Those were Councillor Bowden’s words at the end of yesterday’s ‘special meeting’ of the Development Management Committee (DMC), which approved two major planning applications for housing on Old Park and Pinn Court Farms, in East Devon’s already blighted west end. He echoed the dismay and incredulity of residents from Broadclyst, Westclyst, Poltimore and Pinhoe who had spoken out at the meeting, about such things as the “suburban form and layout ” of the proposed developments; flooding and increased traffic dangers; and overlooking of existing houses.
Probably the most serious issue of all was raised by members of the DMC. They asked whether the two related planning applications were intended to be decided separately, or lumped together as they had been in the executive summary which had been provided for this meeting. As Cllr Bowden pointed out, the decision on the first would “impact on” the second, and the totality of them both was a very different matter from considering them as individual items. But Cllr Mike Allen’s reasonable proposal that “we should hear the second application and then make our decision”, was firmly blocked by Chair Helen Parr’s “No!”
Puzzling, as both applications involved, in Cllr Williamson’s words, “loss of agricultural land, much of it Grade 1”. “We keep hearing about this agricultural land”, said the Chair, somewhat irritably, reminding her Committee that “It is unfortunately wonderful agricultural land” that the Growth Point is built on.
Her theme was picked up by Councillor Key, EDDC’s representative on the East Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. He chipped in with, “They keep on about this Green Wedge….and farmland. Irrespective of what grade it is, houses are needed.” Or as Cllr Chamberlain simply put it, to gasps from the public, wasn’t the Green Wedge “the n****r in the woodpile”?
This was of course the considered view of the Local Development Framework Panel , as illustrated in these minutes, including declarations of personal interest (p. 4), from 2010: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/ldf_panel_minutes_110310.pdf .