Agenda item

Public speaking

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Councillor Kelvin Dent, Chair of Planning, Sidmouth Town Council, spoke on behalf of Sidmouth Town Council who expressed disappointment that the three sites for allocation in Sidmouth were recommended for allocation.  The site they were most unhappy about was Sidm_06 on the western side of Two Bridges, Sidford for the proposal of 268 new houses and asked that the assessment for this site be reconsidered.  He highlighted the land was protected under Policy 3 of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan and that a lot of time and money and public involvement had been spent preparing the Neighbourhood Plan and a desire to prevent the coalescence of Sidford and Sidbury was one of the key messages.  Councillor Dent also advised that as well as objecting to the proposed allocations Sidmouth Town Council Members were not happy with Central Government ridiculous housing targets which have been imposed and felt that East Devon had done more than its share in the past and there was a lack of infrastructure to support further growth and in Sidmouth’s case, a sewerage system which can cope with the existing population.  Sidmouth Town Council resolved last night to invite representatives of the six towns, Devon County Council, EDDC and our local MPs to tell the Government that ‘enough was already more than enough’ and Councillor Dent hoped that the Strategic Planning Committee would support that initiative.


Martyn Cross addressed the Committee on the enormous task of meeting a Central Government imposed target for housing in the area made difficult by the fact that many of the proposed developments are sited in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with the additional complexity of environmental and cultural heritage issues.  He suggested given the invidious position the Committee have been put in and the enormity of the task, would it not be a sensible approach to focus the Committee’s time and resources on the developments where net big wins are possible and let smaller developments proceed through planning permissions channels.  Sidm_017 for 11 new dwellings was given as an example.  When in reality this could only be achieved by demolishing 7 existing houses most of which are used as social housing resulting in a net maximum gain of just 4 houses.  Mr Cross urged the Committee not to allow itself to be manipulated in this manner and instead focus on the larger developments in more detail. 


The following statement was read out on behalf of Mr W Cope, resident of Ottery St Mary:


I wish to formally request that the EDDC Strategic Planning Committee takes into account this submission in its consideration of the list of applications it has received from landowners and developers to be put forward for consultation for the next local plan to run to 2040.  I am a resident of Ottery St Mary and unable to attend the meeting in person.


·      Firstly, it is quite clear that there is already major road congestion problems in and around Ottery St Mary as we struggle to cope with the impact of the new significant housing developments built around the town in recent years. Any additional development will add considerably to these difficulties.


·      There is serious overloading of both secondary and primary school provision and existing health service provision is unable to cope, with both the GP and dentist services struggling to meet increasing levels of demand.


·      I would like to point out that your current Local Plan is totally misleading and contains serious errors in how it describes public transport links for Ottery. You use the term “good”, but the facts are that Ottery St Mary is not “well-connected” by bus routes and does not have a train station. There are extremely limited bus services with no local buses between the town centre facilities and outlying parts of the town and there is most certainly no bus service to Exeter Airport as the document states. The schedules show that the last bus back from Exeter is 18.40 and that there are only 2 buses on Sundays.


·      When I attended the recent special meeting of the Ottery St Mary Town Council called last week to consider the Site Assessment Summaries provided with detailed interim findings at Tier One and Tier Two Settlements for each of the 13 sites listed, I was extremely concerned at the complete lack of a strategic overview that identified the critical infrastructure requirements such development inherently creates with large population increases and the need to recognise and plan for additional school provision, doctor and dentist surgeries and public amenities. 


·      As a key requirement of any local development plan is the need to establish a spatial strategy and ensure that a sustainable pattern of development is recognised that seeks to align growth and infrastructure, then that seems to be overlooked with the list of sites in and around Ottery St Mary that is being recommended for development.


·      When you consider that Ottery St Mary is clearly the smallest of the five Tier 2 towns identified, why is it that Ottery St Mary has a total of 248 houses listed in the “Preferred Allocation” category compared to 182 for Honiton, which is a much bigger town and has the essential rail links to Exeter and London that Ottery St Mary lacks.


·      This is such a disproportionately larger number of new homes, compared to the other towns listed. I would also point out that greenfield sites in Ottery St Mary have been chosen when brownfield sites in Honiton are available. 


·      I would therefore formally request that the Committee rejects all of the sites proposed as Preferred Allocations as well as a Potential 2nd Site Allocation for part of a site as detailed for Ottery St Mary.

The following statement was read out on behalf of Mrs Tompsett, resident of Ottery St Mary:


Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this meeting.  I am an Ottery St Mary resident.  Please would the Committee take into account the following factors when approving sites for future housing development in East Devon:


·      Ottery’s infrastructure has not been improved to cope with existing expansion of the town.  There is a lack of secondary and primary education provision (as acknowledged in appendix 2).  Health service provision is also inadequate.  The minor injuries unit has been moved to Honiton and it is very difficult to see a GP within an acceptable timescale at Ottery’s one medical centre.  It actually feels quite precarious from a healthcare perspective.


·      There are factual inaccuracies in the emerging Local Plan and appendix 2 (page 20) concerning public transport links for Ottery.  These are not ‘good’.  Ottery has no train station and is not ‘well-connected’ by bus.  The last bus back from Exeter is 18:40, there are only 2 buses on Sundays and there is no bus service to Exeter Airport (as is asserted in appendix 2, page 20).  There is only a very limited and infrequent local bus service between the town centre facilities and the outlying parts of the town which means people generally have to take their cars into town for, say, a supermarket shop.


·      All of the above inevitably forces people onto the narrow roads including the single narrow route through Ottery town centre and the narrow approach roads to the north, south and east which are highlighted in the emerging Local Plan.  This means road congestion is already a problem.


·      From a strategic point of view, given these infrastructure problems and the fact that Ottery is the smallest of the five Tier 2 towns, it does not seem balanced for Ottery to have 248 dwellings in the ‘preferred allocation’ category compared to say Honiton’s 182 when Honiton is a much bigger town and has rail links to Exeter and London.


·      In view of all the aforementioned, I urge the Committee to reject recommendation 1 of the report and not endorse all of the sites proposed as preferred allocations.  Please would you instead instruct officers to return with a more strategic district wide approach which takes account of infrastructure variations between the five towns and considers the elevation of Honiton and Seaton’s ‘2nd best’ sites over Ottery’s ‘preferred allocation’ sites.


·      Such strategic considerations should also be given to recommendations 3 and 4.


·      At a local Ottery level, of the sites identified in appendix 2, those to the west of the town are preferable to the others since there is road access to the west (Exeter and the M5) and to the east (Honiton and the A30) without the need to snake through the town.


Philip Morgan raised concerns about ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees.  He referred to the Exe View Woods which Lymp_09, Lymp_15 and Exmo_12 all border and queried why these sites were being considered when there were so many other options available.