The planning application for a further 30 homes at Winchester Park in Feniton, which has been hanging over the village like a thick black cloud, has today been refused by EDDC’s Planning Department.
The application was put before the chairman of the Development Management Committee’s delegated meeting, Cllr Helen Parr, where the papers were signed to refuse the application on the grounds that it is outside the built-up area boundary, that together with the housing development already approved this further application would result in an increase of 16.6% which is unsustainable in a village the size of Feniton and that it would have a harmful impact on the landscape. The full decision will be available on the EDDC website in due course.
The application was submitted just four months after the Planning Inspector dismissed Wainhomes’ previous application for 83 homes following a lengthy appeal process, culminating in a hearing over two weeks in January and early February 2014.
Wainhomes has always had an eye on Feniton as being the ideal village to host its expansion in the West Country. When the company first appeared on the scene in 2011 (ironically the same year as the Localism Act was passed into law), their public consultation exercise had two proposals. The first proposal stretched from Station Road to Green Lane and suggested that the village could host 150 ‘units’ in one hit. Immediately realising that this proposal would never get through the planning process, Wainhomes embarked on a ‘bite-size chunks’ approach and put in the application for 50 houses which they won at appeal in 2012.
It is this site for 50 homes on a piece of land which is one of the main sources of flooding in the village which has been the cause of so much angst. Flood wardens have been out at 2 o’clock in the morning to assess the rate of run-off from the site as the water makes it way through woefully inadequate drainage ditches. Such was the concern about surface water run-off from Winchester Park that Devon County Council funded a rain intensity alarm to give an early warning of impending flood conditions.
To add insult to injury, Wainhomes failed to install the attenuation tanks before any of the houses were occupied, which was a condition of the appeal.
However, having won their 50 homes (but ever with an eye to expanding across to Green Lane), Wainhomes then put in an application for a further 83 houses (so that would have been a total of 133 houses on the site … getting close to the original 150 houses always intended).
East Devon District Council did not (and still does not) have a Local Plan in place and could not demonstrate that they had sufficient sites available for the following 5/6-year period. Despite this, Planning Inspector Jessica Graham rejected the 83 houses … and the village enjoyed a few months of respite while Wainhomes slunk away to lick its wounds.
Today’s refusal is undoubtedly not the end of the story.
Wainhomes will go to appeal and put the village through the misery of defending itself against this developer for a third time.
But the resilience of the people of Feniton is legendary and they will not sit back and be bullied into submission.