Save Clyst St Mary update***SAVE CLYST ST MARY ~ APRIL UPDATE ***
Friends Life site
It’s now approximately two months since our last update and we were hoping following the Parish Council Meeting on 11th April, which was attended by members of the Save Clyst St Mary Campaign, that we would have some more news for you on the redevelopment of the Friends Life site.
However, nothing came out of the meeting about any new planning applications or forecasts of when these might appear. You will recall from our previous newsletter that a representative from Friends Life briefed the Parish Council on a revised plan for the entire site. This would involve building a substantial number of houses on the existing green sports field areas in a line parallel to the rear gardens of the houses that back on to the Friends Life sports pitches.
A key element of this outline proposal is to swap the existing Clyst Valley football pitch for pitches on the Friends Life site, allowing houses to be built on the existing Brethren field, with a Brethren Meeting Hall proposed on the current Clyst Valley football ground. We have heard nothing more on these proposals, so can only assume that the developers are working on this behind the scenes.
One substantial element discussed at the latest Parish Council meeting was that, at the request of the Parish Council Chairman, the trustees of the Clyst Valley Football Club will show the trust documents to the Parish councillors at a meeting on 25th April. At the football club’s request, this meeting will be held in private, between the trustees of the football club and Parish Council members only, with no members of the public permitted in order to maintain strict confidentiality. This will enable the Parish Council to try to establish the ownership of the football club land and the legal powers of the football club trustees to negotiate swapping and any disposal of the land, should that decision be taken in the future. It must be noted that at present the football club trustees have assured us that they have not reached any agreement with Friends Life or the Plymouth Brethren regarding the swapping of the football field and have only agreed to enter into discussions on future proposals.
Recently, our own District Councillor, Mike Howe, resigned as a long-standing trustee of the football club, recognising a possible conflict of interest in connection with his role as both Parish Councillor and also Deputy Chair of the Development Management Committee at East Devon District Council with responsibilities for planning decisions.
On a more positive note, the Adopted East Devon Local Plan to 2031 is now fully operational and Councillor Howe informs us that it is being used ‘robustly and routinely’ to successfully oppose planning applications that do not conform to the Plan. We can only hope that this will be the case when the revised planning proposals are submitted for the Friends Life site.
The planning limit has been allocated by EDDC at around 150 houses on the brown field areas only with the Planning Inspector agreeing with this allocation to safeguard the future of the historic Manor House but also recognising the significance of the high quality parkland contributing to the setting of the Grade II House.
On 15th January 2016 the Inspector stated: “The promoters of the site seek to incorporate more of the large green space to the North West of the buildings in the allocation. The Council’s vision is for development to enable the sensitive conversion of the listed building within the high quality parkland which is a significant contributor to its setting. Having seen the site, I consider that the allocation boundary will enable this setting to be maintained.”
Obviously, if the land swap proposed by Friends Life were to go ahead, this agreed District Council allocation would be exceeded substantially, with the numerous detrimental consequences to our village that we have previously outlined.
Although only speculation at present, we suspect that Friends Life are hoping that by offering sports facilities (to be used by groups such as the football and cricket club) in return for significant extra housing on our green field sites (despite the fact that they have already withdrawn substantial sports facilities available to residents in this village); we suspect that an exception to the Adopted District Local Plan, the agreed Built-Up Area Boundaries and the Emerging Neighbourhood Plan could be made.
However, it must be stressed that our views on this are merely a hypothesis at present.
The Emerging Neighbourhood Plan is now at a very advanced stage and should give us an important extra level of protection against any inappropriate level of development on the Friends Life site and throughout the village. Though, as yet, not formally adopted, it is at such an advanced stage that the EDDC Planners must take it into consideration and credit it with substantial weight.
The Save Clyst St Mary Campaign was set up to voice the views of the majority of parishioners on future development in the village. Over the past 18 months we have volunteered tirelessly to ensure our village does not simply become another anonymous suburb of Exeter. We are not opposed to new development, but are committed to ensuring any new housing remains both sustainable and proportionate.
Currently, in excess of 400 objections have been submitted to EDDC objecting to the planning application for residential development on the sports fields of Friends Life, with 254 objections submitted to the residential development of the Plymouth Brethren field (prior to its withdrawal).
On the basis of continued positive feedback from residents, it is our belief that the majority of parishioners continue to be opposed to residential development on our open green areas and we intend continuing to campaign for their protection against development. However, an anonymous claim has been brought to our attention alleging that opposition to residential development on the green field areas has become “diluted” and that some local residents may now favour additional residential development on our green, open spaces as a “trade-off” for facilities for outside sporting groups.
Our assumption is that this information is incorrect, and as such, we would be most grateful if you could continue to voice your support.
The anaerobic digester
This continues frequently to emit strong unpleasant odours which the Environment Agency are keen to monitor on an individual complaints basis (a group complaint is invalid). Their free telephone number is 0800 80 70 60 should anyone wish to make comments.
Thanks to the support of local people, the Tesco Bags of Help Funding Scheme has awarded the Parish Council the £10,000 second prize for funding the levelling of the QEII field behind the Village Hall which will provide field sports for the community.
Police training exercise On 21/4/16 there will be a Police simulation taking place around the Winslade Park area. Do not be alarmed if you hear or see anything unusual such as helicopters, mock gunfire or ‘casualties’.
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If you would also like to receive emailed Campaign updates, want to offer assistance to the group or simply want to voice a comment, we always welcome residents’ feedback. You can either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 11 Clyst Valley Road. We will continue to forward comments to the Parish Council as appropriate.