Minutes of the Extraordinary Council Meeting Fulking Parish Council held Wednesday 5th October 2022 at 6.30 pm held at Fulking Village Hall.
Chairman: Cllr Mark Hind
Fulking Parish Council (FPC): Cllrs Linda Dyos, Karen Healy, Lucy Mehta & Tom Kardos
Parish Clerk Trevor Parsons
There were seven members of the public present.
The meeting opened at 6.30pm with the Chairman opening the meeting to the floor for comments.
22/058/PM. Apologies for absence
No apologies as all councillors were present
22/059/PM. Declaration of Members Interest
22/060/PM. Planning matters – SDNP/22/04317/FUL
Location: Small Acre Clappers Lane Fulking West Sussex
Proposal: Change of use of land to provide two pitch settled gypsy accommodation site, including erection of utility building
Fulking Parish Council consultee comments:
Small Acre – SDNP/22/04317/FUL
Members of the public were invited to a Planning Meeting held in Fulking Village Hall on 5th October. At this meeting Fulking Parish Council (FPC) was made aware that a significant number of residents would not be objecting to this application due to their fear of reprisals. South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) needs to be aware the number of written objections it will receive does not represent the full level of community objection to this application.
FPC is also extremely concerned that, as this is retrospective application, a significant amount of unapproved development has already been completed, harming the South Downs National Park. It would also point out that the statement that John and Savanna Hearn have nowhere else to live is not true as they have a gypsy plot on the adjoining Market Gardens site. (Please see note at the bottom of page 2) and the claim that there is no planning history relating to this site is not true either.
There is a long history of planning applications going back to at least 1952. A High Court Injunction (HQ 101289) was granted on 20th July 2001 to Mid Sussex District Council “to prevent the use of the land in question for the stationing of vehicles, mobile homes and caravans”. Since that time the land has come under the planning control of the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) so it now has the highest level of development protection available in the UK.
On 30th August 2022 a SDNPA enforcement officer visited the site and confirmed that around 950 square meters of chalk had been imported to create hard standing. This section of Clappers Lane is prone to flooding and FPC has received grants from West Sussex County Council to help alleviate the problem. The conversion of grassland to hardstanding has therefore increased the risk of flooding to properties in the vicinity.
Electricity connections and waste water pipes/ditches have been installed/dug out without any form of oversight or approval creating an environmental, health and safety hazard to both the occupants of the mobile homes and local residents. UK Power Networks, The Environment Agency and Mid Sussex District Council (MSDC) need to be urgently involved to check the environmental, health and safety implications of this unauthorised development. (Please see Southern Water consultee comments)
In addition to the potential harm caused to the applicants and local residents there is confirmed presence of great crested newts in the area, which are protected by UK and EU legislation. It would appear that there has been a breach of this legislation which covers the destruction of terrestrial habitat, disturbance and accidental killing/injury of individuals. (Please see HSS Ecology consultee comments).
Unfortunately, the installation of several high intensity LED floodlights around the site, which are now on from dusk to dawn, will also disturb the local bat and owl population, species also protected by legislation. These lights are also in breach of the SDNPA Dark Skies policy and disruptive to neighbours.
Although the mobile homes and caravans are not easily seen from Fulking, they are conspicuous when viewed from Fulking Escarpment and The South Downs Way. No amount of additional hedging around the site will hide the visual harm that has been created due to the height of the escarpment when viewing the site.
In the Planning Inspector’s decision (Ref: APP/Y9507/C/15/3062034) dated 22nd February 2016 relating to Conifers, the adjoining gypsy site, Simon Hand said (Para 21) “In my view three gypsy plots comes close to but does not dominate the settled community, and that argument becomes stronger with further applications as would the issue of the impact of any more development on the village and on the National Park.”
It would appear that The Planning Inspectorate now seems to care little about this issue or indeed protecting the natural beauty of the National Park as since then a further three gypsy plots have been approved in Fulking, bringing the total to six. (Four in Market Gardens and two in Conifers). Approval of this application would increase the number of gypsy plots to eight, almost three times higher than what Simon Hand considered was “close to dominating the settled community”.
The Planning Inspectorate has in previous decisions relating to the adjoining gypsy plots decided that the interests of the applicants outweigh the harm to the National Park and the local settled community. It is the view of FPC that these decisions have encouraged the applicants to undertake this development and seek retrospective approval.
The gypsy plots approved in Fulking to date have followed a pattern of unauthorised development followed by a planning application to avoid enforcement action and then finally approval. Should this application be approved FPC is of the opinion that further retrospective applications for gypsy plots will be forthcoming.
The application states that Small Acre is occupied by “two traveller families
Mobile Home 1 – is occupied by Russell Owen and his partner Teresa Lane
Mobile Home 2- is occupied by John Hearn and his wife Savanna (nee Sheen). They have 2 children a boy and girl at 2 and 3 years old.”
The application also states that the applicants have nowhere else to live. This claim is not true as John Hearne and his wife Savana were granted permission by SDNPA on 19 February 2018 to occupy a gypsy plot on the adjoining Market Garden site. Please see SDNP/17/03762/CND and note below.
As a matter of public record the Land Registry Title number: WSX187103 dated 6th April 2022 shows the owners of the land are: John Hearne – 39 Owlsmoor Road, Owlsmoor, Sandhurst GU47 0SN and Russell Owen – 14 Parsonage Road, Welham Green, North Mymms, Hatfield AL9 7LZ. The claim that Russell Owen and his partner have nowhere else to live may not be true either.
In any case SDNPA and MSDC earlier this year conducted a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessments (GTAA) to meet their legal requirements and no additional need has been identified.
After considering all the details all five FPC Councillors voted unanimously to object to approval of this application. In addition, seven members of the public who attended the meeting also showed their objection by a show of hands.
“SDNP/17/03762/CND | Variation of condition 2 on planning consent SDNP/15/04159/FUL – To increase the number of caravans to 2 mobile homes and 2 touring caravans and ancillary dayroom. Market Gardens Clappers Lane Fulking BN5 9NH –
The occupation of the site hereby permitted shall be carried on only by the following: Mr John Hearne and Mrs Georgina Hearne; Mr John Hearne (son) and Savana Hearne; and resident dependants only”
22/061/PM. Planning Matters – SDNP/22/04214/FUL
Location: Perching Parva Farm Holmbush Lane Woodmancote Henfield West Sussex BN5 9TL
Proposal: Demolition of existing commercial building and the erection of a replacement building.
Fulking Parish Council consultee comments:
No objections to the application
Meeting closed 8.40pm