Agenda, decisions and minutes
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Minutes of the Previous Meeting
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 19 October 2022. The minutes can be viewed at:
The minutes of the meeting held on 19 October 2022 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chairman.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Jason Baker, Mike Best, Ray Buckler, Dave Bulmer, Martin Carnell, Brian Hamilton and Oliver Patrick.
Declarations of Interest
In accordance with the Council's current Code of Conduct (as amended 26 February 2015), which includes all the provisions relating to Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPI), personal and prejudicial interests, Members are asked to declare any DPI and also any personal interests (and whether or not such personal interests are also "prejudicial") in relation to any matter on the agenda for this meeting.
Members are reminded that they need to declare the fact that they are also a member of a County, Town or Parish Council as a Personal Interest. Where you are also a member of Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council within South Somerset you must declare a prejudicial interest in any business on the agenda where there is a financial benefit or gain or advantage to Somerset County Council and/or a Town or Parish Council which would be at the cost or to the financial disadvantage of South Somerset District Council.
Planning Applications Referred to the Regulation Committee
The following members of this Committee are also members of the Council's Regulation Committee:
Councillors Jason Baker, Paul Maxwell, Sue Osborne and Martin Wale.
Where planning applications are referred by this Committee to the Regulation Committee for determination, Members of the Regulation Committee can participate and vote on these items at the Area Committee and at Regulation Committee. In these cases the Council's decision-making process is not complete until the application is determined by the Regulation Committee. Members of the Regulation Committee retain an open mind and will not finalise their position until the Regulation Committee. They will also consider the matter at Regulation Committee as Members of that Committee and not as representatives of the Area Committee.
Councillor Paul Maxwell declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 – Community Grants in respect of the George Reynolds Centre project, as a member of Crewkerne Town Council.
Councillor Val Keitch declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 10 – Next Steps following the Judicial Review – Planning Application 21/02654/FUL, as a member of Ilminster Town Council. She indicated that she would leave the room during the item and take no part in the discussion or vote.
Councillor Jenny Kenton also declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 10. She indicated that she would leave the room during the item and take no part in the discussion or vote.
Councillor Martin Wale declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 10 - Next Steps following the Judicial Review – Planning Application 21/02654/FUL, as he was previously a member of the Chard Carinval Committee.
Councillor Ben Hodgson declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 – Community Grants in respect of the George Reynolds Centre project, as a former member of Crewkerne Town Council.
Councillor Robin Pailthorpe also declared a personal interest in Agenda Item 7 - Community Grants in respect of the George Reynolds Centre project, as the ward member and also a member of Crewkerne Town Council.
Councillor Sue Osborne declared a personal and prejudicial interest in Agenda Item 10, as the ward member and a member of Ilminster Town Council. She indicated that she would leave the room during the item and take no part in the discussion or vote.
Date and Venue for Next Meeting
Councillors are requested to note that the next Area West Committee meeting is scheduled to be held on Wednesday 18th January 2023 at 5.30pm at The Guildhall, Chard.
Members noted that the next meeting of the Area West Committee was scheduled to be held on Wednesday 18th January 2023 at 5.30pm at The Guildhall, Chard.
Public Question Time
This is a chance to ask questions, make comments and raise matters of concern.
Parish/Town Councils may also wish to use this opportunity to ask for the District Council’s support on any matter of particular concern to their Parish/Town.
Anyone wishing to raise matters in relation to items on the agenda may do so at the time the item is considered.
The Committee was addressed by a member of the public on Agenda Item 10 - Next Steps following the Judicial Review re Planning Application 21/02654/FUL. Points mentioned included the following:
· It had been reported in the Leveller that South Somerset District Council had been unlawful in their decision to accept plans to build a carnival park because some councillors had failed to excuse themselves resulting in a legal bill being charged to taxpayers.
· It was hard to believe that councillors could not see the problem of voting for proposals they were personally involved with outside of their council duties.
· The Council Code of Conduct stated in its general obligations when undertaking council business that you must not use or attempt to use your position as a member improperly to give yourselves or anyone an advantage or disadvantage. It also stated not to conduct yourselves in a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or council into disrepute.
· The councillors involved were aware of the rules around conflict of interest and had received training on this.
· Does this committee believe that it is appropriate for these individuals to continue to sit on council planning committees and what steps will be taken to taxpayers going forward.
The Committee was then addressed by a representative of Kingstone Parish Meeting on Agenda Item 10. Points mentioned included the following:
· Kingstone and the adjoining parishes of Dowlish Wake and Seavington strongly objected to the construction of a 20,000 sq ft warehouse in open countryside. One of the main objections was the lack of a landscape impact assessment statement. The Area West Committee had therefore not yet been given essential information to determine the planning application.
· An independent landscape assessment plan had been commissioned jointly by the three parishes and its conclusion should be heard by the Area West Committee not by the Regulation Committee. Its summary conclusion stated that the proposed large scale industrial development site which is separated from the local settlement was entirely unsuitable for this isolated location.
· Area West Committee should be deferred to allow the Committee to undertake a site visit to appreciate the negative impact on the rural character of the area and to also assess the accessibility of another site that has been proposed by Dillington Estates.
A representative on behalf of the Grouped Parish Councils Seavington St Michael and Seavington St Mary also addressed the Committee on Agenda Item 10. Points mentioned included the following:
· Request for the planning application to be redetermined by the Area West Committee by councillors who respect the wishes of local rural communities.
· Concerns about multiple road safety issues including access from all directions to the proposed site, access lanes narrow with few passing places which would lead to conflict with construction traffic and local users.
· It was hoped that Area West Committee would accept an invitation for a site visit.
· The busiest carnival construction period clashed with the peak of agricultural activity.
· Residents were concerned about the increase in ... view the full minutes text for item 386.
The Chair asked if members could make their residents aware of the warm hubs available in their wards.
West & Middle Play Equipment Project
The Locality Officer presented the report which asked members to consider awarding a grant of £9,996 towards installing play equipment at the recreational field. The total project cost was £21,996 and the amount requested was 45.5%.
A member commented that the provision of play equipment was very important in the current times.
Ashill Village Hall Project
The Locality Officer presented the report which asked members to consider awarding £5,946 towards removal of asbestos and the installation of a new roof at Ashill Village Hall. The total project cost was £37,423 and the amount requested was 15.89%.
A member commented that the amount requested was a relatively modest amount in relation to the project costs. The village hall had a very serious problem with asbestos on the roof and the work desperately needed to be undertaken. The hall was a very well used and important facility in the village. She said that the Village Hall Committee should be commended on raising funds for the project.
At the conclusion of the item, members unanimously approved the recommendation of the report.
Merriott Tithe Barn Project
The Locality Officer presented the report which asked members to consider awarding a grant of £8,185 towards installation of new guttering, new flooring and dampproof membrane. He advised that the original application submitted included repointing the west side of the building but this would now be paid for by the Tithe Barn first and the other works would follow. The total project cost was £21,391 and the amount requested was 38.3%.
The ward member expressed his support for the application and commented that the Tithe Barn was an historic building in Merriott and was very well used and a great asset to the village. He paid tribute to the Locality Officer and the applicant who had worked hard in refining the application.
In response to questions, members were informed that:
· The church or the diocese were not providing any funding towards the project. The church was in need of extensive repairs and working on a very small margin in which it didn’t have enough money to make its own repairs.
· The building was given to the church for the benefit of the church ... view the full minutes text for item 388.
Members noted that a report on S106 obligations would be considered by District Executive in January 2023.
In response to a member comment on S106 obligations, members were informed that the data being provided in the report would be broken down into the four areas as well as an overall total. Moving forward into the new Somerset Council, future reports would be very detailed and available for the public to view on the website.
Members were content to note the Area West Committee Forward Plan.
Members were content to note the report that detailed the planning appeals which had been lodged, dismissed or allowed.
Having earlier declared personal and prejudicial interests in the item, Councillors Val Keitch, Jenny Kenton and Sue Osborne left the meeting during consideration of the item.
The District Solicitor & Monitoring Officer introduced the item. She said that the decision of the Committee made in January on Planning Application 21/02654/FUL was judicially reviewed and that the application had been referred back to the Council for reconsideration and the application needed to be taken afresh. One of the issues in considering the application was the question of member interests and that a significant proportion of the Area West Committee were members who had either previously declared an interest or were now required following the judicial review decision to declare an interest. She advised that the Regulation Committee also dealt with South Somerset planning matters and that the application could be dealt with at Regulation Committee or by Area West Committee. The District Solicitor & Monitoring Officer referred to a letter received from the CPRE setting out their views to the contrary and suggesting that there might be further reviews if a different view was taken.
During the discussion on the item, members made the following comments:
· The application should be heard by the Area West Committee and should be viewed as afresh application.
· Area Committees were appointed to deal with planning applications at a local level and it was inappropriate to defer the application to the Regulation Committee.
· A member commented that he would be surprised to see the application being two starred as it was not a Major Major application.
· It was felt that a site visit would be useful.
During the discussion on the item, it was proposed and seconded that the application be redetermined at Area West Committee. A vote was taken and the decision was unanimously approved.