On Tuesday evening the Parish Council held an Extraordinary meeting. It was extraordinary in many ways – not least because it was the first time the PC had held a meeting via the Zoom app. The current lockdown has interfered with many things but it hasn’t stopped the gears of local government and that includes the Parish Council.
There was only one topic on the agenda – Newbrook Farm. ENC recently revised the wording of the change of use planning proposal and Titchmarsh PC were obliged to hold a meeting to discuss the matter. As I’m sure you can imagine, conducting an official meeting through a tiny screen was rather unusual but Chair Sara Wilcox rose to the challenge and soon things were proceeding well.
As is normal at a PC meeting, the session began with a period of public open time. This is where the community and interested parties get their opportunity to speak. Several villagers had logged into the Zoom meeting and took it in turns to raise their concerns about the proposal. Some people were clearly exasperated by the ongoing situation. The original retrospective planning application was turned down by ENC Planning over a year ago – and yet the process rumbles on.
Once the villagers had their say it was the turn of the councillors. They took it in turns to speak – raising concerns and reiterating issues that have been expressed many times before. Of greatest concern was the issue of road safety. The road out of Islington which runs past Newbrook Farm is used by many walkers, runners and cyclists – even more so during the lockdown. There isn’t a foot path and so people feel very vulnerable with huge HGVs rumbling past. Other issues included concerns about the environment, pollution and general planning issues. The haulier located at Newbrook Farm, AC Binns, currently has a license to operate 16 HGVs and 18 trailers. If the planning application were to go through there is no guarantee that this number will not increase.
At the end of the meeting a vote was held. The councillors voted unanimously to object to the application. Will this stop the plan – who knows. The ultimate arbiters are the ENC planning department. However, in such circumstances where there are clearly so many objections to a proposal, the meeting may be held in public and representatives of the community may be able to speak.
More on that at a later date.