Minutes of the Sesswick Community Council meeting, held in Marchwiel Village Hall on Monday 10th October 2016 at 7pm
Cllr John Hurst Chairman
Cllr S. Heather Rowland Vice- Chairman
Cllr John Pritchard County Councillor
Cllr Jennifer Williams
Cllr Elizabeth Griffiths
Ian Griffiths Clerk and responsible financial officer
Martin Vasey Director, Robinwood Activity Centres Ltd
Four members of the public
16/83 To receive apologies for absence
Cllr Christine Stead Illness
16/84 To receive any declarations of interest
|Cllr John Hurst||Personal||Lives in property adjacent to site of proposed application|
|Cllr John Pritchard||Personal||Member of county council planning committee|
16/85 Planning application at the site of the former Cross Lanes Hotel and lodge
1 Mr Vasey from Robinwood gave a presentation on the proposed application to change the use of the site from the hospitality industry to running a residential activity centre running courses for up to one- hundred- and seventy 7- 11 year olds and twenty- five teachers. These will include archery, canoeing, rafting, caving, climbing, zip- wire, a high- ropes course. a giant swing and “Quest” (themed problem- solving)
2 Robinwood has been operating for 22 years and is well- regarded in the Sunday Times. employer listings. There is a high level of demand for the courses offered across its other sites
3 The application had been lodged with Wrexham County Borough Council during the previous week, so the community council should receive the documentation imminently.
4 Should planning permission be granted, there would be between eight and twelve months of construction time needed. The earliest date the centre would open is February 2018
5 The site will operate during school term times, for around 37- 38 weeks per annum. There may be the very occasional weekend event, but there are no plans for regular events to take place on Saturdays or Sundays. There may be the potential for the facilities to be hired for weekend use subject to demand, but this would involve additional costs for staffing. The business’s other sites are transitioning from a seven day to a five- day working week.
6 While on the complex, the children will not be able to leave the site. Sessions run from 8.40am until 8.40pm. During participants’ stay, they would partake in 15 different activities, each session lasting for 1 hour and 10 minutes. The youngsters will be very closely supervised, throughout, and the same activity leader stays with the group throughout their 3- day sojourn.
7 The majority of the sessions take place indoors. Outside activities normally end before 6pm. Some low- noise events may finish by 8.40pm during the summer. In the winter, rafting and canoeing will stop by 3.20pm.
8 There should be very little aural impact on local residents. The nearest property is located 100 metres from the centre and tree screening will block any loud sounds coming from the complex. It was stated that, compared to the site’s previous use, residents should actually experience a diminution in sound levels.
9 Three new buildings would be constructed, replacing existing edifices. This would include changing rooms- cum- showering facilities. The hotel building itself would also be extended to provide accommodation, though this would be 40% less in scale than the previous (unenacted) permission granted to the previous occupants some 8- 9 years ago. A outside pool will be constructed, to a maximum depth of 1.5 metres
10 A small number of trees would be felled as a consequence of the development. None of the specimens to be removed have tree- preservation- orders assigned against them. A number of category A trees that had been earmarked for removal in the aforementioned prior permission would now be saved. Additional saplings would be planted. The county arboreal office has been consulted on the proposal.
11 When the centre is in use, the applicants would offer community groups, gratis, the use of the teachers’ lounge area on Friday evenings, from around 5pm until 8.30pm. This would involve comfortable seating for at least 25 people, along with a lockable fridge, a cupboard storage area but no licensed bar. A member of staff would be on- site and available during this time. The option of having a community café at the site was put to the applicant, but nothing further vis à vis facilities for residents could be offered.
12 Robinwood would be willing to provide, free- of- charge, seven Friday evenings (4.40pm until 7.20pm) for local children aged between 7 and 13 years old. Each session would be for up to 24 youngsters and would need to be booked in advance. Such reservations would be made by individuals rather than coming from clubs.
13 Additionally, an open day, exclusively for residents, could be arranged for one Saturday in April or May 2018. This would allow all ages to have taster sessions of the different activities.
14 During May or June 2018, short courses over four evenings would also be available aimed at specific skills
15 Charity Days would be held on a couple of Saturdays each year. Participants would pay to partake in the sessions, and other activities such as music and bouncy castles would also be available. The money raised would then be donated to local causes and the community council would be consulted on possible beneficiaries for such financial benevolence. It was put forward that the funds raised from one of these events could be used to subsidise local children’s participation on future courses, and this suggestion will be looked into further by the applicant.
16 All vehicles will access and exit the site using the A525 road entrance. Kiln lane will only be used for emergencies will be probably be gated and closed at all times.
17 The development will encompass 39 car park spaces and 4 disabled car park spaces. The business operates a “Travel- to- Work” scheme among staff.
18 There will be 3 coach parking areas. There will be sufficient room at the site for drivers to safely manoeuvre and park, so as to enter and exit the site without issue.
19 The first wave of participants would arrive on Monday morning between 10.20am and 11.40am. They would then leave between 1.20pm and 2.40pm on Wednesday. The second wave of children would then arrive on Wednesday morning (again between 10.20am and 11.40am) and depart on Friday afternoon between 1.20pm and 2.40pm.
20 There will be a larger number of youngsters on site on Wednesdays between 10.20am and 2.40pm when both groups are on site. This is standard practice across all Robinwood centres. Staff are highly experienced in managing the flow of children and this will be readily accommodated
21 The centre fully caters for disabled participants and activities are tailored to catered to individual needs.
22 It is expected that 52 jobs would be available at the new site. 38 would be full- time and 14 part- time. Among this number would be 23 group leaders (who would also cover night- shifts) and 2 lead caterers.
23 Recruitment would take place in Cross Lanes from September until December 2017. The business aims to recruit 50% of these roles locally. No specific qualifications are required, but prior experience of working with children is a pre-requisite for the roles.
24 Robinwood offers permanent, all- year-round positions. The business does not favour zero- hour contracts in its terms to employees, and will only offer them to staff if explicitly requested to do so.
25 A group- leader will work an average of 33 hours a week over the year, with 6 weeks of holiday. While the site is operating, s/he would work for around 38 hours per week, depending on bookings.
26 After one year of employment, staff will be paid at least the national living wage. Before then, a rate above the minimum wage is offered. This compares favourably to other companies in the same sector, who often employ new staff as modern apprentices and paid the apprentice rate (below the minimum wage). There is the opportunity for bonuses, depending on business and individual performance.
27 The applicant stated there was no current intention for the complex to be connected to the main drainage system, and would continue to use the existing septic tank. Concern was raised that such a provision would be inadequate and that nearby land was already being flooded with faecal matter. Mr Vasey would investigate this further, not being aware of this previously.
28 The bulk of the participants’ courses is paid for privately by parents. Some local education authorities also make a contribution to the cost.
29 There will be CCTV and enhanced nocturnal lighting installed for security purposes.
30 Fencing around the estate and entrance gates are part of the application. The fence will be around 1m 20cm high, to be unobtrusive and in keeping with the area. Hedging will be planted to fit any existing gaps, especially by the track off Kiln Lane.
31 The spoil generated as part of the construction (namely soil to accommodate the pool and giant swing) will not be transported off- site but landscaped into the grounds’ design.
16/86 Any other business
No topics had been raised to the Chairman
16/87 Date of next meeting
Monday 21st November 2016
The meeting ended at 9pm