And now even the AONBs aren’t safe from grasping developers!

Appeal decision at Milton-under-Wychwood

An extraordinary decision following the planning appeal on land at Milton-under-Wychwood in West Oxfordshire has seen the Draconian planning rules turned completely on their head.


Current planning policy, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) identifies that, in the absence of a Local Plan, houses should be built in locations which are sustainable from an environmental, social and economic perspective.

Paragraph 115 of the NPPF clearly stipulates that AONBs should have the ‘highest level of protection’ from development:

115. Great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.


West Oxfordshire’s Local Plan

The NPPF came into force in 2012 with councils given a year’s grace to March 2013 to get their Local Plans in place and identify that they had a 5-year supply of land for housing development. West Oxfordshire District Council seems to be woefully far behind in this process and, according to the planning decision, could only demonstrate a 2-year land supply. The figures, of course, did not take into consideration the number of houses in the pipeline.

View of Cotswold AONB from Milton-under-Wychwood

View of Cotswold AONB from Milton-under-Wychwood

The site is in David Cameron’s own constituency, at Milton-under-Wychwood in West Oxfordshire, where the appeal has allowed 62 houses in the very heart of the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

I gather that local residents are understandably livid and have major concerns that 100+ cars will exit the new development directly on to a single track road, through a village with impossible parking facilities. There are no places in the school, the surgery is full, and there is already another approved development for 40 houses in the village. The population of the village is under 1,700 and the combined developments will swamp the village with over a hundred new houses. A massive development is currently being built in Chipping Norton, with another one going through the appeal process (and yet another in Burford and another in Charlbury).

Fears over surface water flooding

Worries about flooding from the site are very real, with concerns about houses downhill of the site at high risk of flooding. The planning inspector has recognised this and stipulated that flood mitigation measures must be put in place before a single house is occupied, and given our experience here in Feniton at Wainhomes’ Winchester Park site, I would strongly urge residents to keep a close eye on this one.

Campaigners in Milton-under-Wychwood now have to consider their position and there are very few options open to them. Judicial review is the only route left, but it requires money and a determination to carry on the fight.

MP for West Oxfordshire

David Cameron is currently on holiday, but I’m sure he has been pondering what legacy he has left this country … He certainly has some serious questions to answer from the residents of Milton-under-Wychwood.

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Planning policy strengthened in East Devon

Following the adoption of the Local Plan earlier this year … much to the relief of all of us who sought clarity in decision-making on planning in East Devon … EDDC is now working on several supporting documents which will underpin planning policy.

The main thrust of the Local Plan is that development will be focused in the West End of the district, i.e. around Cranbrook, so that residents there can easily access employment at the Science Park, Sky Park and Exeter by foot, bicycle or public transport. The second tier for development is in the larger towns in East Devon.

Feniton village sign(3)In addition, East Devon has identified 15 villages and small towns (Beer, Broadclyst, Clyst St Mary, Colyton, East Budleigh, Feniton, Kilmington, Lympstone, Musbury, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury, Uplyme, West Hill, Whimple and Woodbury) as offering a range of accessible services and facilities to meet many of the everyday needs of local residents, as well as reasonable public transport.

East Devon is not looking to allocate housing in these settlements and development would only be permitted where it is promoted through an adopted Neighbourhood Plan or where it is inside the built-up area boundary (BUAB).

A consultation is now underway to define the BUABs in these 15 settlements and is open to residents, landowners and developers to make their case for expansion or tightening of the boundary.

The map below shows the extent of the proposed boundary following a full assessment of sites by officers at EDDC (; The boundary is unlikely to change, unless robust evidence is put forward by those responding to the consultation.
Proposed BUAB for Feniton
Note that old Feniton now has no built-up area boundary, which means that it is effectively in the open countryside and development would be against policy and therefore resisted.

The closing date for the consultation is 28 September. Those wishing to comment can write to:

Planning Policy,
East Devon District Council,
Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

or email, putting ‘Villages Plan’ in the subject box.

Having studied all the submissions, officers will finalise the Villages Plan and it will be examined by a Planning Inspector before coming into force.

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Feniton Neighbourhood Plan steering group continues consultation

Setting up the Neighbourhood Plan stand

Setting up the Neighbourhood Plan stand

Feniton basked in glorious sunshine to celebrate probably the biggest event in the village calendar … the annual Fun Day, held this year on Sunday 3 July.

Despite drizzle in the morning while stall-holders were setting up, the sun burst through just as Fun Day was opened by none other than Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Mickey and MinnieAs usual the event was packed, as people from the village and beyond came to enjoy all that is good about village life.







It felt as though every club and organisation in the village was represented. As well as the usual mix of plant stalls, sweet stalls, ice cream vans, coconut shy and craft stalls, there were immense bouncy castles, entertainment from Honiton majorettes, Tale Valley choir, Ben the Juggler, Otter Morris dancers, and an extraordinary display of agility and balance from Honiton Gymnasts.

Jayne Blackmore points the way to Rev Cate

Jayne Blackmore points the way to Rev Cate

It was therefore a perfect opportunity for Feniton Parish Council and members of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group to lay out their stall, to keep the village residents up to date with progress and listen to their views.

There was plenty of interest from residents and non-residents alike, and a steady stream of people came and chatted to the steering group committee throughout the afternoon.

Soaking up the atmosphere

Soaking up the atmosphere

Every adult in the village has been consulted on the future of the village and given the opportunity to complete a survey. The results of the survey have now been analysed and draft policies formulated.

An audited and approved Neighbourhood Plan is a legal document that has the same standing as both National and Local Planning Policy. It must compliment the National and Local planning documents but it will offer the people living within the area of the Neighbourhood Plan a say in how, where, what and when development takes place in their area, even down to the type and appearance of the developments that we would accept.

Where would you rather be?

Where would you rather be?

The steering group has been working with a planning consultant and officers at EDDC and, as a result, the full Neighbourhood Plan will soon be available for public consultation. All documentation is available on the Parish Council’s website (

[All photographs kindly provided by Cllr Chris Gibbins.]

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