Agenda item

Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online



Mr Ray Levy spoke on item 10 – Consultation on the draft East Devon Local Plan – updated draft as follows:

“I would like to raise my objections and concerns about the recent inclusion of AONB land south of the Heathfield Estate known as Honi_01, as an option for development within the new draft local plan.   


This site was recently subject to two previous planning applications which were roundly and unanimously rejected by the town council and East Devon District Council delegated officers with nearly 200 letters objections from residents across Honiton and beyond. I would encourage the committee to review its multitude of refusal reasons which the majority should still stand and give adequate grounds for removal of this site from the draft plan.


Looking at the developer’s latest presentation it suggested constructing 79 dwellings, this would indicate it’s still a significant development within an AONB and would set a precedent not only for this developer to gain further expansion into the adjoining fields, which would require construction regardless, due to the need for access to this centre field site, but also for clear future expansion across to other adjoining areas in this, and other localities.


The land at this site rises steeply from the northern existing residential boundary, which already increasingly suffers from run off from the site, flooding gardens and driveways due to increasing climate change, and building over this will only exacerbate the issue.


The other major concern due to its steeply rising topography, will be the loss of privacy and amenity to the current residents all along the boundary, as these proposed two story properties will be positioned to gain full advantage of views across to the Blackdown hills AONB (basically ripping up one AONB to give owners views to another!) quite an odd way of preserving our beautiful natural environment.   The Developers would also use the fact it’s within an AONB as their unique marketing strategy, negating the fact they destroyed part of it in the process.  

We are aware of the pressures on the authority to provide enough land to develop for future housing, but AONB and National parks should always be the last resort, not just included to make up numbers to meet erroneous government targets.


These areas are of great importance to our economy and the enjoyment of all residents and visitors and should be preserved at all costs.  Your own draft plan goes to great lengths about protecting and enhancing our outstanding landscapes, biodiversity, habitats and species, which this site has in abundance, so this inclusion for development seems to greatly contradict your own document.


Could the committee or officers also confirm if Natural England or East Devon AONB were consulted about a variation order with regards to the redrawing of the Settlement boundary on the latest policy map to include this site or the development of it?


I thank the committee for allowing me the opportunity to speak this morning and hope you can reverse your decision to include this beautiful area for development prior to consultation.”


Councillor Jane Chanot, spoke on behalf of Farringdon Parish Council on item 8 – New Community Options Appraisal raising concerns for option 1 which would take over the Farringdon area, with small hamlets being surrounded by this proposal and the possibility of Farringdon being renamed which is a real concern for residents who lived in the well-established village.  Option 1 would also surround the Hill Barton Industrial Estate and residents take issue about what was happening on the estate with the extent of growth, noise pollution, odours and other pollutions which was being considered a suitable place for families.  Councillor Chanot asked Members to carefully consider Option 1 advising Hill Barton Industrial Estate was a blight on the area and would also be a blight on any development that comes forward.  She raised concerns that Members would be making decisions without seeing the area first and suggested Members should take the opportunity to come see for themselves the beauty of Farringdon and the Hill Barton area.


Dr Sally Basker, Chief Executive, Exeter Science Park spoke on item 10 – Consultation on the draft East Devon Local Plan – updated draft as follows:

“Let me start by noting that, in previous consultancy roles, I have had to produce similar length documents to support policy development and I understand how difficult it is. I’d like to commend the authors for their work.


We are fully supportive of the Economic Strategy and look forward to playing our part. I welcome more land being allocated to Exeter Science Park; as we approach critical mass, companies will need rather than want to be at the Park. It is important to ensure that strategic policies do not curtail the “current approach to development” which is being promoted in the plan. 


 I refer now to strategic policies 9, 10, 11, 12 and 16.


With regard to strategic policy 10, might I suggest that the name of the park is Exeter Science Park: the physical park exists, the legal entity exists, the brand is strong, the trademarks have been registered.


Exeter Science Park Ltd is a small or medium-size enterprise that is already blessed with governance, regulation and complex, multi-party agreements. Therefore, with regard to strategic policies 9 and 10, I suggest the Local Plan should reference, rather than selectively quote from, existing agreements such as the Outline Planning Permission, the Gateway Policy and the District Heating Master Agreement. The latter incorporates checks to encourage competition.


Again in strategic policies 9 and 10, I draw mental comparisons between the phrase ‘highest standard’ in a property context and ‘best endeavours’ in a legal context. We will need a range of facilities to meet user needs as they emerge to drive growth. If standards have to be mentioned, I suggest they are well-defined and measurable like BREEAM Excellent, Net Zero or EPC A+.


My last comment on strategic policy 10 concerns ‘non-businesses or business that do not accord or align with Science Park objectives’. It is unclear what is meant by ‘non-business’ or ‘Science Park objectives’. Again, I suggest that the Local Plan should reference the Outline Planning Permission and Gateway Policy. This should be sufficient.


While we are pleased to see land being identified for business or technology park use to the north of the Park and between the Park and Sowton Village. Our preference would be the extension south towards Sowton, preferably with a physical link to the Science Park to benefit from the existing community and facilities, to maximise the synergy between new residential communities and employment opportunities, and to support links north and south of the A30.


Finally, regarding strategic objective 16, I note we have already identified the desire to connect to the Clyst Valley Regional Park in our draft future vision.


We are keen to engage with and support this process.”


Councillor Alasdair Bruce, spoke on behalf of Feniton Parish Council spoke on item 10 – Consultation on the draft East Devon Local Plan – updated draft as follows:

“I put forward the comments below in a final attempt to highlight many of the inconsistencies in the draft before you. 


You will all no doubt be aware of the Environment agency objection to planning development based on the pollution generated from run off into the river systems heavily loaded with nitrates and phosphates to name but two. There is nothing in the draft that will guarantee that any future developments will be required to stand alone when it comes to controlling water related issues for a given development. And, after the shocking images of sewerage discharge in Cornwall on Sunday for no obvious reason, this issue is of paramount importance. It encouraging to note that our cabinet member Cllr Jung has stated he would support a reduction in surface runoff linked to any future developments and would seek to refuse it if not. However, he also correctly points out that the current NPPF frame does not allow us to refuse, which is nonsense, to use his own words.


A number of councillors and parishes have already highlighted for you, the inconsistency of site selection based solely on whatever developers bring forward for consideration.  The point has been made that many potential sites, which could also attract support from their respective communities, have been overlooked. This shows how the sustainability test which is applied to all planning applications is glaringly missing in the tests applied to potential sites in this draft. How on earth can we have a twin track system like this in planning, the same rules should apply across the board. The basis of a sustainable development is enshrined in good planning, and during the course of your meetings I, and the parish, have consistently demonstrated that Feniton is not a sustainable location for large scale development. I had hoped that given this, and the clear conclusions drawn from the super enquiry of 2014, that there would have been a selection of sites that better reflect the modest 10% of growth that this very committee proposed for Feniton. So, at the very least, this committee must include a clear statement in the consultation draft that only a ‘modest’ level of growth is anticipated for Feniton, in line with other Tier 4 settlements in the settlement hierarchy that underpins the plans strategy.


Our communities are now going to be asked to rank sites with no terms of reference or access to the kind of information that would be available for an individual application. Even if this exercise had been set up properly, there seems to be no guarantee that their observations or recommendations would be taken seriously. So, in order to get the best, and most representative result from the consultation, Feniton must be given the opportunity of a facilitated public meeting using a robust methodology in order that the community can state its preferences for development in Feniton, and rank the 2nd best sites as resolved by your committee at its Oct 7th meeting. There is a major concern that to rely simply on online responses will not truly reflect the needs and aspirations of the community, nor that everyone has, or wishes to use, the internet. Further, after the unambiguous statement by the Secretary of State Mr Gove, that “new developments should have the consent of local communities “the consultation mechanism needs to be even more open and transparent than is currently planned.


There are also a number of meetings coming up between Cllrs, parishes and senior officers regarding the special status given to Feniton and Whimple in this draft. These also must be face to face meetings rather than zoom. It must also follow that common sense must prevail that the draft cannot proceed until these meetings, and recommendations flowing from them are incorporated into the draft. So I must call on the committee to pause publication of the draft until these meetings are conducted. To do otherwise renders them pointless. Again, as has been mentioned by others, we are not up against the clock here with 9 years left to run on current plan. 


In conclusion there are simply too many outstanding issues for this committee to realistically plough forward with the public consultation phase. I in no way wish to belittle the considerable work undertaken so far by the members and officers, but if it’s not ready it’s not, and a delay at this stage will make for a stronger planning policy going forward, and one that actually reflects the real needs of our communities rather than the greed of developers and land owners. We should be known as a council that values community need over corporate greed.


Councillor Geoff Jung, Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment spoke on item 10 – Consultation on the draft East Devon Local Plan – updated draft as follows:

The meeting today is probably the crunch decision on how this area will look for our children and our children’s children. That’s why getting this vital Local Plan right is so important.


It’s also vital that we provide the best communications and information, so residents business, farmers and landowners know what we are doing and why.


Just a couple of internet chatter remarks I picked up last week.


Question to one of our MPs   


“How do the farming community feel about EDDC being allowed to build houses on agricultural land near Exeter Airport? And what are you doing to stop EDDC and TDC building all their housing estates as close to Exeter’s borders as they can?”


Clearly the questioner was not aware the housing number requirement is provided by government


The MPs answers

“Many do have understandable concerns. Ultimately, I have no power as the MP to intervene in local planning matters, but I have been working on planning legislation which is working its way through Parliament. We do need more homes, but we need to build them in the right places with infrastructure first.”

Clearly the MP doesn’t accept any blame for the concerns raised.

This exchange implies that that it’s the Councils of Teignbridge and East Devon are solely responsible to build loads of communities adjacent to Exeter, and the Councils are to blame for building them with infrastructure afterwards (if at all!) These comments really do not help cooperation and cohesion! 

We have got to get the real reasons out there, of why we most build these extra communities and more and more estates, and why its close to Exeter, and why green fields, and why infrastructure like roads, transport, health, education, and the protection of habitat and biodiversity all be required.

Remember, our MPs are working on new planning legislation which we are led to believe will reduce this Planning Authorities powers even further, not enhance, so its vital we get this plan through before the goal posts are changed again.

This local plan is suggesting a new Community, the plan is saying we need the infrastructure, the plan says we need more health care, a new sewage works, more schools, and further protection to our remaining countryside.

But we as a District Council are trying to remedy the missing jigsaw pieces from the last but one local plan with obtaining the promised finances for the Dinon Way extension, we are trying to resolve the issues at Cranbrook by providing the long promised green energy for the centralized heating, plus we have started the eagerly awaited town center. We are now delivering the award-winning concept to improve and enhance substantial areas of West End countryside with the Clyst Valley Regional Park.

So, at the same time of providing the missing infrastructure from the last 40 years we now need to ensure that we don’t leave the vital infrastructure to be completed by our children or their children.

That’s some challenge, but we most do it, and I believe if we and Central Government work together, rather than simply requiring us to provide planning permission for over 950 dwellings a year every year, and at the same time remove funding not only for infrastructure but even down to the running costs to this council, that challenge is made even more difficult.

We have a staffing emergency, we have had a Covid emergency, we have a climate change emergency, we have a housing emergency, and now we have an economic emergency.

This new local plan is not only about resolving the housing emergency, but it will also provide the vital steppingstone to overcome all our other emergencies.

For my portfolio, the plan is still sparse on Environmental, Biodiversity and Nature gain issues, but once we have identified the housing locations these plans will follow, and if I have anything to do with it, they will be substantial, but they will be deliverable.”


Questions raised by Members included:

·      A request was made for the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management to answer Mr Levy’s question about the redrawing of the settlement boundary for Honi_01.  In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that Honi_01 had been covered in the site assessment work but due to an error the settlement boundary had previously been omitted.  He clarified it was not a new site;

·      Clarification sought on why there was no engagement with Exeter Science Park.  In response the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management acknowledged that more engagement was needed and was happy to work closely with the Science Park;

·      Clarification sought on the AONB boundary.  The Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised they were not looking to change the AONB boundary but to ask them to consult on the draft Local Plan;

·      We are currently in a bad position to move forward with the draft Local Plan which has been heavily structured by officers and which has had very little input from our key authorities and enterprises with input to our policies;

·      Clarification sought on Councillor Jung’s comments “the plan is still sparse on environmental issues” and what should be done.  In response Councillor Jung advised that environmental protection should have been done first and then the development around the protection.