Minutes of the Stone Parish Neighbourhood Plan Directors Meeting held on Wednesday 26 August 2015, 7.30pm at The Boardroom, Stone Pavilion, Hayes Road, Stone DA9 9DS


DIRECTORS PRESENT:      J Burrell, G Johnson, K Kelly, C Pearce, J Schofield, J Thomas, S Thredgle,

                                               P Winchester and V Winchester

IN ATTENDANCE:                E Mote – Council Coordinator for Stone Parish Council

VISITORS:                             N Katz, Land Logical Ltd


35/08/15NP(1):    APOLOGIES 

Apologies for absence were received from J Mote.  Under this agenda item the Chairman also reported the resignation of J Thilman who had moved out of the area.



No declarations of interest were received.



The minutes were approved by members.



There were no matters arising from the previous minutes.


39/08/15NP(1):    STONE PIT 1

Directors were provided with a presentation from the new landowners of Stone Pit 1, Land Logical Ltd.  A current overview of operations was given along with proposals for the site and details for potential end-use schemes in collaboration with the Stone Neighbourhood Plan.


N Katz, Director for Land Logical Ltd listed potential ideas for future utilisation of the site and explained the company’s plan to develop the location and ultimately restore the area to a country park.

Following initial investigations of the site, and in light of feedback received from neighbourhood plan activities and local residents, preliminary ideas would support potential development of a farm facility perhaps incorporating soft play, sensory garden, and associated parking provision. Proposals for parking provision at the site to benefit commuters using Stone Crossing Station is also a possibility which may provide assistance with existing parking issues in the village.  Other ideas currently include an outdoor gym and associated trim trails etc. to “get Stone fit”.

The site’s name is expected to be determined as Atlas Park, with a new website currently in production expected to go live soon to provide the local community with updated information regarding the site and activities and will also be linked via the SPC website.

It was noted that income from potential proposals would be advantageous but primarily it is hoped the site will be sustainable and credible for both developer and the local community and expectations for completion would be approximately 5 years.

Mr Katz clarified to members that views and ideas for developing the local site generated through neighbourhood plan activities would be wholly welcomed by Land Logical Ltd, who aim to be a very active member of neighbourhood plan activities to ensure direct involvement.  It is intended that Land Logical development of Stone Pit I will be a positive exercise to leave a lasting legacy for the local community.

40/08/15NP(1):    PROCEDURE

  • To formally note Cabinet resolution regarding approved Neighbourhood Area Designation

Directors were updated regarding the outcome of the Neighbourhood Plan Area Designation application, which had been formally resolved at the DBC Cabinet meeting on 23rd July.


Following prior publication of the cabinet agenda report, it had become clear that officers recommendations had gone beyond NP Directors expectations with regard to area amendments, with proposals aiming to restrict the neighbourhood area further through additional exclusion of Stone Lodge and the Thames Europort sites, Stone Pits 5 and 6 and residential parts of Crossways.


While there had been an understood anticipation that the area application was likely to be amended to exclude Bluewater and commercial parts of Crossways Business Park following previous negotiations, the cabinet report outlined a basis for exclusion of additional sites not expected and this had caused concern to Directors, who were keen the Neighbourhood Area included all sites where development would have direct impact on existing and future parish residents.


At the Director’s meeting on 19th July, delegated authority was provided to the Chairman Director, Parish Clerk Director, and Chairman of the Parish Council Director to negotiate with DBC as necessary to enable resolution of a neighbourhood area that would enable the positive activities of the neighbourhood plan to continue unimpeded.


However, although these subsequent representations resulted in resolution of a neighbourhood area which saw reinstatement of a majority of excluded sites, some concerns were raised by Directors who are also council members regarding the process by which this was achieved, in particular that the full council, who are the qualifying body for the neighbourhood plan, had not been formally notified of the situation.


It was explained that insufficient time was given between agenda publication and the cabinet meeting to enable a parish council meeting, and doing so would have also resulted in detrimental delay of negotiations to resolve the issue. Furthermore, the parish council had, through approved Terms of Reference, provided delegated authority to Neighbourhood Plan Directors, which includes council members, to undertake the necessary activities to facilitate the plan.


However, significant disagreement regarding this item and the approach taken to resolve it was apparent and which, for some, also raised the question of whether review of Terms of Reference was necessary.


Councillor Kelly questioned the validity of decision-making by Directors who were not elected, particularly where any such decisions could risk compromising the healthy relationship with the borough council. Resident Directors challenged this by re-iterating that neighbourhood planning was a community-led initiative, through which the council had delegated the appropriate authority to Directors to facilitate in the best interests of the parish.


However disagreement continued to reign regarding the respective roles and responsibilities of elected members, to show support for both the required process and the resident directors that have committed to assisting production of the neighbourhood plan; and those of appointed neighbourhood plan directors to have regard to the expectation of the parish council to be fully informed of events and to be considerate of referral to the council, if necessary, of any items that may be contentious.


After significant discussion, it was clear the issue had represented the first real litmus test of delegated authority parameters and that, as consensus was not likely, it seemed reasonable to bring a close to the meeting.


It was agreed that a further meeting would be held on 2nd September to complete unresolved agenda items and to further consider the proposal put forward by Councillor Kelly that would require all NP Director’s decisions to be ratified by the parish council; and that of Councillor Burrell which proposed the parish council was more regularly updated regarding neighbourhood plan activities.

The Chairman confirmed he would summarise points raised in a document for circulation that would enable Directors to submit views regarding this if they were not able to attend the next meeting.