TOMKINS PARK AND ARBORETUM OPENS FRIDAY 19th AUGUST
Last year Winslow Town Council acquired a five acre site in the heart of the town, known locally as The Paddock, using funds secured from the New Homes Bonus scheme. The land previously belonged to the Tomkins family who were long term residents of Winslow Hall which is immediately to the south of the site. Known locally as The Paddock, in recent times it has only been open to the public once a year for the Lions Club Annual Firework Display. A collection of specimen trees grow within the site and a recent survey described them as an arboretum of regional status. Among the many superb trees is a Laurel Leafed Oak which is the only one known to be in Buckinghamshire.
Sadly the woodland has not been managed too well in recent years and several trees became dangerous or were affecting the growth of more important species. These trees have now been removed to ensure public safety and drainage installed to resolve a waterlogging problem in one area. This has been the first stage in developing the site as a town park which all of the community can enjoy. New pedestrian access gates have been installed in Elmfield Gate and from Greyhound Lane Car Park and these will be opened to the public from around noon on Friday 19h August. The double gates behind the Public Hall will only be opened for maintenance and emergency vehicles.
Commenting on the opening Cllr Roy van de Poll said, ‘There is still much work to be done to develop the park but we wanted families to be able to have access before the end of the school holidays. If the weather holds it will be a great place for picnics‘. In the coming weeks and months information boards will be installed next to the most important trees. Footpaths, suitable for buggies and wheelchairs, will also be developed. Some new planting will add colour and extra ground cover in the wooded areas.
Cllr van de Poll added, ‘Later this year an official opening ceremony will see the site re-named as Tomkins Park and Arboretum in memory of Sir Edward and Lady Tomkins who were such great supporters of community activities in Winslow and did much to develop the arboretum’.
ANNUAL REPORT FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL
As we come to the end of the Council year, can I take this opportunity to say that representing Winslow as your Mayor and Chairman of the Council and performing the duties demanded of the position has been both an honour and a privilege. I have attended and enjoyed a wide variety of functions both within the county and in adjacent council areas and have found that Winslow is held in very high regard indeed, a testament perhaps to the strength of our community and perhaps a testament to the vigour demonstrated in the defence of our ‘made’ Neighbourhood plan?
I must report that once again, a very significant amount of Clerk and Councillor time has been expended to defend the town from the unwelcome advances of developers, particularly following recent judgements and the resulting ‘particular’ stance taken by AVDC. Apart from the forthcoming inquiry to the Glebe Farm Appeal, we need to consider, where next? It is unrealistic to think that we can continue to be 100% successful in our defence considering the planning expectations and requirements placed upon us by AVDC, whose lack of available housing land coupled with the expanding nature of the South East makes for very difficult circumstances indeed . We will of course continue to do our best for our community, whatever is thrown at us.
It has been an incredibly busy year for Council. As you know, following the devolution of services we manage our own grass cutting and apart from a few small hic-ups the system seems to be working well. We continue to upgrade our street lighting and ensure that facilities such as the Furze Lane burial ground, Public Hall car park, outdoor fitness area, the jubilee games area and the playground are all maintained accordingly. We purchased the paddock over 12 months ago with the intension of utilising the area as a public amenity with a new Public Hall and have held a number of open days to get your feed back. We remain in the planning phase at present and are exploring the many possibilities offered by the purchase of the paddock in the expectation that we will arrive at the best combination for the town. On professional advice we have performed much necessary pruning and the removal of some unsafe trees. The brambles are currently being cleared and we will be installing land drainage before allowing general public access. This year we will issue a small series of leaflets detailing ‘Walks around Winslow’ following funding from our Local Area Forum to assist with the design and publishing costs.
The Council continues to support and manage the Farmers Market in conjunction with the Chamber of Trade. The market seems to have lost some of its patronage of late; I hope that this is not the case and that the footfall will pick up as the weather improves. Volunteer to help set up and take down are always welcome, as is the case with the annual Christmas Fayre.
Last May saw the 35th Anniversary of our town’s twinning with Cours La Ville and I had the pleasure of welcoming over 100 French visitors including their Mayor during a long weekend of celebrations.
I am pleased to say that despite the many calls upon our finances, the Council has continued with the practice of giving grants to assist local groups and charities.
During the year we consulted at length with the Thames Valley Police in an attempt to keep the High Street Police Office open and gave an undertaking to pay the running costs of the office for a five year period. While I have no doubt that this has resulted in more police time being spent in and around Winslow, We can only speculate at the level of antisocial behaviour we might have experienced in the town had the office closed!
This year we took the decision to appoint Winslow’s first ‘Mayors Cadet’ from the Winslow Cadet Force. Lance corporal Sam William’s assisted me during the Remembrance Day Parade and then later at the Christmas Fayre when two pupils from the Winslow Combined C of E School switched on the Christmas lights as a ‘prize’ for the best letters sent to me after my earlier visit to the school.
I cannot report on the year without highlighting and praising the many volunteers that help regularly with the running and organisation of our many charities and voluntary bodies. You are a true inspiration to us all and the envy of many. Thank you for your time and commitment and for helping to make Winslow a great place to live.
I have asked each of the Chair’s of our Committees to prepare a short report on their activities this year, please take this opportunity to question them and to ask them about any concerns you may have.
Before I close, I must record my grateful thanks to Charles Loch our Town Clerk and to Karen Oddey our Deputy Clerk for ensuring that we are all kept on the straight and narrow. Sadly, Karen has resigned following her decision to move to the North. I would like to welcome Sean Carolan who will be taking her place. I must also give well deserved thanks to Derry, Doug, John and George without whom running the Council services on a day to day basis would be impossible.
Grateful thanks are also due to my deputy Cllr Monger- who attended some functions including the Combined School Christmas Fayre and the Fat stock show on my behalf when I was unavailable due to prior engagements or through work commitments.
Personal thanks go to my fellow Councillors who freely give up their time to serve our community. Their commitment, thoroughness, diligence, professionalism and sheer hard work on behalf of our community is truly appreciated. Following last May’s Council election, I think we have proved that we have worked as a team, a team on which Winslow can rely.
Cllr Dr Gordon Wiseman
Mayor of Winslow
Annual Report of the Amenities Committee 2015/16
Members: Cllrs D. Barry (Chairman), W.Castle, T.Cawte, H.Chambers, B Gouverneur and H.Morton
The Amenities Committee has again been busy over the last year maintaining existing facilities and amenities. Expenditure was within the budget forecast for 2015/16.
The Public Hall Car Park continues to be cleaned and monitored on a regular basis. The barrier was redesigned and replaced with a more permanent and guided access to prevent damage and so far has proved successful.
Since 2015, the inspection and refurbishment of the Council street furniture is on a rolling programme. Bus Shelters have and will continue to be cleaned quarterly.
The need for additional dog bins in Winslow is being monitored and inspection of the waste and dog bins is undertaken regularly.
The Committee has undertaken a complete review of the CCTV and brought the agreed five year rolling programme forward to make the system fit for purpose. Access to images will be much easier and there will be greater clarity to aid police when evidence is required. Additional cameras have been installed by the Jubilee Games Area and Youth Centre to combat the unfortunate incidence of anti -social behaviour that has occurred in recent times.
The Committee has entered into contracts for grass and hedge cutting under the devolved arrangements with Bucks County Council and credit must be given to our Deputy Clerk Karen Oddey who has steered us through what is a complicated piece of legislation.
We have renewed the contract for the maintenance and upkeep of landscaping in the Council’s control to ensure that the visual aspect of the planting in the Town is up to standard.
Native trees and a hedge were planted two years ago in the Recreation Ground by the Winslow Lions and the Sports Club, as part of the Diamond Jubilee. Mindful of the need to preserve the view into the cricket ground, the hedges have been trimmed and the grass controlled by the Councils contractors.
The War Memorial continues to receive a careful annual clean. In line with the Commissions advice, no major cleaning work is planned.
The Jubilee Games Area has unfortunately had one exit locked by the Sir Thomas Fremantle School with the approval of Bucks County Council. This has raised concerns about the safety of users of our facility. Discussions are ongoing to solve the problem.
The Outdoor Family Fitness Area within the recreation ground is well used, but has been the target of vandals on several occasions. It is s inspected and repaired where necessary as soon as we are aware of any problems
The Children’s Playground has had a roundabout installed that is designed to be used by the less able. This completes the overall update that has been carried out over the last three years. The annual external inspection Playground, OFFA and JGA were carried out and revealed no significant issues.
Cllr David Barry
Chairman Amenities Committee April 2016.
The Development Committee is responsible for the consideration of planning applications and the submission of our comments to Aylesbury Vale District Council. Over the past year there have been 68 planning applications, an increase on last year. We have looked at applications ranging from garden walls and replacement front doors to Glebe Farm 3 and the outline permission for the station/school/industrial site on Buckingham Road. The vast majority of applications are resolved as “no objection”. However, where we believe there are substantial planning reasons to object and the Planning officer at AVDC is in favour of granting permission, a member of the committee is required to present our reasons for objection at a meeting of AVDC’s Development Management Committee. There has only been one case in the last year where we are in disagreement with AVDC and that is the outline planning for the Buckingham Road site. This was for the site as a whole and not specifically the new school, which was dealt with as a separate application. Members feel very strongly that there are major flaws in the layout, both in terms of the traffic management and, more importantly, that no safe crossing had been provided, for either cyclists or pedestrians, to cross the A413.
Members of the Committee represent Winslow Town Council at meetings of various other organisations – the Winslow and District Local Area Forum, the Local Councils Planning and Liaison Group and North Bucks Parishes Planning Consortium. The Local Area Forums have a devolved budget from Buckingham County Council, that can be used for priority issues and as I reported last year, we were awarded funding to be used for a feasibility study into the use of Horn Street by heavy goods vehicles. We have just received the report and the various options will be discussed at the next meeting of the Committee. Funding was also granted for a moveable Vehicle activated Sign to be used in Verney and Vicarage Roads and on Magpie Way. The Committee also had a representative on the Strategic Committee of the Aylesbury Vale Transport Users Group, however this group is, at the moment, in hibernation due to membership, administrative funding and insurance issues. With the cuts that will come to rural transport this development is a concern but the good news is that there are to be increases to the X60 service and a Sunday service is to considered.
The Committee has also considered and been of assistance in many other issues during the last year, including replacement hedges, new street names, tree pruning and removal in the Conservation Area, contacting AVDC on enforcement issues, liaising with Developers on potential new developments, construction traffic and responding to various Government and Local Council consultations, including the Vale of Aylesbury Local Plan.
The appeal against AVCD’s decision to reject the application for 211 homes at Glebe Farm is to start on July 5th and is scheduled to last for a week. WTC have been granted Rule 6 status which allows us to speak at the Public Inquiry. The Council have agreed to appoint a legal representative for this, as we are concerned that AVDC, due to their current position on the weight of Neighbourhood Plans in the planning process, will not provide the support that our Neighbourhood Plan is due. With AVDC’s stance on Neighbourhood Plans and their decisions to allow developments that are specifically contrary to policies in them we have been actively seeking further Government support and clarification on these matters. and writing to AVDC to advise of our very great concern at this stance.
REPORT OF THE FINANCE AND GENERAL PUPOSES COMMITTEE
The Finance and General Purposes committee (F&GP) oversees Winslow Town Council’s (WTC) activity in relation to Income (council tax precept), asset management (land, property and street lighting) and administration (including staff employment). The work of the former Events Committee has also been covered by F&GP in the last year but it is expected that this will return to being an independent committee later this year.
The principle source of income is the Town Council’s Precept which is part of the Council Tax collected by Aylesbury Vale District Council. In recent years WTC has maintained very low levels of increase (2015/16 2.25% and 2016/17 (2%) thanks to sound fiscal management. Other sources of income include various grants and the operating profit from the Farmers Market. We also derive income from lettings at the Youth Centre but this is ring-fenced to support youth activities. In the future, as we take on more services, such as grass cutting and footpath management, from the District and County Councils we will need to increase the Council Tax Precept.
The principle assets of the Town Council are the Recreation Ground, Public Hall & Car Park and more recently The Paddock including the Bowls Green. The main area of the recreation ground (football and cricket areas) is leased to the Sports Club who maintain the land and the interior of the Club House. WTC are responsible for the maintenance of the Public Hall Car Park and act as Custodian Trustee for the site. The Public Hall is owned by a trust and operated through a management committee. The Paddock was acquired with a grant secured from the New Homes Bonus Fund and development of that site will be reported on via the Amenities Committee. The Bowls Club have a licence from WTC to use the bowling green and own outright the Clubhouse building and the immediate area of land on which it sits. Street lighting is the biggest single area of expenditure for WTC and we are progressing the renewal of lighting columns where required and the installation of LED lighting. The latter reduces both maintenance and operating costs.
The provision of a new Community Centre remains a priority for the committee though this is a complex issue. In brief it has been decided that the Paddock will not provide a suitable location as insufficient car parking can be secured without the loss of a large part of the proposed town park area. The current Public Hall is unsuitable for re-development as the necessary enlargement would result in significant loss of much needed car parking. Furthermore we have a willing high street retailer prepared to lease this building for use as a small supermarket as indicated in the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan. The substantial income from this would service the borrowing involved in the building of the new facility. Our retained architects have considered all potential sites for the new facility and recommend that the football pitch area of the recreation ground would provide the best possible site and would allow a substantial increase in parking provision over and above that required for the community centre itself. Efforts are underway to secure a suitable new location for the football club which would provide additional pitches so that the junior teams could re-locate from Gawcott Fields. Taking this exciting project forward will require active support from the Public Hall trustees, the Sports Club and the community at large.
WTC entered into a twenty five year lease of this building from Bucks County Council when the latter decided to withdraw youth services from Winslow. The provision of youth services at the building is managed by Friends of Winslow Youth Centre on behalf of WTC. Income is derived from a number of lettings and after the deduction of a management charge and maintenance costs any surplus is reserved for supporting youth activities.
The Winslow Farmers Market continues to be one of the most successful in the region with up to thirty stalls each month. The operation relies entirely on volunteers to set up and dismantle the stalls and this helps to ensure a healthy monthly contribution to our finances. More volunteers are always welcome! During the year a successful ‘Safari Garage Sale and Brocante / Vintage Fair were held and we hope to repeat them this year. The annual Christmas Fayre was again a huge success and improvements were made to the Christmas lighting. Further improvements are planned this year.
The committee is responsible for the distribution of grants to community organisations and details of these are included with the annual accounts.
WTC operates with a part-time Clerk to the Council and a part-time Deputy Clerk with the combined paid hours amounting to one full time equivalent We were fortunate to have a number of highly qualified applicants for the post of Deputy Clerk and as a result Sean Carolan has joined us to support Charles Loch. Derry French, Doug Sharp and George Mackenzie each work a very limited numbers of paid hours taking care of grounds maintenance, cleaning and farmers market support respectively. The committee extends its thanks to our excellent and dedicated staff.
Cllr Llew Monger
Chairman, Finance & General Purposes Committee.
21st April 2016.
Winslow needs another Councillor
We need to co-opt a further member as soon as possible in order to effectively and efficiently transact business and fully represent all resident and business interests in the town. No particular experience or expertise are needed to fulfil the role but a keen interest in the community, enthusiasm and commitment to “make a difference” locally are the most important attributes. Time commitment will depend on you but typically would include attendance at one meeting of the full Council and probably two committee meetings per month.
It is not essential to be a resident of Winslow, if your employment is in Winslow, you are on the electoral register, or you live within 3 miles, you may apply.
If you want to talk to one of the current councillors about the role their contact details can be found on the website.
The closing date for applications to the Clerk is Wednesday 20th April 2016. Contact details are shown at the top of this page.
AVDC have recently expanded their webcasting service to include Strategic Development Management Committee meetings and these will be available for viewing live on the AVDC website. Furthermore, the meetings can be watched at a later date as they are archived on the site.
The first item of general interest wil be the development on Buckingham Road, Winslow, which is under discussion in the Strategic Development Management Committee held at AVDC’s Gateway office on Wednesday 6 April from 1pm.
The webcasts can be viewed at www.aylesburyvaledc.gov.uk/
The Winslow Centre
In response to comments about changes at the Winslow Centre, Town and District Councillor Llew Monger responds as follows.
The Winslow Centre is owned by Bucks County Council who have complete control over lettings policy. Neither Winslow Town Council or Aylesbury Vale District Council have any involvement in the running of the Centre and have not been consulted by the County Council or the School. Two years ago a number of rooms were taken over by the Sir Thomas Fremantle School on a two year lease pending the building of an entirely new school. The new build is now more than a year behind schedule and unlikely to be completed before early 2017. The school has obviously increased in numbers as each year’s intake joins and this has led to a need for more space. This could have been provided in temporary classrooms sited in the grounds so as not to interfere with the long term community users but the school is to be given full use of the building. I have been advised by senior officers at BCC that from half-term the school will manage the site between 7.00am and 4.30pm and there will probably be no other users during those hours with daytime adult education classes being relocated to Buckingham. Air Active Gym has already been forced out of the centre after twenty seven years and now, as reported in Mr Hornsey’s post Rozelle School of Dancing, which has been there for more than twenty years, have been told they must leave. Sadly the BCC staff at the Winslow Centre have been placed on a forty day consultation notice and it seems likely that they will be made redundant.
The County Council have failed to communicate with the existing users and made no effort to help them find alternative accommodation. Air Active are moving to the Combined School and Rozelle will probably go to the St Laurence Room or the Public Hall. We have a real shortage of suitable accommodation for such activities in Winslow so the loss of daytime use at the Winslow Centre will certainly cause problems for at least the next eighteen months.
The only light on the horizon is that the Town Council is just starting public engagement in the design or our new community centre and town park at The Paddock. A second open afternoon is being held on Sunday 13th between 2.30pm and 5.00pm and the site can be accessed from behind the Public Hall in Elmfields Gate. There will be a public meeting at the St Laurence Room at 7.30pm on Tuesday 15th when The Council’s consultant architect will present some initial ideas for the community to work on.
You may wish to contact Mr. J Chilver, the Bucks County Councillor for this area
MAJOR CLIMB DOWN BY GLADMAN WILL BENEFIT NOT JUST WINSLOW BUT OTHER COMMUNITIES DEVELOPING OR CONSIDERING A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
MAJOR CLIMB DOWN BY GLADMAN WILL BENEFIT NOT JUST WINSLOW BUT OTHER COMMUNITIES DEVELOPING OR CONSIDERING A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
On Friday 17th April, Winslow Town Council was informed that Gladman Developments Ltd (GDL) had formally notified the Court of Appeal of their intention to have its appeal against the High Court’s decision in December 2014, which found the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan to be legal, be dismissed with costs. This is particularly surprising as it was only in February that the Rt Hon Lord Justice Sullivan granted GDL leave to appeal.
This about face comes hot on the heels of GDL abandoning earlier in April its challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss GDL’s appeal against Aylesbury Vale District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build up to 211 homes on the outskirts of Winslow, at Glebe Farm, Verney Road. It is possible that this major change of heart may have been instigated by pressure from other developers for getting them all a bad name and/or that GDL has recognised that positively prepared Neighbourhood Development Plans will withstand legal challenges. Whatever the reason, the residents of Winslow and the Town Council are extremely pleased and relieved at this turn of events. As these decisions see an end to Gladman’s series of legal challenges relating to our community’s Neighbourhood Plan, at least for the time being, this will allow us to proceed, unhindered by legal uncertainties, with progressing the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan to fruition.
As Councillor Llew Monger, who chaired the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group observed, “This decision by Gladman Developments Limited has national significance, as the legal standing of Neighbourhood Development Plans, as determined by the courts, is currently set by the judgement of the legality of the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan (WNP) of Mr Justice Lewis in the High Court in December 2014. He dismissed the Judicial Review challenge on all six grounds, making this the legal precedent against which a number of aspects of Neighbourhood Development Plans will be judged. This is hopefully the dawn of more localism and much less legalism in relation to Neighbourhood Planning, which will encourage many other communities to embark on developing a Neighbourhood Plan.”
One should not lose sight of the monetary cost to our Local Planning Authority (Aylesbury Vale District Council) and hence the council tax payers of Aylesbury Vale, in legally defending Winslow’s Neighbourhood Plan at appeals, GDL’s injunction to try to prevent the referendum on the WNP proceeding, which would have prevented Winslow residents from their democratic right to vote and the Judicial Review. Our community owes AVDC a considerable debt of gratitude for their robust support and the excellence of their appointed planning barrister, Hereward Philpot QC.
The Winslow Neighbourhood Plan was the first in Buckinghamshire and the 25th in the country to be completed. Being at the vanguard of this Localism Act 2011 initiative of giving communities the right to decide how they should develop, it was perhaps inevitable that some Plans would be legally challenged and, with GDL’s ‘interests’ around Winslow, with hindsight, the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan was bound to be given a hard time. Fewer than 50 Neighbourhood Plans have been completed to date but there are about 1,400 others at various stages of development. The news from Winslow will undoubtedly give them all additional impetus to reach the finishing line
The importance of this capitulation by Gladman Developments Ltd has been shown by the article below In The Times on Tuesday 21st April and a piece on the early evening edition of BBC’s South Today news programme, also on 21st April.
A recent review of the GDL website noted that their previously aggressive stance, reflected in statements such as Gladman Developments is “A formidable, skilled and highly professional Land Promoter, obsessed with winning consents . . . and that “We obtain residential planning consents on edge of town greenfield sites and use our expertise and financial resources to proactively promote the sites and secure planning permission.” which were on their website, are now noticeable by their absence. Are we seeing a parallel with Ryan Air and a GDL ‘conversion’ to wanting to be liked?
Appeal By Gladman Developments Ltd Against Refusal Of Their Planning Application Ref 13/02174/Aop For 100 Homes East Of Little Horwood Road
On 26th February, the Town Council was advised of the excellent news that the above appeal had been dismissed by both the Planning Inspector – John Felgate and the Secretary of State – The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP.
Mr Felgate made the following key observations:-
- On balance therefore, I conclude that in NPPF terms the development would not constitute sustainable development.
- The development would be visually harmful to the distinctiveness of the landscape, and to the setting and character of the town itself.
Mr Felgate also fully agreed with previous inspectors who had described the Little Horwood Road as fulfilling the role of a strong defensible boundary, providing a crisp separation between the urban edge of the town and open countryside. A boundary that he made clear should be maintained and protected.
In the letter received, the following were detailed as the Secretary of State’s main reasons for proceeding with the notification of his decision and the decision itself to dismiss the appeal.
- The Secretary of State decided that it would not be appropriate to delay the decision on this case pending the outcome of legal proceedings in relation to that Plan
- He agrees that the sharp transition from town to countryside, particularly on the east of Winslow is a valued feature of the town’s character, and that the proposed development would appear as incongruous, intrusive and on the ‘wrong’ side of the most obvious and logical boundary. As such the Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the development would be visually harmful to the distinctiveness of the landscape, and to the setting and character of the town itself
- The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that the relationship of the site to the hamlet of Shipton, and the potential consequences in terms of ultimate coalescence with Winslow, reinforces the conclusion that the development now proposed would have an adverse effect on Winslow’s landscape setting and the character and appearance of the area
- He considers that the appeal proposal conflicts with the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan Policy 2 which designates a settlement boundary for the purposes of directing future housing and states that proposals for housing in settlement boundary will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, and conflicts with Neighbourhood Plan Policy 3 which states that proposals for housing development outside the boundary will not be supported unless they require a countryside location and maintain the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. The Secretary of State considers that these policies are very important policies in the Neighbourhood Plan which seek to shape the development in Winslow and that granting planning permission would undermine the spatial strategy. For the reasons given in this decision letter, the Secretary of State does not consider that the exceptions in Policy 2 and 3 have been shown. He considers that the conflict between the appeal proposal and the Neighbourhood Plan is significant.
- Neighbourhood planning gives communities direct power to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and deliver the sustainable development they need. Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to ensure that they get the right types of development for their community. Outside the strategic elements of the Local Plan (which is not up to date in Aylesbury Vale District), neighbourhood plans will be able to shape and direct sustainable development. The Secretary of State regards this purpose as more than a statement of aspiration. He considers that neighbourhood plans, once made, are part of the development plan and should be upheld as an effective means to shape and direct development in the neighbourhood planning area in question. It is clear that, where a planning application conflicts with a neighbourhood plan that has been brought into force, planning permission should not normally be granted. In view of the Framework policy on neighbourhood planning, the Secretary of State accords significant planning weight to the conflict with the neighbourhood plan policies which designate a settlement boundary, even though its policies relevant to housing land supply are out of date in terms of Framework paragraph 49. He considers that this adds to the already compelling rationale to dismiss the appeal.
Yet another very clear decision supporting the community’s Neighbourhood Plan and the wishes of Winslow’s residents.
Gladman Developments Ltd’s Judicial Review Of The Winslow Neighbourhood Plan And Subsequent Developments
Late last year, Mr Justice Lewis handed down his judgement on Gladman Developments’ legal challenge to our Neighbourhood Plan and criticisms of certain aspects of the way in which Nigel McGurk examined the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan. On the six grounds of challenge, the judge was unequivocal in dismissing them all.
In his conclusion, Mr Justice Lewis stated
A neighbourhood development plan may include policies relating to the use and development of land for housing in its neighbourhood even in the absence of any development plan document setting out strategic housing policies. The examiner was therefore entitled to conclude that the draft Neighbourhood Plan satisfied the requirement in paragraph 8(2)(e) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 as it was in general conformity with such strategic policies as were contained in the development plan documents. The examiner was also entitled to conclude that the Neighbourhood Plan, which provided for 455 new dwellings in a sustainable way, did make a contribution to the achievement of sustainable development and satisfied the condition in paragraph 8(2)(d) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 Act. The examiner did have regard to national planning policy, including the Framework and the Planning Practice Guidance, and the further guidance referred to in that guidance, and was entitled to conclude that it was appropriate to recommend that the Neighbourhood Plan should be submitted to a referendum. He was entitled to conclude that the strategic environmental assessment report satisfied the requirements of EU law so that the condition in paragraph 8(2)(f) of Schedule 4B to the 1990 Act was satisfied. He gave adequate, intelligible reasons for his recommendations.
In summary, therefore the examiner was entitled to recommend that the draft Neighbourhood Plan should proceed to a referendum. The Council was entitled to make the Neighbourhood Plan in the light of the vote in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan at that referendum. Consequently, the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan is lawful. This claim for judicial review is therefore dismissed.
Earlier in his judgement he commented as follows:-
Winslow Town Council (“the Town Council”) took up the opportunity offered by the Localism Act 2011 and undertook the process of preparing a neighbourhood development plan for their neighbourhood. They established a steering group of members of the council, and co-opted willing and experienced local residents onto the steering group. They undertook extensive consultation in accordance with the relevant regulations. They prepared a variety of documents over a considerable period of time. These included a consultation document, a site assessment report, a state of the town report and strategic environmental assessment scoping report and a strategic environmental assessment report. In the light of that, they prepared a draft Neighbourhood Plan. The commitment shown, and work done, by the residents of Winslow in the preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan are impressive.
Unsurprisingly, Gladman Developments Ltd (GDL) sought permission of Mr Justice Lewis to challenge this judgement and, as previously reported, this was refused.
GDL then addressed a request to the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the decision of Mr Justice Lewis. The Town Council was recently notified that the Rt Hon Lord Justice Sullivan has granted permission for the appeal to be heard, a Hearing will be arranged but probably not until the autumn, to progress this matter.
The reasons he gave for his decision were as follows:-
The judgement of Lewis J was both impressive and highly persuasive, but even if the Grounds of Appeal, as amplified in the Appellant’s Skeleton Argument do not have any real prospect of success, they are properly arguable and there is a compelling reason for granting permission to appeal: the proper interpretation of both the legislation and the national policy guidance governing the relationship between Neighbourhood Development Plans and local development plan documents raises wider issues that are of considerable public importance.
Hopefully 2015 will see an end to Gladman’s series of legal challenges and allow this community to proceed, unhindered by legal uncertainties, with progressing its Neighbourhood Plan to fruition.
Also on 14th January, the Town Council was notified that Gladman Developments Ltd had submitted an application to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal Mr Justice Lewis’s decision to, on all grounds, dismiss the Judicial Review, which claimed that the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan was unlawful for six principal reasons and then refused Gladman’s application to him for permission to appeal his decision on 18th December 2014 stating – The interpretation is clear and there is no prospect of an appeal succeeding on facts.
Earlier this month, the Town Council was advised that Gladman had indeed submitted a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to dismiss their appeal against AVDC’s refusal to grant planning permission for 211 homes on the Glebe Farm, Verney Road, Winslow site and that the Secretary of State’s legal team will be contesting this challenge.
On 14th January, 2015 draft contracts for the purchase of the Paddock were exchanged and signed on behalf of the Council and a cheque was raised in payment to the solicitors, a completion date is now awaited.
This is a very significant step forward for our community as this five and a half acres of land in the middle of the town is where it is planned, as in the Neighbourhood Plan, to site the new Winslow Community Centre and a town park. The Winslow Bowls Club has been located on part of this land for many years on a long-term lease.
The purchase price and improvements needed to make the area suitable for public access are covered by a £200,000 grant from AVDC’s New Homes Bonus fund, applied for by the Town Council.
Subject to a completion date on the purchase, it is planned that work on the site to make it suitable for public access will start later this year.
However, it will be a few years before the planned new Community Centre will be up and running, a project estimated to cost in the region of £3.0 million.
On 21st November, the Town Council was notified of the Secretary of State’s decision regarding the appeal by Gladman Developments against AVDC’s decision to refuse planning permission for up to 211 homes on the Glebe Farm site which he had recovered, enabling the final decision by him. The Inspector who conducted the Public Inquiry recommended that the appeal be allowed and planning permission granted subject to conditions. However, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, disagreed with the Inspector’s recommendation, dismissed the appeal and refused planning permission.
The key factor in arriving at his decision is the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan, in particular Policy 2 relating to the Winslow Settlement Boundary (WSB) as the Glebe Farm site lies outside the WSB. The Secretary of State (S o S) concluded that there was significant conflict between the appeal proposal and the Neighbourhood Plan as a whole and, as he has done in other similar situations, found in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan. The full decision document can be found via this link at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/planning-applications-called-in-decisions-and-recovered-appeals.
Mention was made in the S o S’s letter of a separate note being attached setting out the circumstances in which the validity of the Secretary of State’s decision may be challenged by making an application to the High Court within six weeks from the date of his letter. We understand Gladman intend to make such a challenge.
Judicial Review Latest
Gladman Developments Limited’s legal challenge concerning the Winslow Neighbourhood Plan, where Aylesbury Vale District Council is the defendant, will be held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 11th and 12th of December. About 18 residents will be attending on both days. The judge’s decision is not expected for about two months.