To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
Sarah Coffin referring to item 4 on the plans list asked the committee to refuse the application and raised the following queries:
1. If councillors approve this application which will facilitate increased capacity for conversion of biogas to energy via the adjoining Willand AD site, will the three directly connected applications presently awaiting decisions be prejudiced?
NDDC- digestate storage bag
MDDC – industrial silage clamp
DCC – variation to double the tonnage of feedstock presently permitted for Willand AD site
2. How under present NPPF and conditions guidance would it be possible to defend any refusal of these outstanding applications, which facilitate increased feedstock volumes and production capacity for Willand AD? Should you approve this application today granting mechanism for greater biogas conversion then refusal of the outstanding applications will be indefensible against appeal. Any mitigating conditions would have to be ‘reasonable, necessary and enforceable.’
3. There have been considerable complaints raised since the ADs in Mid Devon became operational, about increased traffic, odour and noise issues, related to all aspects of servicing the AD’s to provide feedstock and remove digestate; and MDDC Scrutiny committee was asked in December 2019 to look into overall impact of AD operations as soon as possible.
Surely therefore a full cumulative EIA is required in this instance?
Lindsay Kuzara provided a question with regard to item 10 (Creedy Bridge) on the agenda list which was read out by the Chairman:
What will happen to the part of the site currently earmarked for a school if DCC decide not to build and the part currently earmarked for the Rugby Club if they find a better or more affordable site in the next 15 years. Can the council insist on a stipulation that if they are not used as was initially planned they will become green amenity areas with trees planted and the developer will not be permitted to apply to build more houses on them?
Adam Kuzara provided a question regarding item 10 (Creedy Bridge) on the agenda which was read out by the Chairman:
When this site was taken out of contingency it was for up to 200 houses, however the Planning Officer finally supported 257 due to viability. I had thought this must be due to the cost to the developer of providing a cheap or free site for the Rugby Club, but it now seems the Rugby Club will have to pay full price.
The Wellparks site was viable with fewer than 200 houses. Should the Council now ask the developer to resubmit plans for a maximum of 200 houses?
Mark Gulley on behalf of the Crediton Rugby Club referring to item 10 (Creedy Bridge) on the agenda stated that as the Chairman of the Rugby Club he saw first-hand the substantial benefit that it provides for the town. The volunteers that run the club are amazing and offer their time for nothing creating a real spirit of togetherness. The most important element is the junior offering to hundreds of local children who learn core values for life. If the rugby club cannot relocate where will our 400 junior members find a community that offers the same values? Why when the clubs relocation is written into the local plan and the club are working hard to make that happen have we been kept at arm’s length by officers from a discussion and agreement of the section 106 agreement and conditions that will be applied to the Pedlerspool site. We’d love to work more closely with your officers on this subject and we’re in your hands with that.
Cllr Elizabeth Wainwright, referring to item 2 (Hitchcocks) on the plans list stated that whilst I realise that job creation is important in our area it cannot be at the expense of our aim to become net zero by 2030. This application is concerning for a number of reasons not least because it’s on greenfield site and I’m curious how this application can be looked at or revised in light of our own aim to become net zero by 2030 and what concrete mitigations have been or will be put in place.
Mr Grantham also referring to item 2 on the plans list stated he objected to the application because of the increase of vehicle movements on the B3181 and the lack of safety measures e.g. a halt sign at the exit from the site to the B3181 and light pollution.
This site has increased in size over a number of years. Planning applications have been brought before the planning committee in a piecemeal way and only considered on the application before them. They do not look at the bigger picture. This is how the Hitchcocks site has got larger and larger over the years. Some would say, this is a very clever way by the agents to get their own way.
Let’s take the present application, it is a very reduced site from the original one. So what do we find from all the main consultees – Devon Highways, Public Health, Police, Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England, Highways England, Flood Risk team, Conservation Officer, Historic Environment Team and DCC Highway Authority. We now do not object.
No one looks at the bigger picture when considering these planning applications – more traffic, more pollution, especially from diesel vehicles. Is this contributing towards our green environment? We must remember that planning permission is already in place for a large part of this site towards Uffculme road. This could be changed, because of other circumstances or conditions later on so the site could get bigger.
The traffic impact has not been rigorously tested near the M5 J27, traffic assessment was March 2014. Traffic counts are out of date after 3 years. Distribution assumptions at J27 taken from 2001 census, only impact assessments considered were on the M5 slip, nothing on the B3181.
I have done traffic counts myself at the junction of B3181 and the C107 (road to Uffculme school). The increase in vehicle movements was astonishing. 2016 total movements 590 between 3 and 4 pm. 2020 vehicle movements on Friday 7th February between 3 and 4 pm were 1020.
Queues are now forming from J27 past the B3181 and C107 towards Hitchcocks Farm. These queues are now occurring on a regular basis most days. This will only increase when the extension to Mid Devon Business Park, providing unit sizes B1, B2 and B8. This plus 125 houses at Meadow Park in Willand, 90 houses in Uffculme and Cullompton Garden Village, using Willand as a rat run to J27. Also taken into account, is the proposed J27 development and an increase in traffic from the block works at Uffculme.
The B3181 road is only classified as a B road with maintenance that goes with it i.e. hardly any. MDDC should have an official vehicle count done on the B3181 at the junction of the B3181 and C107. This together with recommendation from MDDC public health service air quality impact assessment according to the supplementary planning document on air quality. The receptor location is to be agreed at the junction of the B3181 and the C107 to Uffculme School. A report of the above should be made to MDDC before any decision on the proposed planning application is granted.
Why has MDDC, being the lead planning authority on the Hitchcock site, never asked DCC Highways or the Environment Agency for a full traffic assessment on the B3181 or a light pollution assessment on the Hitchcock site?
Chris Hill referring to item 2 (Hitchcocks) on the plans list stated he was very alarmed to see on page 36 that the representations relate to only responses on the revised application. My question is for the officers: when considering this application and granting permission whether they took into account the 673 people who signed the objection to the Hitchcocks application and also the 117 letters of objection. Only those letters of objection that relate to this application have been included yet this is only a mini bit of the original application and as the previous gentleman said we are very very concerned that this will be a piece meal application because this is only the same as the big application so 14% bigger in 3 months’ time will you get another 15% and another 15% and eventually the whole of the fields will be filled with warehouses. So the same objections we all made to the original application still stand and I believe they have not been properly presented to the council by the officers for this application.
Linnea Mills again referring to item 2 (Hitchcocks) on the plans list stated her question was about the integrity and evidence provided in the report. The planning guidance to local governments say that recommendations that depart from the local development plan clearly must be justified and I was wondering when I was reading this report how good of a justification is been given in this report. The justification that is given is that there is insufficient availability of employment land at other sites. Where is the evidence for this? I ask you to be wary of the fact that the council only mentions historical under supply of employment land and provides no information on actual supply and demand or vacancy rates. There is no data. I ask you to be equally weary and critically note that there is no mention about employment floor space being created as part of the Local Plan, there is no mention of increased floor space at Mid Devon Business Park just down the road from Hitchcocks. There is no mention of the huge increase in employment floor space that is being created as part of the J27 development. It’s a deliberate choice by the officers not to include these pieces of information that is needed for you to make an informed decision about this matter. They have chosen not to see the bigger picture, we as a community need to rely on you as our representatives to see the bigger picture. So the planning office asked you to bypass the local plan and in so doing set the precedents for future opportunistic applications from developers. They asked you to bypass the development plan and as such take us away from the holistic planning that the local plan contributes to. It asks you to step away from the local plan and go against the wishes of a lot of people who live in the affected communities. Remember that Uffculme Parish Council, Willand Parish Council objected to this and these are the Parishes where Hitchcocks is physically located. We don’t want it. The planning office is asking you to do all this on very flimsy ground, providing no justification and no evidence. So my question to you is will you at least consider deferring until the council can provide with good enough information for you to be able to make an informed decision in this case.
The Chairman indicated that answers to questions would be provided when the items were debated.