So long … farewell …

It’s time to go!

It has been a true privilege to serve the people of Feniton, Buckerell and Gittisham over the last 8 years, but now the time has come to hang up my Council badge and bid farewell to the residents of my ward.

We sold our house during the first lockdown in 2020 and moved up to Berkshire to be closer to family and friends, but because of Covid restrictions, no elections could be held, so I stayed on working for my ward from afar. This worked extremely well as no face-to-face meetings were permitted anyway and all Council meetings, at both District and Parish level, were held via Zoom.

Sadly, after May 7, this was no longer allowed under the previous Covid emergency legislation, despite great optimism over the success of Zoom meetings and the vastly increased numbers of people (both members of the public and councillors) attending the meetings remotely.

Therefore, with a sad heart, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to step aside.

A byelection will now be called and will probably take place in the next couple of months (hopefully in June). I’m sure everyone will afford the new district councillor for Feniton ward the same welcome afforded me.

Have you considered standing for election?

Being a District Councillor brings with it quite a time commitment if you are to fulfil the role as required. There are some who do the bare minimum and others who work tremendously hard … quietly and without making a fuss. Could you be one of those?

If you’ve ever felt you wanted to represent your community in a non-political way, I would be delighted to support you as long as you stand as a true Independent. By ‘Independent’, I mean anyone who is not a member of a political party, because I’m of the firm conviction that there is no room for politics at District Council level. There is work to be done and politics just ‘gets in the way’ … much better to sit round a table and agree on how best to serve those who pay their Council Tax, without constant carping at other political parties!

As a true Independent, you sit on committees, join in the debate, consider views of others and then make up your own mind, without worrying about your political masters and how they might treat you if you vote in what they perceive is the wrong way. Nobody will judge you on your voting record and no-one has the right to do so!

This is a link to the East Devon District Council page which gives information to those thinking of standing for election: https://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/becoming-a-councillor/become-a-district-councillor/. Please feel free to contact me for more information, or indeed if this is of interest to you.

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Local Plan Review consultation is now open for comment!

Below is a press release explaining the rationale behind the Local Plan Review currently under way and how you can have your say in formulating the revised Local Plan.

East Devon District Council’s new Local Plan will outline how the district addresses the climate change emergency, how many new homes should be built and where, how and where new jobs should be created, how we should support our town centres and how we protect our built heritage and natural environment.

The Local Plan is the key document used in making decisions in East Devon.

Everyone who lives, works and spends time in the district has been asked to share their views about the future of the district as part of the East Devon’s Local Plan Consultation which is now live.

The consultation also seeks views on the quality of new developments and how this could be improved by changing how development is delivered in the district. This could include encouraging a wider range of types of housing to be delivered by supporting self-builders and small local developers.

The consultation can be viewed on-line at: www.eastdevon.gov.uk/newlocalplan and comments can be made through an online form.

The feedback we receive to this initial consultation will be used to help inform and refine our thinking as the local plan is progressed.

We have set ourselves a challenging but exciting programme to produce the local plan.

In just over a years’ time we hope to have a draft plan with lots more detail in it that we will invite comment on, then in late 2023 and into 2024 we will move to a final version of the plan informed by the comments we receive that will then be subject to an examination in public by a Government appointed planning inspector.

Alongside the local plan consultation we are also offering the opportunity, through a ‘call for sites’, for people to identify land areas that they think would be suitable for development.

We will look at the sites submitted and will choose from them a list of those that we think should feature in the local plan as future land for development.

As part of future consultation there will be the opportunity for people to comment on favoured site choices.

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Burlands Mead planning application, Open meeting

Just to clarify in case there is still any confusion over the Burlands Mead planning application (Reference number 20/2247/FUL).

The application was on the Parish Council’s agenda on 16 December and councillors decided to invite the developer to an open Zoom meeting so that residents of Feniton could put questions about the application to the developer. Several years ago, the Parish Council hosted a similar open meeting in the case of the proposed development at Acland Park, and this proved a valuable opportunity for the public to ask questions of the developer.

A mutually convenient date was agreed as 23 December. The agenda for the meeting and the following extraordinary meeting of the Parish Council, along with Zoom joining instructions can be found here.

The closing date for submission of the parish council’s comments to EDDC’s website is 4 January, so any meeting had to be held before Christmas. The developer agreed to a Zoom meeting on 23 December, starting at 7 pm. Under normal circumstances, a development on a site of such importance to the village would have been discussed in public, either as part of the Parish Council’s usual monthly meeting, or in a public meeting as has been done numerous times before.

However, we are not living in normal times and this is the only way the Parish Council could open up discussion to the whole village. If the Parish Council had delayed a meeting into the New Year, the deadline for submission of comments to EDDC would have passed and the PC response would not have been informed by residents’ views.

Questions for the developer need to be sent to Alison Marshall, our parish clerk, on fenitonpc@gmail.com by 6 p.m. tonight, so that questions can be collated to make sure that the meeting runs as smoothly as possible. Even if you are unable to attend the Zoom meeting, feel free to send in questions anyway.

At the end of the meeting, the parish councillors will discuss the application as part of an Extraordinary meeting, taking your views into consideration and then formulate a response which will be posted on EDDC’s website along with the responses of all statutory consultees (these are Devon Highways, the Ottery St Mary district councillors, Ottery St Mary Town Council, EDDC’s Environmental Health department, South West Water, EDDC’s arboricultural officers).

If you miss the meeting on 23 December, you can still comment on the application on EDDC’s website, by email or letter (postal address: East Devon District Council, Blackdown House, Border Road, Heathpark Industrial Estate, Honiton, EX14 1EJ. For clarity, EDDC will only look at ‘planning considerations’ and they list these as examples:

  • The impact of a proposal on your property
  • The proposed design and materials
  • Issues relating to vehicular access and parking
  • Impact on trees
  • Noise issues
  • Concerns about flooding

Comments covering non-planning issues will not be considered. These are listed as examples:

  • Loss of value to your property
  • Loss of a view
  • Boundary and neighbour disputes
  • The impact of a proposal on private drainage systems

Planning Policy

The planning application must adhere to the following planning policies:

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

EDDC’s Local Plan

Feniton’s Neighbourhood Plan

This last document is arguably the most important and is worth reading in full, particularly as it has to comply with national and local planning policy. The Neighbourhood Plan was formulated over several years and residents were consulted throughout. The amount of work involved by a team of dedicated residents and parish councillors was considerable. A referendum was held on 17 May 2018. All those over the age of 18, who were resident in the parish of Feniton were eligible to vote against a simple Yes/No to the question:

Do you want East Devon District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Feniton to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?

The result was a resounding 462 in favour and 30 against. EDDC acclaimed the Neighbourhood Plan as a model for others and members of the NP committee were commended for the amount of consultation undertaken. The turnout of just over 32% was one of the highest in the District.

The Role of Facebook

The role of Feniton Focus within the village is as a communication tool. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Parish Council and it is not monitored by the parish clerk. Any comments posted on Feniton Focus won’t reach the Parish Council.

Posting notification of Parish Council meetings on Feniton Focus is simply a means of using Facebook to reach as many people as possible. The formal way for the PC to communicate is via their village notice board and on the PC website.

And finally … There will be some who are unable to attend the Zoom meeting, but I’m always happy to hear from residents by phone (0771 222 7434) or email (sbond@eastdevon.gov.uk).

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