Today at the Super Inquiry, deliberations continued about the merits (or otherwise) of the landscape heritage of Feniton. The Inquiry adjourned early as it was scheduled to reconvene at Feniton Primary School at 6 o’clock.
The Inspector, Jessica Graham, had kindly agreed to hold an evening session in the village, so that as many people as possible could submit their views to her.
In total, nearly 250 people packed the village school to make representations to the Inspector, the three developers and Feniton Parish Council who are taking a full part in proceedings.
Residents Roz Pardee, Tom Clarke, Margaret Cornish, Helen Chapman, Rev Cate Edmonds, Sue Derbyshire (from Payhembury), Mary Hawker, David May, Jayne Blackmore, Tamara Bennett (on behalf of Clint and Chris Cooper at the Post Office in Feniton), Ernest Peters, Chris Burton, Bill Knollman, me, David Lanning, Mark Simic, Penny Hill, Bridget Floodgate, Dr Ann Macintyre (resident of Tiverton concerned about foul water discharging on to the roads), Janet Seale, Ian Walker, Mark Maries (chairman of the governors of Feniton Primary School), Val Jones, Colin Gibbins, Lee Mullinger, Danny Beaven, Eleanor Clarke, Brenda Powell, Mary Chapman, Dave Baker and Richard Barass all presented submissions to the Inspector.
I thought I would blog Rev Cate’s submission in full, as it has a different take to many of the representations made this evening:
Someone the other day referred to Feniton as a wounded village. I think that a more apt expression would be a ‘punch drunk village’. Over the years, various pieces of development have taken place, often slipping through planning when regulations changed. Promises were made guarding facility improvements and flood alleviation, but these were never forthcoming. A sense of being let down gathered again and being put upon, a sense perhaps that no one cared. This of course was reaffirmed by the more recent overturning of planning permission for the Wainhomes 50 houses, where local and county objections were ignored or rather dismissed.
The village members, my parishioners, live in constant anxiety. What next? They feel put upon and that their feelings and worries are not being listened to, present situation excepted. There is a constant worry about flooding, promises made and not kept, overflowing sewers, fear of getting children into the local school, particularly when a previous inspector said that children could be bussed to other schools. Where one might ask, as the surrounding schools are almost if not already full. What morality is there in bussing 5-year-olds miles to go to school? How are relationships with the school built for parents and children alike with a distant community? Our health services are over-stretched at the moment. It can take more than 2 weeks to get an appointment with our local surgeries and we have heard from them that they are at breaking point, so even the personal anxiety cannot be treated adequately.
As a representative also of surrounding communities, there is concern over the increase of traffic on our very narrow roads. During peak times, the roads are already congested and traffic from surrounding villages passes along our roads. With a substantial increase in housing, this will be exacerbated causing further congestion and danger. We are encouraged to look at cycling. Not many would dare to cycle these lanes at peak times. I won’t mention the inadequate public transport.
We are stewards of the earth, it is important that we look after green fields for future generations. There are brownfield sites which could be developed more efficiently and without affecting the natural habitat of our wildlife. We have already seen the devastation of a large chunk of Devon bank which is irreplaceable … this too causes anxiety to many.
Our rural landscape, which we all appreciate, cannot be reclaimed once it has been buried under concrete. A village boundary has been set. If this is disregarded, how can people have any trust in elected members and any form of Localism, which David Cameron in 2012 spoke very publicly about.
Of course we are aware of the need for affordable housing, no one would deny the right of people to have a roof over their heads, but well thought out and planned development is what is needed in areas which can be sustained and where appropriate services can be provided for all, not moving people into an area where services are already stretched and where idle promises are made for improvements. That is dishonest to both the old and the new residents. The villagers of Feniton have heard it all before and are still suffering through poorly thought-out decisions of the past. The errors of the past need to be sorted before further development is considered for the welfare of existing residents and also for residents to come.