Chair’s Report to Annual Parish Meeting

Annual Parish meeting, 16th April ‘13, Dry Drayton Parish Council Chair’s report 2012/13

Membership of the parish council:

Parish council members during the year were Nick Irish, Richard Stamford, Neil Rosewell and Fred Northrop, who were like me, elected in 2011; and David Wyatt and Isabel Harrison who were co-opted later that year.

Appointment of clerk:

Robert Stone started work as parish clerk and financial officer (RFO) at the beginning of April 2012, and has worked tirelessly since to support and advise the parish council, and to respond to issues raised by parishioners.

Budget:

At the January meeting, the Parish Council agreed to stick to our previous budget, resulting in a precept for 2013 of £9500, or about £32.75 per year per household (band D).

The main additional item of expenditure in the previous year was a provision is for road safety measures at Scotland Farm, including a proposed reduction in the speed limit to 30mph. The Parish Council contribution to these measures is expected to be £1000, or 10% of the total. Approval to the scheme and additional funding has been agreed in principle by the County Council, but it has not yet been possible for the work to be put in hand, so the additional sum is being held in reserve.

The measures proposed stop short of any physical restrictions (chicanes or speed bumps), and were proposed following a consultation of those most directly affected by the speeding and near-miss accidents on this section over the last few years.

The parish council has again made available a small part of the budget for ‘participatory budgeting’. Under this arrangement , the parish council can agree two or three awards of up to £200 each to village organisations for schemes of community benefit, and submissions have been invited.

Grass cutting:

The grass cutting around the village and on the village green is the largest single item of expenditure in the parish council budget, costing over £2000 per year, although much of this is reclaimed from the County Council.

In summer 2012, following concerns that the grass was being cut too short in places, some parts of the village green were allowed to grow longer on an experimental basis, partly to see whether there might be benefits in biodiversity terms in allowing some of it to flower before being cut. However, in the light of advice and views expressed, the parish council agreed to revert largely to the previous policy, save only for a small strip of verge by Church Farm, where some orchids have now been seen to establish.

Planning:

The Parish Council has responded to South Cambs District Council on four new planning applications in the parish this year. We have also submitted further comments in relation to North West Cambridge and more recently to further Northstowe proposals, drawing attention to the possible traffic implications for Dry Drayton and the case for funds to be made available for connecting bike paths.

As I reported last year, following the Localism Act, the Government’s intention is that local communities should have greater influence on planning in their areas. Some parishes will be bringing forward their own neighbourhood plans, some even taking these to local referendums.

Dry Drayton parish council, on the advice of the Village Plan working group, responded in February to an invitation from the District Council to submit the basis for a possible “community-led plan”, so that this can be taken into account in setting the out the next Local Plan for the period to 2031. This initial submission was based upon the relevant sections of the Village Plan, and the parish council agreed to consult more widely in the village before submitting a further response the District Council in May 2013.

In its draft Local Plan, the District Council is considering to what extent future development should be concentrated in new towns such as Northstowe, to what extent it can be allowed to take place in the villages. A target of at least 40% affordable housing is likely to be retained.

There is also a review of the ‘exception sites policy’ under which at present only affordable housing would be considered on such sites. It is likely, under the terms of the NPPF , that some market housing will now be allowed on rural exception sites. To date, the restriction of planning consent on such sites to affordable housing only (plus recreation and other limited uses) has meant there has been little incentive for landowners to develop such sites, and we expect this to change in the next year or so, resulting in new applications for housing on some of the exception sites in Dry Drayton.

Affordable housing:

The 2009 survey in Dry Drayton identified the need for up to 18 affordable houses for people with the necessary local connections, but little progress has been made on meeting this need. I said last year that any such provision is most likely to be made as part of future development proposals in the village.

Three sites in the village were then under consideration by the District Council, though it was subsequently ruled that none of these sites had significant potential for development, to of them being in the Green Belt. In September, agents for the owners of the Church Farm site held a consultation in the village hall on possible development proposals for that site.

Footpaths and rights of way:

In addition to the new permissive path kindly agreed by the landowner, along the track from the North end of the High Street and through the Plantation, the new owners of Crafts Hill Farm subsequently agreed to a further permissive path linking this to path 11 down to Oakington Road. The surface on these new paths has yet to be established. These measures have extended the legitimate access opportunities to land over which there was only informal access previously.

The parish council has expressed its appreciation to the farmers and landowners concerned for their continued co-operation in making available this informal access, and now granting permissive footpaths.

However there has been some concern about hedging and ditching operations on the Crafts Hill – some have expressed views that too much has been undertaken too quickly, others that more needs to be done and soon. Regular flooding to Oakington Road, on an unprecedented scale and frequency, has been raised by a number of parishioners. The County Council has been urged to clear the road drains by Trinity Stables, and we are assured this work is in hand; in addition the farmer, has in recent days installed an intercepting land drain which may help to ensure there is less surplus water in the ponds, thus reducing overflow to the Oakington road.

Flooding along the Madingley Road appears to be less of a problem following the action of a group of volunteers, led by Edward Byam Cook, who have cleared out much of the Callow Brook beside the road. This combined with a small amount of ditch clearance by the county Council, has ensured that flooding drains away more quickly than before.

Village Plan:

There has been some progress on the joint-villages attempts to secure an off-road cycle path to Coton crossroads, but only for the section the other side of Madingley, where Trinity College has offered to allow a permissive cycleway. The surface of such a cycle path has yet to be agreed, and the College has yet to formalise the permissive route. The proposed link via the M11 underpass to the proposed North-West Cambridge has not been agreed by the College.

Recreation provision in the village:

As the Village Plan stated, “the survey by the S&VA identified strong support for improving recreation facilities in the village, particularly for the 11-17 year old age group… The facilities need to be located within the village so that there is good access – but there is no publicly owned land of any size here.”.
I had suggested last year that “the forthcoming sale of land around the village may offer an opportunity for the parish to secure access to land … for a recreation ground and other possible uses”. In the event, the new landowner would not agree to that, and in the absence of any land becoming available, the working group set up by the parish council was stood down after its initial report to the parish council in May.

Thanks and appreciation:

I would like to thank a number of residents who have attended open sessions at the start of our meetings to let us know their views, our County Councillor John Reynolds and District Councillors Bunty Waters and Roger Hall for their support and for assiduous attendance at our meetings, and our clerk Robert Stone and my fellow parish councillors for the work they do above and beyond attendance at our meetings.

Peter Fane, Chair, Dry Drayton Parish Council 2012 / 13, 16th April 2013

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