Winslade Park: When Is a Public Consultation Not a Public Consultation?

From a Correspondent:

Is This How Community Involvement in Planning Development Should Work in East Devon? 

The principle guiding community engagement is to ensure that those who will be affected by a development have a genuine opportunity to have their constructive ideas, as well as their opinions taken on board – but the reality is something quite different!

A very few number of Clyst St Mary residents (actually only 21 people) are in the process of being invited by Avalon Planners (acting on behalf of Burrington Estates) to view the Reserved Matters detailed plans for the Winslade Park 79 new homes (39 on green field space historically protected by the Local and Neighbourhood Plans and 40 x four-storey apartments opposite a Grade II* Listed Manor House).

However, this Public Consultation has been significantly limited by Avalon (allegedly due to Covid) to only three one-hour sessions tomorrow afternoon, on 29th July 2021, from 14.00 hrs –18.00 hrs with a restricted allowance of only 7 residents able to attend at each one hour session, resulting in the grand total of 21 residents being selected by Avalon (on a first come first serve basis), with the chosen few only having 19 hours’ notice to apply for one of the sessions!

Those lucky enough to play this lottery had previously been earmarked by a very specific Burringtons’ leaflet drop that included only those existing homes that are directly adjacent to the 79 proposed new housing developments. Personal names and addresses were mandatory for Avalon’s future selection of attendees to view these detailed plans.

Furthermore, residents have been told to only apply for one person per household to attend a session, leaving many working couples/families unable to attend (no evening sessions are provided!) and, of course, this is the first week of the school holidays – so many residents have opted this week for a holiday away from their homes, which further limits the numbers able to attend!

Since there were around 200 objections to the Outline Application for these homes -only 21 attendees for a Reserved Matters Consultation seems a miniscule proportion of the resident numbers who would wish to view and comment on these plans! 

In December 2020, EDDC Planning Committee approved the entire Hybrid Outline Application (20/1001/MOUT), specifically praising the Developers’ offers of substantial economic benefits within their sizeable commercial/employment proposals also contained in the overall masterplan. 

These economic offers resulted in the Committee ignoring the protection policies in both their own Local and this village’s Neighbourhood Plans – but post-Covid will these economic proposals ever reach such high expectations

Hopefully the detailed plans should be displayed online at a later date for residents to view – so that ‘ticks the transparency box’ doesn’t it?  Well….No…. unfortunately it doesn’t   – because many people cannot negotiate ‘the minefield’ that is the EDDC Planning website, and many online images of plans are often indistinct, vague, complicated and confusing for laypeople, who wish to be confident that they fully comprehend the scale, massing and height of the buildings that will overlook them! 

As the entire Winslade Park masterplan proposals result in a very large-scale development in this historic, rural village – the Planning Committee recommended that Burringtons should keep the local community fully informed of their future plans by issuing an Informative Condition on the Outline Approval – but with such restrictions being imposed on the number of attendees at this Public Consultation – Is the local authority steering this development or is this another Developer-led scheme?  

Perhaps, these Developers are trying to severely restrict the numbers of attendees at a Public Consultation to limit public comments on their proposals that could result in them needing to make modifications to their plans before submission to EDDC – or perhaps they are so concerned with our health and wellbeing that they are going to such great lengths to protect us from Covid and keep us all safe in this village?

You can make up your own minds!