Public Participation – there were no questions or comments from members of the public


PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Gilbert, Hatcher, Page, Pethurst, Mills, Newman, Selby and Tomlinson

County & Borough Councillor Holden


126/23: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Fairweather, Somers and Borough Cllr. Warne and Dawlings


127/23: 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. The meeting is routinely recorded as a clerk’s aid.


None received.


128/23: To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Full Council held 11th January 2023

The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 11th January 2024 that had been circulated before the meeting by the Clerk.  They were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.


129/23: Co-option of Councillor for Cranbrook Ward

Following the resignation of Cllr. Alan Kings, a vacancy had arisen in the Cranbrook Ward. Due process had been followed, no call for an election had been made. The casual vacancy had been advertised. There had been two expressions of interest received, and both candidates attended on the evening. Cllr. Fletcher thanked them for putting their names forward. They were asked to introduce themselves speak and to include what they saw as the main challenges the Parish Council face and what they thought they could bring to the role. Both the candidates spoke eloquently and passionately about Cranbrook & Sissinghurst.

Members were issued with ballot papers and asked to indicate whom they would like to co-opt for the vacancy. The vote was counted by the Clerk, who advised the Chair that James Groome was the successful candidate. He was invited to sign the Declaration of Acceptance of Office and took a place at the table.

Cllr. Fletcher congratulated the newly co-opted member. He also thanked the other candidate for the interest that they had shown, and hoped that when a position arises in future, they would come forward again.


130/23: To decide a response to a letter received from Buchanan Hartley Architects Ltd regarding Providence Chapel

The item had been brought back to Full Council after initial discussions at January Full Council. Cllr. Fletcher had sought advice on purchasing the chapel and had been advised that an offer should only be made with two proviso’s – that the property is endowed with at least £3 million for renovation costs, and a full survey. The Members discussed various challenges of the building including its Grade II* listing, the neglect, vehicular access issues and the costs required to renovate. The meeting was closed briefly to allow Cllr Holden and a member of the public to speak.


Everyone agreed that there was concern about loss of heritage, but not at any cost.


Cllr. Fletcher proposed responding to Buchanan Hartley Architects Ltd that the Parish Council would consider purchasing the chapel for £1.00, subject to the vendor providing a complete survey and the funds required to bring it to standard. This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.


131/23: Education Update

Cllr. Selby thanked everyone that had taken part in the recent education meeting, at which it had been decided to invite representatives from the 11 primaries in the High Weald Academy (HWA) catchment area, PTA and 10 local pre-schools to a presentation evening on Thursday 29 February. He had given until the 19th of February to reply. It was suggested that the Chair of the Governors for each school should also be invited.


Cllr. Newman reported that she had contacted the 11 primaries to ask for destination data. She was still awaiting some responses.


132/23: Update Community Centre/Medical Centre

Cllr. Fletcher reported that the CSPC application was the only project from Kent that had progressed to the next stage of the OPE grant application. If successful the accelerator grant will be used, alongside matched funds, to get to RIBA stage 4.

The OPE application is a useful summary of the history of the project to date and will be published on the Parish Council website. The Clerk took an action to send the grant application to all Councillors.

If the application is successful, Cllr. Fletcher suggested leafleting the whole parish to garner support. It is sometime since community centre user requirements were gathered and would benefit from an update.

Following the listing of the old HWA 6th Form Centre, Cllr. Fletcher has still not been able to discover what plans Leigh Academy have for the building. He has contacted Helen Grant MP who has agreed to write to Leigh Academy, and also the Secretary of State for Education Gillian Keegan, on our behalf.


Cllr. Holden advised that he had spoken with KCC member Paul Carter who is also a Trustee of Leigh Academy Trust and a Leigh Academy Trust Property Committee member. Unfortunately, details were not forthcoming.


133/23: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman advised that he has added ‘rural solidarity’ to the agenda at the next meeting of Parish Council Chairman. It was becoming apparent that the individual parishes need to work together to address education, highways and health provision issues. He was pleased to see that surrounding Parish Councils had commented on the housing application for ‘Long Field’ and recognized that the site would be better suited for a non-selective secondary school.


 134/23: Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below: 

a) Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 6th February 2024. He highlighted the D-Day 80th Anniversary discussion – Committee Members agreed the Parish Council was keen to support any events to celebrate the anniversary, but do not have sufficient resources to organise an event.


He also highlighted the Item for Information relating to the correspondence from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Department (DLUHC) regarding Berkley Homes planning application. Berkley have not taken into account the made NDP. The relevant NDP polices need highlighting to the Secretary of State for DLUHC. Cllr. Hatcher advised that he has responded to the correspondence and resent the original feedback of where the application did not align with the NDP. It was agreed the feedback should also be sent on headed paper.


Cllr. Pethurst recommended the minutes for adoption, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.


b) Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan referred to the minutes of the meetings held on the 23rd January 2024 and the 6th February 2024. She highlighted that the committee had recommended refusal on the application to convert the old Costa building to residential primarily as it would be a loss of valuable commercial space.


c) Properties and Burials:

Cllr. Gilbert referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd January 2024. He highlighted several items. The Howitzer is in a worse condition than realised and the costs to repair will be considerable, especially to make it weatherproof. There will be an article in the Autumn edition of The Cake explaining the situation and gauging parishioner’s views on the options.


Storm Windows started work on Monday to fit the secondary glazing. They will return in March to complete the installation.


Cllr. Newman advised that she will be researching potential replacement sound systems for Vestry Hall.


Cllr. Gilbert then proposed the minutes for adoption, this was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.


d) Community Development:

The next meeting is 26th March. Cllr. Newman and Gilbert have met to initiate updating the list of clubs and societies. Cllr Fletcher advised there will be a Cup Cake in The Cake asking for clubs etc to provide their details.


e) Environmental Management:

The next meeting is 19th March. Cllr. Tomlinson updated Members on the status of the Ball Field Pitches. Following the decision to move ahead with the smaller 11 a-side pitch, Bourne Sports have agreed to honour the quote they had previously provided for pitch preparation. Cranbrook Juniors Football Club will apply directly to TWBC for S106 funding to cover the majority of the costs. There is no updated illustration of the smaller pitch in situ, however Bourne have confirmed there is space for the pitch without encroaching on the Public Right of Way.


135/23: Delegate Reports:

a) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:

The next meeting of the Group will be held in Paddock Wood on the 14th February.


b) Tourism Group:

Cllr. Fletcher read out the following statement from Graham Holmes:

A meeting was held on the 16th January when a range of issues were discussed.


The Group are seeking to improve the tourist information signage in the centre of Town. The finger post outside the White Horse has not yet been reinstated and a similar post outside the old Post Office contains misleading information.


The Group received a report on the public meeting held in the Vestry Hall which dealt with the consultation process affecting The Union Windmill.

An update was received concerning the future of The White Horse and the recent Planning Application.


The next meeting is scheduled for the 26th March



Cllr. Bunyan had received the sad news that the CCAAC Chair Hilary Horsford had died.

Cllr. Hatcher reported that he has spoken to KCC regarding replacing the railings on The Hill. The current situation is that they will repair when damaged. However, they will add a full replacement to the list of projects.


136/23: Clerks Report:

a) The Annual Parish Meeting is schedule for 24th April 2024. The Clerk requested that Members consider the agenda and potential speakers for the meeting. Please forward ideas to the Clerk. The format of the 2021 Zoom meeting where there had been lots of different speakers had been popular. Cllr. Hatcher suggested it may be worth considering hosting a hybrid meeting to allow those who are unable to attend in person to observe the meeting.


b) The Clerk reported that a new salt bin was due to be installed at the top of The Hill. The Clerk thanked Cllr. Holden for allocating funds from his Members Grant to the provision of the salt bin.


137/23: Correspondence:

a) Correspondence had been received from residents of Crane Lane who are still being subjected to antisocial behaviour. A meeting has been arranged between Kent Police, TWBC, Parish Council and the residents of Crane Lane to discuss potential measures.


b) The Clerk referred to the emails she had previously shared to Members regarding TWBC Transport Forum and the meeting hosted by Kent Police – anyone wishing to attend either meeting should contact the Clerk.


c) A letter had been received from Men’s Shed thanking the Parish Council for the use of Vestry Hall for the Christmas Day lunch. This enabled the lunch to go ahead at no cost to the guest and the generosity was very much appreciated. They also received a number of donations from individuals, organisations and businesses locally which highlighted what a fantastic community we are part of.


138/23: County and Borough Councillor Reports:

a) Borough & County Cllr. Holden

Cllr. Holden reported that he had spoken to Cllr. Rory Love, the KCC cabinet member for Education and Skills regarding attending a meeting in Cranbrook with stakeholders. Cllr. Holden suggested that Cllr. Fletcher contact Cllr. Love directly.


Although the A262 cannot be re-classified as a B road, improved signage will be considered.


More than 2000 people across the county had responded to the Windmill Consultation. The results are currently being collated and analysed. Cllr. Holden will continue to make the recommendation to not sell the windmills.


139/23: Items for Information:

Cllr. Bunyan reported that the Planning and Preservation Committee needed more members.


Cllr. Page reported that a meeting had taken place with the KCC Highways Community Engagement Officer to discuss the 5 key areas that the HIP consultation had highlighted. The Engagement Officer explained the process, criteria and surveys available for investigating each of the key areas. The Officer agreed to send speeding tool kits – banners, stickers etc.

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