Sunday, 20 August 2017

Report of WI meeting

Fixter's Falconry

Dean and Natasha from Fixter’s Falconry provided a wonderful and informative talk on Birds of Prey.

Whilst Dean gave a fascinating insight into how he ‘imprints’ (hand-rears) birds of prey and owls from when they hatch or are very young and takes them to shows and talks, Natasha brought round a selection of birds on her falconry-gloved arm, for members to see at close quarters.

Plate 1 - Barn owl
The birds included a young kookaburra (the largest kingfisher in the world), a brown owl and a barn owl. We learnt what the various birds were fed on, how to tell according to eye colour whether an owl is nocturnal (dark brown or black round the outer eye) or diurnal (yellow around the outside of the eye) and that contrary to popular belief only 8% of all owls across the world are actually nocturnal.

Despite the saying “Wise Old Owl” because their eyes took up so much space in their head, their brains are quite small... but they can be trained. One of their barn owls performs duties as a ring bearer at weddings, swooping into the church carrying the rings in an organza pouch and flying to the best man with them.

Owls can live between 5-8 years in the wild, whereas in captivity they can reach the ripe old age of 37 years.

Plate 2 - European Eagle owl
[age: four and a half weeks old]
Unfortunately, it appears that falconry has a huge void in young members and Dean, who was a very dedicated and communicative individual, was trying to remedy this by School Workshops, Tuition Courses and Falconry Summer Schools.

The session finished with members being invited to hold a bird on their gloved arm if they wished, whilst Dean answered questions from the floor. A most enjoyable and informative evening was had by all.

For more information visit his website at
The competition was won by Val, second was Sheila and third Chrissie.  The raffle, a bird feeder and bird seeds, was won by Maddie.

Thanks to Jane Kania for the report - with photographs by Maria Hall

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Nocton Village Hall - latest news

Planning application 'withdrawn'

Planning Reference: 17/0581/FUL

Address: Village Hall, Main Street, Nocton, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN4 2BH
Proposal: Demolition of existing village hall and erection of new single storey facility
Status: Decided
Decision: Withdrawn
Decision Issued Date: Fri 11 Aug 2017

Plate 1 - Lime trees at Nocton Village Hall

My last blog relating to the planning application for the new Village Hall was dated 8th June 2017.  You can also find a brief update in the latest Nocton News that mentions a further tree survey being required by North Kesteven District Council.

I can now report that an additional tree survey was prepared by CF Landscape (July 2017) and published on the planning portal (10th August)... and on the following day the planning application was withdrawn.

A decision to withdraw a planning application is often taken where a planning officer indicates it is likely to be refused. In these cases, it is an accepted practice that the applicant withdraws the initial application, before amending it and then resubmitting a revised plan.

Potential damage to the lime trees in the Conservation Area?

I see the Tree Officer originally reported:

"... it is highly likely that the proposed extension to the east will result in adversely affecting significant rooting areas of the roadside lime trees".

The new report by CF Landscape now confirms this:

Para 7.1: "The proposals would encroach significantly upon the Root Protection Area thus it is probable that physical or physiological damage to the trees will be caused by a reduction in permeability within the RPA’s and by physical damage to the roots."

Para 7.3:  "Of greater concern to the health of the trees is the possibility of physical root damage.  The current proposals would involve excavation for foundations through all of the RPA’s. The front building line will be extended towards the trees by between 1 and 2.86m. In addition to this, a ramp will be constructed along the front fa├žade of the building necessitating construction of a wall a further 2m closer to the trees.  Although it is possible that the root systems of the 3 trees will have developed to the north-east, away from the existing building, it is likely that significant roots would be severed by the proposals."

The withdrawal of the application at this late stage in the planning process may indicate the issue is more problematical than first thought, especially relating to the siting of the new Village Hall further to the east.

This may require a re-design of the proposed east extension to the Village Hall and could possibly affect the placement of the new building altogether. What the impact on projected costs for the build is currently unknown too.

Any amended or new planning application will need to demonstrate that potential risk of damage to the roots of the mature lime trees can be overcome. This will have to be proven to the satisfaction of the planning officer... and to the whole planning committee, if the application is to be referred for consideration.

The Parish Council will be meeting their developers (Simons Group Ltd) later this month for an update on the situation.

Plate 2 - Distance of Lime trees away from
front elevation of Nocton Village Hall
More Information

Tree roots
"A tree root system is typically fairly shallow (frequently no deeper than 2 metres), but is wide-spreading, with the majority of roots in the upper 60cms of soil. Excavation has shown that roots can grow for a considerable distance beyond the branch spread; typically extending outwards for a distance equivalent to at least the tree's height, and in some cases (where soils are infertile or compacted) up to three times height. With lime (Tilia spp.), the lateral roots descend diagonally ('oblique laterals') to a depth of 20-50cms at a distance of about 2 metres from the trunk and then continue growing outwards horizontally."

Source: Tree Root Systems by Martin Dobson [Aboricultural Advisory and Information Service]

Dealing with concerns or objections
"Normally, applications that have been through pre-application advice do not get held up when a full application is submitted. This is because most of the issues have been identified and addressed before you apply. Where there are problems at the full application stage, it is often because this advice has not been asked for and therefore any likely concerns or problems have not been identified.

However, it is not unheard of for unexpected issues to arise during the formal process or for people to raise a concern that they had not mentioned previously. If problems do arise during the formal planning stage, the planning officer will call the applicant or agent to discuss it. If there is time within the 8 week period for amended plans to be submitted to overcome the issues then the officer will advise you. Please be aware that if amended plans are required then they may need to go out for re-consultation. This can add an additional 21 days to the process depending on the nature of the amendment.

If it is considered by us that there is not the opportunity to deal with amendments in a reasonable time the applicant/agent will be advised of this. The option is then to withdraw the application and resubmit it later once changes have been made and discussed further."

Source: North Kesteven District Council - planning advice

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Sowerby Homes - planning appeal

Plot 72A - Nocton Park

I refer to my last blog on this matter and can now report some excellent news on the outcome of the appeal. The extract below is taken from the formal planning appeal decision. The full document can be found on the planning portal on the North Kesteven District Council website using the planning reference stated.

Location: Plot 72A, Formerly 27 Steamer Point Road, Nocton, LN4 2DA
Planning Reference: 16/1413/FUL
Appeal Decision: APP/R2520/W/17/3172535
Decision date: 11 August 2017

Appeal Decision Site visit made on 18 July 2017 by Rachael A Bust  BSc (Hons) MA MSc LLM MIEnvSci MInstLM MCMI MRTPI an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

"I conclude that there would be significant harm to the character and appearance of the surrounding area by the introduction of the proposed dwelling.  Although no harm is found in relation to the living conditions of the occupiers of No 26 with regard to outlook, this does not outweigh the harm I have identified.  Consequently, the appeal is dismissed."

Rachael A Bust

Aerial photo of the old MoD site at Nocton Park showing the open character
and appearance of the site, prior to any private development

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Excessive health and safety culture

Do health and safety regulations go too far?

In a 2011 poll featuring the question above:
  • 95% voted: "Yes, we need to stop worrying and allow people the freedom to make their own decisions about their safety."
  • 5% voted: "No, councils run the risk of being sued if they do not do everything in their power to protect citizens, health and safety is essential."

It seems we are living in a time when people can sue for anything, so is it any wonder organisations and public bodies are becoming over cautious with health and safety?

There is an old saying: "Common sense is not so common". You can use your own judgement about whether the response to the footpath 'hazard' near the local Community School is overkill, considering the potential risk involved.

Roots breaching tarmac surface of footpath

Fluorescent yellow spray paint; Orange warning notices;
Red/white striped boundary tape; Traffic cones and flashing yellow lights