Monday 7 April 2014

“The village of Feniton has been targeted by speculators seeking housing developments” - but the Inspector has now rejected most of these...

News just in from District Cllr Susie Bond who represents Feniton:

Public inquiry result is out!

Feniton planning inquiry result has just been announced. Acland Park has been allowed for 32 houses, as suspected, but the other two major sites have been dismissed.
Many congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to get this storming result.
Haven’t had a chance to digest the 40-page report, but will be blogging with a summary of the decision shortly.
Public inquiry result is out! | Susie Bond

And from County Councillor Claire Wright:

Fantastic news for Feniton as over 200 houses on appeal dismissed!
Monday, 07 April 2014 14 Comments by Claire
Feniton triple appeal planning inspector, Jessica Graham has dismissed three major applications for Feniton totalling over 200 houses, we have just heard.
She has allowed the appeal for 32 houses at Acland Park, but the most damaging applications have been rejected.
Absolutely brilliant news for the community after years of battling against floods and large-scale planning applications.  Let’s hope this stops the developers in their tracks.
Ms Graham found that the 83 houses off Green Lane (Wainhomes) and the 120 houses adjacent to Ottery Road (Strategic Land Partnerships) would both cause significant and demonstrable harm to the landscape and setting of Feniton.
She concluded that although Feniton was a reasonably sustainable location due to its railway station, the lack of shops and services at Feniton would considerably increase journeys by private car. She agreed with residents, councillors and Feniton Parish Council that the village was NOT infinitely sustainable and that the bus service was infrequent.
On highways and traffic movements, she took the highways officer’s view of the situation, who did not object. This is disappointing.  She said that she based her view on the National Planning Policy Framework, which states refusals for developments can only be sustained if the impact is “severe.”
Happily, she did attach weight to the loss of good quality agricultural land (grade 2). 
Strategic Land Partnership’s arguments that their scheme carried benefits because they owned the land that the school could expand on, fell on stony ground. Ms Graham dismissed this largely because the land could be acquired by Devon County Council through compulsory purchase - one of my points in my oral submission, as county councillor.
Feniton Parish Council chairman, Martyn Smith’s argument that the developments would damage community cohesion did carry weight with Ms Graham.
Ms Graham did not put a figure on the housing land supply but said that this was a matter for the local plan examination in public to determine.  Incidentally, she has confirmed that she saw the letter from Mr Thickett on EDDC’s local plan - and that this did not affect her decision.
Well done to all those of you who repeatedly objected, even when you felt it was hopeless, well done to all those of you who spoke at the planning inquiry and at EDDC planning committee meetings.
Most of all well done to Cllr Susie Bond, EDDC councillor for Feniton, John Withrington and Jayne Blackmore from Fight for Feniton for a monumental amount of sterling work over the YEARS that these applications have been submitted, debated, dismissed, resubmitted and gone to appeal.
Also, a huge well done to Feniton Parish Council, particularly Martyn Smith and Nick Spence, who made the brave decision to undertake an eye-watering amount of work by applying for Rule 6 status at the planning inquiry, which meant that they could take a full part in the sessions, led by their planning consultant, Charlie Hopkins, whose fees were paid for by community fundraising, with some help from my locality budget and parish council precept.
Thanks also to EDDC officers for all the work they put in to defending the appeal.
All this, when the village was being battered by repeated floods. What a massive achievement.
It takes a lot of work, a lot of determination and a lot of faith, but this decision goes to show what can happen when communities pull together to fight a developer onslaught.
Photograph: Camp Field in the summer. It was under threat of 120 houses from Strategic Land Partnerships.
1. At 03:31 pm on 07th Apr Jane Johnson wrote:
Delighted for you all.  Congratulations on a great campaign!
2. At 03:36 pm on 07th Apr Sue Cade wrote:
This is fantastic news, well done everyone!
3. At 03:37 pm on 07th Apr Andy Thompson wrote:
#Huzzah! Reason has won through!
4. At 03:44 pm on 07th Apr terrie white wrote:
thats great news
5. At 04:17 pm on 07th Apr Jayne Blackmore wrote:
This is brilliant news. Thank you to all who played a part in this very long campaign and above all the community of Feniton.
6. At 04:21 pm on 07th Apr Gillian Ewings wrote:
Yippee Hooray Fantastic News. At last common sense has prevailed. (I do hope she has put a very strong clause in regarding sewer upgrades for the Acland Park site!!) Well Done Everyone the hard work and commitment to the fight has paid off!!
7. At 04:44 pm on 07th Apr Christine Gibbins wrote:
Wow amazing news. A VERY BIG, BIG THANK YOU to all for all your support through this nerve racking process. xxx
8. At 04:44 pm on 07th Apr Val Jones wrote:
Fantastic news.  Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and commitment.  And thanks to all our friends from Ottery, Sidmouth and beyond who supported us when we almost despaired.
9. At 05:11 pm on 07th Apr Archie McMachan wrote:
Great news for Feniton, well done to all of those who worked so hard for this result
10. At 05:37 pm on 07th Apr Christopher Burton wrote:
11. At 05:48 pm on 07th Apr Karen Waters wrote:
What wonderful news!! Well done everyone 
12. At 06:59 pm on 07th Apr Sue and Terry wrote:
Fantastic….well done to everyone involved, now let’s get the flooding and sewerage problems sorted then perhaps those affected can sleep easy at night and not panic when it rains. I would like to say goodbye to my flood gates and the numerous sand bags surrounding our property.
13. At 07:41 pm on 07th Apr Sharon Pavey wrote:
Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to fight this.
14. At 08:40 pm on 07th Apr Lisa Rundle wrote:
This is fantastic news! Many thanks to everyone who campaigned!
Fantastic news for Feniton as over 200 houses on appeal dismissed!

The Express & Echo is carrying the story:

Government inspector rules against more than 200 houses at East Devon village ‘under siege’ from developers

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: April 07, 2014
 Comments (1)
A Government planning inspector has rejected two developers’ appeals against East Devon District Council’s decision not to allow more than 200 houses in the flood-beset village of Feniton.
On January 7, a Government inspector heard the appeals by three developers for up to 235 houses in the village at a so-called ‘super inquiry’.
The inspector upheld the appeal by Feniton Park Ltd, for 32 at Acland Park but has rejected the appeals by Wainhomes for 83 homes near Louvigny Close and Strategic Land Partnerships, which wanted either 59 or 120 houses on land west of Ottery Road.
District council ward member for Ottery St Mary which includes Feniton, Councillor Claire Wright, said: “This is absolutely brilliant news for the community after years of battling against floods and large-scale planning applications.
“Let’s hope this stops the developers in their tracks.”
Countryside campaigners and residents have long said the village, which has been beset by flooding mainly due to overflowing drains, has been ‘under siege’ from developers.
As part of East Devon District Council’s emerging Local Plan document, which outlines where thousands of homes could be built over the next decade, Feniton is allocated just 35 houses.
If all the three developments were granted on the back of the inquiry, the village of Feniton would have increased by 40 per cent.

Government inspector rules against more than 200 houses at Feniton ‘under siege’ from developers | Exeter Express and Echo

This is happening against the backdrop of the delay in implementing a Local Plan for the District - because, even though these applications have been rejected, the developers could well return with the field being (literally) open:
East Devon housing row as local plan bungle opens doors to developers | Western Daily Press

On the other hand, there are those who feel that the likes of the Campaign to Protect Rural England are exaggerating:

Green belt scaremongering obscures a housing shortage that is truly frightening

2 April 2014, 11.30am BST

We all know we have a crisis of housing supply and affordability. Over the past four years we have built on average 110,000 homes a year in England, less than the 150,000 homes built 110 years ago in 1904.
Against this sorry state of affairs appears the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s report entitled Community Control or Countryside Chaos?, purporting to reveal the shocking effects of the National Planning Policy Framework two years after its introduction.
Like a 17th century tract on how to detect witches, the report’s authors warn us to beware the rapacious developers laying waste the countryside. Examples include a case study of 11 “villages under siege” – stories compiled by local witchfinders – and an account of 58 planning appeals, of which about a third (19) were refused (a not unusual amount) but 39 were allowed. This – which if all were built would total only 8,705 houses – is presented as clear evidence of a conspiracy to concrete over our sacred turf.
Another claim, from a study of Local Plans, is that they contain “proposals for more than 700,000” houses built on open countryside. The evidence for this – a survey put together by local CPRE membership groups – reveals an altogether less encouraging picture. Less encouraging, that is, if one hopes ever to build in coming years an even passable number of houses in places where people want and need to live if they are to have access to jobs.
The real problem is how febrile imaginings are turned into frightening falsehoods. The CPRE report brims with photographs of bucolic villages bearing captions such as “Developers are being allowed to build on greenfield sites”, or of an excavator in an anonymous site captioned “Development pressure is growing on the edge of many villages” (note the weasel word “many”).
There is an illustration of a beautiful section of the Devon coastal path below a story that builder Persimmon is “calling for” 257 houses “on a greenfield site on the edge of Sidmouth” (so, not the site depicted) and “the village of Feniton has been targeted by speculators seeking housing developments”. Again, and in each case, the area presented, beautiful and deserving of protection, is under no threat at all.
Green belt scaremongering obscures a housing shortage that is truly frightening

See also:
Futures Forum: Greenfield vs Brownfield: part two
Futures Forum: " We really need to go back to basics and understand what the NPPF understands by ‘sustainable’."
Futures Forum: The NPPF under pressure: building houses on green space
Futures Forum: Feniton "has been central to the greatest storm yet to burst over the way the Government’s flawed planning policies are allowing builders to 'lay siege' to rural England."

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