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Clerk’s Column June 2007

Planning. The Andover Airfield saga continues. Tesco’s agents have still not submitted an application, but the opposition is taking advantage of the delay. On May 17th a meeting in our War Memorial Hall was attended, among others, by the Chairmen of 8 Parish Councils, together with Phil Lashbrook, TVBC Councillor, and Peter Derbyshire representing RoADAC (Residents of Andover and District Awareness Committee). Guess who fetched up taking the Minutes. The predominant issue was that of Highways; everyone predicted that, despite the proposed alterations, the Hundred Acre Corner roundabout would be jammed solid at peak times, with the result that our village streets and lanes would become “rat-runs” for the hundreds (thousands?) of employees of Tesco and the Ministry of Defence (whose expansion plans at the old DLO site include, we hear, 1,000 more car-parking spaces). Our admirable Abbotts Ann Action team of Ray Lucas and John Moon had already given time and energy to the issue, had had a meeting with planning officials and had drafted a letter for the Highway authorities, so they found themselves spear-heading the campaign with the vigorous support of Monxton’s Chairman, who took the issue to the June meeting of the Test Valley Association of Parish Councils where even parishes as far away as Wellow expressed concern. Meanwhile the re-drafted letter has been sent off, signed by the Chairmen of Abbotts Ann, Monxton and Amport on behalf of the others.

The postman had to deliver the latest planning application through a window, as it is about 6 inches (all right, 15 centimetres) thick and concerns a major redevelopment of Upper Mill House – of more concern perhaps to Monxton than to us. The package included 5 pages of Flood Risk Assessment; a 31-page Landscape Supporting Statement; 21 pages of a Supporting Planning Statement; a 9-page Protected Species Survey written by the Badger Consultancy; a Flood Risk Assessment of 6 pages; a half-inch thick tome called Desk Study Report; and a small mountain of plans and photographs. It took ages to disinter from all this paperwork a single small plan, which revealed that the proposed dwelling would have 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and 2 shower-rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a 3-car garage, a 2-bedroom annexe and a tennis court not to mention grassland. The architects are confident that the visual impact from Cattle Lane, or anywhere else including the railway, will be negligible and that the design claims descent from the great days of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Someone is certainly out to impress.

9 Farm Road, Little Park. The Applicant’s appeal against refusal has been dismissed on the same grounds as those submitted by this Council, namely the dwelling’s inappropriate design, bulk and dominance of its surroundings. However, a further appeal is now on its way to the Secretary of State, whose inspector will have a copy of our previous objections.

Committee for Rural Hampshire. This has introduced itself with an impressive Annual Report from its membership, which includes almost every statutory and voluntary body you can think of from SEEDA to the W.I. It concerns itself with Rural Policing, Affordable Housing, Farmers’ Markets, Renewable Energy, Fly-tipping and so on. Most of the agencies which should be taking action on these issues are members of the Committee, so it is hoped that they will not just sit round a (very large) table and talk to themselves.

Light Blight. CPRE, a member of the above Committee, has joined the Campaign for Dark Skies, which ran a Star Count last December. Apparently it should be possible to see up to 50 stars within Orion, but only 20% of respondents said they could see more than 30 stars, while 54% could see fewer than 10. We are threatened with another Consultation under Planning Policy Statement 23: Planning and Pollution Control. Not many who read this (other than the Clerk) will remember the real (as opposed to the one in Dad’s Army) Air Raid Wardens’ cry of “Put that light out!”

Roadside Advertising. CPRE is also on the warpath about roadside advertisements, quoting the latest Government Circular 03/07: (Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. We are encouraged to email or write to the local Planning Enforcement Team if you see anything like the bright yellow estate agents’ advertisements recently disfiguring the entrances to the village from the A 343. In this case, the Borough’s Enforcement Team, led by a retired CID officer, were in action even more swiftly than our Chairman, he did not, however, seem to mind about the Poplar Farm’s thatched sign, which could hardly be described as temporary.

Local Access Forums. If this is the first you have heard of these, they were set up in 2000 under CROW (Countryside and Rights of Way) Act. In Hampshire, ours is funded by HCC and the Councils of Portsmouth and Southampton, and it describes itself as existing to advise (i.e. to nag?) the authorities into maintaining and improving access to the countryside. Its main target in the Kremlin in Winchester is the Countryside Access Development Office (aka Cath Hart) which recently helped to fund our new Village Maps.

No Smoking, From 6 a.m. on 1st July it will be an offence to smoke any substance in public spaces, including vehicles; it will also be an offence not to display “No Smoking” notices in any such place, including pubs, village halls, pavilions and even churches. The law refers to substantially enclosed spaces, so we await clarification about bus shelters.

Undergrowth and overgrowth. Various villagers have mentioned the encroachment of overhanging trees and brambles on the pavements, especially in Little Ann Road (sic). Cutting these back is not the responsibility of the Parish Council, but of the householder, so the application of saws or secateurs would be appreciated by pedestrians. The appropriate Authority is the County Council; if pushed, they can do the job themselves, but a hefty bill will be sent to the householder.

Fouling of Footpaths. Since the last Newsletter, the problem, particularly on Church Path, seems to have got worse, not better. It is now an offence to allow a dog to foul public spaces without clearing up the mess; but enforcement is almost impossible, as the offender has to be caught in the act by an authorised Enforcement Officer, and who wants to be or see one of those in our village? So, dog-walkers, please take a plastic bag and a responsible attitude.

The last laugh? Following our lengthy battle to consign “Clatford Road” to the re-cycling bin, the Powers that Be are savouring their revenge on Little Ann, not only by making us add an extra line to our addresses, but in changing the post-code, among others, of the Chairman and the Clerk .

PARISH COUNCIL MEETING ON JUNE 30th 2007.

Councillors. The change of date led to a number if apologies for absence, but the Council was fortunately reinforced by two new co-opted members, Joanna Holmes and Dudley Alleway, who were welcomed by the Chairman and promptly thrown in at the deep end.

Planning. For once, nobody was asking permission for a conservatory. Bungalow adjacent to Rosebank. Mr. Underwood of Rosebank explained his concerns about the proposed plans for a bungalow next door. He welcomed the overall reduction of height from the earlier proposal for a 2-storey building, but pointed out that the new plans showed a floor-level so high that the windows of the new sitting-room would be level with Rosebank’s bedroom windows. The Council agreed to object, requesting a lower floor-level, and also repeating earlier concerns about creating a new access onto a steep and hazardous street.

Upper Mill House. Nearly enough has been said above about this development; the Jubilee Room was awash with plans and documents, but the Council was undaunted and, in the end, rather underwhelmed. After wading through it all, it was considered that the proposal represented over-development of the site in breach of the general policy of limiting additional residential building in open countryside. Councillors were also unhappy about the way in which the existing dwelling had been earlier released from its status as a tied cottage, associated with the previous use of the site for tile-making, only to be demolished to make room for the new mansion. It was also noted that it is very close to a listed building, and that the site was only recently removed from the Monxton Conservation Area

33 Andover Road, Red Post Bridge. The design for a futuristic building with a curved zinc roof produced the comment “Here’s an architect looking for an award.” The Council welcomed the proposed tidying-up of a run-down corner of the parish, but objected to its proposed siting as too intrusive, its design completely out of sympathy with its rural surroundings and its 3-story construction conflicting with the long-established policy that buildings in Little Park should be only one storey high. Water Cottage, Mill Lane. The Council had no difficulty in approving of the proposed extension.

Village Organisations.

It was noted that the War Memorial Hall and the recreations ground there would be closed from the last week of July during roof repair work. The small gate into the recreation ground had again been damaged (by being swung on?). The original hinges were more or less indestructible, but had to be removed to allow a closing device to be fitted in response to public demand. Some you win….

Ray Lucas, for Abbotts Ann Action, gave the meeting an update on the Airfield Saga, which is keeping him pretty busy. His action group is likely to look to affected parishes to contribute towards some publicity material and possibly to engage a professional advisor on traffic engineering. The Council agreed in principle to provide some funding.

Footpaths. David Downey brought up the problems already mentioned about dog-fouling and obstructive vegetation. He also mentioned the tree still partly blocking the footpath to Bury Hill. More nagging from the Clerk is clearly needed.

Burghclere Down. The Chairman has been in touch with the Burghclere Down Community Association who have welcomed the idea of participating in the Council’s deliberations. Watch this space.

Sports Field. The new gang-mowers, partly funded by the Parish Council, are doing an excellent job.

Neighbourhood Watch. The Police have asked everyone to have regard to their advice, posted on our notice-boards, about precautions to be taken when leaving homes empty when going on holiday.

TVBC. Cllr Arthur Peters tore himself away from a rival meeting in the Clatfords and reported on a presentation concerning footpaths in the County. The County’s budget for maintaining paths is minuscule, and instead of keeping them in repair the funds barely cover the work needed to stop landowners from quietly encroaching on these rights of way, as has happened on Penny Path over the years. The Clerk has the impression that the department cannot even afford stamps and envelopes, as he waits…and waits… for replies to letters.

Not-so-distant rumblings are being heard about the possible widening of the air corridors serving Southampton and Bournemouth Airports, as if the helicopters are not enough. Our MP is on the warpath.

Finance. The Council’s accounts are progressing through the auditing system. Notices will soon be going up about their availability for public inspection. Not that there is anything to hide anyway. The contribution to the repair of the bell-frame in St.Mary’s was gratefully acknowledged.

The Council agreed in principle to provide some funding for the proposed memorial to the late Margot Townsend, having acknowledged that the original idea for a seat was inappropriate, as Margot never sat down.

It was also agreed to pay £150 towards the expenses arising in connection with the development of Andover Airfield, but it was not considered appropriate to support the work of Hampshire FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) on the basis that there is plenty of wildlife in the village, but a shortage of farmers.

Councillor Training. Over the next few months many of your Councillors will be demonstrating their keenness to do their best for the community by trooping off to attend courses to hone their skills and to help them to master the legal framework within which they operate, which has recently been subjected to a huge amount of tinkering by the Powers that Be.

Full Minutes of the meeting will be available in the Village Shop, on the website, or by email, snail mail or hand from the Clerk.

The next Parish Council meeting will be on Thursday 5th July at 7 p.m. in the Jubilee Room of the War Memorial Hall. Since the work-load never seems to diminish, there will probably be a shortened meeting, to prevent a massive pile-up of business in September, on August 2nd in the Sports Pavilion.
Adrian Stokes, Clerk to the Parish Council

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