Lambourn Parish Council meeting, 3 March 2021

This report has been written by Penny Post as a result of attending (by Zoom) the most recent meeting of Lambourn Parish Council (LPC) on 3 March 2021, the agenda for which can be seen here (on Lambourn.org, not LPC’s website). It does not pretend to be an official version of the meeting and may not cover all the items discussed: it has merely picked out aspects which are likely to be of immediate local interest and offered some background and context, which council minutes generally do not.

Every reasonable effort has been made to provide a clear and dispassionate summary of the points covered but the article may contain expressions of opinion which might not accord with LPC’s official view. It may also refer or have links to what Penny Post believes to be relevant matters which were not discussed at the meeting.

The minutes will eventually appear in this section of the Lambourn Parish Council website.

LPC = Lambourn Parish Council. WBC = West Berkshire Council. LNDP = The Lambourn Neighbourhood Development Plan.

Collingridge Planning Application (21/00223/OUTMAJ)

This occupied about half the meeting and included a presentation from the applicant and its consultants and questions from councillors and members of the public. This article on Lambourn.org has more on the background to this development.

LPC seemed agreed that the principle of the project – “a residential development for the use of people connected to the horse racing industry, comprising approximately 24 apartments, a Young Persons Residence and associated development” by Racing Welfare – was acceptable but not its location. A representative of the agents, Ingleton Wood (IW), made a presentation and answered a number of questions: some to the satisfaction of LPC and the attendees, others less so.

There were discussions about the various problems that the development and its construction might pose. One of these led to the observation from the Chairman that Thames Water had said that the local sewerage system could cope with about 200 more homes in the parish. He pointed out, however, that this assumed a fully functioning system, which Lambourn’s clearly wasn’t. A further question pointed out that until it could be established to what extent the system was deficient it would be impossible to know what the true figure would be.

Councillor Cocker asked what had changed about the plans compared to those proposed two years before (these had prompted a number of comments after public engagement). IW’s representative admitted that that they were identical. She did, however, assure the meeting that all of the comments had been looked into and where necessary checked with experts.

After further discussion, LPC resolved to oppose the development on a number of grounds including those of ecology, sewage, access, parking and the volume of construction traffic.

Other planning applications

Three – Windy Hollow (21/00260/HOUSE), Fiddlers Well (21/00326/LBC2) and Bockhamption Manor (21/00344/FUL) – were accorded “no objection”. A fifth – Upshire House (21/00370/CERTP) was objected to on the grounds that this was essentially an effort to re-activate a planning application which had lapsed after three years and which should, in LPC’s opinion, have been got on with sooner.

For more information on any of these applications, visit WBC’s planning portal and specify the above-mention reference number.

Cemetery land

There was discussion about expanding the existing cemetery following an offer for the owner of an adjacent plot to offer this for sale for £2o,000 plus £2,500 towards the vendor’s costs. LPC agreed to accept the idea in principle but agreed that a land agent needed to be found to offer an alternative valuation and then for them (or possibly another agent) to conduct negotiations. WBC would also need to be consulted about the suitability of the site.

Contribution to the WBC Library Service

This has been accepted (though voluntary) support mechanism for the Library Service (WBLC) for the last five years and roughly equates to a request for each parish to contribute £1 per person per year. Not all parishes do so but Lambourn – which, unlike many, benefits from a library in its parish, which has been rejuvenated in recent years – has always done so. The figure WBLC requested was £4,235. This was an increase on last year.

The principle of the payment was accepted but it was agreed but LPC agreed to offer an increased contribution of £4,140 (3% up on last year).

Improvement to the bus stops near Long Hedge

It was agreed that these would be upgraded to having a hard surface for those waiting rather than, as at present, grass (or sometimes mud).

The hedge at Mill Lane

The discussion item was was height the hedge here should be but the discussion widened out into one about whether it was better for a playground to be visible or not from the surrounding areas and whether a fence might be more suitable. It was agreed that this would be worth looking at more carefully.

Lambourn’s neighbourhood development plan (LNDP)

Sue Cocker, the Chair of the LNDP Steering Group, explained that “things are moving on” with LNDP. She summarised the current or immediate tasks as being mainly:

  • Creating and publicising a survey for businesses of all sizes in the parish (which would take no more than 15 minutes to complete)
  • Looking at the settlement characteristics of all the different areas of the parish (lavishly illustrated with photos).
  • Working on policies to “improve and protect the river” and also “to explain to developers how it works.”

See here for more on the LNDP; and here for more on neighbourhood development plans generally.

May 2021 elections

Although West Berkshire is not in general holding elections this year, Election Day in 6 May and a number of by-elections will be taking place throughout the district. Two of these are for LPC. Councillor Cocker reminded any would-be candidates that all the forms need to be completed and lodged with WBC by 8 April.

Items for the next meeting

Suggestions included:

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Covering: Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage,   Lambourn, Newbury, Thatcham & Theale