Minutes of the LVRA monthly meeting Monday 11th March 2019

David Rhodes

Minutes of the Association Meeting: 20.00 hrs. on Monday, 8 March 2019 at the Top Club

Present: Karen Hawden (Chair), David Hempsall (Secretary), Darryl Nugent (Treasurer), Bob Nicholas (Footpaths Officer); Richard Ball, Cllr Alyson Barnes, Derrick Bartlett-Smith, Colin Broadbent, David Cairns, Ann Corkin, David Corkin, John Dawson, Michael Dop, Cllr David Foxcroft, Barbara Gerken, Steve Glenholmes, Jack Hadden, Marie Hargreaves, Peter Holt, Ken Iveson, Lewis Pearson, Frank Pilkington, David Pilling, Jean Pilling, Jim Riley, Eric Walton and Chris Whiting,

Apologies: David Rhodes (Social Media and Liaison Officer).

1.        Opening Remarks

1.1 Karen welcomed all those attending the meeting.

1.2 Only one apology had been received.

2.        Minutes of previous meeting, 11 February 2019

2.1 Eric proposed and David Corkin seconded acceptance of the Minutes.

2.2 The Minutes were approved nem. con..

3.        Matters Arising Colebrand Alyson reported having tried to broker a meeting with the proprietor; negotiations were ongoing; she invited anyone who wished to to attend a meeting on-site at 09.00 hrs. on 12 March. David Corkin said a barrier had been placed at the far end of the site; it was now lying at the side of the track.

3.5.4 Race Night Derrick said that David Rhodes had advertised the event as extensively as he could. As only 20 tickets had been sold – 15 of them to Derrick’s friends and family – he had (reluctantly) decided to cancel the event because of lack of interest. Karen commiserated with Derrick, thanking him most warmly for taking the initiative.

5. St John’s, update

5.1 Richard said that Rachael Gildert of Proffitts would keep LVRA apprised of developments vis-à-vis the appointment of a church officer; cf. Item 4.2, infra.

6. Goodshawfold Farm, proposed development

6.1 The Secretary confirmed that he had written to the planners, as requested, outlining the concern of residents that there should not be developmental “creep”.

4.        Reports
4.1      Chairman

4.1.1 Karen had received very little in the way of communication beyond the usual concerns about speeding traffic and issues affecting development ; cf. Item 6, infra.

4.2      Secretary

4.2.1 David H expressed his appreciation of Rachael Gildert’s contacting him, as she had promised, with outline material for an article on St John’s; an article had been drafted and would appear in the next issue of the Limey Leader.

4.2.2 David said he had been swamped by reactions to the Development Control Committee’s decision of 26 February 2019, giving the go-ahead for the development of the Commercial Street site; he had received reports too of surveying work being undertaken to the rear of Kershaws; as one correspondent had put it: “the floodgates are now open”.

4.2.3 David felt that advertising in the Rossendale Free Press was wholly inadequate; on a show of hands, less than one-fifth of those attending read the RFP; social media and mail drops should have been used to broadcast news of what was unfolding.

4.2.4 As there is no internal appeal mechanism on Commercial Street, David asked the meeting: “What can be done next?” (Cf. Item 6,infra.)

4.3      Treasurer/Chairman LVAA

4.3.1 Darryl reported funds as static at £3,990.41p.

4.3.2 The recent inclement weather meant that early optimism amongst the allotmenteers had quickly dissipated and the start of on-site work had been deferred.

4.4      Footpaths Officer

4.4.1 Bob presented his two-part report.

4.4.2 This is shown in full as Annex 1.

4.5      Social Media & Liaison Officer

4.5.1 In David R’s absence, there was no report on this occasion.

5. 100 Club

5.1 Bob reported that further to the meeting in January, officers had met to consider the launch of a 100 Club.

5.2 Bob’s report on the establishment of a 100 Club is shown in full as Annex 2.

5.3 Darryl outlined to procedures involved in signing up: the appropriate paperwork for those wishing to participate would be displayed on social media.

5.4 In response to Alyson, Darryl confirmed that participants could – where possible – select their own number.

6. Commercial Street development

6.1 The Secretary introduced discussion: with the planners’ report to the Development Control Committee to hand, he said that whilst LVRA and 11 individuals were shown as objectors to Hollins Strategic Land’s plans, all the statutory consultees had agreed (albeit some with conditions).

6.2 Once again, the visual amenity element omitted completely those residents living on the west wide of the valley with a view looking east.

6.3 David said the report acknowledged that any decision was finely balanced; conditions had been imposed on the developer; none the less, the DCC vote in favour had been unanimous.

6.4 David concluded by pointing out that the decision marked a complete U-turn on 10 years of RBC policy, subject though it would be to interrogation during the Planning Inspector’s examination of RBC’s draft strategy; he was hugely disappointed that residents had not been properly consulted and, given that there is no internal appeal mechanism, he sought the meeting’s direction on how next to proceed.

6.5 There followed a wide-ranging discussion.

6.5.1 Derrick thought an appeal to the Ombudsman appropriate; previous developments totalling 150 houses had brought almost no benefit to local businesses; he was concerned too about access for the emergency services during the winter.

6.5.2 John D asked if the pre-exiting Local Plan had now gone out of the window.

6.5.3 Responding to Derrick, Alyson felt that access for fire tenders, important though it was, was a side issue; since the National; Planning Framework of 2010, there was a presumption that planning committees would find in favour of the applicant; there had been two recent changes: (1) a hierarchy of sites had been prescribed and if greenfield was being considered, then countryside areas would be considered; and (2) the lack of an up-to-date plan (which would appear later in 2019) meant RBC could not demonstrate a 5-year supply of building land and this was a problem.

6.5.4 Alyson considered the government’s housing strategy wrong and said that it was against this background that the rules kept being changed; as regards the earlier comment – that “the floodgates are now open”, this was a risk; she said RBC had been firm over the application made some years previously (which had been rejected on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate); there had been interest in another site where she plus the Director of Economic Development and LCC had been involved, where there were waste and mineral issues to be considered; under regulation 106, developers would be compelled to contribute to infrastructure, such as school places; that LCC had registered no objections on transport weakened RBC’s position but the county council was inclined to look at issues in isolation rather than cumulatively; the Secretary had been right to draw attention to the poor quality of advertising developments and she had taken up the issue with council officers as not notifying those who had taken to trouble to present their views was, at the very least, discourteous; this oversight would be remedied.

6.5.5 Darryl was concerned by the mind-set behind not properly notifying objectors; Alyson thought the issue was one of capacity at RBC.

6.5.6 David Corkin reiterated the issue of visual amenity and its loss to those – like Ann and himself – living on the west side of the valley; Darryl added that whilst the proposal from Mr Howieson had been for 15 houses, Commercial Street was for 80; Alyson said the former plan had been rejected as it was situated in the centre of a green area whereas Commercial Street was adjacent to existing building.

6.5.7 Derrick felt that in view of a ten-year commitment’s now being overturned, perhaps legal advice might be sought; Alyson said that over the 10 year period the political environment had changed; RBC had managed – through negotiation – to reduce the number of homes required from 5,000 to 3,500; there remained an issue with the government’s datum line, being figures produced in 2014; she said that (1) a robust local pan was now essential and (2) there was a case for reformulating local government, perhaps with RBC being subsumed in a larger authority covering East Lancashire.

6.5.8 Karen said there had been a lot of building in the area over the past 40 years; Michael said that nine houses on Loveclough Park would be overlooked by the proposed development and as housing in that area rested on clay, there was a heightened risk of flooding; Alyson was confident the firm involved would build decent housing and take into account issues such as flood risk; David Corkin suggested compelling developers to pay to protect houses in Loveclough Park from flooding.

6.5.9 Richard asked what RBC had done to respond to central government demands; Alyson said that RBC had stood up to government in the past and had secured a reduction in the housing demand; now the pressure to build was very high but the requirement for green belt to be left meant other areas – such as open countryside – were now being brought into the frame.

6.5.10 Alyson said that in the borough, brownfield options had been all but exhausted; what remained was often inaccessible and/or contaminated; RBC had been successful in attracting some government funding for remediation; as regards challenging government, RBC had been very clearly that in the event of non-compliance, commissioners would be appointed and plans imposed.

6.5.11 Darryl was keen to return to the Secretary’s initial question: what was to be done next?

6.5.12 Derrick thought the DCC should have deferred; Alyson said that was impossible as RBC could then be charged with non-determination and any appeal to the Planning Inspectorate would incur costs; her view was that residents would have their opportunity to voice their concerns when the appointed Planning Inspector commenced his/her investigations.

6.5.13 Ken raised the issue of the timing of payments by developers towards meeting infrastructure issues; Alyson said the planners needed to be satisfied that applicants addressed such issues; the Housing Infrastructure Fund was inaccessible to RBC as it affected only developments of over 10,000 homes; RBC was simply not big enough.

6.5.14 Colin asked about coordination between borough and county council and suggested RBC turn to external consultants where expertise was in short supply at Futures Park; Alyson said that in formulating a 15 year plan, there had to be close liaison between RBC, LCC, Highways England and similar statutory bodies; she agreed on the desirability of independent input, separate from that of the developer.

6.5.16 Ken asked when developers’ contributions were received by RBC; David F said that in the Ribble Valley, three primary schools had been expanded with developers’ contributions and would come on stream in September 2019; Richard reported a parish councillor in Whalley telling him that they had had to chase to get money pledged by developers; Alyson and David F confirmed, however, that the money due was invariably paid.

6.5.17 Alyson felt that as any incoming funds for education would be directed to the three primary schools – Crawshawbooth, St Mary’s and St Paul’s; given building at the north end of the patch, it was a concern that village children could not get into Crawshawbooth.

6.5.18 In response to Richard’s suggesting taking legal advice, Alyson recommended consulting Planning Aid.

7. Any Other Business

7.1 Railings near Boundary Garage: Lewis reported defective railings at the north end; ACTIONby David Foxcroft.

7.2 Refuse collection schedule: David Corkin and David Cairns had not received the annual information booklet, specifying dates of collection; ACTIONby Alyson who would ensure the west side of the valley received the literature.

8. Next Meetings and Close

8.1 20.00 hrs. on Monday, 8 April 2019 at the Top Club.

8.2 Thereafter the now usual pattern of utilising the 2ndMonday of each month will continue, so that subsequent meetings in 2019 are expected to be held as follows: 13 May; 10 June; 8 July; 12 August; 9 September; 14 October; 11 November (including AGM); 9 December.

Annex 1 Footpaths Officer

First, during the last month I was asked to help with a problem that emerged with Footpath No 104 (the path up Gin Clough) on the Colebrand site. The owners of the site had not only blocked off the entrance to the site but also the stile for the footpath. In a nutshell I contacted Geoff Leneveson Lancashire County Council’s FP Officer for East Lancs and on Thursday 21stFebruary I visited the site with him. A simple application of muscle to remove the blockage to the stile was all that was required.

While on site we discussed FP No 102. This had been the subject of a diversion order when the footpath bed along with most of the hillside it crossed had been misplaced in the clearance of the site by the new owners. This footpath actually crosses Gin Clough going through the unnamed wood to the south of the site and on to Crawshawbooth (a very pleasant walk). The subject of our discussion was in fact the means of crossing the Clough itself, and the need for either a ditch crossing or better still a bridge. But until the situation of FP No 102 is resolved the work will have to be put on hold.

The fact is with this footpath that both LCC and Rossendale Council should have shown more guts and demanded that the owners of the site reinstate the path as they do not seem to realise this could set an example to other builders (or, anyone else). If one can get away with removing a Definitive Right of Way with no comeback it opens the door to anyone else who may have a right of way crossing their land to do the same.

And secondly, not to be outdone, FP No 101(Stoneholme Road) also came back on the radar, a situation which is still ongoing as I write this report. The residents of Stoneholme terrace wished initially to place a barrier across the road to prevent delivery vans and HGVs using the road. Unfortunately due to the private law rights which I quote from LCC “Whilst there are no recorded public vehicular rights along Public Footpath No. 101 it is highly likely that there are numerous private vehicular rights along this route and a locked barrier would result in legitimate complaints from vehicle users with private vehicular rights” unquote. It is this position that puts LCC in a situation that they are reluctant to sanction the barrier being mindful of the possibility of legal action being taken against them. This situation is still ongoing and I will report back when I have more information.

Bob Nicholas

Annex 2 100 Club

  1. At a meeting of the officers of the association it was agreed that the 100 club would be launched in May 2019. This is to give adequate time for greater advertising publicity.
  2. The club’s purpose is not only to provide a steady income of much needed funds for the association but also to fund local good works, and also to identify an appropriate larger charity (say once a year) to give a larger donation to, which might be an item for the AGM.
  3. It is proposed that membership of the club is to be £5.00per month per number.Members can choose your own number or numbers (anyone can buy multiple numbers) or be allocated a number.
  4. It was proposed that in the first month there would be no prize as all monies received would go into a float in a new account linked to the LVRA.
  5. It was proposed that initially there should be one monthly prize of £50.00. This would allow for an increase in the prize and possibly a 1stand 2ndprize if funds permit at a later date. The first draw would be made in June 2019.
  6. The draw will be made at our monthly meetings (2nd Monday) and the winner will be announced via facebook / website and the prize money can be paid by cash, cheque or BACS at the winners discretion.
  7. Our Treasurer has tabled forms outlining procedures whereby residents can subscribe using the most up-to-date means (such as telephone banking); it was proposed that the operative date for payments to be taken should be the 2ndday of each month which precedes LVRA meetings scheduled for the second Monday in every month.
  8. Forms for joining the club will be available in hard copy format from our Treasurer after tonight’s meeting and will be on line at the association’s web page and Facebook page.
  9. The club will be promoted also in the forthcoming Limey Leader and notices will be placed in the association’s notice boards along with the opportunity to push the club at any event we may hold such as the 10thanniversary of the LVRA.

Bob Nicholas