21 January 2017 Planning Committee Meeting : Minutes

Avebury Parish Council

Minutes of a meeting of Avebury Parish Council’s Planning Committee held on 21 January 2017 outside The Stables off the car park, High Street, Avebury SN8 1RF to consider the planning application below, and afterwards in parts of the High Street to consider a possible site for a defibrillator.

Starting time: 10.35am

One member of the public joined the meeting at 11.30.

Present: Councillors Mr Andrew Williamson (Chairman), Mr Jon Campbell, Mrs Maggie Lewis (Vice-Chair), Mr Terence O’Connor, Mrs Lynzey Paradise and Mr Stephen Stacey.

Apologies:  Dr Mike Bedford (Vice-Chairman), Mr David Brotheridge and Ms Zandria Service.

In attendance: Ms Catherine Hosie (National Trust Estates Manager)

Questions from the public: None

Declarations of interest: None

Full planning permission for change of use from empty site to A1 (shop/retail outlet) at The Stables, High Street, Avebury, SN8 1RF.  Application ref: 16/11287/FUL.

The Chairman thanked Ms Catherine Hosie for attending.  He read out written representations from Mr John Wilding, Mrs Judy Farthing, Sarah Simmonds, WHS Partnership Manager and Wiltshire Councillor and Jemima Milton calling the application in for decision by Wiltshire Council’s Planning Committee.  He also reported verbal comments from Mr Gordon Rimes and reported, later in the meeting due to his forgetfulness, the views of the Chair of the Community Shop.

It was generally agreed that The Stables should be brought into productive use and that the Parish Council wished to play a proactive role with the National Trust to produce a revised scheme, see below.  The current application was not however acceptable and the Parish Council decided to object to it.

It was also suggested that the National Trust withdraw the application to allow for consultation and the development of an alternative scheme.

It was proposed by Stephen Stacey, seconded by Jon Campbell and unanimously agreed that the Parish Council object to the application on the grounds that:

  1. Parking congestion and dangers.  Access to The Stables is directly off the High Street car park. The car park is designated for use by villagers and the disabled.  It is often oversubscribed by users of the post office, local shops, the Circle Nursery, events at the Social Centre, services and events at St James’ Church, visitors to residents in the High Street who do not have any or sufficient parking, National Trust staff and volunteers – and others. It is also used by unauthorised users. An A1 shop use will increase parking pressures in the immediate future and these pressures will grow significantly in the longer term if the use of the shop is intensified. There is major concern that added demands for parking will increasingly lead to the displacement of vehicles into the High Street, especially in busy periods. This will in turn have a very detrimental impact on residents, traders and others in the village.Dangers of additional traffic particularly apply to many visitors, including international visitors, who tend to wander in the High Street and are often unaware of traffic.The entrance to The Stables fronts directly into the car park. Increased numbers of people shopping and parking their cars will correspondingly increase risks arising from conflicting movements of pedestrian shoppers and car users.
  2. Intensification of use. The current application refers to a ‘voluntary book sales / exchange store and visitor welcome centre where visitors can buy, donate and exchange books’. There is however no Plan B.  If the proposed use as a welcome centre and book exchange fails or is withdrawn, the building could be solely used as a shop operating at a more intensive scale.  This would significantly reduce the amenity of the area. An intensification would go against the provisions of the World Heritage Site Management Plan that seeks to encourage visitors into the wider landscape, away from the Henge. The creation of a shop at The Stables is also counter to the Trust’s stated aim of channelling visitors to its ‘farmyard’ by the Manor
  3. Class A1 shop use is not needed.  The National Trust already has four retail outlets in Avebury – at its gift shop, Circles Café, Coach House Café and the Manor Tearoom.  Purchases of some items, tickets and/or membership of the Trust can also be made at other venues, such as the Keiller Museum and the Great Barn.  The need for a seventh sales outlet in a small village has not been established.
  4. Lack of toilets. A visitor welcome and information centre should have toilets or access to toilets nearby during its opening hours but no provision is made in the application.
  5. Advertising and signage. The application makes no mention of advertising or signage. The Stables should have no, or minimal, signage being in the Henge.
  6. Lack of evidence of impact of Coach House café.  The Café outlet at the Coach House at the top of the High Street has hardly been used since permission was given in 2010 and there has therefore been very little opportunity to judge the impact of its use on the High Street, especially during the summer.
  7. Lack of consultation. The National Trust reported at a Parish Council meeting in November that it would be seeking planning permission on the Stables. It had appeared at that time that the main emphasis was on opening an initial welcome / meet and greet point to orientate visitors and selling tickets for Henge tours. The Trust did not however state that the application would be for planning class A1 use (shop/retail outlet). This only become apparent when Wiltshire Council consulted the Parish Council on the application.
  8. Existing visitor welcome facility.  The Trust already uses a mobile visitor welcome and information trailer in the main car park on many days of the year.
  9. Book exchange. One of the stated activities in the application is for a book exchange. This is however already offered in the Community Shop in the high Street, but is not much patronised.                                                                Revised scheme                                                                                                    Members agreed that the Parish Council would be pleased to develop an alternative scheme with the National Trust for a welcome / meet and greet point to orientate visitors, and a voluntary book exchange for local people and visitors, providing that:
    1. parking for The Stables scheme is discouraged in the High Street and the High Street car park,
    2. toilets are provided during opening hours at The Stables or locally at the Coach House
    3. no, or minimal, signage is used
    4. National Trust staff at The Stables patrol the car park to ensure that unauthorised parking does not take place
    5. a planning condition is imposed that any activities remain low key and limited only to those relating directly to a welcome / meet and greet point to orientate visitors and a voluntary book exchange for local people and visitors
    6. any consent only be given under a planning use class that is aligned more closely with the uses intended, such as use class D1 for non-residential institutional use.

Members also agreed that any consent should only be given under a planning use class that is aligned more closely with the uses intended. One example might be use class D1 for non-residential institutional use.

Possible location for a defibrillator:  Members viewed various locations between the Red Lion and the Henge Shop for a defibrillator with a view to taking decisions at a forthcoming meeting.

The meeting closed at 11.45.