55 people were present, together with Steve Tapscott (Purbeck District Council), Wayne Roberts (Head Teacher, Bere Regis Primary School), Richard Henshaw (agent for the owners of the White Lovington land), Cllr Peter Wharf (County and District Councillor) and members of the Parish Council.
Cllr Ventham welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced those councillors present before giving a brief outline of the format for the Forum. He then ran through the work and achievements of the Parish Council over the last year, including the current position of the Neighbourhood Plan and an update on the new proposal for the White Lovington site.
A copy of the Power Point presentation given by Cllr Ventham can be found by following the link: 2017 Roundup
Steve Tapscott, Purbeck District Council, then gave a definition of ‘affordable housing’ in terms of the Local Plan.
‘Can the new school cope with the increased housing numbers?’ – Wayne Roberts responded and gave an outline of the school’s future plans, including the possibility of extending the building should the need arise and funds become available.
Downsizing – what is being done for those who are getting older and wish to remain in the village but move to a smaller house? The Neighbourhood Plan includes the potential for this to happen.
Parking – what consideration is being given for the new developments? The Neighbourhood Plan builds in the requirement for developers to ensure there is sufficient, off-road parking – two per household. In the case of North Street, the Plan requires terrace type housing with two spaces per property to the rear of the development, similar to that already in North Street.
Facilities – has the surgery been involved in the Plan? They were approached very early on but have said they do not wish to move from their current location.
Mike Gee outlined the work of the Working Party to date. He informed those present that the Drax Hall is not a listed building but is within the conservation area and could be used for residential development in order to offset some of the cost of a new building. At this stage, it is not known what level of capital that may be achieved by this. This would form part of the work to be carried out during the next phase.
Under the present agreement, the ownership and responsibility of the Drax Hall is in the hands of the Drax Hall Committee. The Community Hall Working Group will be looking at the detail of the Trustee Agreement, the ramifications, etc. of the sale of the existing building and what effect such action is likely to have on funding.
It is anticipated that the new Group will be formed shortly and will be divided into two sections, one to consider the legal aspects of the work and one to begin looking at fund raising initiatives.
Cllr Wharf gave a brief outline of the history of the Purbeck Local Plan saying that, in 2012, the Independent Inspector agreed the Plan in principle but approved it on the understanding that a review would be carried out as he felt the Plan included insufficient housing. Up until 2033, a further 3,000 houses were needed throughout Purbeck.
He then went on to explain the recent unitary consultation and the outcome that had been achieved, together with the representation to the Secretary of State. He explained how this is going to affect the current system of 9 local government councils – six district councils, 2 borough councils, and 1 county council – which is not particularly efficient. 6 of the councils have voted in favour of the unitary authority. Those three that did not (Purbeck, East Dorset and Christchurch) will not be included in future discussions.
The remaining six councils will now need to produce a transformation plan and a mechanism for transferring the various responsibilities from the middle (district) tier once it is removed. This will mean that the parishes will be given more responsibility but they will need the budget to move with that responsibility.
It is hoped that the unitary authority will come into effect in May 2019 at the elections.
White Lovington – concern was expressed regarding the wildlife in the area. Natural England have raised concerns about the development abutting the heathland and there are a number of issues relating to the wildlife on the site. Exiting from White Lovington on to Rye Hill is already difficult at times. The potential for an additional 24 vehicles, plus site vehicles, will exacerbate the problem. It was pointed out that any development would have to take all of this into account and produce the appropriate reports and responses. Cllr Wharf offered to arrange for someone from Natural England to meet with the residents.
Cllr Bates reported that he had recently attended a meeting which had included a talk from councillors based in Wiltshire, which already has the unitary status. He said that parish councils there worked in area groups to achieve economies of scale. This is something the Purbeck parishes may look into once the unitary authority is underway.
Cllr Wharf reported that there are 8 parish councils within Purbeck and they all need to consider the work currently undertake by the District and County Councils and decide what they feel they would be able to take on. This may well involve the parishes linking with neighbouring parishes but there is a great deal of work to be done before this stage is reached.
Facebook – dog mess on the route to school. This was discussed at the March Parish Council meeting and a working party of parish councillors has been set up to consider all possibilities. The working party is being headed by Cllr Tom Bennett and, should anyone wish to assist, they would be welcome to contact him.
There being no further comments, the meeting closed at 11:50am.