MONDAY 18 FEBRUARY 2013, 19:15 TO 20:30
Chairman - Cllr J Vine-Hall, Vice-Chairman- Cllr P Glew
Councillors Anson, Chapman, Eldridge, Lawrence (part), Mitchell, Parsons, Reynolds
Clerk/Responsible Officer - Pauline J Raymond
District Cllr Ganly and 4 members of the public present
130 APOLOGIES. None, all present.
131 INTERESTS. None.
132 DISPENSATION. No requests for dispensation had been received.
133 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION. Notice was given by Richard Watson, Alan Olin and Sue Walton that they would like to speak regarding agenda item 136 - Proposed Sedlescombe Neighbourhood Plan.
134 MINUTES OF COUNCIL MEETING. RESOLVED: That the Chairman of the Council is authorised to sign the Minutes of the Meeting of the Council held on 08/01/13.
135 CO-OPTION TO SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL. Three applications had been received to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Julian Heap. Arrangements had been made to meet all three prior to this meeting. In the event, two of the three had attended.
- Signed Ballot. RESOLVED: That voting on filling the current casual vacancy should be by signed ballot.
- Vote. Members handed their signed ballot papers to the Clerk.
- Result. After the result of the vote was announced, it was RESOLVED: That Simon Lawrence is co-opted to Sedlescombe Parish Council to fill the casual vacancy caused by the resignation of Julian Heap and should also be appointed to the Finance Committee of the Parish Council.
- Declaration of Acceptance of Office. Simon Lawrence signed his Declaration and it was counter-signed by the Clerk. The Chairman welcomed him to the Council and he took a seat around the table with the other councillors. The Chairman thanked the other candidate and hoped that she would be able to assist the Council in some way in the future.
136 PROPOSED NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN.
Alan Olin of Blacklands spoke of his support for the production of a Neighbourhood Plan which could find small blocks of land in the parish suitable for housing development. He would not be in favour of larger developments in the wrong place such as had been proposed in 2012 on the Street Farm site. He had spoken out against that development which would have been behind his property. However, he would not oppose development opposite. He was particularly in favour of providing housing suitable for young families.
Sue Walton, Chief Executive of Pestalozzi spoke of the need for retaining smaller developments in Sedlescombe and suggested that some land at Pestalozzi could be suitable for housebuilding and would remove the pressure of traffic in other parts of the Village. Smaller properties than the high cost, high quality housing that had recently been built on Pestalozzi land could be provided. Pestalozzi might also have space for smaller businesses to be set up to encourage younger people to stay in or come to the Village to support the local economy.
Richard Watson of Balcombe Green informed the meeting that four households at the top of Balcombe Green were still interested in co-operating to draw up a scheme for development of part of their gardens which back on to Orchard Way believing it to be a natural rounding off of the Sedlescombe development boundary. Parish councillors, together with Roger Comerford of Rother Planning, had inspected the site and a recent tree survey by the Rother Tree Officer had not found any trees that would preclude development. The owners are talking to the owner of a ransom strip at the end of Orchard Way who wishes to be kept informed of developments.
Parish Council consideration
The Chairman informed the meeting that his proposal was to draw up a relatively straightforward Policy and Site Allocation Neighbourhood Plan which, for the first time, would give the Sedlescombe community the opportunity to consider the number, position and design of future development up to 2028. 17 properties are required in blocks of at least 6. He would also like to see the subject of social housing percentages being addressed because Sedlescombe already has twice the average number of social houses in the Rother rural area. Although a Neighbourhood Plan must be consistent with national and local government planning policy, it can vary from them and he hoped that the social housing percentage could be varied in Sedlescombe parish.
A large proportion of the costs would be the employment of a planning consultant to help with the technical planning content of the Plan. A plan as outlined could cost in the region of £12,000 to £15,000 and it was expected that grants of £7,000 could be available this year. In addition, Cllr Vine-Hall is in discussion with Rother Planning concerning them contributing some of the £30,000 they will receive if Sedlescombe does a Neighbourhood Plan towards the parish expenses. Rother District Council has a duty under the Act to co-operate and provide information to the Parish Council to help produce the Plan. Even if grant aid is not forthcoming, a Neighbourhood Plan would only cost each Band D household about 20p/week over two years.
The expected introduction of a new Community Infrastructure Levy by Rother District Council between June and September 2014 on development (with exceptions) built afterwards and approved by the Parish Council, together with the production of a Sedlescombe Neighbourhood Plan, would give the Parish Council the opportunity of acquiring 25% of the Levy (without capping, whereas a Parish Council without a Plan would only be able to get a capped 15%) towards improvement of Sedlescombe's infrastructure.
All members of the Council gave their general support for doing a Plan. Cllrs Parsons, Glew and Vine-Hall have already been involved and are prepared to continue to be the core group. Others will help as and when they are required. Others outside the Council are expected to be interested as well. The Plan will have to be solid and stand the tests of examination and a local referendum and, therefore, it is essential that all sectors of the community are involved and take a full part in drawing up the Plan.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: THAT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TOWN & COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990, THE PLANNING & COMPENSATION ACT 2004, THE LOCALISM ACT 2011 AND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING REGULATIONS 2012, SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL WILL PREPARE A SEDLESCOMBE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN (SNP).
The Clerk will provide the following information to Rother District Council who will start the NP process by advertising the Parish Council proposals and inviting comments for 6 weeks.
- That Sedlescombe Parish Council is a "qualifying body" for the preparation of a Sedlescombe Neighbourhood Plan (SNP).
- That the whole of the parish of Sedlescombe has been designated to be included in the SNP. This will allow all parts of the parish to be involved in considering issues raised through the Plan process.
- That the SNP is expected to be limited to consideration of Policies and Site Allocations for housing development within the parish to meet the target figure of 17 specified for Sedlescombe in the Rother District Core Strategy to 2028 plus identification of areas where money raised from the expected Community infrastructure Levy and allocated to the Parish Council may be spent.
137 2013-14 BUDGET AND PRECEPT. Members had been provided by the Clerk/Financial Officer with several pages entitled "2013-14 Budget Preparations". These papers include six possible budgets, three without funding for a Neighbourhood Plan and three with. The last three show precepts varying from £33,500 (as in 2012-13) to £38,500 to £41,000 which would result in a varying amount to be left in general funds at the year end. It was noted that, even if the same precept was set for the year, because of changes to the way Housing Benefit is paid, the Band D Council Tax would increase by 11.54%.After considerable discussion, it was RESOLVED: That the budget as produced should be accepted and a precept of £41,000 set for the 2013-14 financial year making a Band D Council Tax rate of £67.62, ie an increase of 35p/week per household.