Present: Mr D Purnell (Chairman).

Mr K Brown; Mrs J Burton; Mr K Larkin; & Mr D Palmer.

District Councillors: Mr K Tucker.

County Councillor: Dr J Cordwell.

The Clerk: Mr R Symons.

There were two members of the public present for part of the Meeting.

The Chairman opened the Parish Council Meeting.

  1. The Chairman invited apologies. The Council received and accepted apologies from Mr S Hale; & Mr L Smitherman. District Councillors Mrs J Cordwell & Mrs L Reeves.

  2. Declaration of Interests. The Chairman invited members to declare any Interests relating to this Meeting. There were none.

  3. The Council approved and signed the Minutes of the Ordinary Council Meeting held on 6 July 2015, as a true record. The Minutes of the July Ordinary Meeting of the Council had previously been distributed to all members and displayed on the public notice boards and the website. All members agreed the Minutes should be signed, as a true and accurate record. The Minutes were duly signed by the Chairman.

  1. The Council noted matters arising from the Minutes, not covered by agenda items. The Clerk referred to his Update Note, which had been issued prior to the Meeting. He advised that:

  1. (a) The Council had previously decided (July 2015), that due to the proximity of the site to North Nibley Parish, it would like to comment on the following Planning Application:

Following a full discussion the Council agreed to object to Stroud Planning Authority on the following grounds:

(1) The proximity of the site to the Cotswold AONB. This proposed development would have a detrimental effect on the open landscape that locals & visitors value & enjoy. The solar panels would be clearly visible from the Cotswold Way, a footpath of national importance, & viewpoints such as Stinchcombe Hill & Drakestone Point.

Stancombe House, (Grade 2 Listed), Stancombe Park Garden, (Grade 1 Listed), are also within the zone of visibility.

The Council agreed the application contravened the following Stroud Local Plan Policies:

NE8: The proposal is not in accordance with this policy as it does not meet the criteria of:

a) The nature, siting and scale are sympathetic with the landscape;

b) The design and materials complement the character of the area.

Neither does it accord with Emerging Policy ES2: “Within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), or in locations where proposals would affect the setting of the AONB, applicants for the development of renewable energy schemes and associated infrastructure will need to demonstrate that the public or national interest outweighs the protection afforded to the AONB.”

The Council does not accept that the application demonstrates the public or national interest outweighs the protection afforded to the AONB.

Emerging Policy ES7: “Within the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), or on land that may affect its setting, priority will be given to the conservation and enhancement of the natural and scenic beauty of the landscape whilst taking account of the biodiversity interest and the historic and cultural heritage. Major development will not be permitted unless it is demonstrated to be in the national interest and that there is a lack of alternative sustainable development sites.”

The Council does not accept that the application is in the national interest and that there is a lack of alternative sustainable development sites.

Planning Policy Guidance para. 013: “the deployment of large-scale solar farms can have a negative impact on the rural environment, particularly in undulating landscapes.”

This site is overlooked from the Cotswold AONB & would therefore have a negative impact on that environment.

There was no evidence that brown field or less sensitive sites have been investigated in the wider area.

This site is Grade 3 & 4 agricultural land currently used for arable farming. This development would result in the loss of valuable farming land. The developers have not shown that any economically viable agriculture will be possible on this site.

National Planning Policy Policy para.17: “recognises the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving rural communities within it; contributing to conserving and enhancing the natural environment. It also encourages the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land), provided that it is not of high environmental value.”

The policies in the National Planning Policy Framework are clear that there is no excuse for putting solar farms in the wrong places. The Framework is clear that applications for renewable energy development, such as solar farms, should be approved only if the impact including the impact on the landscape–the visual and the cumulative impact –is or can be made acceptable. That is a very high test.” (Planning Minister Nick Boles, House of Commons 29/01/2014).

PPG published in March 2014 makes it clear that large-scale solar farms should focus on “previously developed and non-agricultural land provided that it is not of high environmental value.” (Planning Inspector Elizabeth Ord 2014).

The Council also noted and supported the comments from Gloucestershire County Highways Department (24 July 2015).

The proposed access to the site would be at a blind spot onto what is a very busy narrow minor road. This road provides a regular route for traffic of all varieties to and from Berkeley & the A38 to travel to North Nibley and other towns/villages beyond. The proposal fails to acknowledge the extent of this traffic and the potential danger which could be created by large vehicles delivering construction materials to the site.

5 (b). The Council received and discussed the following planning applications:

Following discussion the Council agreed to make “No Comments” on this application.

Following discussion the Council agreed to make the following comments on this application:

The continued use of these buildings for agricultural purposes is not realistic.

The current buildings are in a very poor state. The proposal as set out will enhance the site and make good use of the Old Dairy building which has stood empty for many years. The proposal to demolish the old barns will significantly enhance the rest of the site.

The Council is of the opinion that:

Following discussion the Council agreed to “Object” to the application on the following grounds:

The current Old Brewery building is in sound condition and forms a part of the character of this part of the Parish. There is no logical reason why this old building, which has been occupied by the current residents for many years, should now be demolished.

In particular, as the Council had recently (30 July 2015) received advice from the Planning Authority that planning permission had been granted for this property to be used as a separate dwelling (S.15/0994/FUL), this application appeared to be illogical.

Furthermore there is no information in the application about the nature of the "proposed replacement building" which can satisfy policy HN14.

The Council were agreed in deciding that this application fails to meet all the criteria set out in Stroud Local Plan Policy HN14, which requires that all criteria for a replacement dwelling outside the settlement boundaries should be satisfied.

Furthermore the Council believe that the conditions as set out in Stroud Local Plan Policy NE8 are best met by the current building.

The Council also request that in deciding this application the Planning Authority should take into account the Human Rights of the existing residents and the co-owner of this property. Sentence removed.

  1. The Council noted that the Planning Appeals on The Nook, Vernals Lane, Swinhay, Wotton-under-Edge GL12 7PJ, have been dismissed.

  1. The Chairman closed the Meeting for Public Discussion and Questions.

There being no questions the Chairman re-opened the Meeting.

  1. The Council received and discussed District Councillor Ken Tucker’s Report. (See Report aside). There being no questions, the Chairman thanked Councillor Tucker for his report.

  1. The Council received a written Report from County Councillor Dr J Cordwell. (See Report aside). There were no questions for Councillor Cordwell. The Chairman thanked Councillor Cordwell for his report.

  1. The Chairman invited Parish Councillors and the Clerk to report back on Committees and Meetings they had attended.

  1. The Council were invited to comment on any further developments on Affordable Housing.

  1. The Council received an update on Highways issues as recently advised by Andrew Middlecote (Highways). The Clerk provided a written update (see aside). Following discussion on the individual matters the Council decided:

  1. To note these developments;

  2. The Clerk reported that a contractor had recently been seen to measure up the white lining in the vicinity of the Black Horse Inn;

  3. Noted.

  4. The Council agreed that this would not be progressed as the Council did not have the funding to progress this;

  5. Noted;

  6. The Council agreed to explore opportunities to obtain lids suitable for the existing bins;

  7. Noted.

It was brought to the Council’s attention that the hedgerow of Willow House, Smarts Green was encroaching on the verge of the highway, caused by large stones and garden cuttings. A recent incident resulted in a vehicle being damaged through hitting stones hidden on the verge. The Clerk was asked to report the matter to Highways.

  1. The Council received written feedback on responses received from local organisations about Council’s proposal to purchase a defibrillator. (See report aside).

Following discussion, during which it was noted that positive responses had been received from all the responding organisations, the Council discussed how to proceed. Following careful consideration the Council decided to progress with the proposal as soon as possible. The Council decided to purchase a defibrillator for the Village and to seek financial contributions from those organisations which have expressed support. The Clerk was asked to write to the organisations previously approached to invite a financial contribution.

The Clerk reminded the Council that the equipment requires an electrical supply and would need to be wired in. This would exclude some possible locations. He also reminded the Council that the cost is likely to be in the range of £1,000 plus vat.

The Council went on to consider a number of potential locations for the defibrillator. The Council noted each organisation’s comments and decided that to be most effective it needed to be located as centrally in the Village as possible. The Council agreed that the Village Hall would provide the best location.

The Clerk was asked to take the proposal forward.

  1. Finances.

  1. There were no Invoices for the Council to pay this month.

  2. To receive and sign-off the quarterly bank reconciliation report. The Clerk reported that as he had not yet received July’s bank statement he had been unable to carryout a reconciliation. The Clerk presented a statement of the Council’s Income & Expenditure. (See aside). The Clerk said that he would provide the bank reconciliation at the September Meeting.

  3. The Clerk advised the Council that there was a requirement to set up a Pension Scheme for its employees. The Clerk had registered with The Pension Regulator, in accordance with requirements.

  1. The Council received and approved Cemetery & Churchyard Reports. (See Reports filed aside).

Following discussion the Council noted the planned change in Burial Clerk arrangements.

The Council agreed that the Chairman & The Clerk should carry out a review of the condition of the trees and headstones in the Cemetery and, if necessary arrange for a professional report to be drawn up.

  1. The Council considered what action the Council should take on St Martin’s Churchyard wall.

Following discussion on the Clerk’s written report the Council decided to take no immediate action as the wall is currently in sound order. The Council will review the position at a later date.

  1. To receive, for information, details of Correspondence and Messages received. (See report aside).

The Clerk was asked to write to County Rights of Way about the fallen tree in Wood Lane.

There being no further business the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.15 pm.

The next Meeting of the Parish Council will be held in the Village Hall on Monday 7 September 2015 at 7.30 pm.

These Minutes were Amended at the October Meeting of the Parish Council. (See Minute 6/10/2015). Signed Chairman Mr D Purnell.