Held in the Village Hall on 26 November 2003

The entire Parish Council (bar one) met with 13 villagers and representatives of the Maplecombe developers so that views on two new development plans for the Maplecombe site could be aired and the Parish Council given some direction in its response to the applications.
Full details of both applications were available for perusal prior to the meeting, including site plans, design statements, etc. One application was for 25 houses, a second for 34 houses on the Maplecombe site had been submitted to EHDC for consideration at their meeting on 24 January 2004.

Village Hall

Keith Haskell opened the meeting by apologising for the lack of information on progress regarding the development of the Village Hall. We await the decision of the Trust (owners of the other half of the Folly) to the expenditure involved. In the circumstances (though somewhat uncertain), it was hoped that the proposed new pre-school nursery would open as projected in January with the Hall in its present format.

Maplecombe Site

The original application (pulled by the Government Office for the South East and now the subject of a public enquiry in April 2004 for 16 houses (of which 4 would be "affordable")) was supported, in general, by the village and by the Parish Council, taking into account the peripheral benefits of the development proposals. The reasons for the involvement of GOSE were:

a) Overgenerous parking allowances,

b) Building density does not conform with guidelines laid down by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

c) Since the development is not included in the local plan - though it would benefit the village to replace the derelict farm buildings with houses - it could not be considered a "brown-field site".

Keith then went on to speak about the history of the Maplecombe site and the new applications. In consultation with the village, the Parish Council agreed the original proposal, since the view was taken that the benefits of clearing the derelict houses from Chase Field and restoring the area to a flat grassed recreational ground would be greatly advantageous to the village. Although 12 "affordable" houses had been lost, at least 4 replacements would be provided in the proposals.

However, although approved by EHDC after a site visit and extensive consultation with the PC and parishioners, government rules prevailed over a "special case" and the plans are subject, currently, to scrutiny at a public enquiry next year.

There is sufficient doubt that the original scheme will find favour with the GOSE that the developers have submitted the two new schemes for consideration. The 34 dwelling scheme would include 12 "affordable" houses and the 25 dwelling proposal 9 "affordable" houses. ( "Affordable" means small (single or two bedroom) units, co-shared ownership or social housing - to be decided). The new proposals meet all requirements regarding density stocking and car parking facilities laid down by the government department.

As you can imagine, there was a huge amount of discussion, and input from the developers was very helpful. Amongst concerns expressed, traffic congestion and lack of village facilities featured high. The meeting was also reminded that proposals to build on the Mill Site were still awaited. Some inaccuracies in the draft plans were pointed out - these would be checked by the Farringdon Planning Subcommittee and incorporated in our submission to EHDC.

The feelings of the meeting might be best summarised as follows:-

a) That we have been rushed (as have the developers) into making decisions about radically different plans for the site

b) That the views of the village, Parish Council and EHDC have been overridden roughshod by a government department with no knowledge of the local situation.

The conclusions were that:-

a) The original proposals had the continued strong support of the Village and PC

b) That the proposal for 34 dwellings was wholly unacceptable; if withdrawn, the meeting would support (as a second-best choice) the proposal for the 25 residences

c) Subject to correction of the inaccuracies in the plans, the Chairman of the PC would so write to the Head of Planning at EHDC.

Mike Findlay
Parish Clerk