16th APRA Committee Meeting, 20 January 2017

Abbey Precincts Residents Association
Minutes of 16th APRA Committee Meeting, 20 January 2017, 8.00pm, 3 Abbey Mill Lane

1. Present: Peter Trevelyan (Chair), Geoff Dyson, Robert Pankhurst, John Hedges, Justin Douglas, Norman James, Sally Hickman. Apologies: Andrew Yaras

2. Minutes for the last committee meeting and the AGM were approved and signed.

3. The AGM had been well attended and very successful. The vote of confidence in the committee was especially gratifying.

4. The December talk to APRA members by Dr Kris Lockyear on the history of remote sensing of the archaeological remains of Verulamium was extremely well received and sets a very high standard for any future talks.

4. Car parking. The new Zone B TRO has been formally announced, with a planned implementation date of 6 March. There would be a six-month trial period and it was important to encourage residents to notify SADC of any undesirable consequences [RP]. Some minor adjustments to the TRO were made during final consultation; APRA suggestions for School-Keep-Clear markings at the entrance and removing 2 parking bays opposite were accepted, but others including marking a single bus loading/unloading ‘cage’ opposite Welclose Street had not been adopted. The Code of Conduct for school buses that we drafted was not being treated as part of the TRO, but SADC was continuing to work with the School. Our new Ward Cllr, Chris Davies, had become involved after experiencing early morning traffic chaos in George Street and was arranging meeting with the Headmaster. Geoff would be happy to be invited, but we should make sure that previous initiatives by Cllr Hill and the Combined RA were taken into account [RP].

5. The Brickyard. Planning permission to convert the PH to a residential house by internal alteration had been granted and we would watch the development. The Herts Advertiser had repeatedly presented one-sided material biased against residents and its unprofessional approach should be referred to the CRA as the best organ to defend the role of Residents Associations [RP/GD]. We would ask Cllr Hill to raise the case of unsightly commercial litter stacked on the pavement outside the premises since mid-September [RP].

6. Planning. Two major developments to which APRA had registered objections (1 Mount Pleasant and the College Place garage site) were both still being considered by SADC. Sally explained the intention of the Heritage Close leaseholder to convert most of the shops there to restaurants or bars as part of a plan for new public access to the Abbey. This was against the wishes of the residents above the commercial properties who have a number of problems with late-night noise, but there had been very little consultation. We should be ready to react to any change-of-use planning applications, although this could be delayed by the need for consent for some aspects from Heritage England. John wanted a clear policy for deciding when and to what extent to comment on planning applications: Robert pointed out that this had only been done at the express request of members and with regard to the damage caused to Conservation or loss of amenity to a residential group. We had commented on a recent licence variation application, even though it was outside the APRA boundaries, at the request of the Civic Society and because disturbance could still affect APRA member residents {Note added: a slight reduction in the extended hours requested was granted}. Justin offered to draft rules for future intervention [JD].

7. APRA organisation. It was agreed that we need to share out responsibilities more evenly. No current update of Membership was possible and Robert would like a separate Membership Secretary to take cash or cheque subscriptions and maintain the required list of members. Justin volunteered and Peter would talk to Andrew about how to cut down on duplication of effort [PT/JD/RP]. John offered to take on organisation of the Street Reps [JH]. Geoff would draw up a new master list of responsibilities to be shared out, although most were already covered [GD].

8. Constitution. The existing APRA Constitution was based on the premise of regular turn-over in the Committee and Officer roles, which in practice had not happened, requiring a Special Resolution at the last AGM in order to keep a viable committee in existence. Peter suggested fresh elections for all committee members annually with Officers being chosen by the new committee, but others saw this as cumbersome and unusual. Sally offered to investigate further models from which we could compile a more appropriate scheme to put to the membership at the 2017 AGM [SH].

9. AOB. Norman had seen the Bishop of Richborough recently who had re-issued an invitation to hold a ‘wine and cheese’ evening event in his garden. A Saturday in May or June, say 5-7 pm, should give the best chance of accommodating families and, hopefully, of good weather [NJ]. Geoff pointed out that the site of the water leak in Romeland had been fully restored and would check to see if there was a schedule for finishing the pavement repairs that had been halted because of the escaping water.

The meeting closed at 9.50 pm