Site of formerly proposed Newton Poppleford doctors’ surgery put on sale.

“”I think this is an appalling slap in the face for the residents of this parish.” 

“Although hundreds of people objected to the development, Clinton Devon Estates and the Coleridge Medical Centre lobbied EDDC’s development management committee aggressively for permission to build the 40 houses outside of the built-up area boundary, contrary to the Local Plan, at the time permission was given.” – Val Ranger District Councillor for Newton Poppleford.

The residents of “sustainable” Newton Poppleford are now suffering from another inexplicably bad decision. They have been assigned by the Clinical Commissioning Group to the Ottery St Mary practice. As the crow flies the two are only about 3½ miles apart (but you wouldn’t want to walk the busy narrow lanes, let alone take a child in a push chair). There is no direct bus route, patients have to travel into Exeter and out again, a distance of around 23 miles, standard return adult plus child is £23.50, with a round trip time of 2hrs 30 mins plus connection time (pre-Covid,  2019 schedules and prices). There is a surgery in Sidmouth on a direct route with journey time of 5 mins but it is closed to Newton Popp. residents. – Owl –  Oh and beware of developers making promises (Greeks bearing gifts)!

The land at King Alfred Way is on sale with a guide price of £250,000 through Sidmouth-based estate agents Harrison Lavers & Potburys.

The land was the subject of local controversy last year following a row over the site being earmarked for a new GP practice as part of a wider application for a 40-home development by Clinton Devon Estates (CDE).

The original planning application for King Alfred Way was approved in 2014.

But CDE was unable to find a tenant, so instead applied to build two more homes.

The parish council expressed an interest in running the surgery, so East Devon District Council (EDDC) delayed a decision on the application twice to allow the parish council to meet the developer to find a solution.

The developer instead lodged an appeal in 2019 with the planning inspector, who could have made EDDC pay costs, so it decided not to fight the appeal.

At the time, Councillor Paul Arnott said the application was the most ‘spectacular orbit of deceit and betrayal’ and the council should mount a challenge despite the costs. He said: “It’s so mired in lies and deceit going back years, betrayal, treachery, accusations of wording.”

At the time, councillors claimed the application for the 40 homes would have never been given the go-ahead if the doctors’ surgery had not been included.

A CDE spokesman said: “CDE’s land at King Alfred Way was identified as a preferred housing site in 2012 in consultation with Newton Poppleford Parish Council and in response to EDDC’s call for sites for new homes to help meet a critical shortfall of housing and affordable housing – and to provide a new doctors’ surgery.

“This was never a speculative development.”

They added that when the original application was first approved in 2014, Coleridge Medical Centre had committed to being the operators of the new surgery.

But, after a catalogue of delays caused by legal challenges, appeals, objections and planning refusals, the NHS funding was no longer available to operate the surgery.

The spokesman said the development at King Alfred Way was completed earlier this year, and that 40 per cent was affordable housing, with 11 being affordable rented homes and five shared ownership.

They added: “Not only do these very well-designed, energy efficient new houses provide modern comfortable homes, they have significantly helped the district council meet its housing shortfall, particularly in affordable housing supply.

“The land that had been set aside for a doctors’ surgery now has planning consent for two homes following a review by the planning inspector.

“It will be sold, and the proceeds will be reinvested in the many environmental and community initiatives that CDE is responsible for in towns and villages across East Devon, including Newton Poppleford.”

Reacting to the sale of the site, Newton Poppleford and Harpford Councillor Val Ranger said: “I think this is an appalling slap in the face for the residents of this parish.

“Although hundreds of people objected to the development, Clinton Devon Estates and the Coleridge Medical Centre lobbied EDDC’s development management committee aggressively for permission to build the 40 houses outside of the built-up area boundary, contrary to the Local Plan, at the time permission was given.

“Some residents bought the new houses believing they were going to have a doctors’ surgery on site and they too have been disappointed.

“Residents were also promised a ‘community orchard’ but no one has found that yet either.”

A CDE spokesman said: “We consider Cllr Ranger’s comments to be disingenuous.

“From meetings and correspondence with the CDE team over a number of years she is fully aware of the background to this case and the efforts that have been made to deliver the GP surgery.”

 

4 thoughts on “Site of formerly proposed Newton Poppleford doctors’ surgery put on sale.

  1. From memory the avoidance of fighting appeals was consistently a policy pushed by officers. Particularly one officer who encouraged an applicant to appeal in a meeting that should not have happened.

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    • My memory of events matches yours, Mark Hawkins.
      Officers regularly and, in some meetings, have repeatedly held the threat of appeal over the heads of the elected members of the development management committee in order, apparently, to sway the decision.
      I too recall that there was evidence that an unminuted, behind closed doors meeting took place to ‘advise’ an applicant that they could appeal. Was this particular application concerning the Doctors Surgery at Newton Poppleford the application which later brought these ‘irregular ‘ proceedings to light?

      As The Lorax has said in message below, “we now have a planning committee.”
      Hopefully that is not just a different name for the development management committee but will be established so that the officers will work WITH the elected committee members and not against them .
      Also, when members of that committee are agreed this week, there will quite rightly, be a balance of ‘party’ representation so, as we all know, it will still not be plain-sailing.
      We will all, the public included, need to be vigilant in ensuring that declarations of interest are carefully examined and that the Nolan Principles are being adhered to. Are officers employed by a District, Borough or County Council also required to sign up to the Nolan Principles ?

      (This is the personal opinion of the commentator and some of the details cannot be substantiated by Owl)

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  2. All is not lost, IMO. Whilst the council cannot now insist on CDE now building a doctor’s surgery, it is perfectly possible for them to negotiate to persuade CDE voluntarily to change their mind. After all, does CDE wish for EDDC’s new Planning Committee to feel (as they probably currently do) that CDE is utterly untrustworthy and needs to be hamstrung on every future planning application, or perhaps CDE would like to demonstrate some good will and build some trust by changing their mind.

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  3. How many times in the past has the DMC been intimidated and then accepted the argument of these familiar words-” it will cost EDDC money to fight an appeal”. So when in this case CDE lodged an appeal in 2019 with the planning inspector, what did EDDC decide? EDDC conceded and “it decided not to fight the appeal”.
    Thank heavens we now have a Planning Committee.

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