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Monday, 1 November 2010

Milverton Parish Council November Meeting

Here is a brief report of tonights meeting.

  • An update on the current Creedwell situation was given by Mr M Reynolds

"In the late spring of this year, Sir Michael Harrison determined against Michael Reynolds’ application for a Judicial Review of Taunton’s Deane’s decision to refuse the Milverton Parish Council’s request to revoke the Certificate of Lawfulness relating to Creedwell Orchard.
Michael’s solicitor, Richard Buxton, was not happy with that determination and filed for a renewal of the application to be heard before a judge in what is called an Oral Hearing. He also recommended that the case be reviewed by a barrister to assess the likelihood of a satisfactory outcome.
Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, it had become apparent that the Lewis-Brown evidence – evidence upon which Taunton Deane had heavily relied in reaching its decision not to revoke the Certificate – might not be as sound as it at first appeared.
In January, the services of chartered surveyors, Walker Ladd Ltd. of Bristol, were engaged and Mr. Jonathan Davy wrote a report indicating where the errors lay in the Lewis-Brown evidence. Chief among these was Lewis-Brown’s use of architectural plan 7833/1A in assessing the degree of compliance of the July 1981 works with the approval.
It had been assumed – by both parties to this dispute – that plan 7833/1A and plan 7833/4B both showed the finally approved position for the dwelling on Plot 57 of the development. Mr. Davy’s report showed that this was not the case. Plan 7833/4B was a formally approved plan while 7833/1A was not.
In May, Lewis-Brown was asked to reassess the evidence it provided to the Certificate Review process based on the correct plan -7833/4B. The report Lewis-Brown provided in response showed that the degree of compliance of the July 1981 works with the approval was no more than 9%. Furthermore, a counter-clockwise rotation of the finally approved position of the dwelling rendered substantially unusable the small portion of the July 1981 works that were compliant.
Upon receipt of this new evidence, Richard Buxton advised that it would be appropriate to write to Taunton Deane indicating that the new evidence meant that there would be limited value in continuing with the Judicial Review proceedings and inviting the Deane to ‘drop hands’. Before this could be done, however, the court scheduled the applied for Oral Hearing for 11th November 2010.
The Current Situation:
Richard Buxton has now written to Taunton Deane setting out the implications of the new Lewis- Brown evidence and asking the Deane to indicate how they would wish to proceed. The looming date for the Oral Hearing has rather added impetus to the situation.
At the same time, the Parish Council, through Burges Salmon, has re-submitted its formal request that the Deane revoke the Certificate on the basis of the new evidence.
The documents relating to both Richard Buxton’s and Burges Salmon’s submissions have been circulated to the Parish Council members by email. These submissions were also copied to Clarke Willmott, the firm of solicitors who acted for Bach Homes in the past and who presently act for the landowner, S. Notaro Ltd. of Bridgwater.
Taunton Deane has responded by passing all submissions to Counsel for an opinion. In the light of the scheduled Oral Hearing, they have also suggested a postponement of that event to give time for the new evidence to be considered. This postponement is now in hand.
Clarke Willmott reacted to the new evidence rather more vociferously, writing to both Richard Buxton and Burges Salmon (with copies going to the Deane) objecting that the new evidence was neither new or relevant. This has given Richard Buxton an opportunity to rebut Clarke Willmott and to reinforce our argument that the new evidence clearly calls for the Deane to reopen the whole matter.
What’s Next?:
We will not get a response from the Deane until such time as they have heard back from Counsel. In the meantime, the Oral Hearing will be re-scheduled to a later date giving us more time.
On the basis of Counsel’s advice, Taunton Deane can take one of two courses of action:
They can deem the new evidence insufficient to warrant reconsideration of the decision to refuse to revoke the Certificate.
They can agree, in the light of the new evidence, to reconsider the decision.
If they choose the latter course, they have two ways they can jump: either sustain or revoke the Certificate. The Council’s discretionary powers allow them the latitude to decide either way."

  • The Clerk has embarked on training to become CilLCA qualified. This will pave the way for the Parish Council to exercise the Power of Wellbeing.

  • The Parish Council has agreed to accept £15000 of S106 money for the provision of a childrens play area in Creedwell.

  • Following the attendance of Cllr Phelps and the Clerk at the European Sustainability Gathering Councillors agreed to investigate Community Centred farming.

  • Councillors were reminded that the next Allotments meeting will be on 29th November at 7.30pm in the Victoria Rooms. The meeting will be open to all.

  • Councillors agreed to join the Rural Services Network.