Crossgate Community Partnership: Minutes

Minutes of the Meeting 1st September 2015

1. Attendance
Present: Jean Rogers, Roger Cornwell, Liz Brown, John Lowe, Ann Evans, Jackie Levitas, Mike Costello, Ruth Chambers, Lesley Aers, Simon Squires, David Ramsden, Clare Wright, Brendan McKeown, Kevin Turrington, Odile Fong, Richard Fong, Simon Priestley, Pat Mussett, Ann Lockhart, Alan Doig, Barbara Ravelhofer
Cllr Richard Ormerod, Cllr Grenville Holland
PCSO Steve Bell
2. Apologies for absence:
were received from Steven Bell, Carole Reeves, Cllr Nigel Martin.
3. PACT (Police And Communities Together) Session
a) PCSO Steve Bell gave a verbal report. In the past month, there had been one cycle thefts and one burglary. In addition, three plants had been stolen from the garden in Grape Lane.
A "cyclists dismount" sign has been placed at the top of Silver Street, and more signs are on order for other locations in the City.
Police will be operating a night shift every Wednesday when term starts.
d) It was agreed that the existing Priorities of dangerous cycling and begging should be maintained. As the new academic year begins, prioritisation of rubbish in back lanes should be broadened to monitoring student behaviour overall.
4. The minutes of the previous meeting
were agreed as a correct record.
5. Matters arising
No matters arose other than those already appearing as separate agenda items.
6. Development at the Companions Club
- brought forward on the agenda at the request of Jackie Levitas
Local Councillors (Cllr Grenville Holland and Cllr Nigel Martin) will be meeting the developers at the end of September. Grenville would welcome good housing on this site, and would be attempting to clarify the legal status of the undertaking that the development would not become more student housing.
Jackie would prepare a written brief for Councillors about the problems caused by building works where access is via Waddington Street, and Grenville will ensure that these points are raised one by one.
David Ramsden raised questions about the stability and possible contamination of the site, and he too will prepare a brief.
7. Purpose Built Student Accommodation
a) In July, the Council's Cabinet approved the paper recommending the adoption of an Article 4 directive to remove permitted development rights for change of use from dwelling houses (Class C3) to small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) (Class C4) in parts of Durham City. The report also recommended the adoption of an Interim Policy on Student Accommodation, which had been developed from the policies proposed by the objectors at the Examination in Public of the County Plan (including the requirement that the University agree to new developments). It is intended that this go out for consultation in September, and Mike Costello undertook to co-ordinate responses.
b) Proposed PBSA on Fram Well House site: John Lowe outlined the objections of Diamond Terrace residents (in full on the Council's planning portal). The CCP expressed its support for the residents; because of uncertainty about the closing date for objections to the application, Ruth Chambers has already submitted an objection on our behalf. Cllr. Richard Ormerod has also objected, and has asked that the application be decided by Committee rather than by Officers' delegated powers.
Jean Rogers remarked that in outlining the application, John had referred to points at which the plans were inconsistent, and that Roger Cornwell had noted a further inaccuracy in the plans. Yer the application had been submitted to a process of "validation" by Planning Officers: surely these errors should have been corrected before the application was declared valid? This was not a unique case: objectors to the County Hospital application had been hindered by uncertainty about what was actually planned. She was asked to send s written complaint to Richard, so that he could raise the issue as a formal complaint.
c) Roger introduced his paper on PBSAs and the Building Regulations: The building regulations require that purpose-built student living accommodation, even that in the form of flats, has to provide at least 5% accessible bedrooms and be more generally accessible to disabled people. The Council has a duty to enforce these regulations. Nevertheless, the Council is approving planning applications that do not comply with the building regulations in this respect. Notwithstanding that a development has planning permission, the Council should reject the plans at the building control stage. It would appear that this is not being done. If a building goes up that does not meet the standards in the building regulations, other bodies can seek an injunction against the owner. If the injunction is granted the Council can then be obliged to pay compensation to the owner. Planning applications that do not comply with the building regulations are exhibiting bad design and should be refused, citing relevant policies in the NPPF.
It was suggested that Roger write to Cllr Grenville Holland, listing the specific properties which do not meet the required standard, and asking why this had not been imposed. Grenville could then seek a meeting with Building Control managers, to see whether plans could be turned down at the Building Control stage.
d) CCP Trustees and others will meet Planning Officer Peter Herbert on September 14th for an update on the future of the County Hospital scheme.
e) Ruth suggested that the idea of a petition on be pended until after the meeting with Peter Herbert, but might then usefully focus on any future application for the County Hospital site.
8. University / Community issues
Ruth has received a very positive letter from Professor Stuart Corbridge, the new Vice Chancellor; we should respond in equally positive terms.
9. Abusive use of 'Private Parking' signs
Kevin Turrington reported on a number of cases where 'Private Parking' signs were being erected by people who were not entitled to control parking on the sites in question: this was an attempt to claim exclusive rights by intimidation. Discussion suggested a variety of approaches which could be tried on a case by case basis, but no overall solution.
10. Voluntary Code of Practice on Letting Boards
Jean pointed out that although the substitution of an Article 7 Direction on letting boards for the present voluntary scheme was not visible on the Agenda of July's Cabinet meeting, the issue had in fact been determined within the item which approved the Article 4 Directive on HMOs; an Article 7 was not felt to be necessary. She has submitted a Freedom of Information request for the evidence on which this recommendation was based, but has not yet received an answer.
John Lowe pointed out that the article 32 proposed by objectors to the County Plan included the introduction of an Article 7. It can therefore be raised in the consultation on the Interim Policy on Student Accommodation.
If people wish to continue reporting contraventions of the voluntary code, Roger could set up an e-mail forwarding address which would deliver complaints to the Council's Enforcement Officer, while sending a reference copy to the CCP, enabling us to keep tally.
11. Reports from local Councillors
Richard has arranged a site visit with the police in response to complaints about taxis using Crossgate.
Councillors enquired whether Crossgate residents would find a notice board useful, similar to the one at Neville's Cross? They were asked to circulate the question to the Crossgate mailing list, for a broader based response.
12. Other Business
a) The meeting welcomed the Government's recent letter to Chief Planning Officers that makes intentional unauthorised development a material consideration in the determination of all planning applications and appeals, and where this is in the Green Belt extra measures have been introduced to provide stronger protection.
b) Kevin Turrington asked whether funding to install bollards (to prevent obstructive parking in back lanes) was now available? The meeting supported this use of funds, and Kevin was asked to confer with our Councillors about implementation.
13. Dates of future meetings
The next meeting will be on Monday 5th October 2015.
The proposed dates for 2016 meetings were agreed: Tuesday January 5th, Monday February 1st, Tuesday March 1st, Monday April 4th, Tuesday May 3rd, Monday June 6th, Tuesday July 5th, Monday August 1st, Tuesday September 6th, Monday October 3rd, Tuesday November 1st and Monday December 5th.