Feniton village boundary: putting the record straight

From the blog of Feniton district councillor Susie Bond:

“Development in Feniton always excites comment, but I was especially disappointed to read an ill-informed, anonymous letter in the September issue of Feniton’s parish magazine.

It’s all too easy to set rumours running and temperatures rising, by which time of course the damage is done. However, this letter was so unhelpful, I thought it needed addressing paragraph by paragraph:

“I was surprised to receive details of the so called proposed changes in Feniton’s Built Up Boundary through an e-mail from a local estate agent.”

Why would an estate agent have any interest in Feniton’s Built Up Area Boundary (to give it its proper name)? Unless of course the correspondent meant a ‘planning agent’, i.e. developer, who of course would have a vested interest in moving the site in question to within the boundary.

“There is a large piece of land to the east of Ottery Road leading up to the station which has been the home to some dilapidated greenhouses for as long as I can remember having lived in the village for nearly fifteen years and as far as I know throughout this time, this land has been included in Feniton’s Built up Boundary.”

This paragraph is probably the only paragraph that is factually correct.

“Why suddenly do I hear of a proposal to take it outside the Built-up Boundary and who exactly proposed this. There is no point in pretending that further development will not occur in Feniton at some point to come, but I do object to this eleventh hour clandestine approach to remove a site that has always been earmarked for such further development without understanding who and what reasons are behind such a proposal.”

I posted a blog about this on 9 August (https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/planning-policy-strengthened-in-east-devon/), and of course EDDC’s proposed changes have been discussed extensively, including at the monthly public meeting of Feniton Parish Council on 11 July (minuted in the August issue of the parish magazine). There is nothing ‘clandestine’ about any of this, and the author seems not to understand what a Built Up Area Boundary (BUAB) actually is. It does not, for example, designate areas for development.

The proposed BUAB also draws a line tightly around the current Wainhomes estate, i.e. making it harder for Wainhomes to build the hundred or so more houses it wants to there.

“Essentially such a proposal, if successful will once again leave the rest of the village wondering nervously where further inevitable development will take place.”

Had the correspondent undertaken some elementary research, including on the Villages Development Plan Document (DPD) to which he refers, a lot of this scare mongering could have been avoided.

For example, the Villages DPD is an ancillary document underpinning the Local Plan. Planning policy in East Devon, outlined in the newly adopted Local Plan, is for development to be prioritised around Cranbrook, where there is easy access to employment within the thriving city of Exeter. Indeed, the draft East Devon Villages DPD makes clear just how unsuited Feniton is to mass development.

The decision to site the black line (proposed boundary) for Feniton as it is shown in the parish magazine and in my 9 August blog was taken by EDDC following extensive discussions by a team of planning policy officers and no-one else. Not landowners, not developers, not District Councillors, not Parish Councillors, not the residents of villages who may/may not own land they wish to propose for development. The planners undertook a full site assessment (the results of this exercise can be found through a link on my blog of 9 August).

The Built-Up Area Boundary is for consultation at this stage, but the black lines drawn on the map will only move if there is strong evidence that they should do so. I feel sure that the anonymous correspondent will put in a submission to EDDC voicing his views … although he should be aware that if he does this, he will lose his anonymity.

East Devon is not looking to increase development in Feniton for the time being. This position will undoubtedly change in the future, but the decision as to where development should take place will have to take into account Feniton’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan.

I would urge the anonymous correspondent to come along to Feniton Parish Council meetings where there are frank and open discussions. Using the parish magazine to needlessly raise inaccurate and misleading stories only fuels the fires of rumour and gossip.”