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Agenda item

Consideration of a petition requesting that the Council Instigates a full transparent review of planning and water management policy for the area of Ash Lane and Down Hatherley Lane in Down Hatherley.

To consider the details of a petition and request Officers to consider the planning issues raised by the Petition as part of the review of the Joint Core Strategy.

Minutes:

19.1           The Mayor welcomed the representative of the petitioner and invited her to present the petition to the Council. She thanked Members for the opportunity to speak. She indicated that Tewkesbury Borough Council promised good quality of life for all residents, however, the residents of Ash Lane and Down Hatherley Lane felt the development taking place in the area showed no consideration for their quality of life, which was in serious jeopardy, and they were looking to the Council to address that and help them to continue to live in a safe and sustainable neighbourhood. The signatories to the petition felt that developers were being allowed to treat the community with disrespect and avoid having to invest in the infrastructure to ensure development was fit for purpose or that the area was safe from flooding and drainage problems.

19.2           She highlighted three issues of concern. Firstly, development was being approved in a piecemeal way which allowed developers to avoid contributing to overall infrastructure. The Regulation 2 stage process avoided the need to consider the infrastructure impacts that developments of ten or more dwellings would require and she questioned what the strategic plan was to govern that situation as it ran counter to the Down Hatherley Neighbourhood Development Plan and was not good for the community. Secondly, she questioned why the usage of a private road, which residents paid for, had not been included in the planning process – in fact residents had been told they were not a consideration for planning applications and she wondered how the Council could develop an approach which acted in the collective interest rather than ignoring residents. Lastly, she felt flooding concerns were being ignored. Last winter, Ash Lane had suffered more from flooding and backed up sewers than ever before as had Down Hatherley Lane. This all coincided with local development and would be exacerbated as the effects of climate change continued. There was evidence in the Twigworth and Down Hatherley Flood Watch Group report which spelt that out and it was suggested that needed to be reflected in any plans for the area. She asked that an Officer carry out investigations and liaise with local residents and the Parish Council, which could be arranged through the petition organiser, to look into all immediate issues and pick up the specific issues highlighted in the second petition which was being considered by the Council to address flooding risks and, in the meantime, to agree an interim policy restricting further approvals. She felt the Council needed to find a means of restricting further development so that quality of life, rather than greed, was placed at the top of the agenda.

19.3           The Head of Development Services thanked the petitioners for highlighting the issues. In presenting her report, she explained that the Council had a Joint Core Strategy and emerging Local Plan. It had a duty to consider planning applications so could not refuse to deal with them. Concern had been expressed by Ash Lane residents in connection with legal status and the fact that it was a private road was not a material consideration that could be taken into account. It was perfectly possible to apply for planning consent on land which was not within an applicant’s control so that could not be considered. In terms of flooding issues, Officers had met with Flood Watch representatives who had requested a detailed review of water management policies and she confirmed that the Council would be reviewing those as part of the JCS review. The Council was not proposing to allocate anymore strategic sites until the review of the JCS was complete. She was happy to work with residents and consider any information they had as part of the JCS review process.

19.4              A Member proposed that the Council thanked the petitioners for bringing the matters to the Council’s attention and requested Officers to have a meeting with representatives of the petitioners to understand their concerns; and consider the planning issues raised by the petition as part of the review of the Joint Core Strategy. The proposal was seconded.

19.5           During the discussion which ensued, a Member indicated that the particular area being discussed was fairly unique, with sensitive issues, and it was the Council’s duty to send an Officer to talk to the community and identify any issues that could be dealt with for them. Another Member agreed that the proposal was a positive way forward and he thanked the Flood Watch Group for its work in bringing the petition forward. He also indicated that he was aware the County Council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority, was working with Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency to understand contributing factors to the last flood event.

19.6           Another Member felt the proposal fell short of a full transparent review of the Council’s water management policy and he would like to see that undertaken as part of the investigations. He also asked that Members be informed of the outcome of conversations, as well as the views of the petitioners, when they were discussed. A Member agreed and noted that the issues raised in the petition were legitimate for many areas not just Twigworth and Down Hatherley this meant lessons also needed to be learnt and applied to the rest of the Borough. It was further suggested that, when Tewkesbury Borough Council Officers met with the petitioners, it would be helpful if the County Council and Severn Trent were involved in the conversation.

19.7           Accordingly, it was

                  RESOLVED          That, the Council thanks the petitioners for bringing these                                  matters to the Council’s attention and requests Officers to:

a.   have a meeting with representatives of the petitioners to understand their concerns; and

b.   consider the planning issues raised by the petition as part of the review of the Joint Core Strategy.

19.8          The Mayor thanked the representative for her time and invited her to watch the remainder of the meeting from the public gallery.

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