Here you can download the slides, and if you wish, the speaker's notes, from the presentation given at the Wells Cole Community Centre on 7th August 2018, and also the video message sent by George Freeman MP, who was unable to attend due to the Brexit debates at Westminster You can also read a summarised version of the questions asked by villagers, and the answers given.
If you have Microsoft Powerpoint and wish to see the full presentation including pictures, download this file. You can view it in conjunction with the speaker's notes which include mouse symbols to indicate where to advance the slide animations
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Village Presentation 7th December 2018 - Questions and Answers These are not a word for word record but a summary to reflect the gist of each question and the answers given. Q: (to George Freeman MP) Our roads, like other rural areas, are in poor condition. The County highways group is swamped and so cannot tackle all the problems Country roads such as ours have insubstantial footings and so as development leads to more traffic, erosion of roads increases and the situation will worsen. Money and thought is needed to tackle these problems. A: This will be referred to George, but I can point out he is helping the All Saints villages in a campaign along these lines and I will try and get some more details about that. Q: Regarding site STNP8 there is an inadequate 8" drain pipe running alongside it down Hills Road. It outflows just north of my property and then into a brook at the bottom of the road. Building in Ashill in recent years has added to the water flow through this area. Can it be ensured that all necessary infrastructure, such as improved drains is operational before building starts. A: I agree in principle. The Plan tries to address flooding. A difficulty we face is that infrastructure is funded by development and you cannot have one without the other. We'll come back to this later in the presentation. Q:Are all the sites going into the Plan? A: That's not known until the assessments are complete. Q: Will you take into account the effect on other fields on Chequers Lane? A: Yes, hence we are hoping to gather together your thought s and ideas. Q: Are there some potentially positive aspects of development? A: Yes there are both positives and negatives. Q: Would Hills Road be widened if site STNP8 is developed? A: This goes back to the development versus infrastructure question we discussed earlier. Yes it will be legitimate to suggest widening Hills Road as part of any development. Q. Isn't it true that developers promise one thing to get approval of a site but then don't do what they promised? A: Sometimes yes, but our aim to make the Plan very black and white with no "squirm" room to get round that. Q: What can Norfolk County Council do about the state of our roads and the impact on them of development? A: Breckland Council rather than NCC are responsible for planning matters. But as the speaker has said developers would be required to put into effect the requirements of the Neighbourhood Plan. We will consult NCC and Anglian Water for their views on highways and drainage issues that each site may result in. Even if AECOM deems a site suitable we may overrule that based on information from NCC or Anglian Water. Q: Surely the river authorities and Anglian Water will say you're mad to develop all these sites? Watton Brook is full of silt and debris and hasn't been cleaned out for at least 40 years. Again shouldn't money be spent on that sort of thing before development goes ahead? A: The Plan can expect necessary improvements are made to a site or adjacent to it, but for example we couldn't demand a site say in Hills Road funds improvements to water flow in Watton Brook. There can be S106 payments to pay for such things but Breckland Council decide how to use those funds and there's no guarantee they will spend them to tackle Saham Toney issues. None of this is perfect but all the same it is better than uncontrolled development, which is the alternative. Q:If our Plan doesn't comply with Breckland Council's for the number of houses what happens? A: We must conform with the Local Plan. So Breckland Council specify 33 new houses for Saham up to 2036 and that is the absolute minimum we must accept. Everyone who responded to the consultation on our Plan in the spring accepted the number - 48 - our policy put forward, so that is also valid. But today I don't know what the final allocation number will be. But rest assured you'll all have a say about it before it's finalised. Q: All sites put forward are farmland. If they get planning permission the land value will rise. Given all the infrastructure problems could developers be required to pay 20% of the sale value of the properties into a fund to deal with infrastructure problems. A: There is no planning mechanism to do this. I don't agree with it in principle as it would have a very small chance of being agreed. We're looking for a more certain approach with tangible outcomes: i.e. to negotiate with owners benefits from the development of any site (that will be recorded in plan policies) prior to the site being allocated. Q: If there is no way to make financial adjustments why do large industrial developments pay money to Breckland Council? A: You are talking about S106 payments. As I mentioned in answer to the previous question those payments go to Breckland Council not the Parish Council, so we think it's better to agree village specific benefits with owners rather than leaving them to the whims of Breckland Council. Q: Would that include money to pay for say another village hall? A: No, benefits have to be proportionate to the size of development. Q: How much does Norfolk County Council have to spend on roads each year? A: (District Councillor): I don't have that to hand but I'll find out for you. Q: Is there a precedent for a percentage of payments to Breckland Council to be allocated to environmental issues such as digging out rivers and ditches? A: (District Councillor): Yes, Breckland Council should be doing that. I suggest you take it up with your District Councillor, Theresa Hewett. Q: In 2015 Anglian Water said the pumping station on Bell Lane had no capacity for new housing. If for the central area sites Anglian Water says their drainage system cannot accommodate more development, will that stop those sites? A: Anglian Water's view will definitely be taken fully in to account when deciding which sites to allocate. Incidentally where proposed sites are in flood risk areas we have already had preliminary discussions with the owners about concerns that raises, and while those are at an early stage all owners were receptive to the idea of including flood mitigation measures in their schemes. Q: Should we push for CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) payments from developments because 25% of those are paid directly to the Parish Council to spend on village needs. A: Yes I agree and it's a pity Breckland Council put that idea on ice some years ago and have not yet reconsidered it.. this is an area for campaigning. Q: Is it correct we only have to have 33 houses up till 2036? A: That's the minimum number, not the limit. Q: Are you assessing sites with a target of 33 in mind, or because a lot of land has been put forward are you looking to put a lot of houses in the Plan? I note that most people in the village are against a lot of development. A: No we're not looking to put a lot of houses in the Plan because a lot of land has come forward. We're looking at what will work best for the village and that's a fine balance between development and benefits. The opportunities that may arise from 33 houses will be limited; whereas they will be greater for a larger number. But most importantly we're waiting for the assessments to be completed before confirming a number. Earlier we put 48 in the Plan because Breckland's number ignores (a) the fact that the total Breckland number is likely to increase by about 1200, and (b) to account for the Government's affordability factor, which is about 26% for Breckland. Q: How can say the owners are doing this for village benefit? They're doing it for profit. A: I didn't say that and I agree profit is a natural human motivation. What I am saying is that all owners are willing to discuss and agree a fair level of village benefit while at the same time making a fair profit from their sites. Q: When you choose the best sites, will you discard the others? A: No not entirely. From all those deemed suitable by the independent assessments we will select "preferred" sites for allocation in the Plan. The other suitable sites will be "reserve" sites to be included if owners subsequently decide not to go ahead with a preferred site. Q: So is the number principally 48? A: We're not hanging our hat on 48, or any other number at this stage. If a greater number gives greater benefit that may be a better decision. Q: Isn't it true that as many owners will not take the financial risk of developing the sites themselves they will likely sell their land to a developer; then if they can't find an interested developer their site will not be what's called "available" for development? A: That's a good point. There's a limit to demand and so to what developers could sell in the village. I also want to point out that the numbers of houses per site talked about this evening are just the owners ideas. If and when we allocate a site we can do that for less houses than the owner suggests. Q: Will you look at impact on houses and land around sites? A: Yes, and that's where the village character assessment will help. Q: Today's way of life means Saham is a dormitory for Watton and eventually will be one for Thetford. So will a shop be viable? A: Having local facilities such as a new shop may alleviate the tendency to travel elsewhere for everything. Let's try to avoid raising negatives and leaving it at that. Instead try to turn them into positives. For example with our roads how about a one way system round the village or lines painted on the roads to define pedestrian priority? Q: Can you define "affordable? Is it actually meaningless? A: An "affordable" home is sold at 80% of its market value. So yes at today's house prices that's meaningless for most people trying to get on the housing ladder. Q: If a new shop opened would Saham go back to being a local service centre? A: It might but there's no need to be concerned if it did. lack of a shop was a useful way to argue against being a service centre when the Local Plan allocated us 149 houses, but in reality changes very little about Saham's ability to take a certain number of new homes. Q: If there are to be more houses and more young people, what leisure facilities would there be? A: I'll answer with a question back to you - what would you like there to be? Does anyone in the audience have any ideas? (no reply). We will of course come up with a range of ideas to discuss with owners, but it will be better if ideas also come from villagers. Q: Is the Parish Council paying for the landscape consultant's work? A: No, it's funded by a Government grant.
VILLAGER RESPONSE FORMS
During the presentation villagers were invited to give their initial thoughts on the proposed sites. 1 response form was received and is given below. Additionally two villagers completed a form giving their opinions on the threats and opportunities that might arise form development of a central cluster of sites (STNP1 and STNP4-8) and those responses are collated below