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Monday, 25 June 2012

Tadpole Farm - North Locality Meeting 7th June 2012 - What's in a Minute?

On 7th June 2012 the North Locality meeting went ahead and Tadpole Farm was on the agenda.  We have put the minute up from the Locality Lead and have contrasted this minute with ORA's.

ORA note that the Northern Development councillors who attended the meeting spoke against development at Tadpole Farm but at Planning Committee recommended it for approval or left it up to the Planning Committee.

Cllr Vera Tomlinson says:

"I would like to respond to David [Cllr David Renard (Haydon Wick)] and I am sure he knew I would. It is a bit of a defeatist attitude, that one. We are fighting for something that means an awful lot to an awful lot of people that live in the area which we are talking about and who will be affected most. It is not a done deal if we turn it down, if this Planning Committee turns it down, that the inspector will also turn it down. We have the right to speak at that appeal and if our arguments are good then the inspector will agree with us. So don’t think that if it is turned down it is going to cost you all a lot of money. Not necessarily so. And, in my opinion it is a fight worth fighting. We have to do it, it concerns so many people and it is such a bad application..."
On the night, Cllr Tomlinson recommended the committee to approve the planning application.
Minutes: North Locality Meeting – Tadpole Farm

7th June 2012

Locality Lead’s Minutes/ORA’s Minutes

Locality Lead’s Minutes:

3. Tadpole Farm development

Cllr Toby Elliot declared interest in the debate as he was a member of the SBC planning committee.
Cllr Faramarzi explained that the Tadpole Farm planning application would be discussed at the planning committee on Tuesday 12th June. She passed around the planning papers and asked the meeting for views. 
Cllr Tomlinson and Cllr Heaton-Jones and Cllr Mary Friend all stated their concerns about the current planning application as they believed it was inappropriate development and recognised that residents were against it due to the impact it would have on local communities. They urged as many local residents as possible to attend the planning committee meeting. 
Cllr Renard reminded the group that it was important to consider what happened with Coate Water and the fact that we lost control of the development and lost control of negotiating s.106 contributions. If developers did appeal, it was likely to be approved as rejecting this application would mean losing our 5 years land supply which undermined our core strategy. Without the core strategy, other developers would be able to put in applications for piecemeal, inappropriate developments as any land won’t have plans attached to it. 

ORA’s Minutes 

EF – Cllr Emma Faramarzi (Priory Vale), TE – Cllr Toby Elliott (Priory Vale Ward), VT – Cllr Vera Tomlinson (St Andrews), PHJ – Peter Heaton Jones (St Andrews), MF – Cllr Mary Friend (St Andrews), DR – Cllr David Renard (Deputy Leader of SBC/Haydon Wick) and RB – Cllr Rex Barnett (Haydon Wick) 

EF – The big subject that we are moving on to now is Tadpole Farm, the proposed development.  I know there are people that have possibly declarations of interest in this topic.  If they could stand up and make that declaration. 

TE – As Cllr Tomlinson was last year, I am a member of Planning Committee, and whilst I do have reservations, let’s say, about the development I cannot say how I will vote on Tuesday. 

EF – Now I haven’t got anything prepared and I haven’t got anyone here to give you an update, but the agenda for the Planning Committee with all the details, which is on the 12th June, is here for you all to have a look and pass around.  If you want to come to the meeting, and I really would welcome support at the meeting as the more residents that come the better, please please do register an interest with us or Kathryn and she will pass your details on to Iain, who is the person responsible for the Planning meetings, and really what we plan to do here because  we are so close to the meeting that we can’t really discuss it or give you our views as ward councillors – I am against the development, and perhaps other ward councillors might want to talk about it with you, privately, or even publicly if they want to – just raise your hands if you want to.  Cllr Tomlinson? 

VT – Here she goes....this is the biggest development in the northern sector that we have known.  Last year I was on the planning committee and because I was on the planning committee I had to keep my mouth well and truly zipped and I couldn’t say which way I would vote or would I be in favour of it or against it.  For some reason I have now been taken off the planning committee this year, surprise surprise, but I will be there as a ward councillor for that ward that the application has come in for and I will speak.  And I understand that ward councillors can speak forever and a day and nobody can stop them.  Now, members of the public coming will only be given perhaps two minutes or three minutes in which to speak but let any of them try shutting me up on this one and I will fall out with them.   And as I had to keep my thoughts to myself for the last 12 to 18 months because I was on the Planning Committee, I am going to say tonight  I am very much against that application to build houses on land which is inappropriate for the area.  

There are several reasons why it is inappropriate and I will bring those up at the meeting, but I don’t know if my two colleagues and the ones from Priory Vale, I am not pointing at you Toby because I know the position you’re in, I’m not sure whether they’re going to speak tonight but I do know that we are all as one. And so we would say to you please come on that night – we, your councillors, need your support to back us up on the night. 

When you think back to the Planning Committee for Coate Water, you know what happened to that.  We also went and it was even said in the Adver it was a done deal about the wind turbines.  Done deal?  No!  The committee turned it down because we said what we had to say and people came to support their councillors in putting forward their objections.  So I am begging you, if you feel as strongly as we do about this development please come on the night and give us your support.  Thank you. 

EF – Peter?

PHJ – Thank you, Chair...

VT – Oh, I’ve forgotten...

PHJ – I’ll do that, shall I?

VT – Yes.

PHJ - This is a disastrous application pure and simple and it’s going to have an incredibly negative impact on those of us who already live in these communities.  There are any number of reasons, very good reasons, why it should be turned down by the Planning Committee, but we do have a fight on our hands, I am afraid, because the planning officer in his report, which is in the agenda, recommends approval.  He recommends that permission should be granted, so we have a huge hurdle to overcome.  As Vera said, we are going to do our darnedest, we’re going to put forward every argument that we can. There are some respects in which we have our hands tied behind our back because the Planning Committee only needs to look at very specific areas of planning law when it is determining its application.

We believe that there are far more reasons than just those why this application is bad news and we’re going to try and bring them up as much as we can.  That is why we need the support of as many more people to come, because what of course is not reflected in planning law or in the report which the committee are going to be considering is the strength of community feeling, that we know from having knocked on doors is very strong indeed.

That is why the more people that can come, the better.  So we are going to be this weekend, for our sins, delivering 4000 letters that look like that to as many houses as we can in St Andrews ward and in the affected areas of Priory Vale ward.  And gives you the information about the meeting, and ask you to come, gives you the links to the website where you can get more information about it, and I would just say please do your best.  The weather will probably be as bad as this, but come out for a couple of hours and let's try and fight for the community.

I say again, it’s not going to be easy – I wish ward councillors had more power than we have over this.  The people who are going to make the decision are the Planning Committee and we’ve got to eyeball them in no uncertain terms, sorry Cllr Elliott, and we’ve got to say to them that the strength of feeling is such that they’ve got to turn down this application.  We’re going to do our best, please everyone come and help us.

EF – Thank you, Peter.  The issue that I have is though I am a ward councillor for Priory Vale, which is really part of Priory Vale in fact the whole of Priory Vale and Taw Hill are going to be negatively impacted by the development if it does go through.  The Tadpole Farm area is not deemed to be in our ward, although parts of it do straddle our ward, so I’ll be talking against it as well but as Vera said I will probably only have two minutes, so I’ll have to shout really loud.  So if I could get a round of applause from everybody that comes that will give me a little more wallop as well.  So I’ll take some comments now, gentleman in the red.

Floor – This is not technically to do with Tadpole Farm, it is about planning in general.  Now, it’s all very well moaning about Tadpole Farm, traffic and all the rest of it. but when the two Councillors, and I don’t know whether they are here to night, but when Nightingale Rise & Manor Brook were proposed, there’s a medical centre on one side of the road, the school on the other, an entrance with loads of I don’t know how many cars are going to come out when it is finished, but it has got to be in excess of 200 on to quite a small road.  Now anyone consider that when planning was going ahead, or did they just do what the Council always do – here’s a bit of wasteland, let’s build on it?

EF – I can’t answer that question, but perhaps Toby might want to comment.

TE – I’ll just say that generally on the Planning Committee we do not snowball anything through.  I mean we had about a 45 minute talk on a car parking space at the last planning meeting – we do consider everything.  I don’t know if Vera’s was on planning at the time or not – I’ll let her have a word in a minute.  But we do not snowball anything through, it is all considered.

VT – Right, well I know the development you are referring to. In planning terms there are rules and you have to stick to those, and the reason we have, when the Planning Committee sit, we have a solicitor present is to make sure that Councillors, when they veer off from what they should be saying or what they should be agreeing, he keeps us well and truly on track.. But everything, believe me, is considered.  And Councillors do get information about what is on the agenda and all the points that professional officers bring up. And you have time, before the committee sits which is probably 10 days later, to bring up any points you either don’t understand or you don’t think are right, and you have time to bring it up.  So everything, believe me, is considered.  And you, as a resident, can also do that with the officers.  You can contact them by e-mail or you could even make an appointment to go in and put your point to them.

Floor – Answering what you just said, which I go along with, fortunately now we have these Locality or cluster meetings so we can start this, but when that development went ahead there was no such thing.  So there was nowhere for Joe Blogg, the average resident, to go along and say I don’t like the idea or I like the idea.  This old people’s home there are all sorts of problems associated with that area, now because of the boundary change it is no longer part of this cluster set up, but it is still a problem within – you know, I don’t know if the same problem is going to happen at Tadpole Lane.  I know very little about Tadpole Lane actually, because I live this side of the North cluster whereas that is a long way away.  I assume the traffic will, such as Akers Way and so forth, will impound on the problems – we have loads of traffic and it seems to be the only road into the town centre these days....

VT – As a resident, it is your right to be able to comment and challenge any planning application that comes in. If you feel, I don’t want to sound patronising – you’ve known me for a while now, I don’t mean that, but if you feel out of your depth with planning speak which is quite different from our everyday language, then contact one of your councillors, any councillor will do, and try to get them to support you, and they can do this work for you.

EF – Gentleman in the black jumper...

Floor - Eddie Bedwell, HWPC, first of all, could we stick to the agenda if you would like, if you wish to please...and secondly,....

EF – Sorry, could you just tell me where I have jumped off the agenda?

Floor – the agenda item for this is Tadpole Farm.

EF – Yes, that’s what we are discussing.

Floor – My, question is, perhaps Peter or Vera can answer this question - how do they think our MP will cast his vote on this matter?

EF – Either of you?

VT – Quite happy, the MP who has given his opinion several times is Justin Tomlinson, North Swindon MP, is my son, and he has told me his thoughts and he has put it in print. He is against inappropriate development – make of that what you like, but those are his words.

EF – There is an article actually here on the notice board if you want to read on the very subject.

PHJ – Chair, if I may just to clarify to Cllr Eddie, we know each other, Eddie used the phrase how will he cast his vote – it is just worth clarifying that  the MP does not have a vote.  His opinion is just as Vera said.

Floor – you mentioned this meeting about it – when is it?

EF – 12th of June, next Tuesday.

VT – this coming Tuesday.

TE – 6pm, in the main Civic building in the main chambers at 6pm.

VT – It sounds like we are going to get some support!

EF – Mary?

MF – I am Cllr Mary Friend and I would just like to say I would like to reiterate everything that my fellow ward councillors have said, and I shall be speaking on Tuesday night because while we were campaigning so many people brought it up on the doorstep.  It shocked me how many people were against it and reading the application there are so many things that are wrong with it for the people that already live in the area.

EF – I might be talking out of turn, but I’ll do it anyway, Crest doesn’t really have a good history, do they, of delivering what they say they will deliver.

Oliver (EF’s partner) – Is anybody in this room in a position to actually present a counter argument? Or are we unanimously against this development.  Is there anybody actually making an argument for this?

PHJ – Well, it is perhaps just worth saying, Chair, for information that the counter argument is put very strongly in the agenda which is going round and is available on the website.

Floor – So essentially everybody present is against this....

All – Yes.

EF – Do we want a show of hands?

Floor - If it gets passed by the Planning Committee to build on Tadpole Farm or gets rejected or whatever are we going to have the same episode as at Coate Water that in the end the Council the will be overruled by some guy in London.

EF – We don’t know, we can’t say for certain – perhaps Vera would like to answer?

VT – Yes, what Crest have said, and believe me I have been to lots of presentations and been in meetings, and God knows what – and Crest have said that if they lose on the night, and they don’t think they will, but if they do and the committee turns it down then yes, they will appeal because they believe they will get permission that way.  But that is sort of the second hurdle – we’ve got to get through this first hurdle, and you know our mission is to try and bring up enough points to persuade the committee to vote against it.  And it is only outline planning permission that they are seeking on the night.  So you don’t get all the conditions and bits and pieces – it is purely do we have permission to build and then the officer will decide what the conditions are. Now, if I was on Planning Committee I wouldn’t vote for that because I think the committee needs to know exactly what they are voting for. 

EF – Oliver?

Oliver – it seems like there is a meeting of minds here and on that basis can the person in the room most qualified to comment explain what is the optimal way to oppose this then?  What are the steps that we can take as a collective to best oppose this because I am not entirely sure, I know that this meeting is useful, but what additionally can we do to contact the planning department or whoever to really oppose this as best possible?

EF – Vera

VT – I’m being counsel!  I think the best thing, because the people who are allowed to talk are the planning committee, and you’ve got Toby, and I don’t know what he is going to say, but the ward councillors, and there are actually only three of us and we are all sitting here, and we get the longest time of anybody to speak.  Public only get a couple of minutes, either 2 or 3, and I understand you are going to be cut off dead so they better practice what  they can get in that amount of time.  But the best thing, to answer your question, to give us support and courage to do we what we have to do that night, because it’s not down to us, we don’t have a vote.  All we can do is to try to persuade that committee to turn it down, and it would help us enormously if as many people from the two wards come on the night showing their support for us, and really that is the best thing you can do.  And if you are going to come, let us know one way or another that you are coming, and if you wish to speak, you’ll only get 2 or 3 minutes, but you can get quite a bit into 2 or 3 minutes, and a bit of advice – if a gang of you get together, you speak on this, you speak on that, you speak on this and let it be a continuous story, and that way you may get through to the planning committee.  But do come on the night, it really is important.

EF – David....

DR – Chair, a couple of people have asked questions about the alternative view, and I just thought it would be useful to outline the strategic view.  We have heard a lot of parochial comments, and obviously people, particularly who live near the site are concerned about the impact it will have.  But there is a strategic view here.  Coate was referred to – planning committee did decide to refuse it, it did go to the regional planning inspector who decided to approve it, and in that particular case the Council effectively lost control of the development.  It also lost control of the negotiating of what is called the section 106 agreements, which meant we didn’t get as much money out of the development as we would have done if it had been approved at planning committee. 

Now, potentially we’ve got the situation here, as Vera says, if it’s refused it could go to the inspector.  It’s highly likely that if it does go to the inspector it will be approved, on the basis that the Borough Council will no longer have a core strategy and it will no longer have five years worth of land supply, and therefore there is absolutely no reason the inspector would not agree to approve it.   If he approves it, the same as Coate, we lose control of the development, the developer can go ahead and what’s even worse, because we will have no core strategy and no control over the development, developers in future will be able to put in all sorts of piecemeal, unwanted, undesirable developments and they will be approved because the Borough Council will not have control across the whole Borough.  So the choice, really, is do you want to knock down one development, lose control of it and in effect lose control of it across the whole Borough.

Oliver – Can I clarify two things – are you saying if this development does not go through you lose control of all developments or just that part of that one?

DR – Well, both – because there will be no core strategy, and the core strategy which is currently in draft, but nevertheless does still have a certain amount of legal weight, will effectively not be worth the paper it written on.  So any land that is identified in there, any planning inspector will consider that we effectively have no plan, because Coate was in there, Tadpole Farm was in there – we’ve turned both of them down, so our strategic plan has no value, no worth.

Oliver – I know you can’t mention exact figures, because nobody knows, but as a percentage how much of the 106 funding would be lost or is it the entire amount that would be lost?

DR – it is up to the planning inspector, because at this stage the Council officers will negotiate a particular s.106 deal with the developer.  The Planning inspector, as part of his review, if he is minded to approve, will then decide possibly that certain parts of it, or certain sums, no longer need to be payable.  So, once it goes to the inspector you lose control, you don’t know what is going to happen.

EF – OK, I would like come back to Vera just for some more comments, and then I have another two Councillors.

VT – I would like to respond to David, and I am sure he knew I would.  It is a bit of a defeatist attitude, that one. We are fighting for something that means an awful lot to an awful lot of people that live in the area which we are talking about and who will be affected most. It is not a done deal if we turn it down, if this Planning Committee turns it down that the inspector will also turn it down. We have the right to speak at that appeal and if our arguments are good then the inspector will agree with us.  So don’t think that if it is turned down it is going to cost you all a lot of money.  Not necessarily so.  And, in my opinion it is a fight worth fighting.  We have to do it, it concerns so many people and it is such a bad application and Emma, you alluded to the fact that these developers have a very bad name, an extremely bad name in the development and planning world.  They have let us down so many times in what was the Abbey Meads ward, the northern sector, that quite honestly I wouldn’t trust them with anything.

 EF – I quite agree with that, so thank you Vera.  Last question from the floor, do you have a comment?

Floor – Just a quicky, if I can ask the gentleman from the planning committee, just give me a quick number how many are there on the planning committee?

TE – I think it’s 17 this year...

Floor – and are their names published?

TE – Yes they are.

Floor – So would it be a good idea for everybody that opposes it to individually contact them?

DR – The names are on the front of the agenda that is coming around.

TE – I have received some e-mails already, more are welcome.

EF – Rex?

RB – All I’ve got to say basically is – I am not against the proposal at all, to be honest, and I have to say, really, that we tried to put a stop to some of it, and we lost out.  And this could be partially why we’ve got such a bad road system in Redhouse now.  Because Redhouse was over developed, from what was originally planned.  Because we let it go.  The Government at that time stepped in and said increase it whatever.  So I think we need to be very careful that we don’t let Crest, whoever they are, to come in there, just go on their own sweet way, without any say from us at all.  That’s my fear.

VT – Rex, do you always do what the government tell you to do, as a Councillor?

RB – Unfortunately, once they go to an inspector and say carry on, they do.  What I am saying is, that the numbers that were first of all noted for that area, everybody that lived in, I’ll say Greenmeadow/Haydon Wick at that time.  We had meetings similar to this and we objected, right, and basically it went through and it was, so say, going to be 7,500 were going there and suddenly it became 10,000 houses?  It wasn’t agreed by the Borough at the time.  That was just put forward by the Government through the inspectors.

VT – Isn’t that the reason why I let it be known tonight it is only outline planning permission which they are seeking, in other words can we build there.  Afterwards the officers will decide, you know, what is coming and it shouldn’t be officers, it should be councillors.  We have no control over that agreement once they have been given permission to build.

RB - who do those officers answer to – they answer to the Borough Councillors....

VT – sometimes.

RB – if not, they should be taken to task.

VT – It is alright taking them to task after these events, after you have lost control, sorry Rex I don’t agree with you.

RB – I appreciate that, I don’t agree with a lot of what you say.

DR – Chair, I think the point Rex is making is the Priory Vale development was turned down by what was the Wiltshire Council and was won on appeal.  So what you have is a development that was lost control of, and you’ve now got what you’ve got and the problems you’ve got.

RB – Thank you, David.
EF – On that note, I think we will wrap up the discussion on Tadpole Farm.