PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS 

From a correspondent concerned about the Burrington Estates’ development proposals for Winslade Park:

When deciding on the best ways of using land and buildings in our communities, undoubtedly, development planners hold significant power in their hands. However, in recent years, local people feel they have become the losers – whilst property speculators have reaped huge profits from many, valued neighbourhoods. 

Are those who actually live in our communities being restricted in their say over its future shape? Locally-led, quality design is vital for new developments to avoid the loss of distinctive characteristics and the destruction of environments from over-development. Should Local and Neighbourhood Plans be ignored and dismissed in favour of developers’ offers of unproven, economic benefits? 

Those within East Devon District Council (EDDC) who recommend and make decisions on development planning must realise the huge impact their resolutions have on other people’s lives. Large-scale development planning results in significant, major transformations to East Devon neighbourhoods; it does not merely involve viewing architectural drawings, plans and imagery via a virtual zoom meeting in disconnected home kitchens, lounges or offices and then by alphabetical roll call voting in favour, against or abstaining – the reality is that these all-important decisions will influence and transform entire communities and the future lives of the numerous residents who have made their homes in them. 

This was reflected recently by the following emotive sentiments (published on the EDDC planning portal), which were made by residents whose existing homes will adjoin Burrington Estates’ proposed development of 39 houses and 40 four-storey flats on two sites at Winslade Park in Clyst St Mary.  

Objections – Zone A – 39 homes 

‘Our family have had the privilege of living in Winslade Park Avenue since 1977. Four generations of our family have been lucky enough to live in this wonderful village and actively participate and engage with all aspects of life within it. . . . We are very disappointed by the proposals in which the bungalows that were proposed are now much higher and comprising of one and a half storeys. These properties are not in keeping with the bungalows and houses of Winslade Park Avenue that border them. They have large chimneys and the properties overlook and encroach on the neighbouring properties that will lead to a loss of privacy. I am also concerned that the public consultation was arranged in a way that the residents could not fully participate in. If the proposals go through in their current format the reality is we will be looking to sell our property and move from a village we love and a community we have always been part of.’ 

It is still difficult for this local community to accept the loss of this valued, green field that was specifically protected against development in the East Devon Local and the Bishops Clyst Neighbourhood Plans. 

The fear is that the Applicants will prioritise and move forward immediately with the housing elements but the promised local jobs, social and environmental benefits for the community of Clyst St Mary will be pushed into the background……Although 39 homes in Zone A are considered low-density; when they are considered with the 40 four-storey flats in Zone D and proposals for around 2,000 jobs, then the entire proposals are viewed as an overdevelopment in this village location.’ 

‘My property backs onto the location of the proposed application . . . The impact on my amenity and loss of privacy to the main living areas of my property (Main bedroom, Lounge, kitchen, patio area and garden) is unacceptable.  

 Objections – Zone D – 40 four-storey flats 

‘The new development proposes 40 apartments of 4 storeys in height which will dominate our 2 storey house with a loss to our privacy and will change the character of our quiet estate. ….. When the deciduous trees shed their leaves the development will be seen in its entirety and occupants will be able to look over our gardens and homes in Clyst Valley Road. We are concerned about levels of air pollution from traffic and the effects this will have on ourselves and our children’s healththe development will add another 80 or so vehicles in this locality. 

We oppose the proposed development which is out of proportion to existing properties and the character of the historical village of Clyst St Mary and the Winslade Park estate’.  

‘The density of housing on this confined spot seems very high; 80 -100 people packed into this relatively small area, with their cars and associated traffic, is bound to have a detrimental effect in terms of pollution and noise on the houses closest to them. Clyst St Mary is a small village. .. . We are not a town. The designs of the blocks are unattractive and appear to be full of windows, which will make existing residents feel uncomfortably exposed to a loss of privacy.  

 I was particularly alarmed by the comment that the removal/lopping of some trees “may not significantly affect the amenity value of the site”. It would most certainly affect the amenity value of my existing site if this screen is diminished, and given the prominence currently given to preserving trees, this should be a red flag.’ 

‘We must build back better in future and not create ‘eyesores’ that will scar and stigmatise small communities. The Zone D apartment blocks have no architectural integrity….displaying overwhelmingly mediocre, low-quality, volume homebuilding. 

Zone D car parking proposals fail to consider the harm to the lives and amenities that existing local residents in Clyst Valley Road enjoy in their homes and gardens and is unneighbourly and inappropriate.’ 

These are selected contributions from genuine householders in this community who trust that their elected representatives will be attentive to their voices and not just pay lip service to residents’ aims and objectives; they request support and representation on key issues that significantly affect their lives and valued homes and ultimately they expect protection of their physical and mental wellbeing.  

For instance, to date there appears no proposals or provision for safe pedestrian access at the bottom of Winslade Park Avenue? Therefore, potentially 2,000 Winslade Park new business employees, families from 79 new homes (including children) and all existing residents will be required to walk on a heavily-trafficked narrow road, around blind bends with no pavements or adequate lighting to access the village amenities of the school, shop, post office, village hall, garage and pub or alternatively walk to the facilities at Winslade Manor. 

The two Reserved Matters housing applications are silent on this subject, ignoring the lack of crucial, highway upgrades that are imperative in this area; to date no comments or plans have been published by Devon Highways, when most would consider this to be a pivotal decision – a focal point affecting public safety? Do decision-makers intend getting substantial contributions from developers to widen the road to allow for pedestrian pavements – or will their decision be to completely block all vehicular access for existing Winslade Park householders merely to allow the 79 new-builds to progress in a village with no local housing need? 

Surely, this is of paramount importance to alleviate future serious injuries or fatalities that will, undoubtedly, occur in this area without the implementation of significant, enhanced highway safety measures? Are priorities getting skewed in favour of economic gains rather than the safety of real people?  Could decision-makers potentially recommend and approve sizeable commercial and housing developments, without significant highway safety improvements in this area that could risk life and limb? 

Consequently, when making planning decisions on large-scale developments that will have huge repercussions for so many people, the community urges planners to appreciate and acknowledge the viewpoints and perspectives of those who have made their homes in this East Devon village by opting to support people before profits

One thought on “PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS 

  1. This reader can truly identify with the poignant comments made by those who live in this rural village and one cannot fail to have empathy with the local people who will be detrimentally affected by this large-scale masterplan.

    The Clyst Valley Regional Park and Trail is being promoted and championed by Devon County and East Devon Councils to mitigate the harm from extensive development on large swathes of green countryside, with the areas of Winslade Park and Clyst St Mary being mooted for inclusion for a multi-use trail for walkers, cyclists and mobility vehicles within the Lower Clyst route.

    Such long-term plans involve years of negotiations, leaving local people with limited knowledge on whether such plans will include significant, highway safety improvements in this village (particularly in Winslade Park Avenue where there are no pavements or adequate lighting). Consequently, the people who will be directly affected remain in a state of ignorance, uninformed and completely ‘in the dark’!

    We hope that planners at Devon County Highways and East Devon are following joined-up thinking on such important road safety issues to enable elected representatives to make informed judgements? Sadly, during planning discussions prior to decision-making (within Application 20/1001/MOUT in December 2020), relating to Burringtons’ offered contributions for village footpaths, the Planning Committee were shown photos of Winslade Park Avenue when, in fact, the contributions were for a footpath from the Village Hall to the Primary School on the other side of the A3052, in an entirely different part of the village!

    Due diligence is essential in local government – especially when road safety and people’s lives are at stake – but too often no one is culpable or held responsible.

    Like

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