Feniton cited in major planning study

The extent to which Feniton has been targeted by developers has been highlighted in a national report from the CPRE.

ImageThe report ‘Community Control or Countryside Chaos?’ focuses on case studies undertaken by the CPRE, including Feniton, and raises concerns about the damage to the countryside and the loss of faith in the democratic process when houses are forced on communities which have no say in where they should go.

The chaos has come about because the new planning regulations (National Planning Policy Framework or NPPF) came into force with unseemly haste in March 2012, followed by only a year’s grace for councils to get their Local Plan together.

Fight for Feniton and the East Devon Alliance have organised two marches through Feniton in March 2013 and again in January 2014 (see https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/after-the-party/ and https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/protest-march-feniton-on-the-move/) to express fury at the Draconian planning rules which have resulted in East Devon District Council (among many other councils) having to determine planning applications and defend appeals, while at the same time trying to draw up a Local Plan to fill the vacuum currently in the system.

Planning decisions are effectively being decided by landowners and developers.

Gittisham too is under attack with a massive proposed development scheduled to come up before EDDC’s planning committee on 3 April. The site itself was a reserve site meaning that it should not be considered for development before 2026 and only then in the event that nearby Honiton has not achieved its allocated housing numbers. Full report here … http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/300_houses_on_edge_of_gittisham_set_for_approval

For a full version of the CPRE’s report, see http://www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/3568-planning-reforms-putting-rural-england-under-siege which has a link to the case study outlining the situation faced in East Devon, but particularly Feniton.

Shaun Spiers, Chief Executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has been extremely supportive of the plight of the residents of Feniton. At the time of the EDA march in January this year, which took place in the middle of the Super Inquiry into three proposed developments in the village, he sent a message of support which read:

Feniton is facing growth of over 40% as three developers argue the case to build on open countryside. This is not ‘sustainable development’ by any stretch of the imagination, and the outcome at Feniton will have repercussions for many countryside communities facing the same threats.

In the conclusion to the CPRE report, Shaun Spiers says:

This report provides firm evidence from across England that the Government’s planning reforms are not achieving their stated aims. Far from community control of local development, we are seeing councils under pressure to disregard local democracy to meet top-down targets.

Local authorities are having to agree fanciful housing numbers and allocate huge areas of greenfield land to meet them. Where they lack an up to date plan, the countryside is up for grabs and many villages feel under siege from developers. But tragically the result is not more housing, and certainly not more affordable housing – just more aggro and less green space.

The Government urgently needs to rethink its planning policies. Otherwise, its defining legacy will be – in the words of Nadhim Zahawi MP – the ‘physical harm’ it does to the countryside. In recent weeks there have been some signs that Ministers are willing to do more to promote brownfield development and protect the Green Belt. This is welcome, but much more needs to be done to protect the countryside, put communities back in the driving seat, and build the new homes the country needs.

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