Sandon Says No

The people of Sandon have said NO once, but there's ANOTHER application in with NHDC...

SO LET'S FIGHT BACK AGAIN!

how to respond...you must act now!

"It's an ill-considered proposal with no community or social benefits"

Rural Solutions has submitted a new planning application for Sandon Bury Farm. A number of changes are proposed, but a substantial element of the original application still remains, against which the majority of the village objected first time around. Set out below is a summary of the key changes and the main issues that will still affect Sandon and the surrounding area.


SAG’s considered view is that this is still a completely inappropriate location for such a use. Whatever the planning benefits might be in finding a suitable alternative use for a listed building structure, these are far outweighed by the damage to the village and local environment in terms of noise, public nuisance, traffic, health & safety.  


This website sets out:
1. The key changes made to the application.
2. SAG's comments/views of the changes.
3. How to respond to NHDC.



1. KEY CHANGES:

  • Access: all vehicle access – for guests, staff, coaches, taxis, service & delivery lorries and vans will now use the existing main farm entrance off Rushden Road, by the village green.
  • An Events Venue: it is not just a wedding venue, it will now host other types of parties – birthdays, anniversaries, corporate events.
  • Events halved to 75 per year: But they propose each event could run for 48 hours with pre and post event parties and, in the case of weddings, it is likely that events will be packed into the summer months when villagers are enjoying their gardens, walking, riding, cycling. Also, subsequently securing approval for an increase back to 150 events once the venue is in existence will be easier.
  • Black Barn new acoustic enclosure: The new dance room is now proposed to be in the Black Barn, but there are no details provided on design, layout, means of access etc, so it’s impossible to tell how effective the acoustic treatment will be and the previous issues of guests going in and out and keeping doors open for extra ventilation still remain.
  • Reduction in capacity to 150: The original application focussed on the majority of events hosting 100-150 guests, so there is really no difference here. With the reduction in the number of events, it is likely that they will target the higher numbers in order to drive their revenues. The statements also emphasise that numbers are not prescriptive, giving them ample wriggle room to go for higher numbers once permission is secured.
  • Bat lofts: One is directly above the new dance floor ‘box’. Vibration and low-frequency noise will disturb bats?
  • Spa & Studio: No mention of what this is, nor specific details of use or internal planning of space shown.
  • Grain Store: This will still be a new structure but has changed to a wedding ceremony hall and the bar has disappeared. This room opens on to the upper courtyard, but will not have the same sound insulation treatment as detailed in the previous application.
  • Lower courtyard: Contains staff parking and is the service delivery area. It is also the dropping off point and pick up for coaches, but coaches will have to do a three-point turn in a restricted space. More than one coach or even a second mini-bus would be a problem.
  • Guest Parking: Has now been moved to the existing farmyard which is still proposed to be a working farmyard, with access off the main farm entrance . There is an obvious clash with the working farm and there appears to be little by way of explanation as to how the two seemingly incompatible uses can operate together. Cars are parked across the barn doors, and there surely isn’t enough space to safely manoeuvre farm machinery without hitting cars. Also, the clash of farm machinery and members of the public is a serious safety issue. Weddings at 75 per year and 48 hrs each are certain to clash with harvest time.
    The new car park still encroaches on land outside village boundary.
  • Village amenity: All previous references to use of the Black Barn as a village social centre, meeting place, bar, local shop etc have disappeared. There is no benefit offered to the village.

2.            SAG RESPONSE TO THESE CHANGES

SAG objections to the proposals will carry more weight with the planners if they come from Sandon residents and they address valid planning considerations – such as:

  • Adverse environmental impact
  • Loss of amenity
  • Public nuisance
  • Unsustainable use
  • Noise
  • Pollution
  • Highways/traffic
  • Health & safety

    SAG has therefore identified the following grounds for continued objection:

1. HIGHWAYS/TRAFFIC.

  • Unsuitable single-track lanes between the village and the A10 & A505, with numerous potholes, eroded edges and limited passing places. The Transport Statement only refers to the stretches of Rushden Rd immediately adjacent to the farm entrance. There is no mention of any of the other access roads or the state of the lanes beyond the immediate locality of Sandon Bury.
  • All traffic will now come into the village, using all the access routes, to converge on the single existing farm entrance. The Transport Statement acknowledges that “a number of potential routes” exist and the choice in route selection “only serves to dilute the traffic impact”, so they are effectively encouraging traffic to flow through all parts of the village in order to support their statistics.
  • Even if traffic movements are reduced, there is a substantial increase in weekend traffic numbers (as evidenced from their own traffic survey), at precisely the time that residents will be hoping for peace and quiet – and at unsociable hours.
  • There is no acknowledgement by Rural Solutions of the adverse environmental and noise impact (and headlights) of late night traffic leaving the village during the week and at weekends.
  • If guests are booking into local hotels and B&Bs, as suggested by Rural Solutions, then it is likely that a significant number of taxi trips (and B&B owners offering a ferrying service – as happens around the South Farm venue) will be generated.
  • Despite the claims in the management plan, there is the strong likelihood of taxis, coaches and mini buses parking by the village green, as there is little provision shown for these vehicles in the submitted plans, with engines running, waiting for guests to spill out after midnight.  

2. NOISE.

  • The SLR noise report is based on tests were carried out in winter conditions, (between 18 Jan & 1 Feb) far removed from the quieter summer months when the majority of events are likely to be inflicted on the village.
  • Little consideration is given to the impact of noise from garden parties in the Bury on the adjoining church, village green or neighbouring properties.
  • No consideration is given to likely noise from the pre and post wedding parties, which quite often attract high numbers of guests, nor to noise from private parties in the Bury itself.
  • A new acoustic “dance/music box” is proposed inside the Black Barn, but there are few details on design or acoustic performance, so it will be impossible for NHDC to reach a view on whether this is acceptable or not.
  • One of the new bat roosts is positioned directly above the acoustic box.
  • The issue of low frequency noise still remains.
  • Events that finish at midnight – if they finish on time – invariably mean that traffic will disperse through the village a good deal later.

3. VILLAGE BOUNDARY.

The layout of the new car park is outside the line of the village boundary, which immediately conflicts with planning policy.


4. CAR PARK CLASH WITH FARM

  • There appears to be an incompatible mix of running a working farm with parking guest cars in the farmyard. The SLR report states that “whilst the farm yard will not be in operation during event days, the design does not compromise access for farm vehicles”. But it is quite clear from the plans that the two can’t sit side by side and we can’t see how the working side of the farm is effectively shut down during event days, with car spaces marked across the entrance to both barns and blocking the through route to the fields beyond. What happens at harvest with the constant traffic from the grain tractors, in turn followed by the large grain lorries? Farming is more weather-dependent rather than fitting into an events schedule?   

5. GUEST NUMBERS AND ACCESS TO VILLAGE

The reports prepared by the applicants are based on event numbers of 150 guests.

  • There is now the substantial likelihood of guests spilling out into the village, despite the claims in the management plan, and the potential for public nuisance. The hosts will have paid out a substantial sum to book the event and will feel that they “own” the place.

6. BENEFIT TO THE VILLAGE

  • In simple terms, there is none. All previous offers of setting up a social centre where villagers can meet and use the bar, pick up shopping etc have been withdrawn.
  • The claim by Rural Solutions that the social benefits are an “increasing number of visitors to the village to support local facilities and services and supporting community activities” is just wrong. There are no local facilities that guests attending a wedding or birthday party would use, they are simply coming to Sandon Bury to have a party – at our expense in terms of noise and traffic aggravation. 
  • The Transport Statement suggests that “realignment of vegetation” will deal with the blind corner by the village green triangle. They intend to root out the existing mature hedge running from Old Sextons to the farm entrance. This will improve sight lines but it will probably encourage the growing numbers of through traffic who already use this route as a rat run between the A10 and A505, to drive even faster round the bend.

7. LOCAL EMPLOYMENT

  • 3 full time and 3 part time staff are proposed, there are already 2 full time staff on site, so the net gain is 1, even if this is sourced from the village. The majority of staff will be employed by the catering companies and they tend to bring their own contract staff in.
  • For weddings and birthday parties, most hosts tend to want to choose their own hairdressers, makeup artists, florists etc from their own area where they live and not locally.

 

8. GENERAL POINTS TO REBUT

  • The Black Barn is not in danger of falling into disrepair. It was recently refurbished with the help of public funds.
  • The Bury is perfectly capable of being used as a private residence – it is just that none of the family wish to live there.
  • None of the applicants or the FW family will be living in Sandon to experience what they are proposing to inflict on the village. 
  • The management plan implies that there will be stewards at every turn, controlling access to the gardens, to the acoustic box, to smokers in the courtyard, to the car park, service areas and on Rushden Road to ensure no event traffic extends beyond the site boundary – is this realistic and achievable, given that “those who have paid to party” will just do as they please? Partygoers are in Sandon for one night only and they won’t really care what their impact on the village is.
  • Rural Solutions imply that local residents have been regularly consulted and that they have “respected the views of the local community” – certainly not the majority views! To our knowledge, there has been no widespread consultation prior to this application and the majority of objections listed last year have not been taken on board  - otherwise we wouldn’t be going through this now! 
  • Rural Solutions emphasise that numbers of events, guest numbers and timing/operating hours of events should not be taken as prescriptive and are “presented indicatively”. This gives them plenty of scope to ramp up numbers and extend operating hours in the future.

One of Rural Solutions’ planning arguments states that the planning framework “supports proposals where there is an identified need not met by existing facilities in rural service centres.’

                                Sandon isn’t a rural service centre, and there are plenty of wedding venues within 5 miles. There is no identified need.

Any perceived benefits in providing limited local employment opportunities are massively outweighed by the adverse impacts of traffic, noise, nuisance and environmental harm.


3.          NEXT STEPS – RESPOND TO NHDC BY 18TH April

As this is a new application, you will need to write again to the planning officer at NHDC, setting out all your concerns and objections. Last year’s letters have no effect. You can make reference to the previous application if you wish, but you should spell out all your comments and objections in full.


We would urge you to write to/email Melissa Tyler again by the deadline of 18th April. She was quite clear last year that the weight of local public interest was a material factor when she came to make her report and rest assured that the Faure Walkers are doing everything they can to secure support for the application. With your help again, we can defeat this application.

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Suggested form of letter:


Preferably, by email to Melissa Tyler – email address -  planning.control@north-herts.gov.uk

(Don’t bother trying to reply via the planning website)


Planning reference: 18/00584/FP

State clearly that it's a letter of OBJECTION

Include your name AND address

Write your comments.


If you can't do it by email, then use the post.
The postal address is – Town Planning Dept., North Herts District Council, PO Box 10613, NG6 6DH


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