Minutes of the 8th meeting – 30 November 2016
Held in the Meeting Room, at The George Inn, Maulden, 20:00hrs
Committee/Working Group members:
David Bailey (Chair)
Julie Sheppard (Vice Chair/Chair of Social, Education & Welfare WG)
Simon Barnes (Treasurer/Chair Local Economy WG)
Alan Plom (Secretary/Chair Infrastructure WG)
Cllr Roger Ball (Maulden Parish Council/Chair Housing WG)
Siobhan Vincent (Central Beds Council Neighbourhood Involvement Officer)
Jemma McLean (Community Development Officer, Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC)
Cllr Philip Jackson (MPC Chair)
Ron Williams (Street Watch Coordinator)
Barry (Name not recorded)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Christine Inskip
Cllr Jayne Walker
- Welcome and Update from the Chair
- The Chair:
- welcomed everyone to the meeting – especially our guest speakers from CBC and BRCC, and other new attendees;
- described how the Steering Group is currently structured and our activities to date;
- explained that as we are now sufficiently organised and able to start to ‘reach out’ to the community, we have started to raise awareness via Maulden Voice and other direct routes of communication, eg at meetings, and had put out an open invitation for anyone to attend the ‘pre-meeting’ in The George to meet members.
- was pleased to see the ‘new faces’ around the table and encouraged everyone to share and record their concerns or suggestions on the topic-based ‘Ideas Sheets’ laid out on the tables (and to provide their contact details). [ACTION: This will be a regular feature at meetings to enable the ‘less vocal’ to have an input];
- highlighted the 2 recent ‘shocks which had woken up the Village’ and the significant part played by members of the Group, ie the major ‘gas outage’ incident which had put significant strain on the area’s infrastructure (eg electricity, emergency planning, communications, village hall, food outlets, etc) and the consultation in the Village Hall on the proposed housing development on Clophill Road.
- Invited all present to outline their role, interest and any relevant experience/help they could bring to the process.
- Minutes of previous meeting (26/10/16)
Agreed and signed by DB.
- Matters arising and actions carried forward
Matters arising were reviewed briefly and mostly dealt with under agenda items. Outstanding items listed under AOB (Item 10)
- Village Update
- Gas Incident – The most notable issue was the 5-day long gas ‘outage’ in mid Nov, following damage to the main pipeline under the new housing development in Abbey Lane, Ampthill. This had highlighted the need for and importance of emergency planning and effective communications. Maulden Village Hall was used as the area’s ‘Command Centre’ – considerable damage was caused to the grass, but this will be repaired. The developers involved (Bloor Homes) had already contributed to the (larger) Village Christmas Tree.
- The impact and general response across the area was discussed. CBC’s ‘Emergency Response Committee’ had been very active behind the scenes, coordinating the various agencies and voluntary groups. NHP Vice-Chair JS was also widely complimented (including by National Grid) for her efforts to keep the village informed via Maulden Voice. The unprecedented number of posts and responses from organisations and villagers had been widely read and information was passed on effectively to those not ‘on-line’. The ‘Community Spirit’ shown by people and organisations offering help to others was also remarkable and should be built upon.
- Public Consultation – The other recent event of note was the exhibition held in the Village Hall on Tuesday 1 Nov about the proposed development of 50 houses at Old Farm on Clophill Road. It was widely felt that this was a speculative exercise and was not well-run, mainly due to lack of information and the representatives of the consultants (ADAS) being unfamiliar with the area and its problems. It was felt that their Survey questions were ‘loaded’ and didn’t cover such issues as infrastructure and increased pressure on facilities and utilities. Concerns were also expressed that it was likely the site could be expanded into adjacent fields, and several local residents have already been approached to sell land. This emphasised the value of having a formal, enforceable NHP. CBC’s Local Plan specifying a ‘target’/limit for new dwellings in the area is keenly awaited. [ACTION: All to consider CBC’s Local Plan Consultation doc – due out on 17? Jan 2017.]
- The timing of the ADAS Consultation event (held between 2 and 6:30pm) was also criticised as it was not suitable for those at work, and this would result in the feedback being skewed. [ACTION: This limitation should be remembered for any NHP consultation meetings held in future. We need to consider how to canvass the views of residents more widely.]
- However, several members were able to attend the Consultation event and it proved to be a useful opportunity to raise awareness of the NHP and to get comments from residents (using the leaflet summarising the HNP and seeking comments (and help).
- Cllr Jackson suggested this event was a useful model for future consultations and said that ADAS have agreed to share their feedback and also the results of their traffic survey. This would inform the strategic thinking for MPC and the NHP. [ACTION: PJ/MPC to obtain ADAS survey information for use by NHP WG’s]
5. Support from CBC
- Siobhan Vincent (SV) explained that CBC’s Planning Policy Department are developing the Local Plan and that her role as Neighbourhood Involvement Officer is to assist local Town/Parish groups to develop their NHPs and to provide a link into the Council and its Officers. 26 of the 79 parishes in Central Beds are preparing local ‘Village Plans’ and all are at different stages. NHPs can take between 18 months and 4 years, but SV considered that Maulden is comparatively well-advanced with a good structure and background information already obtained. She also reassured us that the large number of other ongoing projects would not impact adversely on the priority and support we would receive.
- Siobhan emphasised that NHP’s are the resident’s Plans, not any Council’s and Officers accepted that they will differ, to reflect each community and its specific needs. However, CBC is keen to ensure that NHPs in its area are consistent with the ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ and support ‘sustainable development’ – in line with the Local Plan. CBC Officers realise the additional legal ‘weight’ of NHPs and they will be used and considered up to Sec of State level in appeals against Planning Applications. Early and continued liaison with CBC (via SV) is therefore vital. [ACTION: AP to send copies of NHPSG Minutes to SV.]
- It is also important to ‘get the wording right’ and SV can help us to draft Policies. Training can also be organised for WG leaders and others involved, together with other NHP Groups. A list of other areas developing NHPs is available on CBCs website. We have already had contact with Clophill and Marston, as well as Hail Weston (in Cambs). Examples and templates from other published NHP and Community Plans have also been obtained and circulated.
[ACTION: DB/AP to arrange training session, via Siobhan and/or Sally Chapman (at Chicksands?) asap.]
- SV was asked if Parishes would be given a target for development, ie ‘x’ area of land to deliver ‘y’ houses. At present there is no target, and requirements are being discussed with neighbouring local authorities. It is expected that NHPs will create a matrix of ‘preferred sites for development’, eg based on local ‘housing needs’ surveys (with Communities expressing their choices in terms of what is ‘desirable’ as opposed to ‘achievable’, in response to NHP questionnaires) and local knowledge of significant factors such as areas at risk from surface water would provide an evidence base against which developers would have to justify any alternative sites. It is also important to pull out positives as well as negatives from planning applications and base any objections on solid evidence and statistics.
- DB reminded the meeting that the NHP must be fair and support CBC’s Local Plan, but should reflect the local needs for housing which is “appropriate, suitable, affordable (including shared ownership or subsidised) and sustainable”, with choice for those who want to remain in the village and ‘down-size’ or move into sheltered accommodation, or others who want to move into the area. However, the NHP is not just about housing, but also businesses / economic and social structure, employment, education and other community needs (eg village hall, facilities for the disabled or mentally ill, different age groups, etc).
- Consultation on CBC’s initial ‘high level’ Document closed on 1 November 2016, but it is still available on CBC’s website. This divided the CB area into ‘corridors’ with Maulden in the middle and defined as an area suitable for ‘small developments’, restricted to 4 different areas. [ACTION: DB to put CBC’s Con Doc on NHP’s FB Group.]
- Applying for Funding (Support from BRCC)
- Jemma McLean described her role as the Community Development Officer with Bedfordshire Rural Communities Charity (BRCC). She is funded by CBC (working 2 days/week) to provide independent/neutral advice, to signpost information for NHPs and help to apply for funding. A total of £9k is available for NHP’s, with a minimum of £1k to be paid per instalment, each to be spent within 6 months.. This is a relatively easy, non-competitive process, provided certain criteria are met. The draft Maulden NHP Project Plan will need to be finalised.
- Jemma has been involved in producing Town and Parish Plans and Village Statements for 10 years, helping with Community consultation, arranging events and designing questionnaires. This will help us to identify the demographics and how we can reach all of the population.
- BRCC’s Rural Housing Liaison Officer has carried out Housing Needs surveys and they are also involved in Green Infrastructure Planning, carrying out assessments for environmental projects, analysing use of green spaces, etc. [ACTION: DB, AP and SB to arrange meeting with JM at BRCC.]
- Report from MPC
- Cllr Ball had no additional information to report since the last meeting. The next MPC meeting is on Monday 12 November 2016. Several members propose to attend.
- Working Group updates
- ‘Regulation’ (ie ‘Governance/Regulation/Legal & Crime’ WG) – Police Crime Report recently posted on MV. New Chair needed as DB will need to stand down to provide independent oversight and coordination between Working Groups. Chair. [ACTION DB]
- Local Economy / Business – SB reported on his initial (unsuccessful) attempt to contact the 115 businesses listed on the Register – only one was returned. He is intending to contact them all directly in person, and is developing a leaflet for this approach. There are some very large companies based in the village and we also need to remember the 3 pubs are significant employers too.
- Housing – RB has started the ‘As Is’ statement, but still needs help. RB is not sure he is best placed to do this. [ACTION: RB to discuss with DB]
- Infrastructure – AP explained that he needed to expand his current draft ‘As Is’ Statement following the recent major gas incidents, and several other comments made at the meeting.
- Environment – No update provided by RL. Alan Murray suggested we ask if a local student is studying planning, with a view to getting them to do their thesis on the village.
- ‘Social, Education and Welfare’ – JS circulated her latest report and draft ‘As Is’ statement. Their first meeting was on 15 Nov, and there are now 10 people on her sub-committee, bringing a range of experience and information. However, these are weighted towards the older generation and input is needed on health and education (especially early years), as well as sports clubs and other community groups, to paint a full picture of the village.
- ACTIONS (including those outstanding from last meeting):
- Consistency: DB to spend time with each WG Chair, for consistency of ‘As Is’ Statements and to help start devising the Questions for the Village Survey.
- WG Secretary: The possibility of employing a ‘professional’, to assist Group Leaders when paperwork becomes onerous (and if sufficient funds are available).
- Consultants – Navigus (or similar) to be contacted to attend one of our meetings, after our training, as we will be better informed and get more out of them.
- ‘Roles and Responsibilities’ – AP to re-circulate copy of Hail Weston’s guidance and discuss with DB.
- Survey Permit – DB/AP to check if we need a ‘license’/approval (from CBC) to distribute the leaflet/Questionnaire.
- Communications Update
- Publicity – We have started to ‘reach out’ to the community, eg via the Parish Magazine and Social Media – Maulden Voice Face Book group has been used to raise awareness of the Group and public invited to comment via the Maulden Village website (http://www.mauldenvillage.org.uk/) . This has been updated, with further SG minutes now added. A ‘flyer’ was produced for use at the various Village events and meetings we have attended.
- Feedback – We have also received lots of comments already from villagers with regard to future development. We’ve also had advice from CBC and BRCC as well as others who have been involved in producing NHP’s. We now have more regular members and observers attending Steering Group and Working Group meetings and introduced a series of ‘Ideas Sheets’ for recording any comments at this meeting. These covered:
- ‘What is Maulden?’
- Vision for Maulden
- Security, Police, etc
- Environment – Woods, parks, SSSI, Greensand Ridge path, etc
- Infrastructure – Roads, paths, power, water, etc
- Housing – Enough sustainable, appropriate. For whom? Where?
- Local Economy – Jobs, business, shops, pubs, etc.
- Social – young, old, schools, clubs, sports, churches.
- Next steps – We will be stepping up publicity in the New Year to get more involvement and ideas from the community. To this end, we have designed a publicity leaflet and will shortly go through the process to get the grant so we can then print and issue this, door to door. The group will now move to direct consultation on specific areas of the NHP, starting with a ‘What is Maulden today’ project and moving by mid Spring into looking at future requirements and desires. One ‘task’ group has already started preparing information for the first public ‘get together’ (date and time to be confirmed) to get ideas, information, etc, from the community.
- Articles: DB/SB to finalise and submit the article for the ‘Oracle’ magazine. Article for ‘Beds on Sunday’ also suggested – when we receive funding and develop a recognisable ‘brand’, (as recommended by other CP’s). [AM]
- Posters and leaflets: Liquid Designs and All Fidelity Print still to be contacted. [DB]
- ‘Themed’ village meetings could be held by each WG, eg Social and Community, Local Economy, etc to engage with the community and get a wider input – and hopefully more volunteers and ideas. Information being prepared for initial open meeting. [JS]
- Overall Theme: “Your Voice is Important” was suggested at the last meeting and will be discussed with CBC’s Advisor at our training day.
- Film – The suggested You Tube video to describe the NHP could be proposed as a project in the longer term, eg for a Business and Media Studies student at Redborne – when we have the money! [DB/JS]
- Social Media and Website – [ACTION: SR’s offer of help to develop the website content, surveys and marketing to be followed up. [DB/AP/SR]
- Outstanding actions: to be carried over to next meeting:
- MNHP funding – A separate bank account will be set up for the NHP when funding is obtained. Reports will be presented to PC meetings. [DB/SB]
- Traffic Calming – MPC to be asked (again) for a report and open public meeting to review and discuss the options suggested at the meeting on 30 August between S Lakin (CBC), and representatives of MPC, NHP and other relevant local Groups (ie Safer Maulden and Speed Watch) [AP]
- Safer Maulden’s Survey – Timing to be considered and the draft Questionnaire amended to reflect recent and proposed discussions and explain realistic options. [AP]
- Details of expenditure committed (on the assessment for traffic calming measures) to date by CBC to be passed on to Safer Maulden and MPC. [SB/RB]
- Safer Maulden’s funds could be transferred to MPC. [SB]
- DB thanked everyone, especially our guest speakers and ‘new faces’ for coming out to our meeting in the evening. Julian Smith was also thanked again for attending and hosting it in The George. The comments recorded on the ‘Ideas Sheets’ [specifically on ‘Housing’ will be retained and passed on to the WGp. [AP]
- Next meeting due on Wednesday 28 December will be deferred – 4 Jan was suggested, or an alternative ‘Xmas social gathering’ TBC. [DB/JS/AP]
Meeting ended at 21:30pm