Always interesting to keep an eye on our old GESP Partners – in this case Teignbridge which bottled pulling out of GESP last July. – Owl
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
A High Court ruling dismissing an appeal against a 1,210 home housing plans for the edge of Newton Abbot has left locals outraged.
PCL Planning’s scheme, submitted on behalf of the Rew family, was granted planning permission in June 2020, after the Secretary of State allowed the appeal for the land at Wolborough Barton, in Newton Abbot.
As well as the 1,210 new homes, the Wolborough scheme includes a new primary school, employment land, community facilities, including a day nursery and a health centre, a local shopping centre, play area, allotments and a multi-use games area, as well as a link road connecting the A380 and the A381.
Full planning permission to convert the Wolborough Barton farmstead into a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar, has been granted by the Secretary of State as well.
Abbotskerswell Parish Council had taken legal action over the granting of the appeal, but after a two day hearing in the High Court in February, Mrs Justice Lang ruled that the Secretary of State was entitled to grant permission for the development without having comprehensive information on biodiversity and climate change, as this can be considered at the reserved matters stage.
The Judge also has ordered the parish council to pay costs of up to £10,000, and they will now be calling in the pledges that residents had made in the event of them losing the case.
Abbotskerswell parish council have been left outraged by the ruling, while Newton Says No councillors says that the battle to save Wolborough from NA3 continues, but the Rew family have welcomed the decision and Teignbridge District Council have said that now the development is going ahead, they will work together with stakeholders to make it a place where people want to live, work and play.
A spokesman for the parish council said: “We are outraged at this judgement. Teignbridge District Council’s decision to allocate Wolborough Barton (NA3) for development in the local plan is something that Abbotskerswell Parish Council has challenged because the environmental information and protections are completely inadequate.
“The implications of this judgement are of national importance. In the High Court the Judge has said, despite the law saying that environmental matters need to be dealt with at the earliest possible date, that such matters can be delayed and should be dealt with in reserved matters at a later date. In effect further delaying all environmental surveys until the very last minute.
“The decision to persistently delay or avoid being presented with key environmental information and protection is alarming. We believe that the lack of firm environmental protections is unacceptable.”
The parish council is now considering carefully whether to appeal the High Court decision to the Court of Appeal, but the spokesman said they need to consider the question of costs in doing so.
They added: “In the meantime, the parish council wholeheartedly thank all those who supported our cause and pledged their money to help us with the costs in the event that we lost this case. We are very sorry to have to call in those pledges and we are considering funding options that might enable an appeal.”
Aerial view of the Wolborough Barton site
Newton Say No councillors, who were in part elected to Teignbridge District Council due to their opposition to the development, said that the decision was shameful.
A statement from Newton Says No said: “Teignbridge District Council continues with the shameful false narrative that anyone other than a small number of vested interests they support and enable will benefit from the environmental and climate change disaster that is NA3.
“They have shown utter contempt and disdain for the residents since they shoehorned NA3 into the Local Plan in 2013. In the fullness of time their actions will be laid bare. In the meantime, they will continue to soft soap and gaslight the residents with stories of ‘live, work and play’, whilst below the waterline their plans simply destroy the environment and pollute the district to profit the few.”
Cllr Richard Daws, deputy group leader, added: “The decision to allow NA3 is similar to the Drax power station and the coal mine in Cumbria in terms of being a nationally relevant environmental and climate change catastrophe. The Government cannot be allowed to escape its own promises. After public pressure, Robert Jenrick today admitted the Cumbria coal mine raises issues of wider importance.
“NA3 is something the people need to keep fighting every step of the way with all their might, so that, as a community, we can all look our grandchildren in the eyes and reassure them that we understood and tried our hardest to fight blind greed and ignorance. The battle for NA3 will continue.”
Cllr Janet Bradford added: “Once again I repeat what I said when I was elected by the residents of College Ward in Teignbridge. There are some things that are just wrong and this is one of them. At this point, no one has the ethical or moral right to destroy the nature that we are part of and depend upon. The fight goes on for the voiceless, our wonderful wildlife and our children and grandchildrens’ future.”
And Chris Watts, from the Wolborough Residents Association, added: “In Newton Abbot, developers are in the process of destroying our access to high quality open spaces and in the process exacerbating the process of climate change and the diminution of our biodiversity. It is bewildering to keep reading government texts exhorting the need to mitigate the effects of climate change and halt the loss of biodiversity but witness the exact opposite in our lived experience.”
But a spokesman for the Rew family, who own the land, said that they welcomed the court ruling, that the proposal would help people on the housing waiting list, and it was a ‘great shame that these proposals have been delayed by legal challenges’.
They added: “We welcome the court’s ruling that the Secretary of State was right to agree that outline planning permission, first applied for in 2017, should be granted.
“This site was included in the Teignbridge Local Plan in 2014 and is a highly sustainable location, suitable for a new mixed-use urban extension to Newton Abbot.
“At the last count there were almost 1,000 households in Teignbridge on the housing waiting list and our proposals will help to deliver almost 250 much-needed affordable homes for local people.
“We are sure that many people will, like us, feel it is a great shame that these proposals have been delayed by legal challenges partly funded by local council tax payers.
The new link road between the A380 and the A381 as part of the NA3 Wolborough Barton development framework plan
“We are now looking forward to working constructively with Teignbridge District Council and other stakeholders as we take the next steps towards delivering 1,210 new homes and a new link road which will connect the A381 with the A380 South Devon Highway, easing congestion and improving air quality.
“In addition, there will be the creation of new jobs and investment in the local community including a community centre, shops, workplaces, a network of green infrastructure and a site for a new primary school.”
And a spokesman for Teignbridge District Council said that they hope the ruling would bring an end to the process and that there will be polarised views on this decision.
They said: “This decision removes uncertainty and enables us now to work with the developers to ensure that the detailed planning requirements are properly met and that homes, amenities and surroundings are built to meet the needs of future generations.”
“It has been considered by the Planning Inspectorate, the Secretary of State and the High Court. Despite the many challenges at different stages, the outcomes show that officers acted appropriately, following the correct planning processes and gave sound professional advice on planning, ecological and environmental issues.
“There will be polarised views on this decision with some people being disappointed, while others will welcome the economic and housing benefits that will flow from the development.
“Now this development will go ahead, the Council will work together with stakeholders to make it a place where people want to live, work and play.
“The permission, that was part of the council’s planning blueprint for the next 10 years and beyond, will see 300 affordable homes delivered, as well as key infrastructure and accessible green spaces for residents and communities.
“There will still be planning conditions to comply with and detailed designs and environmental impact assessments will need to be approved so that construction of the new neighbourhood at Wolborough can start.”
The decision can still be challenged in the Court of Appeal, although this could have significant costs implications for Abbotskerswell Parish Council if they chose to go down this route.
While the application has outline planning permission, a reserved matters application for elements of detail for the application, concerning access, appearance, landscaping, layout and scale will need to be submitted and approved before work can begin.