Information on public speaking is available online
Councillor Alasdair Bruce, speaking on behalf of Feniton Parish Council, spoke on item 8 as follows:
“On your agenda today you are asked to
endorse the Consultation Draft of the Local Plan
and specifically to make a recommendation on the scale of
growth appropriate at Feniton. The draft plan is to contain
specific sites that have come forward in the HELAA and have
initially been categorised as either “preferred
locations” or “2nd Best Sites” for housing.
For the rural village of Feniton, the HELAA process identified potential for 42 houses at one “preferred location” and a surprising 442 houses at various “2nd Best sites”. In total these would represent an extraordinary 67% increase in housing numbers in the village.
I would urge the Committee to not go out to public consultation with these figures. A proposal for such growth in Feniton would be completely contrary to the agreed strategy to achieve sustainable development in East Devon.
Feniton has the lowest jobs to workers ratio in the District. There is already extensive out-commuting, most of it by private car. The very limited bus and rail capacity are inadequate to meet the needs of the working population. Additional housing at anything like the levels identified for Feniton would exacerbate this already unsustainable position.
Furthermore, with a school already at capacity, no medical facility and one small shop in the village, housing growth will add further to the need for unsustainable car journeys.
I would ask the Committee to consider what is to be gained by consulting on housing numbers in a small rural village at a level which it already knows cannot be sustainable. An expansion of 67% at Feniton makes no sense in the context of the agreed strategy to locate new housing close to jobs, services and infrastructure. It will certainly make no sense to the community.
The draft plan on today’s agenda contains a holding statement about Feniton with final text to be agreed at your meeting on 1st November. Please do not proceed to publish a consultation draft that includes the unqualified and unjustified figures resulting from the HELAA. The Local Plan must be driven by a sustainability strategy, not by the development aspirations of landowners and housing developers.”
Mr Graham Long, speaking on behalf of Upottery Parish Council, spoke on item 8 as follows:
“Love her or loath her our new Prime Minister said on Wednesday that she has three objectives, Growth, Growth, Growth. Delivering growth is not only essential for a nation, its also essential for every County, City, Town and Village. The only alternatives are stagnation or decline. Last week I asked you to include my village as a Tier 4 settlement in your emerging Local Plan up to 2040, but you chose to stick with the list of Tier 4 settlements that you agreed on last year, excluding Upottery although the village has a 2017 HELAA site suitable for ~ 20 houses. The lack of a village shop appears to be why we are not in Tier 4.
I am sure you appreciate that when the County Council and central government create their plans up to 2040 for bus routes, schools, highway improvements, etc your local plan will tell them that you are content for villages below Tier 4 to stagnate or decline and such organisations will then focus investment where the plan tells them people growth will happen.
I've been looking through the minutes of your previous meetings and on March 8th this year, you debated two amendments to the settlement hierarchy put to you by Mr Freeman. Option 1 was to consider including four villages (include Upottery) along with three other settlements in your Tier 4 list because "they were previously not considered suitable but were reasonably close to having comparatively greater level of services and facilities". Option 2 was to "consider a further eight villages that had some missing key facilities".
At the end of that agenda item, a motion was agreed, proposed by Councillor Howe, seconded by Councillor Davey and clarified by the Planning Barrister saying that no extension to Tier 4 will take place above that proposed at your Feb 8 meeting, but that the committee also acknowledged for the purpose of the Local Plan a modest growth of 10% would be allowed.
Councillors, I suggest you have a mechanism here to include Upottery (and possibly the three other Option 1 villages) in the Local Plan without altering the settlement hierarchy. I call on you to allow Upottery to grow.”
A statement was read out on behalf of Councillor Colin Brown as follows:
“At the strategic planning meeting on the 29th of September there were a number of villages which spoke against having development and claimed they were unsustainable. The only village asking for a small number of houses was Upottery. The Chair of Upottery Parish Council has spoken to this committee again asking for small numbers of homes to be built in their village. In the past 15 years before the present local plan, 25 homes were built of which about half were affordable, that is organic growth! What this village is asking for is for this committee to show the parish some respect and listen and agree to development taking place in the field opposite the village hall.
The planning inspector, after having allowed appeals against East Devon planning officers in this village stated that housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities. Upottery has a pub which doubles as a shop where villagers can buy their daily essentials, i.e. milk, bread, butter etc. and a regular bus service, it is also home to Otter brewery an internationally known company, whose beer I have seen being sold as far afield as Gibraltar. More importantly, it has a school which 3 years ago was extended and has places available for pupils. Please do not allow this village to stagnate. Please allow it to have the organic growth it needs for the benefit of the village.”
Members discussed the possibility of reviewing the classification of Upottery to consider reclassification as a Tier 4 settlement; however they were reminded that the discussion on classification had taken place over several meetings previously, and the classifications made were based on evidence; and that if such a change was made, then three other settlements (Colyford, Rockbeare and Woodbury Salterton) would also need to reclassified to be consistent. These four settlements did not have the evidence base needed to support that reclassification, so to include them would bring the risk that the Local Plan could be found unsound.
Any community still had the opportunity, not only to respond to the Local Plan consultation, but to pursue other routes such as a Community Land Trust, or an exception site application for determination.
It was also clarified that an increase of 10% of housing was applied to Tier 4 settlements, as per the decisions made at earlier meetings by the Committee.
Councillor Jung stated that “proposals on ripping up some of our most important nature protections.
The proposal to scrap the retained EU Law on Habitats Regulations, which safeguards our most important wildlife and wild places. Also, the proposals for new Investment Zones, included in the Growth Plan, could also tear up fundamental legal protections for wildlife in the UK. This is totally at odds to our local aims and objectives for our countryside this Council is seeking to achieve through our Council Plan and Climate Change Strategy and our new Local Plan the highest possible protection to our nature rich countryside.
Therefore, as Portfolio holder for Coast Country and Environment I have major concern now that the government proposed U turn on these green issues will severely impact on our local environment targets. Our new draft Local Plan with its high level of environmental designation that we are seeking to protect and where possible enhance seems now to be at odds to the governments stripping away any environment protection. That’s why I supported to involve our local MPs to seek their support regarding our concerns. However, my question to our Officers at this Strategic meeting today is, how would our Strategies, Policies, and proposals for protecting our countryside stand as it appears they will be at odds to Government’s proposals.
My second question relates to our disappearing bus services. Whilst we plan more and more houses and employment it seems that our bus services are diminishing. It’s reported that they are not being used and therefore not profitable. Basically, use it or lose it! My village along with Exmouth has lost its only link to the west of the district, Lympstone’s bus now only goes to Exmouth. Our bus services are so expensive now, pricing themselves out; and it seems the only people using them are the ones with a bus pass. The consequence, people use cars to travel, the total opposite to our green agenda.
With many of our site’s assessments for our local plan being determined by its location to a bus stop, but for how long will it be a bus stop? How can we get our residents to go green when the transport provision is being trashed? How can we turn it around so that the public transport is working with us rather than against our green agenda?”.
Members were reminded that government legislation was not yet in place for the proposals that Cllr Jung referred to. It was important to focus on the current legislation to enable a Local Plan to be delivered. Determination of bus services fell to Devon County Council.