MINUTES OF THE BRANKSOME PARK, CANFORD CLIFFS & DISTRICT RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION
EXECUTIVE & WARDENS MEETING HELD ON 11TH MARCH 2009 at 7.30pm
IN THE LOUNGE, BRANKSOME ST. ALDHELM’S PARISH CENTRE
Terry Stewart President
John Sprackling Chairman
John Defty Treasurer
Michael Bond Membership Secretary
Keith Alcroft Planning Officer
Bob Young Magazine Advertising Manager
Val Short Minutes Secretary
Cllr Mrs Carole Deas Ward Councillor
Cllr Mrs May Haines ditto
Cllr Neil Sorton ditto
Welcomes: JS welcomed Cllrs Mrs Carole Deas, Mrs May Haines and Neil Sorton and all those present.
1. APOLOGIES AND ACCURACY OF MINUTES (11 FEBRUARY 2009)
Apologies: Stan Alfert, Ken Sanson (Chairman, Sandbanks Assn) Henry Feilden & Chris Stracey
Accuracy: JS said that he would sign the Minutes as a true and accurate record of the meetings held on 11 February 2009.
2. MATTERS ARISING :
Poole Pottery/Old Orchard/Quay Thistle Hotel sites update: JS reported that…
1. Quayside (former) Dolphin Quays development – Douglas Cook of the Society of Poole Men had asked a question at the Informal meeting with Residents’ Association representatives on 30/01/09 about the reinstatements of the paving around the Quayside development. It seems that there are problems not only in the length of time required to order the specialist paving, but also the fact that there are also outstanding defects which the current developer is still responsible for. Considerable work has been undertaken to keep this to a minimum and expedite the necessary repairs – the Council are still working on this.
2. Poole Pottery factory buildings in Sopers Lane – Metnor’s High Court challenge which was due to be heard on 02/03/09 was withdrawn at the eleventh hour.
It seems that the new Core Strategy has offered Metnor grounds for optimism. Brian Ham, director of Metnor, was quoted in the Daily Echo as saying: “We are more upbeat about things. It is a positive outcome for us. The inspector thought the site was appropriate for health-related uses. On this basis we thought that, although there is still work to do with the council, it makes more sense to work within that framework than a High Court challenge.”
3. Former Poole Pottery & Swan Inn site – It was reported in the Daily Echo dated 26/02/09 that a planning application has been submitted for the former Swan Inn on Old Orchard, with its iconic green tile frontage, to become the Enid Blyton Story Centre. This is the brainchild of Viv Endecott, who runs the Blyton-themed Ginger Pop Shop at Corfe Castle.
4. Quay Thistle Hotel site – JS is still awaiting a copy of the draft Planning Performance Agreement and has now requested this under the Freedom of Information Act.
NS said he would also check when the Frequently Asked Questions about the 2nd Harbour Crossing were going to be posted on the BoP website.
5. Old Orchard House. 39-61. High Street – No further developments
Planning Enforcement, TPOs/Tree replacements – update:
Flat 6, 20 Flaghead Road (Requirement for obscure-glazed glass) – MH explained that the glass had been ordered but then the supplier ‘went bust’, it has been re-ordered from Dorset Glass and should be replaced imminently.
Fitzmor Homes Ltd sites at 49 & 49a Haven Road & 7 Balcombe Road & 18
Balcombe Road (Oversize ‘For Sale’ board) – The flags and advertisement board at 49 & 49a Haven Road have been removed.
75 Canford Cliffs Road – Enforcement Notice re the formation of an unauthorised vehicular entrance subject to ‘Written representations’ Appeal
(APP/Q1255/C/08/2086204) Date for Final comments was 24/12/08
Sir Michael Pitt’s independent review of planning matters in Poole – JS reported
on the meeting with Sir Michael Pitt on 23/02/09 at which representatives of five Residents Assns were present to receive Sir Michael’s report which was officially published that day. The following day, the Head of Financial Services was quoted in the Daily Echo as saying that the recommendations would “all be implemented in due course” JS said that ‘Time will tell’.
JS said that he would list the seven recommendations in the Minutes – see below. Chairman’s note: In the case of certain recommendations, the reason may not be immediately clear and I have added the explanation from Sir Michael’s report.
That senior Officers review the Council’s Risk Register and ensure that ‘the likelihood of the risk’, ‘the impact of the risk’ and ‘the mitigating actions’ relating to Development Control, unlawful behaviour and damage to the reputation of the Council are given appropriate priority and that this aspect of the Council’s corporate governance is considered regularly by top management and Planning Services.
5.9 Whilst there is every reason to have confidence in the Council’s top team, there is a need for constant vigilance and challenge. A vital part of the Council’s corporate governance is its approach to risk management, which provides the appropriate processes for systematically reviewing and assuring resilience. In areas with exceptionally high property values, such as Poole, the risks of unlawful behaviour are higher and therefore the response must be proportionate to that risk. The Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer and Section 151 Officer all have special statutory responsibilities in relation to the conduct of the Council’s business. They have a duty to ensure that the Council is resilient and that the possibility of unlawful behaviour is taken seriously throughout the organisation.
Senior Members and Officers should redouble their efforts to explain Council planning policy and the reasons for their advice and decisions. This should be backed up with a rolling communications strategy developed by Officers.
The Council should accelerate the planned remodeling of the membership of its Planning Committee and/or Cabinet in order to strengthen the Planning Committee’s independence and comply fully with the advice of the Audit Commission contained within the Corporate Assessment 2008.
The Council should review the standing of the Planning Committee within its political structure and invite the independent Panel on Members Allowances to more fully recognise the responsibilities and workload of Chair and Members.
The Council should review the way minutes of the Planning Committee are
presented and when decisions are not unanimous, a record should be kept of Councillors abstaining and voting for and against the motion.
Given the challenges within the Borough, the Council should commission a comprehensive review of its arrangements for controlling development conducted by an experienced, senior and qualified Planning Officer. The terms of reference of the review should take into account the contents of this report.
That the Administration seeks an urgent and permanent resolution to the on-going disagreements within the Group.
5.18 …there has been media coverage of the suspension of two Members from the Council’s controlling Group. The exact reasons for the suspension are confidential to the Group although it is widely known that there are strong differences of opinion in relation to Development Control. The Members concerned have aligned themselves closely with residents and believe that the amount of new development taking place is excessive. One Member in particular has been highly critical of the decisions of the Planning Committee and expressed views publically.
5.19 It is not uncommon for individual Councillors to find themselves publically at odds with other Members of their political Group. Usually, after a period of time these difficulties are resolved and the impact on the reputation of the Council is kept to a minimum. Leading Members have worked hard to try and resolve the differences. However, the Council is being damaged by this lengthy and on-going dispute and several witnesses believe that this problem has gone on for far too long.
NS asked if he might read the following statement and JS agreed…
Planning has always been a sensitive issue in Canford Cliffs Ward, not least because of high property values.
For some time persistent rumours as to irregularities in the planning process have been circulating not only in Poole but in the wider arena such as the Local Government Association in London. Poole Council’s Chief Executive, rightly concerned about the reputational damage to the Council, called in Sir Michael Pitt, a well respected and authoritative figure on the national stage.
Sir Michael interviewed senior staff, Councillors and leading members of certain Residents Associations. Sir Michael Pitt’s report has recently published, and is on the Council’s website. I will be quoting Sir Michael verbatim.
Sir Michael tells us that September 2006 saw the beginning of a seven month investigation by Dorset Police. I for one was completely unaware of such police involvement. Sir Michael tells us that an un-named Councillor lodged with Dorset Police a dossier containing separate allegations of planning irregularities from eleven residents or organisations in Poole. Sir Michael says that Dorset Police took the allegations seriously, and considerable police resources were expended following up leads, talking to witnesses and collecting evidence. The Police Report summarises the findings and found no evidence to support the allegations. The conclusions of the Police investigations were “there is insufficient evidence to substantiate these allegations or to warrant any further investigation at this time subject to any further evidence coming to light”. *
In paragraph 5.4 of his Report Sir Michael says that he was impressed by the thoroughness of the Police investigations and there was nothing in any of the files or paperwork which he had read which gives cause for concern.
Sir Michael reports, following his own investigations: “Based on the interviews, papers and reports considered during the course of the Review, there is no evidence
to substantiate any of the rumours suggesting Members or Officers of the Council are
involved in unlawful activity relating to development control.”
Sir Michael made seven recommendations of a broadly administrative nature. I can confirm that such recommendations are being dealt with or will shortly be implemented.
Sir Michael says in his Report that there is a serious breakdown in the relationship between some residents and the Borough Council. I would point out that a meeting
has already been arranged for later this month between the new Head of Planning Stephen Thorne and representatives of local Residents Associations, when hopefully bridges can start to be mended. As John Sprackling is quoted as saying in the Echo dated 24th February “This represents an opportunity to turn over a new leaf”.
Speaking purely for myself, I consider that there was a surprising omission from Sir Michael’s Report – the role of the Planning Inspector, where a locally taken planning decision can be overturned by the Inspectorate in Bristol. I would like to instance 10 Canford Crescent (a bungalow) and 14 Canford Crescent (a two-storey house). In both cases I persuaded the Planning Committee to refuse permission for flats. However, the respective applicants appealed and the Planning Inspectors in Bristol granted permission for flats. This sort of example may help to fuel the public perception that (wrongly) the Council “allowed” flats in a road hitherto free of flats. I would also point out that the overturning of a Council planning refusal on unsound planning grounds runs the risk of the Council – that is the Council taxpayer – being liable for the applicants’ costs.
I would remind you that, notwithstanding the above difficulties, the Independent Audit Commission has just announced that it has, for the second year, awarded the highest 4-star rating to Poole Council – only one of four local authorities in the South West. The Commission said that Council services provide good value for money and adjudged that Poole Council is “improving well”.
This accolade is all the more commendable in the light of the poor Government funding – we have all heard of the Fair Funding for Poole Campaign. The per capita grant for Poole is £196 per head of population. The average for all English Unitary (all purpose) authorities is £367. In Poole only 29% of the Council’s income comes from Government grant, whereas the average for all English Unitary authorities is 50%.
The balance of course has to come from the Council taxpayer. If we had received a Government grant similar to Bournemouth (where the per capita grant is £334) we could have cut Poole’s Council Tax by 27%.
JS invited questions following NS statement…
John Fox asked why Poole’s under-funding by Central Government cannot be put in the press?
NS replied that there had been a press release in the Echo.
John Fox suggested that the council should publish the facts (in Poole News?) so that all residents in Poole could be made aware of this injustice.
JD asked which government minister was in involved in the Rate Support Grant.
NS replied that it was something like Communities and Local Government and added that the lowest funded authorities tended to be those that were ‘right wing’.
MB referred to NS comment regarding the role of the Planning Inspector, where a locally taken planning decision can be overturned by the Inspectorate in Bristol. But, it was pointed out that the Council was successful in defending around 75% of all appeals.
CD referred to the “unnamed councillor” reputed to have lodged a dossier with the police. She said she had been at a meeting where a resident had provided ‘evidence’ pertaining to planning irregularities. CD was later advised to lodge this with the police, partially on the advice of the Conservative Councillors’ Association (CCA).
CD had wanted to be sure she was doing the right thing.
In response to a question about the time-scale during which the Sir Michael Pitts’ seven recommendations are to be implemented, MH said that this would be
monitored by the Council Efficiency and Effectiveness Overview and Scrutiny Committee and their next meeting is on 19/03/09
JS said that, as mentioned in NS statement, Cllr Mrs Stribley had invited two representatives from each Residents’ Assn to attend a meeting to meet the new
Planning Head, Stephen Thorne, on 25/03/09 to discuss Planning issues and questions. JS said that he proposed to ask the following questions and asked members if there was any other question they would like to be put.
1. Will there be a change of approach to ‘Retrospective’ applications?
2. Will there be a more robust approach to Non-Compliance with Planning Conditions?
3. Can we expect to see a reduction in the instances of Inconsistencies in planning decisions?
4. Reluctance to publish Pre-application consultations in the public domain
5. Lack of transparency in relation to negotiation of Affordable Housing contributions
KA asked if the Planning Application notification procedure could be the subject of another review as he regularly receives complaints from resident that they only hear about applications within a few days of the deadline for representations
JS said that Derek Hanson of the Luscombe Valley Assn had asked if he would also
put the following points…
- · Chairmanship of Planning Committee to have a fixed term, say 4 years.
- · No Cabinet member to be Chairman of the Planning Committee.
- · Increase the membership of the Committee to include one member from each Ward.
- · Committee meeting minutes to be more detailed and record how each Member voted.
- · Section 106 money to be kept separate and used only for planning related infrastructure.
- · All meetings, including Pre-application consultations, between developers and representatives of the Planning Department to be recorded and minuted.
- · More robust approach to ‘Retrospective’ applications and Non-Compliance with Planning Conditions
- · Take action over inconsistencies in planning decisions
Poole Beaches and Coastal Defences: As Roy Pointer was not present, there was no report.
Council Tax 2009/10 & Financial Monitoring report: As William Mutlow was not present, there was no report but NS advised of an additional Budgetary ‘pressure’ as, whereas there was a Budget provision for an increase in staff salaries of 2.45%, the Independent Arbitrator had set this at 2.75%.
Poole Partnership: JS reported that the Poole Partnership Steering Group meeting which was due to take place on 02/03/09 was postponed.
Stronger Communities Partnership meets on 18/03/09 but JS said that, contrary to his expectations, the Agenda does not include any item on the Sustainable Communities Act.
TS said that Cllr Peter Adams and the Head of Legal & Democratic Services, Tim Martin are making presentations on the Sustainable Communities Act at all Area Committee meetings. The Canford Cliffs & Penn Hill Area Committee meeting is on April 29,
Chairman’s note: A Working Party to determine the Council’s response to Sustainable Communities Act is being set up, comprising three Conservatives and two Lib/Dems, who will report to the Cabinet on 07/07/09, who will, in turn, make a recommendation to the Full Council on 21/07/09, in time to meet the deadline on 31/07/09.
Lindsay Road to Station Road Corridor/Speeding: – No further developments.
Canford Cliffs Village & proposal to plant trees in Haven Road: KA reported that
some progress had been made, but the ‘tree’ man wants a bigger pit for planting and
the ‘highways’ man says that will make it difficult to provide a good surface for pedestrians – Trees and Highways will liaise to find a solution, then a decision can be made on the type of trees to be planted. It is doubtful that this will happen in time for the trees to be planted this season.
Bella Rosa – No Planning Application has been submitted as yet for the screening that has been erected. MH will chase.
Public Rights of Way:
Westminster Road end of Dalkeith Road – nothing new to report.
Buccleuch Road to Lakeside Road – ditto
Bessborough Road – ditto
Possible Charitable Status for Assn: JS has still to set up a small Sub-Committee to look at this. TS said that he would be willing to help with this.
Canford Cliffs Chine: Peter Adams was hoping that members of the public would help with the planting, but MH was not sure of the current situation. MH will chase.
Premises Licence application for ‘Orton Rigg’, 53 Cliff Drive – JS reported that the Premises Licence had been granted.
BPCCRA Spring 2009 Magazine & AGM (02/05/09) – JS reported that the magazine should be ready for distribution at the end of next week.
3. NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
11 Leicester Road Outline application to demolish existing dwelling and associated outbuildings. Erect a 59 bedroom care home, bin and cycle store and associated parking (15 spaces) with some matters reserved) – Letter of objection lodged on behalf of Assn on 12/01/09. NS said that he is closely monitoring this application and will ‘red-card this if the officers are minded to ‘Grant”.
Victoria School, 12 Lindsay Road (Erect modular classroom building comprising 3 classrooms, entrance hall and toilet facilities) – .Letter of objection lodged on behalf of Assn on 01/03/09.
31A Western Avenue (Demolish existing dwelling and erect a five bed detached dwelling) – Application refused on 02/03/09.
62 Haven Road (Erect 3 x 4-bed houses) – Appeal allowed by Planning Inspector on 03/03/09.
2 Tower Road (Conservation area application to demolish existing dwelling & erect 3 detached dwellings with associated parking) Application registered 17/12/08. Letter of objection lodged on behalf of Assn on 23/01/09. If the officers are not minded to refuse this application under delegated authority, this will be decided by the Planning Committee at a date yet to be announced.
Land adj. 2 Mornish Road (Conservation area application to erect a 5-bed detached house with integral garage, access from Mornish Road (Revised scheme) – Application subject to ‘Written representations’ appeal (APP/Q1255/A/09/2098623)
Date for final comments is 29/04/09.
JS reported that, although the application for the Wind Turbine application at Tesco, Branksome was granted by Planning Committee on 12/02/09, one of the lead protestors is planning to write to Tesco, with guidance from the Assn, pointing out that if they go ahead, this could have ‘commercial implications’.
The Judicial Review Hearing re 1, 2 & 3 Alington Close & 2a & 2b Shore Road (Demolish existing and erect 6 x two/ three storey blocks comprising 32 flats with basement car parking, accessed off Alington Close and associated works and
landscaping) (Amended scheme) is to be heard in High Court next Tuesday (17/03/09).
IRavine Lifestyle Limited is named as the only Interested Party.
Roland Cunnell said he had received notification that a new application had been registered re 1 Over Links Drive but this had yet to appear on the BoP Planning Application website. JS assured RC that this should appear soon.
Other current planning issues
14 Nairn Road (a) Demolish existing bungalow and erect a four storey 6 bed house) – Subject to Appeal Hearing (APP/Q1255/A/09/2094445). Date for final comments is
(b) Demolish existing bungalow and erect a four storey 5 bed house. (Revised
Scheme) – Application registered on 06/01/09. Local concerns. NS has ‘red-carded’
7A Bury Road (Demolish existing and erect replacement 2 storey dwelling with basement (revised scheme). Date Registered: 22/01/09. Local concerns. NS has
offered to ‘red-card’ the application.
16-18 Durrant Road (Demolish existing and erect 2 blocks of 6 flats (12 total) with
single linked basement garage) – application granted by Planning Committee on 17/04/08 and subject to complaint by local residents to Local Government
Ombudsman (LGO). The LGO’s provisional findings received on 08/11/08 were that the Council did nothing wrong but final decision is still awaited.
Canford Cliffs, Promenade 2 (a) Construction of 18 new beach huts) – Application
No: 08/24380/005/F & (b) Conservation Area application to demolish 8 beach huts (nos 99-106) adjacent to Canford Cliffs Chine. Application No: 08/24380/007/U The applications were registered as long ago as 22/01/08 &13/02/08 respectively. MH
will keep the Assn advised of any further developments.
19 Sandbourne Road (Demolish existing and erect 5 apartments over 3 storeys with basement parking and associated cycle and bin store) – Amended plans lodged on
8 Shore Road – BPCCRA will continue to monitor possible tree work application. An entrance has been created on the Haven Road side of this property.
60A Kings Avenue (Tree Replacement Notices to replant 3 Scots Pines) –
Confirmation awaited that the Council’s Arboriculturist visited both 60 and 60a to check tree issues and that letters sent to the owners requesting planting under Treework/Planning conditions.
4. ACCOUNTS TO DATE – JD reported that the audited accounts for 2008 were completed last month and showed a total of £31,917. This month’s accumulated fund was £34,105, but the cost of producing the magazine would come out of this.
JD asked if JS would send a letter of thanks to Peter Schofield for kindly auditing the Assn’s accounts for the year to 31/12/08.
JS reported that CountryWide Property Management have now paid for their advert in the Spring 2008 issue of the Assn’s magazine but Key Drummond remain a non-payer.
5. ANY OTHER BUSINESS –
Proposed Wind Farm, off Old Harry Rocks – TS said that, in principle, CPRE approved of off-shore wind farms, but no details of what is planned are available, so more information is needed before a decision can be made on whether to oppose the proposed off-shore wind farm near Old Harry. CPRE are currently fighting against an on-shore wind farm near Wool.
JS said that his attention had been drawn to the House of Lords debate on 09/03/09 on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill [HL] Lord Greenway (Crossbench) is quoted as saying “…The Government and other noble Lords will be aware that the proposed offshore wind farm site off the Jurassic Coast in Dorset has been moved nearer Poole. I am not certain whether that will please the rich residents of Sandbanks…”
Parkstone, Penn Hill & Canford Cliffs Safer Neighbourhood Partnership – JS reminded members of the Public Meeting on Wednesday 22nd April from 6-7pm at the Sandbanks Hotel, Banks Road, Poole.
Statement by Cllr Mrs Carole Deas – CD asked if she might make a statement and JS agreed.
CD said she had received numerous telephone calls offering support. The reason she had been expelled from the Conservative Group was for voting against increases in members’ allowances of up to 67%, she had felt this was inopportune in light of the
current economic situation and had voted against the Budget. CD had also been
accused of issuing a press release without authorisation; this was actually issued by a solicitor and had first been faxed to Conservative office. CD apologised for this upset, and said her main concern had always been to do her best for residents. She felt that more could and should have been done, and that she was sorry that David Gillard had been expelled for supporting her.
There had been five Cabinet members sitting on the Planning Committee that passed the Luscombe Valley planning application.
CD had been a member of the Conservative Party since the age of 17, she is a Conservative and believes in Conservative principles. She has applied to CCA for an appeal, there is already an outstanding appeal and, perhaps, the two appeals can be considered together. Sir Michael Pitt has asked for a speedy end to all this anxiety. CD will continue to represent residents, but until the appeal had been heard does not know whether she can continue as a Councillor.
NS pointed out that the reasons for expulsion did not mention the word ‘Planning’.
A member asked if this matter could be discussed but JS ruled that this was not a subject that the Assn should get involved with and this was generally supported by those present.
Fossilised tree discovered at Branksome Chine
Chairmens’ note: our Planning Officer, Keith Alcroft, has taken an active interest in this fossil on behalf of the Association.
He prepared an initial sketch of a suitable plinth and carefully chose and showed a prominent central location for its setting in Branksome Chine. This being the Associations preferred position.
Clive Smith, Head of Leisure Services, wrote to me on 02/03/09 “My view is that whilst I’m grateful to Keith for the work he has put into this I don’t think the site in the car park is practical. The site we suggested near Branksome Dene Chine is practical but far less visible. I have asked my team to have another look to see if there is anything in between.
We believe that it may be possible that Dean Dyball would be happy to make a contribution by way of sponsorship to its setting and the Association might also consider a donation to this project for the benefit of the people of Poole and visitors alike.
JS closed the meeting at 8.35pm.
Date of next Meeting: The next meeting is on Wednesday 8th April 2009 in the
Main Hall at Branksome St Aldhelm’s Parish Centre (Entrance via Lindsay Road)