HELD ON 24 FEBRUARY 1997.
The  meeting  had been called by the Parish Council to  hear  the 
views  of  parishioners to a proposal by ARC to  have  the  field 
between  'The  Chimes' and 'Sparks Farm'- known as  'Sparks  Farm 
Field' included in the village boundary in the new Local Plan.
Over  70  parishioners  and J Dutson of ARC were  welcomed  by  D 
Pattison,  Chairman  of  the Parish Council,  who  explained  the 
proposal   informally   discussed   by  the  PC   and   the   ARC 
representative  to  provide the village with land for  a  village 
green,  lay-by  parking  and  road widening  in  return  for  the 
inclusion  of Sparks Farm Field in the village envelope. He  gave 
the history of the field, the fact that in the last Local Plan it 
had  lost  one  level  of  protection,  its  C22  designation,  but 
permission  to  include  it  in the  village  envelope  had  been 
refused.   With the process starting for the formulation  of  the 
new  Local  Plan  ARC had re-submitted  the  proposal  to  Mendip 
District  Council  for  inclusion in the new  plan.   Before  the 
Council  responded they wanted to know village reaction  to  this 
proposal.    According  to  the  present  plan(1992)  Leigh   had 
sufficient infra-structure to support "reasonable development".
MDC  have organised a 'Community Planning Day' in the Hall on  17 
March  between 2 and 8pm and villagers were urged to  attend  and 
make their views known.

Comments and questions were invited from the floor: 
The  criteria used by Mendip to allow expansion of  the  envelope 
was  questioned and it was agreed the PC would try and  ascertain 
what it was, although it was thought it may be political. (CLERK)
ARC  were  questioned as to their proposal for the field  -  what 
form  the development would take.  A proposal had been  submitted 
and rejected in the 80's for 6 detached dwellings but no definate 
plans  had been drawn up at this stage.  Some  parishioners  felt 
that the lack of concrete proposals made discussion difficult.
It was pointed out that the parish consisted of about 200  houses 
with outline permission for at least 8 more to be built.
ARC  had bought Sparks Farm as mineral bearing land  and  concern 
was  expressed  as  to  how close quarrying  might  come  to  the 
village.  The company were also questioned as to who would  carry 
out  the development if it took place - the site would  be  sold, 
preferably  with  planning permission and developed  by  another.  
Discussion  took place as to the size of a 'plot' as MDC seem  to 
have a limit of 6 houses per plot, and how many 'plots' the field 
could  be split into. It was agreed that PC and  villagers  would 
have  an  imput  if planning applications were made  but  it  was 
generally felt that not a lot of notice was taken of the views of 
the PC, a statutory consultee, by the planning authority.
The need for lay-by parking was questioned and it was pointed out 
that there had been a proposal put to the PC to run a road  along 
the  back of the houses opposite the field with access  via  Park 
Hayes  to  provide  off  street parking.  Of  the  people  living 
opposite the field present 7 thought that off street parking  was 
necessary,  but the use of the facilty by residents further  down 
the  street was questioned as people seem reluctant to  park  any 
distance from their front door.
Attention  was drawn by a parishioner to the Regeneration  Budget 
and  the  possibility of the Parish getting a grant  to  buy  the 
field  from ARC, but it was thought by Councillors that this  was 
for Industry, training etc, not for help to purchase land.
It  was agreed that if the field was included in the envelope  it 
could  mean  a fight to retain it as a visual  and  environmental 
amenity.   The question of the loss of footpaths was  raised  and 
the public inquiry process was explained.
The concern that development of the site could be for  commercial 
purposes  was  raised but generally it was felt  that  industrial 
development  would be kept to non green field sites,  like  Barns 
Close  also  owned  by  ARC, and in  the  villages  to  redundant 
The pressure exerted for rural development and the advantages  to 
the  village  of more housing were discussed and the  idea  of  a 
Village  Design  Statement was explained to those  present.   The 
process  would take about a year to complete and it would be  the 
villager's plan for the future development of their village.  The 
timescale for the production of the Local Plan was approx a  year 
to eighteen months so a VDS could have an important part to  play 
in the future village shape.  Volunteers were asked to give their 
names to the Clerk after the meeting.
Discussion  took place on the 'planning gain' from this  proposal 
of  a village green but concern was expressed as to the  care  of 
this amenity and the overlap with the Rec Field.
A  vote  was  taken for those in favour of  no  development  -  a 
majority of hands were raised.  In favour of developing the whole 
field  -  no-one.   Developing  part of the  field  -  one  vote, 
undecided on the proposal - nine people.
The  PC were asked if any plan for the development of  Knap  Hill 
Farm had been submitted - nothing received to date.
The  meeting was informed of the proposal received that day  from 
Cooper and Tanner for the inclusion of the field and curtilage of 
Manor Farm within the village boundary.  Villagers were told that 
the car park land was already promised to the Rec Field when  the 
second phase of the Hedgerow development took place. The PC  will 
try to get more information on this proposal.
A  proposal for inclusion of land at the pheasant farm  had  also 
been  received by the PC who felt it was overdevelopment  of  the 
site and the access was dangerous.

To the direct question of whether they wanted a village green  no 
support was shown.

It was agreed by a majority that a request for Sparks Farm  Field 
to have a C22 designation put on it would be made.

There  was  a meeting and exhibition by Somerset  County  Council 
concerning the Minerals Plan on 4 March in the Hall.

The  meeting closed with thanks to the parishioners and J  Dutson 
for attending. 


Back to list of meetings