To receive any questions relating to items on the agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Mr Husbands, referring to item 6 on the agenda said he was representing Sampford Peverell Parish Council. The draft local plan shows an allocation of 60 new homes at Higher Town, something for which there has been a great deal of opposition to from Sampford Peverell. At a recent public meeting approximately 90 parishioners, including Cllr H Bainbridge, attended and there was again universal opposition to the above development. Besides being considered to be an unsuitable site due to the topography this proposal is on the edge of the village, creating traffic through the village, there are no pavements on what is considered to be a dangerous part of the road, school children will have to walk on the road, we consider that any accident could be fatal. This is an increase in dwellings of more than 10% for the village and so far as we are aware there is no provision in the plan for improvements to roads or facilities to accommodate this increase. Are Councillors still determined to include this proposal in the draft plan despite fierce local opposition and if so why?
Mr Lucas, referring to item 6 on the agenda said it is my belief that the developers of J27 now have sufficient evidence for the inclusion of the development to put forward into the Local Plan, although I like others am perplexed as to how that has taken place when based on the fact that the previous administration saw fit to exclude the development in January 2015. On reading the report as submitted it seems that the developers have met the objectives and now meet most of the criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, however what needs to be discussed are the implications of policy SP2 in relationship to the extra housing needed as put forward if J27 is approved for inclusion in the revised Local Plan. Site, highest point in village, development will be overbearing no matter what conditions are placed on developers. This end of the village contains higher market property, hence the development would be in keeping making any affordable houses untenable based on possible wage levels within Junction 27, which from reading the revised Local Plan is the reason why this extra housing has been requested through strategic market housing assessment. The current road structure would need significant alteration to absorb the traffic flow from the proposed site of 60 homes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the village as traffic flow per day would greatly increase the current traffic movements. Water/sewage - on both counts these utility services would need considerable investment made to sustain current levels for the whole village. Water pressure, already a problem in certain quarters, once the cattle station is in full operation, and for those of you that don’t know the conditions relating to the cattle station emphasised the fact that for the wellbeing of the animals the extra water would go there. We won’t have that once that comes into full operation, or the bars will be less. School - already at near capacity would also need serious investment to cater for the extra children of primary age that will be part of the development of 60 houses. I ask Council to take note of the up swell of opposition of the dwellings within the revised Local Plan, as it is my contention that the village cannot absorb this figure under current utilities and other services. I request that the amendment written regarding SP2 be taken by Council to restore the wellbeing of my village and the community that I used to represent.
Mr Sanderson from the CPRE Devon said we are extremely pleased that the Council has at last decided to go ahead with a Local Plan however we are most disappointed that the Council decided by 1 vote to include in the new Local Plan the very large site at Junction 27 M5 essentially for the purpose of the leisure and retail complex called Eden Westwood. We, along with many other people, including Ben Bradshaw MP, think that this is the sort of out of town shopping centre that is going to do the same sort of thing as the Trafford Centre just outside of Manchester, which sucked the life out of the local and smaller towns and villages for at least 10 years. We feel that this development is inappropriate and will destroy the retail life in Wellington, Honiton, Tiverton, Cullompton without any shadow of doubt if it approaches the size that it is proposed to be developed and we request that it be removed as an itemised area within the Local Plan.
Mr Payne referring to item 6 stated that I outlined the idea of a new school at a recent meeting, possibly at Junction 27. Since I spoke last time those ideas have moved further forward and a school at Junction 27 is highly likely and the plan supports the school because of the infrastructure that will be provided. I would like to seek your support and to reiterate that we will be very short of school places in the coming years. This should be thought of in relation to that.
Mr Dunball, again referring to item 6 stated that I am a new resident of Sampford Peverell and am here to add a voice to the opposition to 60 houses at Higher Town. Your votes tonight will simply grant powers to the planners to address minor issues arising from the 6 week consultation of the Local Plan. The Head of Planning has already made it clear that a reallocation of a site designated for housing is not a minor issue and will therefore not be considered so this is your only chance to influence the decision on the allocation of housing on this very bad site at Sampford Peverell. The allocation of other housing in areas of Mid Devon was agreed in the last draft of the plan which followed a long period of consultation with parishes and the public. The Higher Town site was considered by planners at that time but was excluded because it was considered unsuitable, notably because Turnpike was described as a dangerous road without footpaths and the school having very limited capacity. The road is no less busy today and the school is oversubscribed so what has changed? The Higher Town site is possibly the worse possible site in the village for housing. There is a danger you will create a little enclave, it is so isolated from the facilities and there is no safe pedestrian access from the site. I invite you to walk from the site into the village along Turnpike and then let your children or grandchildren do it. If we have to accept further housing as a consequence of J27 or in response to growing need then please can we do it sensibly and at a scale to suit village infrastructure and can we choose sites which will work to the benefit of the local community and those coming to live in the village. I urge you tonight to take this seriously, this will not go away, this issue has united the village, and it is such a silly decision that was imposed at the very last minute and regrettably with no consultation with the Parish Council. That should be corrected with any decision from here on and local councils should be consulted. When did a Planning Officer or Member of the Planning Advisory Group last visit the Higher Town site and make any technical assessment and how many visits were made prior to its inclusion in the Local Plan. And a simple suggestion, given the impact on Sampford Peverell and the tight timetable, would it not be possible to use some of the considerable money provided by Eden Westwood towards the planning budget and apply that to addressing the urgent need on land allocation in Sampford Peverell and elsewhere. Will Councillors consider directing planners to enter into consultation with Parish Councils and other stake holders, including land owners in Sampford Peverell and elsewhere to broaden their net and produce an up to date technical assessment not only on this site but on other options elsewhere.
Mr Bartlett, referring to the Local Plan stated that I live in Lower Town, Sampford Peverell. Having written to all of you with my objections to the Sampford Peverell site may I thank those of you that managed to find the time to respond to my letter? As you have been made aware a representative of CPRE has visited the site and apart from stating that it is a green field site and of high quality agricultural land has said it would also dangerously increase traffic flow. While there are many other safety reasons put to you regarding this site particularly, regarding pedestrian safety, I would ask in the circumstances how many of you can justify your decision today , take a visit to the site at Sampford Peverell where you would see at first hand the reasons for all of these objections.
Ms Kearly, again referring to the Local Plan asked how many councillors have visited and assessed the site and has the Head of Planning visited the site and if so where are the reports? Do Councillors realise that the whole of Higher Town is subterranean to the plot. I spoke at Cabinet last week and had some questions answered, thank you I asked what had changed in the topography of the site at Higher Town since the SHLAA report of 2013 which said ‘Turnpike is a dangerous road, access onto Turnpike would require considerable hedge and earth removal, the site may make access unachievable and development would have a significant visual impact’. The answer I was given by the Head of Planning was that nothing had changed, only in MDDC’s need relating to J27 and the Local Plan. I ask you now if the change in MDDC’s need is reason enough to develop a site not previously allocated due to dangerous roads and other reasons. You said in 2013 that you were unable to do a full site visit because of the maize, you have not even seen, as far as I am aware, the field before you decided in a hurried way to include it in the Local Plan. Do Councillors consider that without a full site visit you can be confident enough to make a decision that will make such an impact on the community when there are other options for housing, for example increasing housing in the brown field sites and Blundell’s and including Hemyock’s 22, which Mrs Clifford said she would consider or to look at other sites in Sampford? Sampford has had many developments over the years but this is the worst site for development. At the Parish Meeting there was 100% opposition to this site being used and that opposition will continue. The site on paper, which I assume is how you have viewed the site, is so different from the reality of the height, the proximity to the road, the proximity to houses, and I ask again that you reconsider putting this in the plan.
Mrs Quartly, referring to the Local Plan said as a resident of Sampford Peverell Higher Town, having lived there on and off since 1990, I have seen a massive amount of change to the village over that period to the village itself and in that time there have been a number of developments. Previous developments have been sizable but not to this extent. I have been confused by a number of matters, firstly that the site is part of the package with the development at J27 as accommodation for people that will work there but that the development at J27 was for local jobs for local people. I would presume that if they were local people they would already have somewhere to live. I was unaware of any plans for a school at Junction 27, I have two young children and one of the main reasons that I moved back to Sampford Peverell was to look for somewhere to settle and I think that it is an ideal place, at the moment, to bring up children. I have lived in many cities and categorically do not want to live in a highly populated townesk environment. I moved to a village to bring up my children in a village setting and this is the sort of place I want to do that. 60 houses, in addition to the village as it already is, is a massive increase in population. I do not understand the location and I would think that a better location would be closer to J27 such as by the Parkway or the old Parkway House site on plain level ground with room for pavements, with nowhere near the amount of infrastructure needed and it wouldn’t have a massive bearing on commuters coming through the village. Also, with the location of the development Higher Town would become a rat run and would not be able to cater for that, 120 cars approximately. There are no pathways or room for them. With regard to J27 as the gateway to Mid Devon I cannot understand it and would think it better if it reflected the county people were coming to visit such as promoting local businesses like Darts Farm, rather than a retail outlet. People will be coming to this county to get away from city hustle and bustle.
Mr Byrom said that he was speaking with reference to the land at Higher Town, and said that he was not referring to junction 27. He said thank you to Mrs Clifford for responding to his email, thanks to Councillors that have expressed support, thanks to Heather Bainbridge for supporting the public meeting and supporting the removal of this from the Local Plan, and thanks to Richard Chesterton for his willingness to consider alternatives and had used the phrase that the decision to include Higher Town was a decision made on the cusp. Referring to the 2013 SHLAA can I ask how many of you would vote for an allocation of land for 60 houses in your own ward with these descriptions of the site, set on a high road, adjacent to the conservation area, at the time of site visit no opportunity to walk around the site, if suitable access is to be achieved a substantial amount of hedgerow would have to be removed, development would have a significant landscape impact, it is remote from services and facilities, it is grade two land and there may be no safe points of access. As the decision was based on this report the confirmation wasn’t in the report, how and when was this done? Access onto Turnpike would require extensive hedgerow and earth removal, density would need to be very low to respect the existing character, roads surrounding the site have no footpaths and Turnpike is a dangerous road for pedestrians and the primary school has very limited space and there is no room to expand. I ask you to imagine that in your ward and vote accordingly when the motion is put before you later. Officers, will you please consider making a new call for landowners to express readiness to have their land sold for development within the arc being appropriate for consideration, that seems fair seeing that the Parish Council was not aware of this and we only found out due to Eden Westwood marketing. I ask Councillors to vote according to what they have heard and officers to explore that last opportunity for an alternative.
The Chairman read out a statement that had been submitted from Mr Robert Marshall Tiverton regarding item 6 on the agenda.
Mr Chairman on 22 September 2016 I spoke in favour of the motion to allocate land at junction 27 for retail leisure and tourism. Since then I have carried out research, to try and understand why there seems to be such vehement opposition by some members of the public and Council Members to this allocation of land.
My internet research brought up an Uffculme Parish Council document, part of which stated ‘UPC remains totally opposed to ANY development at J27/M5, a position it has consistently adopted for many years’.
I then clicked on to a Willand Parish Council document from July 2013 which stated ‘Willand Parish Council continues to be totally opposed to major development at Junction 27 of the M5 for many reasons’.
Mr Chairman, as both Parish Councils use the words ‘totally opposed’ I consider it appropriate to pose the following questions:
Is it not time for this council to embrace planning policies that aspire to benefit the wider society, rather than planning policies that pander to the interests and desires of ‘totally opposed’ groups or individuals, who will always oppose major development at Junction 27.
Do we really wish to continue with the same old planning policies that only encourage residents to travel out of Mid Devon to seek employment at Exeter, Taunton and beyond? Is it not time for Mid Devon District Council to make serious efforts to stand on its own two feet and if large scale investment at Junction 27 is considered to be an evil in pursuit of those efforts should Council not consider that to be a very necessary evil? As the old saying ‘from mighty acorns grow mighty oaks’.
In my humble opinion preparation of a Local Plan is not an exact science but surely this J27 policy is a massive step in the right direction, towards striving to improve our economy and tourism and providing employment in Mid Devon, rather than continuing with the same old policies that, in the case of Tiverton, have left us with several empty shops and to add to that another 11 or 12 charity shops.
Mr Chairman, I totally support the modification to the Mid Devon Local Plan and in particular the allocation of land at Junction 27 for leisure, retail and tourism.