Council Meeting held at Whitestone Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Thursday 9th March 2023.
Attendance:- Chair – Councillor L Fairley.
Councillors Cllrs T Baird, A Evans, P Lee, S Llewelyn, B Moody
Mrs P Vaughan – Clerk to the Council
Apologies:- Cllr M Belt, Cllr V Bryant, Cllr C Galton, Cllr T Miles,
County Councillor A Connett, District Councillor A Swain.
Cllr Fairley and the minutes of the Council Meeting held on Thursday 9th February were taken as read and signed by Cllr Fairley.
Report sent from District Councillor Swain
“ I hope our recent conversations about Attwells farm and Markham village were helpful. The consultation closes soon. A number of people in Ide have experienced difficulty with the web site for responding, including losing text when they thought they were submitting it. It may be helpful to “Cut and paste” comments to avoid losing them. I also note that retrospective planning applications 22/02218/FUL and 22/02219 at the Crane centre have both been refused. I have asked what will happen next, and I am told it is possible there may be an appeal. We will see how it develops. “
19.1 23/00231/FUL Temporary access track at Hackworthy Farm, Hackworthy Lane
Whitestone Parish Council have discussed and considered this application for a temporary access track at Hackworthy Farm. This temporary access is for the use of construction vehicles to enable building work to commence at the sites of the approved applications 21/02059/FUL and 21/01972/HOU. Access from the highway is proposed to be via an existing field gate which is exactly opposite the entrance to the stables at Farm Barton. The track proposed is to be 4 metres wide for its full length and will include 2 passing places. The topsoil removed along the full length is to be stored alongside and reinstated when the track is removed.
The Parish Council has a number of concerns about the application. The existing field gate measures approximately 4 metres 54 centimetres and the application states that no hedges should need to be removed. However it needs to be noted that the existing approach to this gateway has already had the grass verge destroyed by large tractors cutting the corners before driving into the field, which results in a very muddy road during wet weather. Large construction vehicles using this gateway would still need to swing round and very likely would need to trespass over the threshold of the stables entrance opposite. The highway in this area is in very bad repair particularly due to over-large agricultural vehicles whose wheels have broken the road surface edges.
The proposed construction of a track 4 metres wide suggests that the construction vehicles will be extremely wide and in fact, wider than the existing lane, potentially adding to the problem. The highway from Waddlesdown is narrow, measuring approximately 2 metres 60 centimetres in places and is lined by Devon banks on either side which provide habitat to a wide range of flora and fauna. Much undercutting of the Devon banks has already occurred, and large construction vehicles will also add to this destruction. In some areas along the lane the trees overhang, so vehicle heights also need to be taken into consideration, so as not to damage existing branches. The lane is used by walkers, horse riders (there are at least 3 equestrian establishments locally), serious cyclists as well as local traffic. There are few passing places suitable for cars and even fewer if larger vehicles are involved. There would be an increase in traffic and noise around the Church town area. The comment made in the Design and Assess statement that there are “Issues with passing and the need to reverse on occasion” not only applies to the approach from Nadder bottom but also applies when approaching from Waddlesdown.
The justification stated in the Design and Access Statement for this temporary access track is that the existing access to Hackworthy Farm can only be used by vehicles coming from the “narrow lane from Nadder bottom to the east”, which are restricted to only very small lorries and vans. The applicant highlights the issues of few passing places and the need to be able to reverse. But Whitestone Parish Council’s objection to both 21/02059/FUL and 21/01972/HOU applications made those exact points, that are now being raised by the applicant. This access problem should have been considered properly at the time of submitting those applications and not as an afterthought.
Devon County Council Highways at the time when both previous applications were submitted recommended that their standing advice should be applied, and at that time had no further comment, so obviously saw no potential problems. However the Planning Officer who actually visited the site did recognise that there was a significant access issue using the narrow lane and consequently included condition 3 to “reduce nuisance caused by larger vehicles on the public highway and to minimise the impact on highway safety”.
With or without the proposed temporary track, the size (length, width and height), frequency, speed and time of vehicles visiting the site is a serious issue for all road users and local residents, all of which need addressing. Even getting to this area of Whitestone would involve construction traffic travelling substantial distances along single-track roads with limited passing places, and this wouldn't change if this application were to be granted. We do note that no articulated vehicles are to be used for the transportation of construction materials. Although the application claims that the ecological impact will be minimal, there is nevertheless still potential for a lot of ecological damage to occur to the existing Devon banks, trees, hedgerows and verges as these vehicles travel to and from the site. This is likely to have a negative impact on a variety of species, both during construction and removal of the topsoil, besides that resulting from the use of the track.
Finally, we are concerned that the proposed temporary access track will be very visible from the Rowhorne and Church town areas of the parish, and there is also likely to be noise as a result of the increase of large vehicles travelling up and down the lane, as well as along the track itself. It is suggested that vehicles should not operate outside normal working hours to reduce the nuisance levels for local residents and to eliminate any potential light pollution from head lights.
Whitestone Parish Council are inclined not to support this application but are very aware that these houses, having had planning permission granted, are going to be built. Teignbridge District Council will need to decide how best to limit the potential damage to the surrounding area that is likely to occur. If the Council is minded to approve this application we would like the following conditions to be applied:
Condition 3 stated by the Planning Officer when planning applications 21/02059/FUL and 21/01972/HOU were granted permission to still apply.
i) To reduce nuisance caused by large vehicles on the public highway and to minimise the impact on highway safety.
ii) To protect from damage the Devon banks, the over-hanging branches and local ecology on either side of the highway from Waddlesdown to the site
iii) To reinstate this temporary access track as quickly as possible, to minimise the nuisance factor to local people and other road users, back to an agricultural field and to reinstate the grass verge by the temporary track gateway, No soils or related materials to be removed from site.
iv To apply strict operating hours. For instance, deliveries should be restricted to the normal working day with no deliveries on the weekends. In addition no deliveries to be made by articulated vehicles.
i) To reduce nuisance to local people and other highway users.
ii) To reduce the effect of noise pollution from construction vehicles.
iii) To eliminate the need for vehicles to use head lights so as not to light up the area where dark skies are the norm
iv) to protect local ecology
No mud should be carried on the wheels of the vehicles when leaving the field.
19.2 23/00267/NPA Application for Prior Approval under Part 3, Class R and Paragraph W of the GDPO for a change of use of agricultural building to a flexible commercial use (Use Class B8) at Devon View, Whitestone.
Whitestone Parish Council have reviewed this application and wish to state that we have serious concerns regarding the proposal for change of use of these 2 agricultural barns to Class R - Commercial (Use Class B8) Storage & Distribution. We suggest that this application would require Prior approval and in consideration of the facts is then strongly refused. In this application, the developers are seeking to establish the acceptability in principle of the change of use and whether a prior approval is required due to the size of the proposal. It is recognised that any associated operational development that would affect the external appearance of the building is not included here and would require a separate full planning application to determine it. Firstly it has to be stated that this application clearly fails to accord with Class R as this is fundamentally the same application as 20/00230/FUL which was previously refused and dismissed at Appeal. This is clearly evidenced by the original planning statement in which the agent explained why they had submitted a full planning application instead of Class R: The barns at Devon View are substantially constructed and would be acceptable for conversion as permitted development within Class R, were it not for the mixed use proposed. Whilst they are not traditional solid buildings, they provide the basis for a conversion which uses the existing structure and retains the visual characteristics of the existing rural buildings. This application appears to be exactly the same although it is subject to the limitations of Class R which specifies one Use Class can apply and oddly enough this new application has only declared one Use class (B8) – Storage & Distribution, however details in the planning statement actually confirms that an Office would also be required (B1 – Class E) and a further area for Maintenance and Repair - workshop (B2 – Class E). So it appears quite obvious that this application is attempting to circumvent the planning system and make a mockery of the previous ruling by TDC and the Planning Inspectorate. (If one is meant to believe that this site would be additional to that of Marsh Barton, and only used for storage, this would not only be deemed highly unlikely but also highly unsustainable). On that basis, we kindly request that the previous decision of refusal and the subsequent dismissal of appeal is upheld here as it has already been established that this site is completely unsuitable and unsustainable for the commercial operation and activities of South West Refrigeration. The refusal was explicit by the LPA requiring control over development in the countryside and preventing adverse harm to the landscape, the purpose being to protect the sensitivity of the area from potentially unacceptable uses. Furthermore at Point 8.48, in the previous LPA refusal report it stated: If permission is granted, planning conditions could be imposed to control hours of operation and use of the workshop which would assist in limiting traffic movements, however, it may be challenging to enforce a condition to restrict the volume, frequency and size of vehicles accessing the site increasing beyond the details set out in the applicants supporting statement. Therefore, while the current application is considered to be acceptable to DCC Highways and there is no objection raised regarding highway safety, officers are of the view that the scale of the development is not sustainable for this site. We therefore suggest that the LPA refusal is a Material Planning Consideration of considerable weighting and the principle would be established in case law. In addition, the Highway report submitted in this application is 3 years old and is no longer valid. The Highways Document, TE00230/2020 was inconclusive as there were other unresolved matters relating to the decision and reads: Therefor the County Highway Authority can not put forward a recommendation until the above have been addressed. Highway Safety is noted as follows – visibility at access, dangerous bends/double bend in the road, width of lane, no footpaths or lighting, visibility at the access, type of (large) vehicles that will use the lane, volume of traffic and potential congestion in the area and village. There will be a cumulative increase in traffic in comparison to that generate by the intended use for low-key agriculture. The traffic surveys were carried out during a period when approximately nine million of the population were furloughed and therefore the results are not representative. The applicant’s ability to maintain the splay. The location is entirely inappropriate and unsafe for the use of large numbers of commercial vehicles. It is a narrow road, a national cycle route, it is unsalted in winter and is used by school transport vehicles. It will create unnecessary nuisance and danger to residents in the Parish and visitors. Whilst the applicant maintains that there will be minimal numbers of vehicles accessing the site, once permission is granted there will be nothing to stop the applicant expanding the use to any degree that they wish to. The current site in Exeter already has a significant fleet of vehicles which would likely be relocated to Whitestone despite any current statements to the contrary. In the applicant’s Design and Planning Statement it states that Devon View has ‘good access to the A30’, The road network is considered to be unsuitable to objectors who cite that the road is narrow, often single track, and very hilly. It is not gritted for ice or ploughed for snow. In winter weather the site, being in an elevated position some 226m above sea level, is not easily accessible. Due to the altitude the area suffers from low level fog, which could cause the road to be dangerous. The approved plan is incorrect and cannot be accepted with this proposal. Apart from the Highways document as submitted being contested the submitted plan is also incorrect, it indicates access via the highway which previously illegally crossed the neighbour’s property and this was advised at the time in various objector’s responses but ignored. This has now been rectified and the legal boundary has been reinstated as formerly advised would happen. This has affected the line of sight to the west and the claimed visibility splay is no longer present. It was already lacking in sufficiency as per the Highways report and now is definitely non-compliant most especially considering the proposed busy commercial activities for the site which would require suitable access for very large vehicles. The required turning area/access will not be available. This evidence appertaining to Transport and Highways easily challenges the validity of the included 3 year old report which is hereby being relied upon. It is also suggested that the plan provided here clearly indicates an area around the 2 barns, marked in red, which is significantly larger than the allowed curtilage area under Class R and as such does not accord with Class R. For avoidance of doubt the definition of Paragraph X for the purposes of Part 3 is as follows — “curtilage” means, for the purposes of Class Q, R or S only—
· (a) the piece of land, whether enclosed or unenclosed, immediately beside or around the
agricultural building, closely associated with and serving the purposes of the agricultural
· (b) an area of land immediately beside or around the agricultural building no larger than the land area occupied by the agricultural building, whichever is the lesser; In conclusion, Whitestone Parish Council would respectfully request that Prior Approval would be required and firmly refused due to the size and scale of the Agricultural Buildings, over 150 square metres, and the application would no longer meet the exacting requirements of Transport and Highways to accord with Class R as the access is no longer suitable and the submitted plan is in fact incorrect
19.3 23/00283/HOU Conversion of attached store to artists studio and increase of chimney height and oil tank to front.
Whitestone Parish Council have considered this application for modifications to be made to a Grade 2 listed building located towards the centre of the parish. These proposed modifications would involve the conversion of an existing store to a more habitable space to be used as an artist’s studio. In addition the application is to increase the height of the chimney to meet building regulations, in conjunction with the installation of a new wood burning stove. The application state that existing roof lights are to be replaced with conservation rooflights to be installed between the rafters to maintain the existing profile of the roofline. A new window is also to be added which is to be double glazed internally, the proposed works include providing improved insulation. The application is also for the addition of an oil tank in the front garden area, next to the garage. The tank was installed by the previous owners in 2022 and is on blockwork plinth, and is screened from the house by a natural latticed screen.
Whitestone Parish Council support this application which respects the original design of the building and provides an improvement to the original design of the building and provides an improvement to the use of the existing property. There is no flood risk locally and there will be no impact on traffic highway or ecology. Following construction there should be a minimal impact on neighbouring properties, in that the proposed increase in height of the chimney does not appear excessive. Having declared a climate emergency the Parish Council is pleased to see the emphasis placed on the reduction of energy usage, The installation of a new window in the North Elevation will inevitably increase light spill in the areas, so care should be taken to minimise this risk, nevertheless it appears to be a reasonable size and of sympathetic design. The oil tank has also been discreetly screened. It is considered very important that Heritage requirements for this traditional building are fully followed. (It must also be noted that there seem to be two minor mistakes in the design statement: i) there is no Fig 06 as suggested in the text, which should possibly be Fig 05; ii) Photo 9 label is incorrect, in that there is no widow visible; possibly it has already been removed).
Grant of Conditional Planning Permission
19.4 22/01844/HOU Demolition of existing out buildings, single storey side extension and garden room extension at Woodlands, Halsfordwood Lane
Grant of Conditional Consent
19.5 22/02247/LBC Conversion of attached store to artists studio and increase of chimney height at The Old Post Office, Merrymeet.
Refusal of Planning Permission
19.6 22/02218/FUL Office building at Cross Park Farm.
19.7 22/02219/FUL Alterations to access and site layout (retrospective) at Cross Park Farm.
20.1 DCC 4293/2022 – Lower Hare farm landfill – No updates
20.2 Enforcement matters – none reported
20.3 CCTV for carpark and play area. Cllr Baird reported still under investigation.
20.4 Telephone Box at Nadderwater discussed with potential sale or usage as a “book swop” but still under discussion.
20.5 Vehicle Activated Speed Signs Cllr Evans gave an update,
20.6 Climate Action – Awareness + Activities nothing to report.
20.7 Banking update. The decision for the Council’s accounts to be transferred to online banking is in the process of organisation.
MATTERS RAISED BY THE CHAIRMAN
22.1 It was reported that correspondence had been received from the Letting Agents regarding renewal of the tenancy agreement for 1 School Houses and noting some repairs which would be necessary to bring the property up to standard which they would organise.
22.2 2 School Houses rental to 1st March £825.00 - £79.20 (which includes £13.20 VAT) = £745.80.
22.3 1 School Houses rental to 2nd April £925.00 - £148.80 (includes £24.80 VAT) = £776.20
The following expenditure was proposed and seconded for payment. All in favour with the cheques having been signed by Councillor Belt and Mrs Vaughan as responsible financial officer.
22.4 Mr L Blades Lengthsman works £260.01 (Cheque 677)
22.5 Whitestone Parish Hall £448.61 (£54.00 Council Meetings, £290.61 Park Facilities,
£104.00 Parish Pals) (Cheque 678)
22.6 Parish Online £90.00 (Includes £15.00 VAT) (Cheque 680)
22.7 Clerk’s quarterly salary and expenses £413.08 (Cheque 681)
22.8 HM Revenue and Customs £90.00 (Clerk’s income tax on salary). (Cheque 682)
The meeting closed at 8.40pm
The next meeting will take place on 10th April 2023.