In my ward there are 5 parishes and I work with them on local issues. Parishes have annual residents meetings. This not only provides an opportunity for a ‘report back’ but for residents to air their views and concerns. Last Saturday I was invited to give a talk at one of these parish meetings in the beautiful village of Southease. The village meeting was held in the lovely ancient church on the village green. The meeting started early so it was possible to see the village on a lovely sunny evening.
I was asked to talk about the role of the ward district councillor. This this gave me an opportunity to also report back on what’s been going on in local government locally. I have written up my talk and if you would like to read it please follow the link below. It has got local updates and news – so I hope you find it useful:
It was a very pleasurable experience to attend the parish meeting in Southease. Clearly they are a very active parish and for such a small population they seem to do quite a lot. It was also a social occasion for people to get together and I enjoyed meeting catching up with residents.
Sadly, I have to report that the appeal has been granted regarding the development at Spring Barn Farm (click here to see my report of June 2015). Most of the objections regarding the planning application were relating to the very large barn to be built out in the valley. All of the objections have been largely ignored by the inspector. Click here to Extracts from the inspector’s decision on Spring Barn Farm. You can see the full copy of the inspector’s report and decision by clicking the appeal reference as below:
Appeal Ref: APP/Y9507/W/15/3024061 [Location: Spring Barn Farm Park, Kingston Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 3ND. Decision by: David Cliff BA Hons, MSc (Urban Planning) MRTPI dated: 17 December 2015. Site visit made on 27 October 2015]
I had concerns about the original application and I have concerns about how the inspector came to his conclusions and allowed the appeal. This application was originally made in 2012 and most people thought that the application had been abandoned or withdrawn. It was quietly resurrected in 2014 and the application then proceeded. I went across to Midhurst and addressed the National Park Planning Committee meeting on 9 April 2015 and despite the officer report being in favour of allowing the application the members duly noted the objections made by nearby residents in Kingston and also my objections and refused the application. However it was an uphill struggle because prior to the meeting I had asked the officers of the National Park to delay the application and properly consult the parish of Kingston. Unfortunately they refused to do this saying that legally they only had to consult Lewes Town Council as Spring Barn Farm buildings were within the town boundary. I pleaded and said although this might be the case, based upon the Doomsday book parish boundaries drawn up 1000 years ago, the site of Spring Barn Farm clearly affects Kingston residents and the Cockshut valley leading up to Kingston. I got no joy.
An appeal was made against the decision and the Planning Inspectorate decided on a written appeal which was held in July of this year. After many months of delay by the Planning Inspector, during which time significant headway was made in local planning policy in the National Park and Lewes District plans reaffirming the importance of sustainability, landscape, noise and visual aspects of new development, the inspector made his decision largely putting aside these factors. It’s interesting to note that the inspector puts at the head of his document his qualification which includes an MSc in ‘urban planning.’ It is somewhat ironic to appoint a person specialising in urban planning to deal with a National Park landscape matter! Despite the fact that the inspector had all summer to go and see the site when it was at its busiest he didn’t actually visit until 27 October 2015. Obviously at that time of year it would be quiet.
The inspector, whilst recognising in one paragraph that the building is large and substantial he negates any concern by saying it will be screened by existing buildings! He also does not accept that this very large building would be in an isolated position. His main reason for this is that an existing agricultural barn can provide the necessary screening. What he doesn’t say is that the planning authority had no control over the building of the agricultural barn as it is outside planning control. The logic which this inspector applies to things seems to be that one more unsightly building won’t matter because it’s next to an existing one.
Sadly the inspector has ignored completely the concerns of residents about the noise that a much larger retail building will have on adding to the noise levels in this once quiet valley. He ignores the concerns that this new building could be used at night adding to the existing noise in the summertime from the campers on the nearby site. He does not set down any controls over the use of the building at night time and makes no suggestion about the current confused planning status of the car parking in the various areas around the site. He makes no comment about the importance of sustainability which is a cornerstone of the Government’s National Policy Planning Framework. Apart from a small concession where he mentions provision for cycles, it seems that he is quite happy that the much increased intensive use of this site will be fed by people visiting the site by car.
There are some surprises in the planning inspector’s report. He takes very little cognisance of the, almost completed, Lewes Local Plan (Joint Core Strategy). He also makes no reference to the published draft National Park Local Plan despite an appeal to ask him to take it into consideration.
I am in support of outdoor activities for children of all ages and when Spring Barn Farm started I thought that the idea was great. However over the last 10 or 12 years the associated building development has encroached into the rural landscape and urbanised the area. This further development will significantly add to that urbanisation. The decision goes against the grain of the main purposes of the National Park.
Sadly, the Lewes Town Council supported this application. None of the three district councillors representing the ward (Priory) of Lewes covering the area objected nor did any of the town councillors object to the development. Also the Case Officer who made recommendation to approve the original application had very little knowledge of the local area and chose to ignore the objections raised by the Friends of Lewes and South Downs Society and did not think it was important that the people of Kingston be consulted.
Local people must be ever vigilant and must campaign for greater transparency and wider consultation on planning applications irrespective of which parish they actually fall in. It is clear that local people must work very hard to put forward their views and provide detailed, well researched information and evidence. If that is not done the final decision lies with an inspector who has no knowledge of the local area and so the future landscape will be defined without proper consideration. It seems the inspector will only look at the evidence before him so if you don’t provide it he or she won’t take it into consideration. It’s very important to catch things early and try to make sure the officers in the planning department are fully aware of both concerns and material evidence if you are opposing the development. Once reports are written they are treated almost as evidence.
For my part I will do all I can to make sure we get the best possible planning decisions for our area.
District Councillor Vic Ient
PS These words echo my concerns about ill thought out planning & building design:
“Is then no nook of English ground secure from rash assault?” – William Wordsworth
My last newsletter was at the end of Aug 2015– three months ago. Much has been happening during that time in local government and in my own ward, – Falmer, Kingston and the villages of the Lower Ouse Valley. I continue to work closely with our County Councillor, Carla Butler, who has a ‘Report-Back’ section in this newsletter. I’m also trying to keep in touch with all the parish councils in my area.
I hope you have time to look around my web site – the ‘Links’ page has links to our local MP and Neighbourhood Policing details. The right had side of every page has links to bus times information & link to reporting pot holes etc.
Whilst writing Carla & I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year!
We have lots of issues to report on – this issue covers:
Waste, Cockshut Lane, Newhaven, Housing, Council Tax, ‘Greater Brighton’, Planning Appeals & Issues, National Park, Major Developments in Newhaven – effect on C7? Local Transport Plan – consultation, C7 update, Roads in the South Downs, Buses, Power to the Parishes.
And also Carla Butler’s report (click here) covers:
ESCC Consultations(Adult Social Care) [until 18 December], Newhaven Fire Station – East Sussex Fire Authority, Apprenticeships, Riverside Park, Saving Our Bees, County Council Assets, Get Inspired! Events, Connexions 360 – Careers & Training,
Firstly, here are some updates on some overall government/local Council matters:
The 132 bus (Sundays only) is now diverted to run along the C7 instead of the A26!
In September we had some disappointing news in that the National Park subsidies for the Compass Bus 123 Sunday service ran out and the service ceased. Now, we have a little bit of good news – the CTLA 132 service has been rescheduled to run up the Ouse valley! It is only one service in each direction but it’s better than nothing! CTLA primarily operates the service for the Lewes Town area but also serves the lower Ouse villages.
The service leaves Lower Place, Newhaven in the centre of Newhaven Town at 9:42 AM (arriving Lewes at 10:10 AM). Its return trip leaves Lewes bus station at 14:10 PM (arriving Newhaven at 14:37 PM).
The service in both directions stops at Kingston (Kingston School) Rodmell and Piddinghoe (C7 Main Road bus stop). I understand that concessionary fares are available.
Also covered in this report: Highways and road problems – Report a planningthreat – Check bus times – On street parking in Lewes.
It has been a busy summer and there’s still more to come. Not only has there been the usual high level of planning applications in the area but we have had three planning appeals to contend with. Two are over and we have one yet to come. This is about the game bird breeding activity at Iford farm. This appeal will be heard on Wednesday, 23 September in Lewes. Click for full report.
ESCC are proposing to end subsidised transport to those age 16+ from low income families to access Further Education or training.This is a cruel and idiotic cut that will have far reaching affects for those children who may now have to drop out of FE and yet saves very little money for ESCC. This will especially hit those who live in rural areas.
More details here and a link to questionnaire, please respond to ESCC consultation:
Update: The appeal for this application was allowed.
Update: This case is being appealed. Information from the Planning Inspectorate as of Mon 13th July 2015:
“The appeal for this case will be The Hearing is at 10.00hrs on Wednesday September 23rd.The venue is The Council Chambers, Town Hall, High Street, Lewes. The venue will now be: The Stanley Turner Ground Kingston Road Lewes East Sussex BN7 3NB. You should be at the venue a few minutes prior to the Inspector opening the Hearing. The Inspector will probably ask if anyone other than the main parties wishes to address the Hearing, and that is when you should make yourself known. If you wish to read from any document, or submit any documents then you should take at least three identical copies with you, plus a copy for yourself.”
For background information see the original applications on the SDNPA web site.
This hearing will consider two appeals:
APP/P1425/C/14/3001421 (relates to application No: SDNP/14/04465/FUL)
APP/P1425/W/15/3028967 (relates to enforcement action following the withdrawal of application No: SDNP/14/02853/FUL ) Now withdrawn.
In 2014 a ‘retrospective’ planning application was submitted for:
“change of use of land from agricultural to mixed use of agriculture and game rearing and change of use of redundant agricultural buildings to ancillary storage for the game rearing business, associated landscape planting and retention of an existing brooder house”
Yesterday, I have just been to my first council meeting; – it was the AGM of the Lewes District Council. The council voted in the chairman, the leader, members of the ‘Cabinet’ and the membership of the committees.
The political composition of the council is 24 Conservative, 11 Liberal Democrats, 3 Greens, 2 Independent and 1 UKIP councillor.
In an unusual move, the Conservatives and the Independents proposed and seconded an Independent for the chairmanship. Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe was duly elected. Cllr O’Keeffe’s partner Nick Robinson, was appointed as her consort. This was the chap who stood against me as a Conservative in the Kingston ward.
The deputy chairmanship went to a Conservative, Councillor Robbie Robertson. The Conservatives also elected Councillor Rob Blackman (Conservative) as the Leader of the Council. The Conservatives elected a wholly Conservative ‘Cabinet.’ The Cabinet is like a super committee, which deals with all the main policy and key decisions. When I was a councillor, some years ago, we didn’t have this system and in my humble opinion, I think it unfairly concentrates power in the hands of a few councillors rather than giving the whole council an opportunity to agree or disagree matters. The ‘cabinet model’ was introduced following the Local Government Act 2000. Continue reading Report back – 21st May 2015→