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 .
Today’s Development Management Committee passed the planning applications for the Pinhoe area, including “Old Park Farm 2” with minimal debate.
Two questions spring to mind:
Why bother with a DMC at all?
Which councillors on the DMC seem to have severed their friendships with one of the developers – having declared a personal interest as “acquaintances” in 2010 but no interest at all in 2014?
Keep up to date with Local Plan correspondence – and check for the Planning Inspector’s initial findings letter.
Quite a few letters were exchanged between interested parties whilst the Planning Inspector was hearing submissions for the local plan (including one rather tetchy exchange between him and an EDDC officer.
Letters can be accessed at the link below – where the letter promised by the Inspector by 31 March 2014 should be posted when it arrives
….. I would comment on the level of community involvement in this application. The statement of community involvement submitted by the applicants’ agent considered that it is not “considered necessary to undertake community consultation to the extent which might normally be expected”.
…..I write on behalf of myself and my husband. We are one of the closest residents to the proposals and were only made aware of the proposals because of media attention.
Putting aside the fact that we have not been consulted on something so close to our property (…..20m or less away from us) we wish to strongly object on the following grounds:
…..Millwood has taken Counsel’s advice in respect of the interrelationship between OPF2 and Pinn Court. In the event that OPF2 is permitted in advance of Pinn Court, Millwood intends to lodge a judicial review of the decision.
…..It is my understanding that there claims to have been local consultation over this matter. This I find difficult to understand. I live some 50 metres form the first of the two mini roundabouts, if approaching from the Heart of Oak side on Main Road. In my experience there has been no attempt to obtain my views on this proposed redevelopment of the roundabouts. Consultation could have been attempted to affected householders by letter, leaflet drop or cold calling to households. Here it appears to have been by stealth, whisper quietly about it, post some very small planning application to a non descript lamp post or take out a small advert in a paper if indeed any of them. All of the immediately mentioned methods can hardly be called consulting!
…..Note to EDDC – Advertising of such a large scale developments deserve more than a single notice tied to a lamppost. This is worthy of a leaflet drop to the area, since the long term financial benefits to EDDC through council tax would more than cover this short term cost. EDDC wake up to your moral and social responsibilities and not just the ones that central government dictates!
….For some reason we have been left out of any consultations, only finding out about meetings where we could object, after the event, ..
…..The plans seem to have been little publicised and despite living around a mile from the proposed access road, have only discovered the plans through spotting a dishevelled notice half way down a post at the side of the road.
The British Legion is not there to help you through financial difficulties and people would be horrified that you were effectively putting your hand in the till. You were stealing from a charity and that makes this the more despicable,” she said. “It is extremely disappointing that you succumbed to temptation not once but repeatedly over a significant period of time.
It makes you wonder what the judge might say about a town or district councillor who makes an even more serious error.
Development Management – democracy or “special” treatment – tomorrow’s DMC meeting – your chance to have your say
If you believe that EDDC should not be hearing planning applications that are not in the old or new local plan before they receive the initial comments of the Planning Inspector who reviewed the Local Plan (and who has promised them by 31 March 2014) please attend the Development Management Committee meeting on 25 March 2014 at 2 pm (Knowle – agenda HERE) where two planning applications for hundreds of houses which may not be needed have been speed-tracked (see posts below) by the creation of this “special” meeting. A routine meeting of the committee is being held on 1 April 2014.
A revealing document called “Community Control or Countryside Chaos?” , has been published today by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
In it, the CPRE assesses the impact of the governments’ National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) two years on. Feniton is featured on p 10, as one of a number of communities in England ‘under siege’ (with an excellent map!). There’s a good Case Study on East Devon on p15, which again refers to Feniton, but also the Colyford decision.
The report made the front page of today’s Western Morning News http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Towns-villages-siege-developers/story-20843419-detail/story.html – again referencing Feniton, and featuring an interview with Councillor Susie Bond *.The Express and Echo also has the story, as has the national press https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/03/24/cpre-says-devon-villages-under-siege-by-developers/
The Daily Telegraph has a report, too. Link will follow.
*Note: Independent Cllr Bond was elected in a landslide victory, replacing former Councillor Graham Brown, who is the subject of a lengthy, on-going police investigation .