EDDC Local Plan not fit for purpose as developer (and Clinton Devon Estates) challenge succeeds at Newton Poppleford
“Cavanna Homes already has outline permission for the site off King Alfred Way, but East Devon District Council (EDDC) refused its reserved matters proposals due to a lack of ‘pepper-potting’.
The Planning Inspectorate has overturned the decision, arguing the authority’s Local Plan policy – intended to encourage integration between market-rate and ‘affordable’ homes – lacks ‘substantive evidence’ on its specific requirements.
In his report, inspector Andrew Dawe said Cavanna Homes, in a joint application with Pencleave 2, had modified the distribution of the 16 ‘affordable’ homes in a way that was materially different from a previous application.
He said two sheltered housing providers were opposed to ‘pepper-potting’ and supported clustering to cut costs.
As a result, Mr Dawe said he was satisfied that an acceptable level of integration could be achieved and moved to approve the reserved matters application.
District councillor Val Ranger previously argued the importance of getting this ‘major development right’.
Responding to the decision, she said: “This just shows the Local Plan is not worth the paper it’s written on. The social housing is not dispersed throughout the site. This will only encourage [landowner] Clinton Devon Estates to continue to lobby the Government that they should be able to build anywhere in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
An EDDC spokeswoman said: “It is unfortunate that the inspector has overturned the council’s decision on this matter, however, the extent to which affordable homes should be mixed in with market housing within a site is a grey area in planning. While the decision does not lead to the level of integration that we had hoped to achieve on this site, it is good that the inspector accepted the principle of what we were trying to achieve, and it does at least provide some clarity over what inspectors consider acceptable to guide consideration of other schemes in the district.”
Owl says: CDE not getting their own way with highly ontroversial AONB development blames officers and councillors at EDDC – CDE not happy bunnies!
[To] Housing Delivery Task and Finish Forum – Observations on Issues affecting Housing Delivery
“[From]Leigh Rix, Head of Property for Clinton Devon Estates Iestyn John, Partner at Bell Cornwell LLP
Clinton Devon Estates are rural landowners with substantial land and property interests in East Devon, notably in the southern part of the district between Exmouth and Beer. The Estate therefore operates within a large number of rural communities and in an area which is subject to a range of landscape and other sensitivities, all of which have with the potential to affect housing delivery. The Estate seeks to act as a responsible landowner with the principles of sustainability at the heart of all its activities. The Estate takes a long term intergenerational view which takes precedence over short term political and economic interests. It is within this context that its observations on the issues affecting housing delivery are provided.
In the Estate’s experience, there are two types of issues which are frustrating housing delivery:
cultural factors and technical factors
The absence within the Council of a positive, solution focused mindset necessary to properly resolve the undoubted tensions which exist between business, community and local politics, reflecting an agreed vision of how housing delivery will support wider longer term ambitions for the district in the context of an economically, socially and environmentally vibrant community. This absence appears to ‘set the tone’ for the setting of land use policy and decision making and may act as a barrier to investment in the area;
Greater pragmatism is needed, especially with regard to pursuing opportunities for properly considered housing proposals in rural areas. Such opportunities have the potential to act as a source of considerable amounts of additional housing without harming rural character. It is notable that earlier drafts of the Local Plan proposed to allocate 5% extra housing to each village. In individual villages, this would represent very small scale growth but is an approach, which collectively, would have contributed at least 500 more houses to the District’s identified supply than the approved Local Plan. The current approach of relying on neighbourhood plans to deliver local growth, whilst politically expedient, is inherently problematic especially in those areas in which the Estate operates, given the predominance of NIMBY interests which do not typically act in support of traditional local communities or longer term, future generational thinking;
Stronger, more decisive leadership is needed and at all levels. Amongst other things, this will generate certainty for the development industry and confidence that planning applications once supported, will be approved.
There are clear political tensions within the Council which create considerable uncertainties, delays and costs to bringing forward housing supply. The Estates’ experience with their development at King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford is a clear example. Despite receiving officer support throughout the process, it took five years, four applications and five planning committees to secure a development which is modest in size, provides a high level of affordable housing and a clearly identified community facility in the form of a new doctor’s surgery. It will be understood that such problems do not act as positive signal to those seeking to invest in housing schemes – of any form – in East Devon.
Some officers within the planning teams seek to apply seemingly needless bureaucracy; for example in the scope of the information they ask for to validate or process applications. It is obviously important that properly relevant information be provided, however unnecessary requests generate delay and cost and add little to consideration of the issue. We note the recent application validation list actually seems to make this issue worse. A more pragmatic and proportionate position is needed.
Feedback from statutory consultees is extremely slow. This is partly an issue of under-resourcing of these agencies which is out of the control of the Council. However, such poor responses have the potential to significantly delay decisions on applications. We would suggest that officers need to feel able to come to their own view on issues where specific advice is not forthcoming in a timely manner unless there are fundamental issues such as highways safety under consideration.
Officers need to support schemes which are common sense and where there is unlikely to be any harm to wider objectives. It is notable that there are various schemes in the Cranbrook area – a central part of the Council’s housing delivery strategy – which are not being determined until the Council’s much delayed SPD for the area is approved. In this core location, the Council appear to be getting locked into a planning rather than delivery cycle which prevents certain sizeable schemes e.g. the non-consortium site at Farlands from coming forward with, in that case, an approval for 200 + dwellings.
From the experience of the Estate it would seem that some members of Development Management and other Committees require training in their responsibilities and the planning process as well as more general Committee Management skills. Poor quality, ill informed decisions made by members disregarding legal and planning advice causes increased skills costs for housing projects and local taxpayers as well as a lack of delivery of schemes which meet agreed local plan criteria.”
A correspondent writes:
“Also relevant to CDE’s approach to development in Newton Poppleford is their latest attempt to get planning permission on Frogmore Road in nearby East Budleigh. This is in the prominent field that slopes up towards Syon House (CDE’s old HQ) on the south side of Oak Hill along the road between Budleigh Salterton and Newton Poppleford. The site is outside the built up area boundary, subject to recurrent flooding problems, and, as with Newton Poppleford, within the AONB. It is also Grade 1 agricultural land, of which there is very little in East Devon.
The East Budleigh emerging neighbourhood plan, now in its final phase and just about to be submitted to the Inspector, has identified suitable sites for future development in the village but the Frogmore Road site is not one of them. It was comprehensively rejected in place of other sites during the statutory democratic Community Consultation conducted by EDDC in 2012 as part of the process of formulating the East Devon Village Plan.
Despite this, CDE made an outline planning application in 2014 (14/2959) for 18 dwellings covering approximately half the field. This was eventually withdrawn. Now a new outline planning application (16/1673) has been lodged for only 5 dwellings. This obviously covers a smaller part of the field, but, curiously, the application includes 14 car parking spaces on roads that appear to lead nowhere. Flooding, however, is a reserve matter (as it has been with Newton Poppleford).”
A landowner is using its drawn-out application to build 40 homes and a doctors’ surgery in Newton Poppleford as a case study to lobby for changes to planning rules.
Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) was awarded outline permission to develop a field south of King Alfred Way in 2012, but its detailed, reserved-matters, plans have failed to win over decision-makers.
It initially expected that construction would have finished by the end of February 2017, but now it is unlikely before 2019.
CDE is appealing the refusal – but is also calling for it to be made easier to develop in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), harsher sanctions for ‘poor’ decisions, and for the potential for legal challenges to be reduced.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has told CDE that the 16 ‘affordable’ houses should be ‘pepper-potted’ throughout the King Alfred Way development, as this is a policy in its Local Plan.
The landowner, now in a joint venture with developers Cavanna Homes and Pencleave 2, has also faced opposition from residents, who voiced fears about flooding and that the doctors’ surgery would not be delivered.
A CDE spokesperson said the report is an early draft of a case study that was submitted in its final form to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in May. It was also copied – for information only – to EDDC and a Cabinet Office representative.
The spokesperson said: “It is interesting to note that since the paper was submitted to RICS six months ago, the planning application is no closer to determination. A series of legal arguments and appeals have stalled the progress and a hearing date has still not been set for the latest appeal.
“It is disappointing that, five years after a housing needs survey in Newton Poppleford identified the pressing need for 18 affordable new homes in the community, that they are no closer to being delivered.
“Even if the appeal is heard early in 2017 and the development is given the go-ahead, it is unlikely that the first homes and the surgery will be available before 2019.”
EDDC have received an amendment to planning application 16/0218/OUT at Waterleat, High St. Newton Poppleford.
“Reduction in number of units from 12 to 9 (all open market following a change in Government advice); provision of a financial contribution towards affordable housing, open space and habitat mitigation (subject to viability); and submission of a new indicative layout plan showing the reduced number of dwellings and two parking spaces per dwelling.”
So GOVERNMENT ADVICE now means no affordable homes in this site in the centre of the village with its level access to transport and the village’s facilities which, of course, particularly lends itself to homes dedicated to the elderly.
A 2012 application was refused, one reason being the inadequate number of affordable homes. Consultee’s comments from EDDC’s Housing Strategy Officer, the Parish Council and the emerging Neighbourhood Plan Strategy Group all expressed deep unhappiness at the derisory 2 affordable housing units previously submitted in this current application. Now there are to be none!
Given the location of the site this is an opportunity sorely missed.