Information on public speaking is available online
The following question was read out by the Chair on behalf of Nigel Dutt, a member of the public:
Officers have completed an epic task in summarising the feedback received in response to the local plan consultation, but a very significant omission is any sort of quantification of the nature of the responses. This was very usefully done in the previous report on the Issues and Options consultation, where a lot of graphs and pie-charts were included to show how responses were distributed. This is a big part of the value of Commonplace, who make a lot of noise about these features, which are extensively used by almost all of their clients in their own reports.
EDDC made extensive use of requesting feedback ratings in the Commonplace-based consultation, so it does seem like a major omission not to have made any use of them, especially after expensively switching to Commonplace from the system previously used for the Issues and Options consultation. Instead, this report just summarises selected comments without indicating the overall balance of opinion, which would add a lot of value if done, and ought to help the Strategic Planning Committee in their further deliberations. It should also be possible to ascribe sentiment ratings to the non-Commonplace responses, so that shouldn't be used as a reason not to do it.
The question is whether there is any plan to provide quantitative analysis of the responses, especially given that this is so easily obtained from Commonplace?
In response the Assistant Director - Planning Strategy and Development Management accepted this was a fair challenge as the data obtained had either come from Commonplace or via emails and written comments. Although the report did provide the overall comments it did not, as pointed out, provide the sentiment scores. To address this the Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management advised that if Members were in agreement this could be provided in the final version of the document at the September meeting by an appendix with graphical illustrations detailing the sentiment scores and the additional data received. He explained that this appendix would only relate to comments made through the commonplace system as it would not be appropriate for officers to seek to interpret comments received through other means and attribute a sentiment score to them. The Chair and Councillor Ingham agreed it was important to have this information.
The following statement was read out by the Chair on behalf of Councillor Alasdair Bruce, Ward Member for Feniton:
Many of you are new to this committee so for your benefit and the patience of those who are not, I will outline the main points of objection to any further major development in Feniton below.
Let’s start with the planning department’s designation of Feniton as a service village. This is an error and it should be classified as an unsustainable village.
The reasons are:
Topping the list must be the judgment from the 2014 super inquiry where the planning inspector ruled that Feniton was an unsustainable village with no further capacity for more development. The reasons cited in this judgment are still valid as nothing has changed. In fact it can be argued that things are now worse, with the only development that was allowed lies only half finished and with no end in sight.
The primary school has been full for a while and there is no possibility of it being able to expand. It therefore follows that any increase in children of this age and above must travel outside the parish to find schooling. The public transport is poor so almost all these journeys will have to be made by car. This fails one of the key points in EDDC sustainable planning. There is a Spar shop, no medical facilities and a pub, that’s it. Such a description would match most villages in east Devon that gain the status of an unsustainable village.
Much is made of the parkway station as an excuse for increased housing and yet the service is once every two hours making it useless for commuting. There is no funding or plans to create a loop from Network Rail, which might increase the frequency. So it must follow that this must be discounted as an advantage to support more housing. Even now passing trains cause major traffic jams of up to 15 minutes. It is also the only level crossing in the UK located on a cross roads.
Flooding has been an historic problem in Feniton primarily exacerbated by the main railline embankment acting as a dam. Houses have been inundated and lives ruined. The current flood alleviation plan is stalled with an ever changing end date. The most recent update suggesting that the original calculations are wrong in terms of the potential capacity of the system which has given rise to very worrying concern from residents as you can imagine.
Sewage often backs up into peoples houses due to over capacity and low slope angles. This is a totally unacceptable situation with little concern or solution’s being provided by SWW. Even with those developments that have been completed, there does not appear to be any accurate records of exactly what the drainage plans are. For example, the partially finished Acland Park development has a road system that, I’m reliably informed, will not be adopted as it is not fit for purpose and adds to the problem of surface water run off, the main flood risk in Feniton. Exactly what lies below ground to sort this out at this location remains a mystery.
With regard to the public consultation I could only find one chart reflecting public responses and that related only to Feniton, and you could be forgiven for thinking that the low numbers who responded reflect a lack of concern. This could not be further from the truth. What is not stated in this report is the very poor composition of this consultation. The questions asked were often restrictive and the widely criticised on line experience was very poor and difficult to navigate. So to say it was flawed is an understatement and should be mentioned in this report. The briefest of mention is given to the public petition raised by Feniton parish where over 500 people responded, but this report excludes the wording of the petition. I have previously raised this major omission with the head of planning and was assured it would be included in more detail later in the process. I cannot see a better place to fully outline it than in the report before you and yet it is still not there. So for clarity and for your records I’ve included the full wording of the petition at the end of this statement.
Finally, I must draw your attention to some of the comments raised in favour of many of the locations under Feniton. Setting aside the poor level of English grammar in the report for the moment, I have pulled out some examples of comments from developers in favour of their respective sites, although all of them are poor, irrelevant or downright absurd.
The site has good public transport connections (this is simply not true and is a common phrase trotted out)
The site is closest to the A30 where most traffic will head (true but just adds to lanes already struggling to cope)
A new over 55’s development would be great (is that really a planning consideration)
The site feels close to the centre of Feniton (I’m at a loss to understand the value of this statement as this village has an old and new part with open countryside between so exactly where is the centre and is it relevant).
I could go on but, hopefully you’ve had a chance to compare the well thought out objections with the many comments in favour that either have no bearing or relevance to the actual picture on the ground. In fact you could be forgiven for thinking that many of these developers have never visited Feniton and just conducted a google earth search!
PETITION - THE FUTURE OF FENITON
Consultation on the Draft East Devon Local Plan (7 Nov 2022 - 15 Jan 2023)
We the undersigned object to the inclusion of the five “Second Choice” (Amber) sites identified for housing development at Feniton in the draft East Devon Local Plan.
We do not consider Feniton to be a sustainable location for mass housing development that would result in a 66% growth in the village. Feniton’s primary school is already full and it cannot expand, there are very few jobs in the village, there is inadequate public transport for effective commuting, a small convenience store, limited leisure facilities and no medical centre. Additional housing will greatly increase car journeys on the already wholly inadequate country lanes that serve the village. The village is subject to regular flooding from surface water that previous developments have failed to address and there is a genuine expectation that further mass housing will make this worse. The village is bisected by a railway line with a level crossing that causes inconvenience, nuisance and traffic safety issues. Further mass housing will add to these problems. We also object to the loss of open countryside, productive agricultural land and wildlife habitat that could be avoided by developing brownfield sites instead.
We agree that the “Rejected” (Red) sites at Feniton should not be developed.
We agree that as one of the “Tier 4 Service Villages” in the Plan, development should be “modest” and “to meet local needs”. This could be achieved by the provision of 42 homes at the “Preferred Location” (Green) in the draft plan; the former Burlands Mead Nursery site.
In 2014 East Devon District Council argued that Feniton is not a place where large scale housing can be achieved in a sustainable way. An independent Planning Inspector agreed. We say that nothing has changed that position.
In response the Assistant Director – Planning Strategy and Development Management noted the concerns raised and advised this would need to be discussed at a future meeting when Members consider the housing allocations for Feniton.