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 M Greig, referring to item number 8 the agenda said, speaking on behalf of Mrs Violet Stevens, stated that the planning officer has referred to a number of properties in the proposed access cul-de-sac as being occupied by elderly and disabled residents, however he has not specified that these homes will always be occupied by elderly and disabled so will always be occupied by people with special needs. In fact, living there is a bit like living in an old people’s sheltered housing complex. Does the Planning Officer agree that discussions about access should not just be about generalised highway safety but also the specific needs of those living in that cul de sac? Mrs Stevens has lived in her bungalow for over 30 years and during that time an ambulance has needed to come for residents on many occasions, a great deal more I am sure than the national average for a cul de sac given the care needs of almost all residents here. But a parked ambulance blocks or restricts access to the rest of the cul de sac. More houses would mean more people being inconvenienced so why does the Planning Officer consider this cul de sac to be the most appropriate means of access to any new housing when an alternative does exist?
At the meeting of this committee in October Section 106 money was discussed including a proposal that £50k would be allocated to the funding of a village hall in Copplestone, a sum that is just a drop in the ocean compared to the funds needed. It was also suggested that the hall would benefit the environment by significantly reducing traffic between Copplestone and Lords Meadow Leisure Centre, when in fact most users of Lords Meadow go for specialised facilities such as a swimming pool, things that are not designated in part of the new village hall. In the village it is seen as the talk of money towards the hall, something of a red herring seeking to justify development that the village rejects by offering what feels like jam tomorrow.
Section 2.6 of the implications report echoes comments made at this Committee in October and suggests a significant community benefit as a result of paths from the development to the schools. The Parish Council has discussed this with the schools head and the outdoor area behind the pre-school which needs to remain enclosed is located where the proposed path is shown to enter and the school would not allow access here on security grounds. Has the applicant or planning officer discussed this with the school and with what result?
Mrs A Greig, also referring to item 8 on the agenda, said at the October Planning Committee the Planning Officer was asked about access to the proposed site from the East but dismissed it on the grounds that there was no road beyond the farm yet Mr Pearcey has said that he would ask construction traffic to access the site from this way so does the Planning Officer agree that a road can if necessary be built?
In the Planning Committee reasons for deferral they stated the access was unsuitable. This was the considered opinion of people that understand the needs of the very elderly and disabled and the implications report seems to conclude that 3 of the 4 reasons are valid and defendable. What then is the justification for returning a different decision from the one that was made last time?
Mr E Cole, referring to item 9, said at the site meeting we were told that the private lane into 10 Mayfair is to be adopted. Section 87 of the 1980 Highways Act states that local authorities will not adopt private roads unless the adoption would constitute sufficient wider benefit. If access to area B through 10 Mayfair has been dismissed why are the council still intending to adopt the private lane for this proposed development of 5 dwellings?
Cllr Grantham, referring to item 4 on the Plans List said the recommendation refers to the prior signing of a S106 agreement relating to affordable housing for rent in perpetuity but members do not have the wording for approval. Should not the wording be available for scrutiny? We have examples of such alleged agreements in the past where some of the houses were then sold as they allegedly could not be let. We also have a recent case where a S106 agreement was incorrect over the parish to whom contributions should be paid. We also have a DCC case where the agreement said exactly opposite to what was intended. All these had been prepared by officers without there being an opportunity for comment from the relevant planning committee or parish council.
Figures are given as to housing need within Willand by the MDDC Housing Enabling Officer which are more than double those presented in a recent Housing Needs Survey commissioned by Willand in conjunction with MDDC and using figures obtained in a survey and figures provided by the Devon Homes Choice list. Where is the evidence to show that these people in the officer figures who are seeking housing in Willand qualify for housing on an exception site by having a local connection as stipulated by MDDC policy and guidance given in NPPF. Even if the need for 37 houses is accepted by members Willand Parish Council has shown that these, and more, can be met over the next five years from within the planned and existing housing stock.
Cllr Warren, referring to item 4 on the Plans list said on page 61 of the reports pack the officer has summarised the Police advice which has amounted to not giving a true representation of what was said – why? The full wording is “I note and have concerns regarding the relocation of the proposed apartment blocks, plots 8-11 and 23-26 respectively and their associated parking courts. The change in layout of dwellings appears to provide little or no surveillance opportunities over the parking courts. Care is required when providing communal parking areas as experience shows they can become unofficial play parks and targets for crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, forcing residents to park on the street. Natural surveillance of these spaces could be improved by incorporating gable end windows in the adjacent plots (14, 26 & 27) along with adequate and appropriate street lighting. I would ask that this is considered if not already a design feature. However, it should be noted this places the burden of surveillance on the occupants of these plots, regrettably, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that unless a crime directly involves a member of the public, many will not act or report it for fear of repercussions. Residents will also look to park as near to their choice of main access point, resulting in parking on footpaths and verge’s, thus creating potential for community conflict between residents and motorists. Why are these issues raised by the police and the Parish Council being discounted thereby planning for problems? How can the Officer justify the remark under 5 on page 66 – “The parking provided is well related to the dwelling houses and meets the requirements of policy DM8.” – when plots 16, 17, 27 & 28 are more likely to park in front of their houses partially obstructing the entrance into the whole complex?
On page 63 of your pack in the paragraph before heading 2 it states “….As such, it is not the case that the proposal would not have in principle policy support under the emerging plan. Furthermore, due to the outstanding objections to the emerging local plan and its early stage of submission, the plan holds limited weight at the current time and therefore the proposal must be determined based on the existing policy framework.” In other applications we are being told that the current plan is silent and does not have weight. How can this conflicting comment be relevant to the advice members are receiving?
There are 13 conditions listed on pages 68 & 69 with reasons on page 70. Is condition 6 practical or enforceable? Willand Parish Council can quote a number of similar examples on other applications where a similar condition has been applied. When it has been ignored or openly flouted, complaints have met with prevarication by officers and then the developer has gone so far that we then get told that it is not expedient to do anything about it. What assurance do committee have that the same will not happen in this case particularly as this is going to affect the main road through the village?
Ms C Romijm, referring to item 8 on the agenda, said previous questions have spoken about the impact on individual elderly and disabled people that live in the cul de sac that will give access but I thought it was a wider policy question and would like to ask if the development goes ahead it will destroy the effectiveness of the cul de sac which currently provides an enclave of safe quiet accommodation for older and disabled people in the village and it is self-evident that it is more efficient if individual care needs can be met together in a single hub rather than widely scattered. I would like to ask the Planning Officer if you look at the Mid Devon Housing Strategy it provides as a priority managing the impact of an aging population together with a prediction that the number of over 75’s in Mid Devon will rise from the current 7500 to 14000 by 2040. In this context I would like to ask does the Planning Officer agree that it would be counterproductive and out of line with that priority to allow us to lose the current good quality enclave of supportable elderly accommodation in Copplestone?
Mrs V Lucas, referring to item 9 on the agenda, said having been told at the last meeting that the lane would not be adopted Cllr Moore sought clarification as to how far the residents may need to tow their rubbish to be collected by the bin lorry. Can the officer confirm that the information given of just short of 60m was misleading as it was the estimate of the length of the first part of the lane and in fact residents of plot number 5 would be towing their rubbish in excess of 190m for collection?
Ms A Glover, of Willand, referring to item 4 on the Plans list said on page 63 of the pack the officer states a requirement under policy AL/WI/2 for there to be improved pedestrian links to the village and the retention and enhancement of the existing public right of way. Why was none of this dealt with as part of the application for the houses in Ash Close? Why is there nothing in this application to comply with those policies? Why are these features not considered under the need for pedestrian safety as outlined in the parish council response which would also include the reduction of the speed limit? Children must walk along the main road to get to school or any play areas. These will add to the families who currently cross over from the rear of Townlands to use this pavement which is too narrow opposite the new building site on the Old Village side. There is only provision for a small amenity area on the actual application site and this is badly placed in relation to the bungalow on the site.
Mrs B Chamberlain, referring to item 9 on the agenda, said if this application is agreed we will be overlooked in 5 of our 7 rooms. The officer’s report makes no condition to the quality of the proposed screening. The plan shows existing trees in our garden that do not exist and says that these will provide screening. If this application is approved can she assure us that there are conditions added that specific height mature trees will be planted along the boundaries, which will provide all year round foliage?
Mr L Menheneott, referring to item 9 on the agenda, said in the officers report condition 6a states that no development shall take place until the access road has been laid out, kerbed and constructed to a base core level for the first 20 meters from its junction with the public highway. Can the officer say if this would make the improvements to the road beyond the entrance to the drive of number 8 Mayfair without a proper pavement that construction traffic will cause a hazard to pedestrians? Would she consider extending this distance to 40m?
Mrs S Sumner, referring to item 9 on the agenda, stated that the site at 10 Mayfair is clearly not part of area B, it is clearly part of Mayfair. The density figures of 13.5 dwellings per hectare quoted for the development are somewhat misleading. Can the Planning Officer confirm that if one takes the area of the proposed site of the new dwelling and divides by 5, the number of new houses, a figure of 3.3 dph is achieved? This is set against a figure of 6.4 for the 4 houses bordering the application and a density of 6.95 for Mayfair as a whole.
Mr R Davey, referring to item 12 on the agenda, asked whether the report prepared for the Committee was independent? By that I mean has she been pressurised by the Chief Executive, Councillors or other officers to take a particular view of this scheme?
I assume she has collated the information, spoken to the developers, been to the site, has she talked to or contacted the residents or the objectors to the scheme?
If that is not the case she has been in close contact with the developer and has she been actively assisting them to overcome issues that have been raised, in the Gazette report it states that the site is located in flood zone 3 and that the Environment Agency has assessed it against the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework, is the Gazette report correct and is it a fact that the Environment Agency have insisted that flood warning signs are posted on the site and that they list this site as highly probable to flood? Is it not also true that MDDC’s own 2009 Flood Risk Plan report states that the Town Hall site is ranked 5th highest for flood risk, therefore increased flood risk makes it less suitable for development. In addition the flood assessment report for this scheme also states that the site will flood, is that true?