Minutes of Town Council Meeting 16 August 2021

20th August 2021

HALSTEAD TOWN COUNCIL

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MINUTES OF TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
16 August 2021 at  19:15
Held at
Queens Hall, Chipping Hill, HALSTEAD, Essex. CO9 2BY 

 Membership:

Councillor M Radley Chairman   Present
Councillor D Gronland Vice Chairman Present 
Councillor Miss J Atkinson   Present
Councillor P Caulfield   Present
Councillor P Claydon   Apologies
Councillor Mrs S Dingle   Apologies
Councillor M Fincken   Present
Councillor D Hume   Present
Councillor A Munday   Apologies
Councillor Mrs J A Pell   Present
Councillor Miss L Smith   Apologies
Councillor G Warren   Present

 

Also in attendance:  Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cllr Chris Siddall, Alan Massow, Ian Tinton, Stuart Amos, Mark Sweeting, Anthony Bishop,

Sarah Greatorex (Town Clerk)                             

Cllr Radley welcomed Cllrs Gabrielle Spray and Chris Siddall, and officer Alan Massow to the meeting

071.  APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE  Cllr Dingle sent her apologies due to ill health and Cllr Claydon sent his apologies, for personal reasons. Cllrs Munday and Smith sent their apologies due to work commitments.

Cllr Radley proposed acceptance of these apologies, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

Cllr Radley said that Cllr Dingle had been seriously ill,  and wished her a full recovery on behalf of the Council.

072.  DECLARATION OF INTERESTS:

 Cllr  Pell  declared  NPI Item 5, 21/02109/LBC, as the owner of the garage next door is a friend, 7b, 7b(a) and 7d as a member of CSGMC and a trustee of Halstead Day Centre, 7e as contractor is known to her, and item 8 as a member of H4C.  Cllr Hume declared NPI item 5 21/02109/LBC & 21/02017/VAR as agent and objector are both known to him, items 7b, 7b(a) and 7d as secretary to the CSGMC, member of Halstead Rotary Club and Ambassador for guiding, 7e as contractor is known to him, and item 6 as President of the Friends of St Andrews. Cllr Atkinson declared item 7b(a) as a payee is known to her. Cllr Caulfield  declared item 5, 21/02270/FUL, as he lives nearby and objected to the original application. Cllr Warren declared NPI items 7b, 7b(a) and 7d as a member of the CSGMC, and item 7b as a trustee of the Community fridge.

073.  PUBLIC QUESTION TIME

Cllr Radley explained that following the July meeting he had written to Cllr Gabrielle Spray, Cabinet member  for Planning and Infrastructure, BDC Member for the Colnes,  

to express the concern of the Town Council and residents regarding the constant development of new sites around Halstead. Cllr Spray had in response offered to attend the Town Council meeting to answer the points made. She was accompanied by Alan Massow, Principal Planning officer for BDC

Cllr Spray began by explaining how development is allocated to an area, not through geographical location or by town or village, but through a Spatial strategy to focus on those areas which are the most sustainable. This starts from the A12 corridor, access to the mainline railway, the towns of Halstead, Braintree and Witham, and then out through smaller villages to the countryside. She stated that over the plan period 41% of the development was in Braintree, and 17% in Witham, and 8% in Halstead.

She stated that it was not possible to stop planning applications coming forward. If a landowner chooses to sell land to a developer; this would result in an application. She said that the Local Plan gives more protection in refusing an application. The current period when the Plan is not in place is difficult, but the Section 2 of the Local Plan has now gone back to the Inspectorate, and after a further period of consultation, the aim is that it should be completed before the end of 2021. Development policies are contained within Section 2 of the Local Plan, so it is therefore not possible to change them while this process is going on. Some policies are already out of date, and these will be revised once the Local Plan is finished.

Cllr Spray went on to say that councils are also waiting for government to make a decision on the new planning policy. There has been a lot of feedback on the white paper, which outlined a classification of development into 3 areas:

  1. Those areas which can be developed without consultation
  2. Renewal areas which can be handled with light touch and some consultation
  3. Protected areas which constitute the green belt

She moved on to talk about infrastructure. When a planning application is submitted, developers are asked to make a section 106 contribution. In Halstead these are made towards education or health facilities. BDC consults with ECC and the NHS to discuss funding needs. The NHS have their own formula for deciding what the funds should be spent on. Each planning application is dealt with separately and on its own merits, so monies allocated come in piecemeal and never in a big lump sum. It is possible that government will reform the S106 system. It may be replaced by the Community Infrastructure Levy, or there may be a combination of the 2 systems. S106 monies can be spent only in the area where the development is located, whereas CIL can be spent anywhere in the district.

Cllr Spray agreed that Halstead had probably seen more than its fair share of development, but finished by saying that there would be more certainty and protection when Section 2 of the Local Plan has been approved.

Public questions

Ian Tinton asked the following 3 questions:

  1. Why was there no flood management plan in Halstead
  2. Can anything be done about the practice of landbanking – buying land and not developing it for years.
  3. When a developer identifies land and prepares an application, is it possible for HTC or residents to have pre-planning advice?

Alan Massow said that he could raise critical drainage issues with ECC. He also said there was already a strategy/plan for Braintree and Witham and they would look at one for Halstead.

Cllr Spray commented that the practice of landbanking is frustrating for planning committees, as it affects housing supply. Government is looking at introducing financial penalties if nothing is built within a certain timescale.

She also said that there can be preplanning discussion with developers but that the planning committee is not allowed to express any kind of opinion before discussion at committee.

Ian Tinton commented that affordable housing appears to be reduced after approval. Alan Massow responded that the concept of affordable housing is being gradually replaced by the idea of First Homes, involving shared ownership.

Mark Sweeting said that he had made many objections to planning at BDC on the basis that his house (built in 1766) is likely to suffer from subsidence. He stated that he would hold BDC, being a public service, responsible if there were subsidence. Alan Massow responded that the case officer reads every objection, but may not go back to each individual who objects, although there should at least be an acknowledgement.

Cllr Pell spoke on behalf of a resident, Dave Pleasance, who lives at Greenbanks. An estate is to be built above where he lives. He wanted to ask how it is that work can begin on the road before reserved matters have been completed. There is already flooding but SUDs are not in place.

Cllr Spray said that she and Alan Massow will address this.

Cllr Radley commented that although the spatial strategy was 8% for Halstead over the full 30-year period of the local plan, Halstead had seen an 18% increase in the first 5 years he hoped that would mean considerably less in the coming years. Alan Massow said that developers have indeed taken advantage and that this is a result of the lack of a 5-year housing supply.

Cllr Gronland said that residents are always complaining to councillors about the parking situation in Halstead and that there is never enough parking for residents or visitors on a new development. Alan Massow said that there are regulations which came in in 2009 to limit parking in order to limit car use. There will be a review of parking spaces allowed. ECC determines policy on parking. Cllr Spray agreed that parking is a disaster, although she said that the new standards are better. She will pass comments on to ECC.

Cllr Fincken commented that district councils should be more active at an earlier stage. There are some items which remain on the Open Spaces Action Plan and are never dealt with. There is also a list of S106 agreements and money allocated but BDC are incapable of spending this.  Alan Massow said that the officer responsible has been overwhelmed by the demands on her time. Neil Jones, Principal Planning Officer is now overseeing S106 to support the other 2 officers, and this should result in an improvement.

Cllr Fincken also commented that the NHS is not spending S106 monies, and there may be as much as £250k waiting to be spent. Alan Massow said that it had not been possible to hold liaison meetings with the NHS during the pandemic. Cllr Radley commented that NHS capacity was a district wide issue and asked Cllr Spray to consider BDC providing leadership on behalf of residents to engage with the NHS at a senior level.

Cllr Caulfield wanted to ask whether there was any predetermination of applications when planning and developers meet. He was told that the planning officer makes a recommendation to grant or refuse an application, and it is then forwarded to councillors to decide.

Cllr Atkinson asked if there was anything along the lines of Horizon 120 coming to Halstead. Cllr Spray stated that this would involve land ownership. and there is little scope for this.

Cllr Pell complained that Highways at ECC are not doing their job properly at present. Cllr Spray agreed that Highways do not do enough, making it difficult to refuse applications on Highways grounds. Cllr Siddall commented that the new leader at ECC, Kevin Bentley, would like much more collaboration between Highways and all councils.

Cllr Spray stated that the Members’ Forum will be formed and parishes will be able to send members to take part.

Cllr Spray  rounded off her comments by stating that villages are not unsustainable and need new houses, that no really affordable housing is currently being built, and that shared ownership schemes make higher charges for lending money.

Cllr Fincken said that planning decision-making is not working now, and could become even worse if the new planning policy comes in. This is resulting in people losing control over their lives.

Cllr Radley thanked everyone for their contributions to the discussion.

074.  MINUTES To approve the minutes of the Town Council Meeting held on 19 July 2021,.  Minutes had been circulated and proposal to adopt minutes of July 2021 was put forward by Cllr Fincken,  seconded by Cllr  Atkinson. There were 6 in favour and 2 abstentions.

075.  PLANNING  APPLICATIONS

Cllr Hume led discussions for this part of the meeting.

The following Planning Applications, which were received and circulated electronically, were to be considered at the Council meeting.

21/02109/LBC & 21/02017/VAR – 7A High Street, Halstead, Essex – Proposed amendments of approval 17/01419/LBC – Change of use  of the first floor to residential and renovation of the second floor to provide two residential units to include incorporation of a balcony.

Cllr Pell proposed no objection, although it was important that those more qualified examine the fact that the balcony will overlook other property. This was seconded by Cllr Gronland and unanimously agreed.

21/02256/HH 20 Ashlong Grove, Halstead, Essex – Alterations to front entrance roof from felt roof to mono-pitched roof.

21/02020/FUL – 56-58 High Street, Halstead, Essex – Erection of an awning to the shop front

21/02335/HH – 36 Mount Pleasant, Halstead, Essex – Single Storey Side and Rear Extension

21/02270/FUL – 83 Chapel Hill, Halstead, Essex – Erection of 2 no. 3 bed semi-detached dwellings

The 4 applications above were considered en bloc, as there were no objections to any of them. Cllr Pell proposed no objection, seconded by Cllr Gronland, and agreed unanimously.

076.  MAYOR’S APPOINTMENTS

Cllr Radley reported that there had not been many events for him to attend, but that those events put on by HTC had gone well. The Band in the park with Route 66 on 15 August had been very well attended.

This year the Summer Fun in Weavers Court is being run by HAPPY and was proving very popular. Cllr Radley thanked the HAPPY group for stepping up and running the event this year.

The 2 coach outings planned for September and October were being well supported and there would be 3 coaches on each date.  Report was noted.

077.  FINANCE Cllr Gronland took this part of the meeting

 Cllr Gronland commented that finances were in good order.

a)  To approve the income and expenditure report for July 2021.

Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the income and expenditure report, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed.

b)  To approve the List of payments to be made in August

Cllr  Gronland  proposed approval of the list of payments, seconded by Cllr  Caulfield and unanimously agreed.

b(a) To approve the supplementary  List of payments to be made in August

Cllr  Gronland  proposed approval of the list of payments, seconded by Cllr Fincken and unanimously agreed

c)  To approve the Bank reconciliation

Cllr Gronland proposed approval of the bank reconciliation for July, seconded by Cllr Warren, and unanimously agreed.

d)  To consider the remarking of parking bays at Courtaulds Sports Ground

Cllr Pell proposed approval of Quote A and the joint funding with CSGMC, seconded by Cllr Caulfield, and unanimously agreed.

e)  To reconsider purchasing of replacement bulbs and cabling for the Christmas switch-on

Cllr  Gronland proposed approval of the purchase of the replacement bulbs and cabling, seconded by Cllr Warren, and unanimously agreed.

078.  H4C

Cllr Pell reported.that discussions are continuing, and that a future meeting will be arranged between Neil Jones, H4C, HTC and could include Cllrs Spray and Siddall

079.  To receive reports from District Councillors

Cllr Hume had nothing to report, due to periods of ill health.

Cllr Pell reported that she had attended the Partnership Development Scrutiny Committee, and a Full Council meeting at Great Notley Arts Centre. BDC are currently seeking a new venue for meetings. BDC offices have reopened to the public. Several officers are leaving.

Cllr Radley proposed the extension of Standing Orders until completion of business, seconded by Cllr Atkinson, and unanimously agreed.

Cllr Radley reported that he had also attended Full Council. He also reported that the infrastructure at the Horizon business park is now complete. There will also be an Enterprise Centre and 300 trees will be planted.  Reports were noted

080.  To receive reports from Champions

Police – Cllr Warren  reported that there are now 3 specials operating in Halstead. Speedwatch has been launched but will not be able to go forward without at least 12 volunteers. There have been numerous thefts of catalytic converters, and this needs to be made widely known to the public. Residents need to come forward with any information they may have. Police have not attended on any occasion but advice would be welcome on how to prevent this.

Surgery – Cllr Gronland reported that the surgery project is progressing slowly.

Open spaces and environment – Cllr Fincken had made comments earlier about Open Spaces and was pleased to hear that the process was being improved. A river clean had been carried out. The Town Clerk had received a reply from Planning enforcement concerning the state of Mill House, which claimed that there were no concerns from planning. Cllr Fincken asked the Town Clerk to write to the Principal planning officer to point out the unkempt and dilapidated state of the area.

Education –. Cllr Caulfield reported that a letter is being prepared to send to Cllr Siddall concerning the S106 monies waiting to be spent on education.

Tourism – Cllr Pell.reported that events are now being planned for Christmas.

Champions’ reports were noted

081.  FOOTBRIDGE  UPDATE.

There was no update on the footbridge.

It was proposed by Cllr Pell and seconded by Cllr Gronland, and unanimously agreed,  that this item be taken off the Agenda until the remaining work is planned.

082.  To consider restrictions on the use of Queens Hall

Cllr Hume proposed, seconded by Cllr Gronland :

  1. that HTC maintains a policy of recommending the wearing of face coverings indoors, and maintaining social distancing where possible.
  2. That HTC removes the restriction on numbers
  3. That HTC gives the Town Clerk delegated authority to follow the government guidelines

This was unanimously agreed.

083.  EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

To give consideration to adopting the following resolution: – “That in view of the confidential nature of the business about to be transacted and pursuant to the provisions of section 1(2)-of the Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, as amended, the public and the press be temporarily excluded from the meeting”.

Cllr Radley proposed, seconded by Cllr Fincken, that the public and press be temporarily excluded from the meeting, and this was unanimously agreed.

PRIVATE SESSION

084.  A staff matter was discussed

085.  A staff matter was discussed.

There being no further business, the meeting closed at 22.10

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