the north end of the village included in the settlement boundary when the parish council excluded it?
A: The settlement boundary defines the existing settlement.

Q: Why has the settlement boundary been drawn along people’s back gardens and not down to the River Test as requested by the parish council?
A: TVBC tried to define a consistent line using the existing settlement.

Q: The parish council took this consultation very seriously.  Why has its comments not been considered?

A: We have tried to include gardens and paddocks but not open countryside.  If TVBC has got it wrong it will look again.

Q: The paddock at the north of the village hosts a lot of wildlife and the entrance to it is next to a house that is a listed building, the listed status of course including the curtilage.  Why should development be allowed here?               A: We are not proposing to develop the site but to define the boundary.

Q: The parish council specifically asked for the paddock not to be included – why has its comments been ignored?
A: As above

Q: If the paddock is included in the settlement boundary then is it true to say that the onus is on objectors to justify that it should not be built on?
A: Not clearly answered – development needs to be sustainable

Q: If Houghton Parish Council challenges the settlement boundary and TVBC does not agree, will it ignore those comments and also, is it not natural for boundaries to follow the river line?
A: If I don’t agree, I will explain and am prepared to walk round the village.  The parish council has the right to appeal at the ‘planning inspector’ stage.

Q: I still do not understand how the boundary is determined.
A: The boundary includes the existing settlement and tries to following existing physical features.  If TVBC is wrong it will look again.

Q: Can you explain why, for example, part of a garden is outside the settlement boundary?
A: This is a challenge that TVBC has had to face with large gardens when deciding what is deemed domestic and what is deemed agricultural.

Q: TVBC has stated in its revised local plan that Test Valley is classed as having no water available.  How can it justify the housing numbers required? It has no control over the amount of water that households use.
A: TVBC must rely on information provided by the Environment Agency.

Q: Does TVBC consult with neighbouring boroughs or the HCC when determining the housing requirement etc?
A: HCC has no role.  It is determined by the borough councils.  TVBC is responsible for its own housing

number but would consider if it is line with other boroughs.

Q: The estimate for the number of houses needed within the next 20 years is 10,000 which probably equates to 30,000 people yet there is no requirement for employment allocations.  How can this be?
A: We have taken into account the number of existing permissions outstanding and available sites for example at Walworth Industrial Estate, Portway, the M27 corridor etc.

Q: Would redundant employment sites remain so?
A: It would have to be shown that the site could not continue as an employment site before it would be considered for residential development.

Q: Does TVBC allocate a specific number of new homes to each village?
A:  It is possible to estimate how many new dwellings would be needed based on past trends.

Q: It would be helpful if you could reconcile the decisions made by TVBC with the recommendations made by the parish council and clarify why those decisions were taken.  Is that possible?
A: Yes.  I think that is a good way forward.

Q: Can the type and size of dwellings be determined by the parish council?

A: The parish council can influence decisions by having Village Design Statements and Parish Plans and by ‘planning comments’.

Q: We are in a conservation area.  Can development be permitted on certain sites?
A: This is a judgement that is made by the Heritage Officer.  The conservation boundary is not changing.

Q: If there is a change to the roof in a planning application, why are ‘bat surveys’ required and why is the applicant not given sufficient notice of this?
A: There is a duty to protect ‘protected species’.  Houghton also lies within Mottisfont’s Special Protection Area and development must show that it will not affect bats.  There may be a number of reasons why little notice is given, eg late objectors, a delay in a response from the County Council’s Ecological Officer.

Mr Smith confirmed that, based on the ‘housing list’ there is a need for 21 properties in the village of Houghton.  He explained that TVBC is trying to protect the countryside whilst adhering to government policy to deliver more housing.

The chairman thanked Mr Smith for attending the meeting.

The council resolved that a further meeting should be arranged to determine the comments to be made to TVBC prior to the deadline on 26 April .  It was agreed that a meeting would be held, if possible, on 15th April 2013 at 7pm in the village hall.

34/13                  Planning Application

13/00473            Tiebridge Farm, Houghton                                    Change of use from office to 50/50 office & retail space

The council resolved that it supported the application

35/13                  Stockbridge Recreation Ground Trust/Football Club

The above organisations were proposing to build a new pavilion to include new changing facilities and disabled toilets.  Planning had been granted and the Trust was in the process of applying for grants.  The clerk had received a request for a letter of support from the parish council to assist with the grant applications.

The council resolved that it would support it.  The clerk will write a letter.

36/13                  Finance

The following accounts require authorisation to pay:

LG Sheffield (Trophy Box)                  Cheque no. 604                  Plaques for village hall chairs                  £  35.00

HALC                                                      Cheque no. 605                  Annual subscription 2013/14                  £176.00

The meeting closed at 9.00pm.