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MARK COMMUNITY

LAND TRUST

 

Share Holders Meeting 18th August 2016

Minutes of Mark Community Land Trust (MCLT) Shareholders Meeting held in Mark Church Hall on Thursday 18th August 2016 at 19:00 hours.

 

Present:

MCLT Steering Group - Simon Emary (SE) (Chairman), Geoff Francis (GF) (Deputy Chair), Jan Horn (JH) (Company Secretary), John Spencer (JS) (Treasurer), Sally Flack (SF), Hattie Stevens (HS), Gareth Woodcock (GW), Steve Watson (SW) – Wessex Community Land Trust Project (WCLTP), Esther Carter – Somerset District Council (SDC),

Donna Johnson (DJ) – CEO South Western Housing Society (SWHS), Martin Carney (MC) Operations Manager - (SWHS), Colin Powell (CP) - GCP Architecture Consulting,

 

Mark Parish Council (MPC) – Nick Vanderbilj, Eileen Corkish, Jendy Weekes, Will Human

 

Shareholders – Sandra Bonell, Jon Glauert, Liz Hall, Maggie Borham, Anthony Hockin, Colin & Olive Holdom, Peter Horn, Anthony & Jacqueline Houlden, Johnathan Howse, Fred Cooper, Neil Corkish, Vivienne Dix, Pauline Love, Malcolm Fisher Jane Mason, Ruth Millar, Yvonne Ryder, Mary Sinclair, Leslie & Susan Smith. Sandy Spencer, Mark Undrill, Jean & Michael White.

 

Apologies for absence – Mark & Sue Johnson, Norman & Anne Lees, Sue Gard, Anne Hanlon – Mark Parish Council (MCP), Mike Schollar – MCLT, Joan Thompson, Tom Hanlon, Howard & Rosemary Joint, Sue Gard, Bruce & Julie Penrose, Peter Higman, Christine Schollar

 

Welcome – SE gave a warm welcome to all attendees and thanked them for their presence.

 

Purpose of meeting – MCLT to share with the local community, progress on the proposed development of affordable rented homes for local people, introduce the Project partners, share the proposed design plans and to receive feedback both verbal and written via a “Feedback form’.

 

Introductions – SE introduced representatives (as listed above) from MCLT, WCLTP, SWHS, SDC and GCP

 

  1. Progress Update

1.1    SE gave an overview of what activities and actions have been undertaken since the last meeting to present and the challenges which have been faced and addressed. Not least, being changes to government legislation reducing funding for rented properties resulting in a need to reconsider partnering with Aster Homes due to limited funds availability and uncertainty as to whether any would be available for the MCLT project.


1.2     £9300 grant awarded for preliminary surveys which were undertaken and reports produced.
1.3    Meetings were held with SHAL Housing and SWHS, with MCLT ultimately selecting SWHS as their new Housing Association partner. 
1.4    Second grant of £32,729 received for more detailed surveys, which have been undertaken over the last 2-3 weeks and reports awaited.
1.5    Draft documents have been created including Allocation Criteria, Heads of terms, Option agreement, and Section 106 agreement. 
1.6    The following appointments have been made: - 
1.6.1    Architect – GCP Architects
1.6.2    Engineering – Barnaby Associates 
1.7    SE emphasised the tight timeline MCLT and its partners are working to in order to meet the government deadline for the current available funding. The project has to be complete by March 2018. Failure to meet this deadline will result in loss of the funding.
1.8    SE also advised that SDC had given provisional notification of available funding from themselves.

​SE gave an overview of what activities and actions have been undertaken since the last meeting to present and the challenges which have been faced and addressed. Not least, being changes to government legislation reducing funding for rented properties resulting in a need to reconsider partnering with Aster Homes due to limited funds availability and uncertainty as to whether any would be available for the MCLT project.

  1. External/Internal Design/Layout - JS explained the principals behind the Lifetime Homes Standard and that, as a condition of public funding, the homes would need to meet higher standards for space, storage, accessibility etc. than required to meet building regulation
  1. Allocation Criteria - SE explained the allocation criteria and how it will be applied to applicants within the pre-defined catchment areas. All the homes would be let to people unable to access housing at market prices, but those with a local connection

 

  1. How to register on Homefinder Somerset - EC (SDC) – Emphasised the importance of registering with Homefinder Somerset in order to be eligible for allocation of an affordable home.

 

  1. SWHS - DJ gave an overview of the ideology behind SWHS and affordable rented homes.  Their focus being on providing Rural housing and are specialists in the challenges inherent with rural locations. In answer to a question regarding the setting of rents, DJ explained how the rent levels, due to a change in legislation, Housing Associations have to reduce rents by 1% per year for the next 4 years.

 

Questions/ Comments

 

  1. Access Concerns

The following statements were submitted via Email prior to the meeting and shared with all attendees by JH.

  • If the project goes ahead at the proposed location, I would be very strongly opposed to any vehicular access from the field out onto Northwick Rd. This is a very narrow, single track lane with very few passing places and is regularly used by dog walkers and children. Furthermore, there are three very sharp blind corners, particularly the one out onto Vole Road. Traffic coming from the village comes whizzing round that corner and I have been nearly hit on a number of occasions. I am firmly of the opinion that any traffic should exit onto the Causeway. I know people will argue that the Causeway is a busy road, but it is designed for that purpose where Northwick Road is not!!! - Mark Johnson
  • I am strongly against the access road from the new houses coming out into Northwick Road. This is used as a Rat Run and is already unsuitable for the amount of traffic it copes with.  The road is very narrow causing it to have limited vision with dangerous bends and is an accident waiting to happen.  There is limited passing places and already the verges are being eroded.  Also where Northwick and Vole Road converge it is a blind bend taken at speed by many motorists. Creating more traffic on this country lane is irresponsible and will make it dangerous for all road users including walkers, cyclists and horse riders many of which are children. – Sue Johnson
  • There was an in depth discussion on the proposed access and the potential impact this will have on the immediate community and the potential for accidents due to increased traffic volumes.
  • Alternative access via The Causeway had been considered, but the southern part of the site is classed as unsuitable for development due to its low elevation and consequent flood risk. The Environment Agency have stated that any access road in this part of the site would have to be classified as ‘essential infrastructure’ by SCC.
  • SE advised attendees Highways is a statutory consultant and a Pre-planning meeting will be held with the planning authority and Highways before a Planning Application is made.
  • The meeting was informed planning was turned down for a self-build project on the same site 20 years ago.

 

  1. Alternative Options - If the project proves to be too difficult or cost prohibitive, what would the options be for alternative affordable housing? An alternative site could be considered or, to improve viability, homes for sale could be included in the project to cross-subsidise the homes for rent.

 

  1. Right to Buy (RTB) - There will be clauses in the S106 agreement and the Lease to preclude the Housing Association’s voluntary RTB option after a 5-year term. DJ explained there is a ‘right to acquire’ option, though the discounts are low.

 

  1. Failure of Housing Association - What will happen to the tenants if SWHS was to fail. DJ advised that no HA has yet gone bust because, if this ever looks like happening, the government’s regulator steps in and arranges for assets to transferred to another HA. MCLT will also have the option to buy SWHS out of its lease, should it ever wish to do so.

 

  1. House Insurance
    1. Flooding Protection - DJ advised that as the properties are rented SWHS insures the houses; tenants insure their own contents.
    2. CP explained the flood attenuation design and the use of Swales to accommodate rainfall in the event of a heavy storm. Standards require the flooding management to be the equivalent green field run off.

 

  1. Parking
    1. All properties will be at least to the Somerset County Council parking standards. Concern was expressed that this wasn’t sufficient and may result in parking on grass verges. CP suggested that it may be possible to provide some additional parking
    2. If the project goes ahead, where will the contractors park? – DJ advised that the Considerate Constructors scheme means there is strict access management. Proposed parking and access for contractors has to be included in the Planning Application.

 

  1. Mains drainage and Sewerage - Will the Causeway have to be dug up again? It is proposed that foul drainage will be connected to the pumping station in Northwick Road, therefore there will not be a need for further disruption in The Causeway.

 

  1. Local Interest - Has there been a rise in interest for these potential properties. EC advised SDC will conduct some open sessions advising applicants how to apply.

 

  1. Government Legislation – A point was raised regarding Rented property (social property) and the government actively encouraging councils to sell them. DJ explained that as the houses would be owned by the Housing Society the houses would be safeguarded from sale.

 

  1. Steering Group – It was suggested that a ‘Steering Group’ of Shareholders be established to address such issues and concerns as the access. SE advised that a MCLT Steering Group already existed and was addressing the issues. He also stated that if any Shareholders wished to join the Steering Group and contribute to the ongoing activity they would be most welcome.

 

  1. Information Sharing
    1. It was expressed that it would have been helpful for Shareholders to receive copies of the Proposed plans and related documentation prior to the meeting. JH stated that not all Shareholders have an Email address and that due to the size of the documents others may experience difficulty opening them.
    2. Presently the CLT does not have its own website but uses the Parish Council website for sharing newsletters and other information. JH stated that if any Shareholder has Website development experience and would be prepared to create a site on behalf of the CLT it would be very much appreciated.
    3. It was agreed that the Plans and documentation shared at this meeting will be made available on the Parish Council website post the Public Open drop-session on September 3rd.
    4. It was agreed there will be another Shareholders meeting scheduled in September prior to applying for planning, once comments on the feedback forms from this meeting and the Drop in session have been analysed. It is anticipated that a pre-planning meeting will have been held with Highways prior to this additional meeting enabling any further detail to be shared.
    5. SE stated the point of consultation was to listen to the views and concerns of the community and it was the responsibility of the CLT and its partners to work together to address the concerns and issues and offer solutions.

 

  1. SDC Development Plans -  A question was raised about SDC future plans for the area. EC advised that this covers a whole range of needs for Sedgemoor has a whole including housing, infrastructure and so on.

 

The meeting closed at 21:00 with Neil Corkish on behalf of the Shareholders expressing appreciation for the effort and progress the MCLT Steering Group Members had made to date. SE on behalf of the MCLT Steering group thanked him.

 

 

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