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.
Mr Roderick Crawford referring to Item 1 on the Plans List (Shortacombe Lane) stated that: the report that was developed for 19/01118/FUL refers solely to flood risk from the sea and rivers, the Council and LPA were sent video evidence of flooding caused by rain water, I would like to know why the LPA did not undertake a flood risk assessment at the site, given that they had this evidence. The site is officially categorised by DEFRA as being at risk of flooding and both DEFRA’s and your own guidance state that an assessment must be undertaken for sites in Flood Zone 1 when a change of use in development type is for a more vulnerable class, e.g. in this instance from agricultural to residential where the site could be affected by sources of flooding other than by rivers and the sea.
James Hudson referring to the same application stated: we have lived in Binneford for about 16 years we came for the tranquillity of the place and for the outstanding natural beauty. We came for dark skies and we came for a real sense for the seasons changing and in relation to the seasons changing it is very apparent in Binneford. In the winter, it can be really sharp and there are many times when we have been snowed in for 3 or 4 days and even with a 4 wheel drive, you still slither around. I take an interest in the weather and I check the temperatures every morning. The coldest that it has been here, since I have lived here was minus 15 degrees Celsius which felt very cold and this leads me on to ask. The LPA’s report is materially misleading, it fails to mention that the proposed site is located on a high ridge line plateau , exposed to high winds, dangerous flash flooding and falling mature trees. When it freezes or snows, the site is regularly cut off in winter, often for days. So why is the Council choosing to discriminate between gypsy travellers by placing them in a dangerous unsustainable location?
Mr Crane referring to Items 2/3 (Blackborough House) on the Plans List stated that: these applications have been with the planning department for over two and a half years and have come across so many of the planning rules and regulations with little concern and regard to the actual building which is in a declining state of dereliction and will not survive much longer without positive intervention. This is a golden opportunity to both restore a once magnificent Grade II listed building and to add something special to Blackborough. I believe that I can work with the residents of the village with regard to issues which will no doubt arise and together we can move forward to provide more facilities and amenities for Blackborough. Having lost one significant asset in the village with the destruction of All Saints Church, lets not make any similar mistake with Blackborough House. My question relates to the Temple Group report which was commissioned at a very late stage by the Planning Authority to review other reports. Although given sight of the report, I as the applicant was not given enough time to respond to any criticisms made and was indeed told that I would not be asked to respond under regulation 25 of the Town and Country Planning regulations 2017, such was the haste of Mid Devon to bring these applications to committee. The decision to recommend refusal was therefore pre-determined before the planning process had been completed, so surely there is a flaw in the planning system that allows an abrupt finish to what should be a democratic process that is fair to all parties.
Mr Jeremy Penfold again referring to the Blackborough House application stated: that the officers report presents a very balanced view of the application and the submissions made by various parties including BACO. The Temple report commissioned by MDDC highlights that the applicants Environmental Statement is deficient on traffic matters, amongst other issues and that in the absence of additional information they state in para 1.2.4 that the ES is incomplete and hence the application should be refused.
With that in mind, if the committee were minded to go against the well reasoned planning officers recommendation for refusal is it considered likely that the application would be called in by the Secretary of State and what would be the next steps ?
Mr Awcock again referring to Blackborough House stated that: I have been advising for many years on the development at Blackborough House and working with Mr Crane and looking at the traffic impact in particular and I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that the analysis that has gone on there has taken place over many years and to question why the Temple Report hasn’t taken any considerations of the consultation that has been taken out by Devon County Council and in particular to bring the members attention to no objection from Devon County Council given their detailed consideration of the scheme.
Mr Adam Watts again referring to the Blackborough House application stated that:
I understand that the Economic Development Officer at Mid Devon DC was very supportive of the scheme at Blackborough House. Is that still the case, and how much weight has been given to the economic case for the site, bearing in mind the adopted Mid Devon Economic Strategy for tourism and the food & drink industry?
There seems to be conflict between the Council’s recommendation and the adopted economic policies, which seek to encourage and grow tourism, hospitality and the food and drinks sectors in Mid Devon. Based on these economic policies, would the Economic Development Officer agree that this is the type of development that the Council should be striving to support to boost the local economy?
Finally, would the Economic Development Officer agree that with there being nothing comparable to Blackborough House and the application proposal in the area, this would provide Mid Devon with a huge USP, creating a promotional and brandable ‘flagship’ destination, which is at the heart of Mid Devon’s economic policies? Again, how much weight has the promotional opportunity that this scheme would provide for Mid Devon’s tourism industry as a whole been given?
Sasha Scougall-Knight referring to Item 1 on the Plans List Shortacombe Lane stated: in their report for Her Majesty’s Government entitled Impact of Insecure Accommodation and the living Environment on Gypsies, the traveller movement outlines the impact on gypsy travellers, who they acknowledge as being the least healthy segment of our society, of being placed in sites with poor access to health care. Again why is the council seeking to discriminate against gypsy travellers by placing them in a site, 1 hour and 45 minutes by public transport from any A&E and a site that cannot be accessed by emergency services at certain points in the winter?
Mr Graham Knight again referring Shortacombe Lane stated that: vortex water treatment plants must run continuously 24/7 by means of electric power to avoid contaminating the landscape. The proposed solar panels will only operate during daylight hours, there is no reference to the required battery storage in the applicants plans, furthermore the proposed vortex system will not have the capacity for 3500 litres of water produced by 18 people each day. Again this will lead to contamination of the landscape. Would the LPA care to comment on why they have omitted these points in their report?
Lisa -Jayne Steadman again referring to Shortacombe Lane stated: one of the 15 conditions in the LPA report states that the caravan including the static caravan must move on the public highway in one piece. According to the plans the applicant’s static caravan is 12 ft wide and 28 feet long. A transportation expert has independently verified that it will be impossible to bring this static caravan onto the site on a legally approved low-loader due to the sharp twists and turns of the narrow lanes. Could the LPA explain therefore how this caravan can be brought into the site except perhaps by the use of a commercial helicopter?
David Pearson again referring to Shortacombe Lane stated that: the LPAs report talks of one car generating seven daily incremental vehicular movements within the community with negligible impact to the roads, road safety and the environment. 18 people can live at this site. 18 adults with 18 cars would therefore generate 126 movements each day. Clearly, this would have a terrible impact on the roads, road safety and the environment given that Highways describes the lanes as sub standard road without footway, lighting and with limited passing. Can the LPA confirm why they omitted this eventuality from their report?
Mrs Pugh referring to Item 10 on the Plans List and referring to the application for Tidcombe Hall stated that she was representing the views of over 200 residents from ‘Local Voices against the Tidcombe Hall Canal Side’ application: I will focus on the principle of the development and access arrangements and I will ask 3 questions: the committee will be aware that the Tidcombe Hall application is deeply controversial, Land Value Alliance have chosen to submit their application in the midst of the Covid 19 emergency, the timing of this public consultation period given the restrictions of social distancing threatens to undermine our democratic right to lodge an effective opposition. We wrote in the Gazette last November that once the application was submitted, we proposed an open public meeting with all parties, residents, councillors and representatives from Land Value Alliance. Such a meeting cannot take place during a pandemic, indeed we cannot meet in groups of more than 6 to plan our opposition. Planning meetings held by Zoom undermine the democratic right of residents unable to access that technology. My question is, will the Council defer the application until the restrictions regarding attendance of all meetings are relaxed?
Secondly the Local Plan has now been adopted, at least 9 or 10 sites have been allocated for residential development and the number of houses they are scheduled to deliver meets the Council’s 5 year target. Part of this site is allocated as a contingency, but in the modified document, zero housing is given to Tidcombe Hall canal side development. In asking the Local Plan to be adopted, the argument was given that it would protect the area from speculative planning applications which fall outside of the plan, is this such an application?
Thirdly, access, we believe that a number of assessments need to be carried out before this application comes before the Planning Committee. Firstly all councils have a statutory duty to make areas immediately outside their schools as safe as possible. We believe that the Council has yet to carry out their own risk assessment for Tidcombe Primary School in the light of this application, such a risk assessment will need to demonstrate that the applicant’s plans around Tidcombe School such as the gateway features and contrasting surfacing are adequate to counter the impact of the extra traffic from 179 houses. Councillors will be aware that there has been a near miss incident involving a child outside the school in recent months.
The Chairman stated that the Tidcombe Hall application would not be discussed at the meeting, all that was to be discussed was whether the committee wished to determine the application.
Answers to other questions would be provided during the debate on the specific applications.