Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of the Burgh of St Monans and Abercrombie Community Council held on Monday, 29 June 2015 at 7.30 pm.
Members of the public: 15
|Action / Person Responsible|
|1||Welcome and Apologies
The Chairman welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to tonight’s special meeting.
Apologies: Cllr D Macgregor, Cllr E Riches, Cllr J Docherty,
|2||Declarations of Interest
– Application for the erection of 57 residential dwellings with associated access, car parking and ancillary works on Land South West Of The Manse Newark St Monans:
– W Buchan and S Tarvit declared an interest.
Erection of Housing Development, South West of the Manse
The Chairman said that the reason for tonight’s meeting was to discuss the housing development at the West of the Manse. (Copies of the plans had been circulated.) A Anderson added that copies of the plans were also available at the local library and online.
The Chairman reminded those at the meeting that there had been previous discussions regarding this planning application, and there was a consultation event and a public meeting prior to the plans going in.
He went on to say that, one of the things the CC fed back following consultation with the local community, was that there was a concern about the planned road from the new housing development through Queen Margaret Street. That concern, he said, was shared by the local police representative. The proposed link road had disappeared from the plan, but had now re-appeared on the latest plan. The Chairman said that he had contacted David Scobbie and asked him why this road was back in as ‘Potential Vehicular Link’. He said that it was put back in through discussions with the local Council.
A Anderson said that he then contacted Dilys Livingston and Stuart Wilson in Planning. Stuart Wilson did reply and in his first response he gave an overview of what had happened to date:
– The clear majority of public opinion was opposed to a through link to/from the village.
– The indicative layout plan tabled at the public event in January 2015 (without any road links) was discussed as part of the pre-application discussions with Fife Council and failed to elicit any support from the relevant officers, in effect Fife Council officers see a road link from Queen Margaret Street as an essential part of the development.
In a follow-up email, S Wilson tried to put into perspective the advice officers have given previously on this matter, saying:
– that this link is an important factor in ensuring the development is successfully integrated with the town. Citing guidelines: “Streets should be easy to move around for all users and connect well to existing movement networks”; “Street patterns should be fully integrated with surrounding networks to provide flexibility and accommodate changes in the built and social environments.”
– Should the development go ahead without the link road the aspirations of these two key considerations would not be met. Although a footpath link would provide connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, the development would remain somewhat separated from the remainder of the town. This is an opportunity to improve vehicle movement within St Monans by providing a secondary point of access / egress to the town, thus relieving pressure on Station Road. It is envisaged that only existing St Monans residents in the close vicinity would view use of the proposed link road as an attractive alternative to using Station Road.
– There are benefits in providing a vehicular link from the development to Queen Margaret Street. Residents occasionally find turning difficult because of parked cars. Queen Margaret Street currently have to turn to exit the street. This can be hazardous where larger vehicles are concerned, i.e. delivery vans and refuse collection vehicles. I understand that residents occasionally find turning difficult because of parked cars.
– Consideration will also be given to the appropriateness of traffic calming on Queen Margaret Street to ensure low traffic speeds are maintained.
A Anderson said that the local police representative who attended a previous public meeting said that traffic calming would cause more problems with parking.
A Anderson said he replied saying that they were ignoring the views of the local people. Saying that they were attempting to meet national directives whilst ignoring local characteristics and likely impact and public opinion which have been conveyed on several occasions.
Stuart Wilson emailed back saying:
– Officers cannot be selective as to what and where they apply policy; officers have to be consistent in their approach and application of policy.
– The planning case officer for the application will in his report be able to balance between the views of the consultees and those of other interested parties such as the Community Council.
A Anderson said to all those present that the CC’s role was to represent your views.
G Brown said that there are 3 consultees so far. One is the CC. Adding that Planning do not regard members of the public as Consultees.
A Anderson said that Stuart Wilson had in his email said that, as this is a major application in the hierarchy of applications, it will require a committee decision and there will be a committee site visit by the committee members before the application is determined by the committee.
A Anderson said that, basically, the Committee will take a view and ultimately vote on what will happen. The Committee consists of our 3 Councillors and others from as far as St Andrews, Cupar and Silverburn.
A Anderson said to the Members of the Public, that, as we do with every planning application, we want to hear your views. The CC will then take forward your views, but we only have one voice. He encouraged members of the public, if they have any concerns about any aspects of the plans, to register their views, saying that it was possible to do this online and by writing to Fife Council.
G Brown said that CC rules state that where the development would affect the area of the CC, they will be consulted directly. He said that he felt that this is a development that would affect the community of the village. He believed that we should be automatically deemed to be consultees, rather than having to apply to be consultees.
Also, G Brown said that Fife Council advised:
– that they would discuss the vehicular link connection through to Queen Margaret Street with the Community Council, but they have not done so. The potential route, would cross over third party land.
G Brown went on to say that In Muir’s design statement it says that in the evenings the streets are extremely congested with on-street traffic. So Muir’s are recognising the position. As for the development framework, according to the supporting Planning Statement, Article 2.7, basically, the Council is saying that this is the development framework. But the Reporter commented in relation to the Indicative Framework Document, “I am prepared to say that the Framework would be indicative and not binding insofar as any subsequent planning application was concerned”.
In the summary of findings the traffic impacts were tested for a number of different scenarios; and on the potential of an access on to St Margaret Street it was found that the development could be served by a single access from the A917 and have little effect on the local road network. G Brown said that this is the Transport Statement from the independent consultant that Muir commissioned, adding that they are talking about the capacity of the junctions.
M Ashworth said that their concerns are regarding the width of the road from Abercrombie.
S Tarvit asked what they said about the capacity of Station Road to cope with the increased traffic. G Brown replied that what they are saying is that Station Road could cope with the additional traffic without the need for a link road from the development going through Queen Margaret Street.
W Buchan said that he could not see people going down Braehead. So, he said, they will come to Station Road, where Top Shop is. He said that he could not see that that is sustainable. He added, that he did not see how this was different to what had happened at the Caravan Park.
A Anderson said that the development of the Caravan Park was a long time ago. This had been sorted by leasing land the Caravan Park and at the time the road concerned was not adopted by Fife Council and was just a track.
A Anderson said that to his mind Planning should be taking cognisance of the opinion of the police representative who advised us that it was the wrong thing to do, and that it would cause more problems than it solved.
M Ashworth said that she had heard that there is only one planning officer pushing for this road through Queen Margaret Street, and asked whether the CC can find out how many planning officers are for this road. A Anderson said he thought it is just the case officer that had any input in to this application.
W Buchan asked whether they thought about the children who play in the street.
A Anderson said that he was trying to get someone to look at it. He said that he was keen to lobby Councillors, but did not want to compromise them to the extent that they cannot vote if and when the application goes to committee.
A Anderson said another option may be available; taking into account what G Brown said earlier, they do not seem to have followed proper process. He said that Jim Birrell is retiring in two weeks, and said that he did not know who is going to be Acting Head of Planning; adding that he would be tempted to take it to the Head of the Department, saying that we are trying to be as proactive as possible.
S Tarvit said that what worries him is that in the future we will have 57 houses, then another 57 in the second phase. Fife Council are putting out letters to all Newark Street about potentially adopting pre-existing access roads in this area. If they are allowed in the first phase to railroad access through Queen Margaret Street, there is nothing to stop them in the next phase from railroading a similar link road through Newark Street in the next phase of the development.
W Buchan said that it was like the situation with the Waterside Cottage at the church, where Planning would do as they pleased and ignore local opinion. A Anderson said that the CC have only a consultee’s voice, but we should make our views known. There may be a potential to meet with the Council and the developers to get an understanding. He went on to say that there are no guarantees: if the Council believe they are doing something for all the right reasons, then there is no reason why they cannot do this. So we need to put our arguments regarding why this is the wrong thing to do. What is important is that we find out what the Community’s view is.
A member of the public said that the existing play park would also be an amenity for the new housing and any children living there. It is a really popular walk along the railway and you can access several walks going round there. There is quite a dip from the top of Queen Margaret Street to the road, so they would have to put in quite a considerable amount of land-fill.
A Anderson said that you would lose some garages so the parking situation would be exacerbated. Adding that you cannot move the play park to the West, as we believe there is to be an emergency access road for the fire engine, which the CC and local community support. You do not want a play park flanked by two roads.
A member of the public said that there is no provision in the plans for a playpark. A Anderson replied that the Council may ask them to develop that. It is something that we would have to push for, however, Muir were saying that they did not have the money to do this. Also there is a problem of flooding.
A member of the public asked how they got away with the development at Taeping Close in Anstruther, which does not have a road running right through it. P Copland replied that when Dilys attended the meeting to discuss the local Framework she was very firm that no new development should go through without a link roadway.
A member of the public asked about the drainage system for the new development, saying that they are seeking to connect it to the existing drainage system, which will put the drainage under pressure and with the second phase they are thinking of putting in a pumping station. He added that it would not cope with deluge conditions. P Copland said that in deluge conditions the surface water would go into the burn via the SUDS pond and the foul water would drain to the corner of the development and then go to the high spot of the drainage system in St Monans. He said that you all know that if it is a busy weekend that we already have problems with backflow in our systems.
P Copland said that nowadays driveways have to have provision in them as a soakaway. Previously we had flooding off the driveways and into the main sewage system. A member of the public said that it should be at this point that we would try to take account of that.
S Tarvit said that we have 57 houses in the first phase and 57 in the second phase – 114 in total. This will have a huge impact on the sewage system at our end of town and the pumps cannot cope at the moment. Is there a way that the CC could push Scottish Water to have a view regarding planning. G Brown said that Strutt and Parker have done a drainage and flood risk assessment and they say everything is fine.
A member of the public said that at the present time overflow sewage goes into the burn. G Brown said that SEPA has already been involved. One thing they do say is that further work is required and would recommend a CCTV survey and a radar survey for underground utilities etc. (He added that they are not saying that it must be done … just saying that it is worthwhile getting this survey done.)
A Anderson said that Scottish Water are responsible for infrastructure. Commenting that if there was anything needed that meant they would have to spend money, they will not come out.
S Tarvit asked if the CC could give evidence from Scottish Water. Saying, we need to try to get a decent response, so that we can strengthen our argument.
R Craib said that we could say that, as a community, we are worried that the drainage system would not work.
G Brown said that they would decide this by doing a calculation regarding the volume of effluent and the diameter of the pipe.
S Tarvit asked whether the CC could ask how many times they have been out to the pump units, and suggested that the CC could then put forward these statistics. A Anderson said one way is to ask politely, or we could put in a Freedom of Information request which would take 21 days (which would take us past the time for this planning application).
A Anderson, in reply to a Member of the Public’s question, said whilst he agreed with what was said, the reality is that the various Authority’s views will be that if the calculations have been done they will do no more, and it goes ahead and it does not work, then we will then deal with it. The member of the public said that there is no point in planning a disaster.
A Anderson asked S Tarvit to contact Scottish Water.
G Brown said that one way we can do that is in our response we can put all the arguments into one document.
The Chairman asked everyone at the meeting if anybody was in favour of the application as it currently stands, particularly taking account of:
– the potential capacity of the sewage / foul system
– the access to the road via Queen Margaret Street
A member of the public said that he had concerns about the five houses accessing the A917. R Craib said that in the original plans they would have to reverse onto it. A Anderson said that the
30-mile-an-hour sign will be extended to the end of the development. The member of the public said that the reason for raising it is for cyclists. Why would you want to put people at risk: to have people on a corner driving into the main road. P Copland said that he thought you are looking at a numbers calculation, if you look at the houses as they are. The member of the public said that he personally would be objecting on sight lines.
G Brown said that you will see that if you take the nose of you car outside you would have sufficient sight lines.
The member of the public wondered why they did not put the driveway at the back. The answer was that they said that they could not do it. The member of the public asked if there was just going to be a pavement. G Brown said that the pavement is going to be 3 m wide because it is going to be a cycle track (which will only be over the new development). W Buchan said that the entrance and exit to the new housing estate is on a slight bend.
P Copland said that they will have kept the houses back sufficiently to give sight lines so you can see in both directions.
S Tarvit asked about the allotments. Do we still have a right as a CC challenge the use of the land as allotments, if the majority of the village is against them. A Anderson said that the answer is yes. Although they are shown as allotments, they are marked as being developed by someone else. He said that he would imagine that if the planning application is granted, the person who owns the development rights to the land is responsible for developing those allotments and would then have to apply to Fife Council with a planning application. However, we would have to have a good argument as to why it should not go ahead.
M Ashworth asked about the ownership of the ground for the allotments and whether it was Muir Homes. A Anderson said that it is unclear who would own that land. According to Muir Homes, it is the person who owns the development rights who would pay for the allotments. It was suggested that the person who owned the development rights would know that the Council would compulsory purchase the land; and that Muir would have done a deal with the person who has the development rights.
M Ashworth said that she found it frustrating that we have all the details for the housing, but there is no mention of that block of land in the planning application. A Anderson said that we had previously asked if this would happen hand in hand with the housing development and had been advised this may not be the case.
A member of the public said that he was in favour of allotments, but the urgent need here is for housing, not for allotments.
A Anderson said that planning rules meant that in the new development there must be 0.9 hectares without housing, e.g. as a playground or technically they could leave it as a green-field site, but the one thing they are not allowed to do is to build houses on it. This is partly to do with it adding to surface drainage pressure on the local infrastructure. A Anderson confirmed that the part shown on the map as allotments was the minimum size.
G Brown said that we had discussions with Peter Duncan at another meeting and he more or less said that the Council would own the land for the allotments and that they had the money in place to do it. G Brown replied to S Tarvit saying that Muir homes could not use the existing site at the back of the industrial estate as it is zoned as industrial.
A member of the public asked, from the point of view of the application going forward, whether the CC consider this project to be a done deal now.
A Anderson said that he genuinely did not know. He said that he knew it is zoned for housing (whether it is by this developer or another developer). This is going to have 17 houses for social housing. There will be pressure to deliver these in some format. As we have discussed before, Muir’s are not in the business of speculating too much. They will build it because they believe that they can sell the houses. He said that he could state almost certainly that there is going to be houses on the land in some form.
A Anderson replied to S Tarvit’s question about a lady who was waiting to submit a housing transfer request until the new development was built, saying that Fife Council will not take on more housing stock. It would be through Kingdom Housing.
A Anderson said he thought we are coming back to the two salient points.
S Tarvit said regarding the housing with access to the main road, that he thought it was stated at the first few meetings about the line of sight and that is why they changed the plan. But he said that he thought it was still a concern of quite a few of the community.
A Anderson said that the only thing that he was cautious of was if we put in too many points down that don’t hold credence, it might dilute our argument.
A Anderson asked all at the meeting to show their views on which objection points should be put forward by a show of hands to the following:
– The point about the sewage / foul waste infrastructure capacity. S Tarvit will contact Scottish Water about the number of failures in the system. Unanimously agreed to by meeting.
– Access to Queen Margaret Street, and the potential vehicular impact to Station Road and Inverie Street parking, which could also cause pedestrian problems and the loss of the playpark, we feel there is sufficient linkage by the footpath. Unanimously agreed to by meeting. No objections.
– Objecting to the line of sight on to the A917. Majority in favour.
A Anderson checked that there were no other points that anybody wanted the CC to put forward.
G Brown is to formally submit an objection on behalf of the CC, sending round a draft for quick feedback.
4.1 V Salvage said that she had a letter from Mr and Mrs Howie in St Monans who are asking us to contact Fife Council regarding the narrow wynd up to the Plerick, where there are very old stones which are worn, asking if they can even it up to make it a steadier platform for walking. There was discussion regarding whether it would be possible to put a railing similar to the one that had recently been put up towards the top of the Plerick, but it was decided that this would make a problem for buggies and wheelchairs, so that what was needed was just a step repair.
|4.2 S Tarvit said that the junction at the top of Station Road with Inverie Street has potholes.||
|4.3 A member of the public said that the grass at the Saltpans had never been cut this year. A Anderson said that this could be a safety concern for people walking on the uneven ground. S Tarvit asked whether you could use the Community Payback team for this. A Anderson said while we can ask them to do some things, they will not do something on a regular basis. They cannot commit to this. We could only ask them to do it once.
A Anderson asked if it would be worthwhile sending our request to Iain Barbour, and copying in Fife Coast and Countryside Trust. The member of the public said she could not understand why they cannot cut hilly bits. S Tarvit said that they will not cut it if it is more than 30 degrees.
|11||Close and Date of Next Meeting
The Chairman thanked everyone and said that he hoped everyone would have a good holiday. He closed the meeting.
The next meeting will be on Monday, 17 August at 7.30 pm in the
Mayview Hotel Function Suite.