For the third time of asking … land west of Hayne Lane

The highly contentious Welbeck site makes its third appearance before EDDC’s Planning Committee on Friday this week.

Land west of Hayne with Blackdown Hills AONB in the distance

Land west of Hayne Lane with Blackdown Hills AONB in the distance

The site is a reserve site under the Local Plan only to be considered for development should insufficient sites come forward to meet Honiton’s allocation over the current plan period to 2026.

The problem for decision-makers on the committee is that East Devon’s Local Plan has yet to be adopted and, under the current Draconian planning rules, there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This means that if members of the committee consider that the site is sustainable from an economic, environmental and social perspective (the three strands of sustainability), they have no alternative but to approve the application.

However, the sustainability credentials of the site are debatable.

The site is a greenfield site currently used by the adjoining farm for permanent grazing which is of economic importance to the farming enterprise. The application proposes 300 homes with no community building to promote community cohesion. Residents will be isolated on a site which sticks out like a sore thumb into open countryside wedged between two Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and building here would constitute ribbon development.

The proposal has taken a tortuous route to get to this point.

It was first put before the Development Management Committee (DMC) on 3 April. Members of the committee appeared to me to be minded to refuse the application, but were struggling to find reasons for refusal which would stand up at appeal. They voiced concern about the access to the site (which Devon County Council Highways had approved) and felt that the location of the site made it unsustainable. They determined to refer the application to the Planning Inspections Committee (PIC).

Along with ward members, planning officers and a Devon County Council traffic officer, members of PIC visited the site on 25 April. The traffic officer assured members that the mitigation measures being proposed to deal with the traffic under the narrow railway bridge would not create a bottleneck at peak times. Many members were sceptical.

Narrow railway bridge under which all traffic will have to pass to enter or leave the proposed estate

Narrow railway bridge under which all traffic will have to pass to enter or leave the proposed estate

Following the site inspection visit, members reconvened at EDDC’s council chamber to chew over their decision. Reluctantly, they voted 5-3 in favour of the application (see https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/major-decisions-for-honiton-taken-at-planning-committee/).

The dismay felt by residents, members of Gittisham Parish Council and members of Honiton Town Council was palpable.

In the normal course of events, that would have been the end of the story. The developer would move in at leisure and concrete over yet another swathe of East Devon’s countryside.

However, at a meeting with members of Gittisham Parish Council and EDDC’s Chief Executive, concern was expressed that the landscape value of the site had not been given sufficient weight in the planning officer’s report. The site lies between two AONBs (East Devon and Blackdown Hills) and current planning guidance dictates that when deciding planning applications the setting of the AONB must be taken into consideration.

The whole application is to be reviewed by the Planning Inspection Committee on Friday 11 July with the meeting starting at 10 a.m. It is the only item on the agenda (see http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/110714_combined_pic_agenda.pdf).

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3 Responses to For the third time of asking … land west of Hayne Lane

  1. Paul says:

    As a brain dump here is my list of areas to be checked for sustainability:

    1. Haynes lane access (with the bridge and all) for both:

    a. Size and quantity of builders vehicles with e.g. cranes, bulldozers, builders’ merchants lorries, cement mixers, tradesmen’s vans, etc. (Also there should be a risk assessment of disruption were one of these large vehicles to hit the railway bridge.) Oh, and access for pantechnicons for people moving in.

    b. The ongoing vehicle movements for 300 homes e.g. (say) 450+ vehicle movements in the morning and afternoons for commuting / school runs.

    2. Utilities – adequate capacity for electricity, gas, water, sewerage, OpenReach phone lines

    3. Rain water drainage

    4. School places for (say) 300 more kids, including (say) a local primary school within walking distance

    5. Places on NHS doctors and dentists lists, hospital beds

    6. Car parking at the Station for those commuting to Exeter or London by train, and Honiton town centre car parking.

    Obviously the assessment of available capacity for the above would also need to be after taking into account the Gittisham development which will use up a lot of any existing spare capacity.

    The attitude of the DCC Highways officer is also suspect – his attitude should be to err on the side of caution, not to make optimistic assumptions that it will probably be OK. In particular, rather than basing it on a gut reaction, a numerical assessment should have been made about the size and quantity of site vehicles during building and measurements made to confirm whether this is OK or not. The sustainability of vehicle movements both during building and afterwards should also not have been limited to the railway bridge, but should have included the movement of these vehicles through the Heathpark industrial estate, particularly at the Homebase corner, and for traffic coming off the A30 in either direction or joining the A30 eastbound the impact at the Aldi junction which is already subject to considerable congestion. The Highways assessment should also have included a risk assessment for both damage to the railway bridge and for accidents from construction traffic at the above junctions. If there were any concerns or uncertainty about the sustainability or risks from construction traffic, any planning approval should have been subject to limits on vehicle movements etc. to mitigate these issues.

    The wringing of DMC members hands at the earlier meeting is to be deplored – if they needed facts to decide whether the application was sustainable (rather than hunches or gut reactions) they should have asked for them.

    However, of course it may now be too late to object on sustainability grounds.

  2. Pingback: Further delay in determining application for 300 homes on edge of Honiton | Susie Bond

  3. Mike Allen says:

    It is crystal clear that the site is very questionable for access,impact on education and healthcare capacity and under other circumstances would most likely e rejected. I worked with NHS and Education to supplement the excellent work done by Gittisham and the Honiton objectors and keep lose contact with Susie Bond over this issue aswellaswithHonitonTC Planning Committee. We stopped the AONB site and Feniton won most of the battle in Their are working with EDDC Plannersa d Susie. Politics do not enter into this, we work together as a community to make sure houses, jobs and the future of our children are safeguarded. Please join in and help if you haven’t already

    Councillor Mike Allen

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