Local Plan hearing sessions kick off next week

Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth

Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth

Anthony Thickett, the Planning Inspector charged with scrutinising EDDC’s Local Plan, re-opens the hearing sessions next week at the Council’s offices at the Knowle in Sidmouth. The programme for the sessions is below and is open to members of the public. There is, however, no right to public speaking:

  • Tuesday, 7 July: Gypsies and Travellers Plan, and allocation sites, including Cranbrook
  • Wednesday, 8 July: Housing (excluding Cranbrook)
  • Thursday, 9 July: Community Infrastructure Levy
  • Friday, 10 July: Reserve day

The Local Plan has been the subject of an 8-week public consultation exercise and submissions have been sent in by both Gittisham and Feniton Parish Councils.

In total, 145 organisations and individuals submitted comments and these have been forwarded to Mr Thickett for his consideration in advance of the hearing sessions. Every submission is available here (http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/emerging-plans-and-policies/the-new-local-plan/examination-and-hearing-sessions-and-further-consultation-at-april-2015/responses-to-consultation-16-april-to-12-june-2015/)

modern housesThe Local Plan currently envisages 950 new homes every year for the next 18 years. This is a very high level of build and doesn’t take account of the likelihood (even certainty) that the country will go into recession at some point in that period, which will mean that the houses just won’t be built. This is exactly the position that was faced by East Devon following the crash of 2008. The easy availability of finance completely dried up, so there were no buyers in the market for new homes, and developers simply stopped building. This resulted in an undersupply of housing which has to be taken up in the first 5 years of the Local Plan.

This simple piece of logic hasn’t prevented the developers submitting extensive papers on the need to build even more houses over the plan period.

Residents in Feniton will be interested to read the submissions from Wainhomes (land behind Louvigny Close), Strategic Land Partnership (who hold an option on Camp Field on Ottery Road) and PCL Planning (who act for Strategic Land Partnership and who appear to think that Feniton’s sustainability credentials know no bounds).

Part of the emerging Local Plan to be scrutinised next week is Strategy 27. This lists 15 or so of the larger villages and smaller towns (and the list includes Feniton).

Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year

Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year

The Plan proposes that these settlements allow building only within their Built-Up Area Boundary and that development is in accord with a Neighbourhood Plan. Feniton is currently preparing a Neighbourhood Plan as enshrined in the Localism Act (2011). There have been a number of public consultation exercises in the village and residents have had the opportunity to voice their opinion on the future of their community.

Other villages in East Devon will not be developed unless they draw up a Neighbourhood Plan, and their Built-Up Area Boundaries have been removed which effectively means that any new development would be in open countryside, which is unacceptable.

I’ll be attending two of the sessions and will post a blog about the sessions as soon as I can.

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