Peter Harris

Campaigner for Southwell & Villages Learn more

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Report from Kelham Hall – November 2013

by Peter Harris on 21 November, 2013

The District Council has not met since I last reported from Tuesday Oct 15, but there have been a round of Committee meetings. In the mean time Julian and I have continued to see officers on two matters particularly; the Neighbourhood Plan, and the flooding issue.

As I reported before we have been concerned about the impact of N&SDC planning decisions have had and will have on pluvial water drainage. Since my last report, I managed to set a date for meeting the Council’s Conservative Leader and Conservative Chairman of Planning Committee and planning officers to discuss the matter. I asked that Julian and the one Conservative Cllr for Southwell be invited too. Although there has been no movement from leading Councillors to rethink the allocation of housing sites, they have agreed to delay any decisions about development on the Allocated Sites until the implications of the NCC Report have been understood. They are also aware of the note from the Environment Agency asking for more time to consider the implications of the July 2013 event. The EA has also advised the N&SDC that signing off the Planning Conditions imposed on the development on the old School Site should also be reviewed until the conditions imposed concerning flood mitigation can be resolved when the report is received on Flooding. I expect this to be finished in May/June 2014 – and I will be pressing to ensure that we have the full report before any plans are approved. It is essential that the Planners don’t start taking action prematurely!

New 5 bed house

There have been over 100 new houses built in Southwell since 2007. There have also been more than 300 extensions and conservatories added. Every one has contributed to surface water drainage – and yet there has been no concern expressed by either the Environment Agency or Notts County Council, the Lead Flood Authority. However, it now seems that our campaign has meant a change of mind.

 

Furthermore, the Planning Authority is now specifically asking for advice from the EA and the Notts County Council, as lead Flood Authority, on the impact of extensions and new build outside the allocated sites. They are being asked to consider the collective impact new developments. Although there have been a number of new applications that meet this criteria since the meeting, the response from the EA and NCC so far have been very limited.

We were reminded that every extension of hard standing, such as paving etc greater than 5sq m should have planning permission, and be made of porous material. There have been a significant number of new paving areas installed recently in drives and gardens across the town, but it was said that few have had permissions granted.

The District Council is considering its precept for 2014-5. There are a number of services that the Council is considering reducing, and these may have an impact on local residents.  The grant settlement for the Council which will affect its overall budget is likely to be announced in mid December Some £460k of expenditure is levied by the Trent Valley Drainage Board, that maintains river banks in the area, although the only part of the TVDB’s area at the moment is east of the Upton Road bridge, although the levy is paid by all residents of Southwell as it is incorporated in the N&SDC rate.

Also in the rate paid by Southwell’s residents are the costs of looking after a number of local parks in Newark. As a result of a decision taken some years ago, all of the residents in Newark and Sherwood pay for the parks and open spaces in Newark. At the Leisure and Environment Committee held recently the implications of this were considered. It is being suggested that apart from the two ‘regionally significant’ areas: Castle Grounds and Devon Sconce, that local residents should pay for the upkeep of their local parks, just as Southwell does. There were some other options fro saving money by reducing services were discussed in secret – it is unfortunate that the options for budget savings are not being made more open.

The N&SDC’s Sports Strategy is to be reviewed, and the Town is being asked to contribute  to the cost, only 50% being paid for by the N&SDC. It is argued that without having a revised strategy at a cost of £35,000  the area will be ‘in a weakened position when applying for significant external partnership funding’. The Town Council is being asked to ‘share’ in the costs of the other 50%. However, the likelihood of attracting any  significant additional funding for Southwell’s ‘external community sporting infrastructure’ is not high.

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