The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

PRESENT: Cllr. Fletcher (Chairman), Cllrs. Beck, Bunyan, Fairweather, Fermor, Gilbert, Hatcher, Kings, Pethurst, Smith, Warne and Waters.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Hall. Borough Cllr. Dawlings, County and Borough Cllr. Holden.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

The Chairman read out the following statement:

Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations or predetermination on items on this agenda in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk. He reminded everyone present that the meeting was being recorded as a Clerk’s aid.

153/20: Minutes of the Previous Meeting to be confirmed:

The Chairman proposed that the Minutes of the Meeting held on the 11th February be adopted as a true record.  This was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

154/20: Community Centres/Medical Centre:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that a meeting had been held with Mike Hill, the KCC cabinet member responsible for libraries. Jonathan White has now completed the draft room specifications and is moving towards finalising the brief for the Technical Project Manager. Comments received from parishioners have been incorporated into the business plan.

In response to Cllr. Pethurst, Cllr. Gilbert confirmed the majority of the comments received had been in reference to the finances and procedural matters. Cllr. Pethurst also sought some clarification on the funding target displayed on the roadmap poster and how the figure had been arrived at? He was advised it was an aspirational figure, how much is raised from the community will influence the amount that we need to borrow or the timescale over which the loan is repaid. Cllr. Hatcher felt the benefit of the community achieving the target figure of £2M and what it would mean to the overall project, should be communicated to residents.

155/20: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman reported that TWBC have agreed the Tunbridge Wells Agreement, which means that if a planning officer is intending to go against the recommendation of the Parish Council, they must give the Parish 3 days’ notice of their intention, before the applicant is informed. This means that the Parish may choose to ask a Borough Councillor to ‘call it in’ to the full committee, but also to petition the officer to reconsider with new or reinforced evidence. TWBC will be organising 4 training days for Parish Councillors about reasons why a proposal may legitimately be refused.

He had heard today that TWBC are investigating a ‘Near Miss’ register for traffic accidents that did not quite happen, to gather more information on road safety.

In the Parish, he has been approached by several individuals and organisations over the last three weeks about how to reinvigorate life after lockdown. Perhaps the committee structure and roles of councillors need to be rethought? There is a place for a dynamic Parish Council to enable groups to get together, rekindle interests and activities and rebuild our personal connections.

He has been approached by Mark Lawrence who wants to co-ordinate the activities of all clubs that engage in sport of any kind.

Stuart Cleary and Tom Dawlings have been working to create a new tourism website with Cranbrook at the centre, and Cllr. Waters has been involved in creating new events post lockdown to encourage people out of their homes and back to create communities.

Cllr. Beck and other individuals are involved in ‘Cranbrook Together’ that wants to reinvigorate the business association and make Cranbrook a great place to have a business.

Wellbeing in the Weald are generating new ideas all the time, the latest is a puzzle library. Their initiatives overlap with other groups, often forming networks that anyone willing to, can fall into and build meaningful relationships and improve their health as a result.

Kent Wildlife Trust want to reinvigorate interest from individuals and groups who are interested in wildlife in general but also specific flora and fauna across parishes (like the Bee-Lines).

Cranbrook in Bloom are full of ideas for flowers, trees and wildlife.

Earlier this evening the Clerk circulated a zoom invitation to attend the RSN Membership Launch of Revitalising Rural Campaign. He asked members to let him know if they were intending to go.

Councillors interested in any of these areas can get involved by reporting back to the rest of us, by identifying where we might be able to help – space, fundraising, links to other parishes, wider knowledge of ‘people who do’. It is about being an ear, a facilitator and signpost. It is not about taking over and running these interest groups. He asked members to let him know their views over the next couple of weeks, so he can propose some changes to the committee structure at the next meeting, if they think it is necessary.

Report from Committees:

156/20: Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Beck referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 9th March. He highlighted item 103/20 and proposed the committee’s recommendation to write off of £100 of parish magazine advertising debt, is approved. This was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed. He invited questions on the remainder of the minutes, as none were raised, he proposed adoption of the minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed.

157/20: Planning & Preservation Management:

Cllr. Smith referred to the minutes of the meetings held on 16th February and 2nd March and invited questions. None were raised.

Cllr. Smith advised of an application for consideration at the next meeting, a proposal of 35 residential dwellings on Land off Angley Road. The application shows a new access and revised road layout. He would be happy to receive members views to the application via email, prior to the meeting.

158/20: Properties & Burial Grounds:

Cllr. Gilbert reported the Vestry Hall continues to be used for a Covid Testing Centre.

He also reported that we have sustained a substantial amount of catapult damage to three of our bus shelters and at least two of our streetlights. The repairs are estimated to cost in the region of £3,500. The Committee will consider increasing the expenditure to provide more vandal resistant options.

159/20: Environmental Management:

Cllr. Fairweather advised the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 23rd March.

160/20: Neighbourhood Plan:

Cllr. Warne advised that a meeting with Debbie Dixon a TWBC Planning Officer had highlighted the need for all our documents to conform to the Accessibility Regulations. This would be immensely time consuming so the Committee had agreed it was necessary to buy in the help needed, to undertake this task.

The Committee have split into working groups to prepare the amendments necessary to take us to the next stage. Cllr. Warne referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd February and proposed adoption; this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.

The Chairman applauded the amount and quality of work being done by volunteers in the group which is making a real difference to the final shape of the plan.

Reports from Delegates:

161/20: Age Concern:

Cllr. Warne advised the Committee were putting together their wish list of needs for the new Community Centre, which had included a dispensary. She was concerned that this may be in direct competition with Lloyds in the High Street. The Chairman reported that two of the three GP surgeries currently have dispensaries.

162/20: Transport Accessibility Group:

As our representative Graham Holmes reported that although the Group have not met, it has jointly, with Transport Futures East Sussex, responded to a consultation document issued by the Dept. for Transport entitled “Rural Transport”. In terms of its connection with Cranbrook, the response highlights the success of the Sunday only service No.349 that provides a link with Hastings as well as a link towards Maidstone via the No.5 service.

163/20: Tourism Group:

Cllr. Hatcher is keen to become more involved in the initiatives being considered by the group. They are producing an exciting online map for visitors with three layers to include attractions, places to eat and accommodation, which has Cranbrook at the centre.

164/20: Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:

Nothing to report.

165/20: CCAAC:

Cllr. Bunyan reported that CCAAC had held it’s first zoom meeting. Amongst the items discussed were the addition of the hanging baskets on the railings at St David’s Bridge. The Providence Chapel was also discussed, although nothing much has happened, Mark Stephenson advised that the Borough remain concerned for the future of the building.

The Turnden and Brick Kiln applications were discussed.  As a result of Natural England asking the Secretary of State to call in the Turnden application, it has not yet been determined.

Mark Stephenson advised that organisations such as a parish council, museum or local history society could apply to TWBC to have their Victorian letterboxes listed or alternatively included as a local heritage asset. We have four in Cranbrook and one in Sissinghurst.

There was also a suggestion raised by Cllr. Warne to expand the Conservation Area to include some houses that were built by William Neve’s sisters. They are not situated adjacent to the current Conservation Area, but satellite areas are acceptable.

CPRE Kent & Sussex have asked Natural England to conduct a review of the AONB boundaries, it was hoped the north part of Sissinghurst could then be included.

Cllr. Hatcher advised that it was hoped Stephen Baughen – TWBC Head of Planning, would attend their next meeting in May.

Cllr. Warne advised that one of the ways CCAAC could continue to support the NDP would be to help write the design codes.

166/20: Clerk’s Report:

There were no items to report.

167/20: Correspondence:

There were no items of correspondence that required reporting.

168/20: County & Borough Councillor Reports:

a) Cllr. Fairweather gave an overview of the latest Covid figures, Tunbridge Wells now has 17.7 people per 100,000 who have tested positive for the virus, the average for England being 62.7. The number of patients in the Tunbridge Wells Hospital with Covid is also thankfully, very low.

The TWBC budget was ratified at Full Council in February gaining pretty much cross-party support.

Bin collections in the rural area are still a problem partly due to the sharing of the tip with Sevenoaks Council, which has resulted in long queues for the vehicles to unload.

TWBC continues to allocate the local restriction grants to businesses in the Borough.

He encouraged residents to report excessive roadside litter, so crews can be allocated to clear it. Flytipping, particularly in Sissinghurst has increased so it is hoped that a new camera initiative will be deployed to the area.

He has written to TWBC Planning department to chase the S106 benefits due that he and Cllr. Smith had managed to secure on the Countryside Common Road site. These included £10,000 towards adult play equipment, a contribution to libraries and an improvement to the bus service.

b) Cllr. Warne advised she was concerned at the short amount of time from when the yellow planning notices are erected that councillors are given to ‘call an application in’. She explained the validation process and the timings which follow.

On the 1st April TWBC will be remeasuring the five-year housing supply numbers and it was hoped there are now sufficient numbers to be able to robustly defend speculative applications from developers. 

c) The Chairman read out a report submitted by Cllr Dawlings in which he referred to the app being created by the Tourism Group.

He also referred to the Royal Mail vans that have been parking in the High Street and hoped this can be discouraged when the shops are permitted to re-open.

He provided a breakdown of the Council Tax for a Band D property, itemising the following amounts:

£1,418.76        KCC                                               +5.0% (3% of this is a precept to fund adult social care)

£218.15           Police & Crime Commissioner     +7.4%

£80.82             Kent Fire & Rescue                        +1.9%

£134.23           TWBC                                             +2.7%

£134.35           Cranbrook & Sissinghurst PC        -0.09%

£1986.31         Total                                       

169/20: Items for Information:

a) Cllr. Warne reported we had been informed by the TWBC Planning Officer for the Brick Kiln Farm site, that Persimmon had withdrawn their application, which had only recently been approved. She had since spoken to the landowner who advised that Persimmon had turned down the option to buy the site, so it had been sold to another developer, Hill Residential Ltd. They had been in touch to ask about the NDP timetable and were keen to engage with us. In response to Cllr. Beck, Cllr Warne advised that although the outline planning permission remains in place, a fresh reserved matters application would need to be submitted by the new owners. It was felt that this was a good opportunity to try and influence the design quality.

b) Cllr. Hatcher advised that Cranbrook Operatic & Dramatic Society hoped their first show following lockdown would be the Christmas Pantomime, which they are busy organising.

c) Cllr. Waters advised the monthly Town Markets will continue and, on the 1st August, a Food & Drink Festival, Classic Car Show and a Dog Show would be held on the Ball Field, weather permitting. She also advised that Cranfest, the Cranbrook Town Music Festival was scheduled for 4th September and would include music events in the Church and Vestry Hall.

The meeting was closed.

A member of the public referred to the fact that Natural England had asked the Secretary of State to ‘call in’ the site of Turnden 2 comprising of 165 dwellings. TWBC have recently approved the application. If the application is successfully called in, the residents action group would be appealing to the Parish Council for £20,000 of funding to help support action against approval of the application.

The Clerk advised that Members would not be able to make any decision on this tonight, as it had not been an agenda item, therefore any decision reached would be unlawful.

Another member of the public advised that the pillar boxes referred to in the CCAAC report had all been photographed on behalf of the Museum.

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