Information on public speaking is available online
Cllr Jane Chanot of Farringdon Parish Council said that the overall perception of the recent Local Plan consultation was that there was a lack of transparency and missing evidence. Farringdon PC had been told that there was a Masterplan vision, however only a plan with no detail had been available on the Commonplace consultation website and it was a major concern that details such as a proposed new road, as shown in the Masterplan vision, had not been brought to the public’s attention during the consultation.
Farringdon is in the middle of option 1 and option 2 for the proposed new town and is seen as a preferred option based on deliverability. Concern had been raised by a local landowner that their land had been designated as easily deliverable when the land had not been put forward. In response to a question from the Chair, Cllr Chanot confirmed that no public consultation had been held in Farringdon.
Mr Nigel Dutt questioned why the current Local Plan is being reviewed so early particularly as the Plan will deliver more than the Government’s required housing supply numbers up to 2031. As the review had started so early there is time to wait for potential changes to the NPPF and other policies before replacing the current Local Plan.
Neighbourhood Plans will be impacted by the early replacement of the Local Plan and the Farringdon Neighbourhood Plan would only run to 2024 instead of 2031 in the event of a new Local Plan. This was considered a waste of time and effort by those who had worked hard to produce the Neighbourhood Plan.
There was a major concern and anger that, as the Farringdon Neighbourhood Plan was being produced, EDDC was discussing a potential new town in the same parish. This had been exacerbated by EDDC not holding a public consultation in Farringdon which would be the most affected parish. The draft new Local Plan feels too developer led with lessons not having been learned from the experience of building Cranbrook. Taking time over the new Local Plan would give EDDC an opportunity to distance itself from the perceived greed and power of the business world of developers.
Mrs Jennifer Brooke said that the Local Plan consultation process was flawed as the Commonplace software was not fit for purpose. An independent usability report had identified issues such as a lack of cookie consent, breach of data regulations and lack of accessibility for users who are less computer literate. The consultation was also not transparent and not objective as option 1 was already cited as the preferred location for the proposed new town. The CBRE options appraisal and the Traffic Management Report did not adequately address issues such as surface water flooding, pollution and congestion which would be caused by the new town and service road. The first consultation in 2021 resulted in less than 20% support for a new town although EDDC has now made this a core part of strategy.
The population of East Devon continues to grow although health care infrastructure is not keeping pace. The proposed new town would be a few hundred metres from Cranbrook and taken together, would comprise over 33,000 new residents. This would destroy existing rural villages and hamlets resulting in a vast urban sprawl. As there is no support for a new town, no need for it under the emerging NPPF and no infrastructure to support residents, Mrs Brooke questioned why EDDC and some landowners and developers continue to pursue it.
A question for the Committee had been submitted by Mr Peter Brooke. The Monitoring Officer advised that part of Mr Brooke’s correspondence would be treated as a Freedom of Information request as it asked for specific figures relating to the Local Plan consultation process. The remaining part of Mr Brooke’s correspondence was read out by the Democratic Services Officer and made the following points that the CBRE Options Appraisal:
· Failed to account for a “none of the above” consideration.
· Failed to address the required commitment from the NHS, Police, Fire and sewerage services.
· Did not consider lessons learned from Cranbrook.
· Contained “Greenwashing” due to the amount of farmland which would be developed.
· Having only received a 1% response cannot be considered to be an effective consultation.
The Chair thanked the public speakers for their contributions.