To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Councillor Nick Allan representing Kentisbeare Parish Council and referring to items 11 and 12 on the agenda (Culm Garden Village) stated: We want to stress that we are not opposed to the Garden Village or development in East Cullompton per se and have tried to engage constructively with the process, despite not having been consulted before the bid was submitted.
We believe that our feedback has been consistent and clearly spelled out, both in the Stakeholder forum and in letters to Councillor Chesterton and Jenny Clifford, copied to others in the Council.
We have been encouraged by the guiding direction from central government that Garden Villages should have support from the community and MDDC’s emphasis that meaningful consultation is a key part of the process.
We are concerned about the proposed scale of the Garden Village; we feel that there has been no justification for a number of 5,000 homes. This would make it significantly larger than the existing town of Cullompton. It is clear that population growth in the first 5 years of the Local Plan is coming in at less than half that forecast and that the housing projections out to 2033 look unrealistically high, as confirmed by the most recent data from the Office of National Statistics.
In respect of the Garden Village, we are particularly concerned to preserve the rural character of Kentisbeare, which has a population of 1,000 or so. Our residents clearly feel the same way. You will know that of the order of 1,000 letters of concern were submitted in respect of the proposed development east of Cullompton in the Local Plan. This compares to only 155 who expressed support for development in Mid Devon to be centred on Cullompton in the broad 2013 consultation.
At the key Stakeholder Forum in July to discuss possible physical outlines of the Garden Village, we felt that there was a clear understanding that there would be considerable discomfort at development encroaching into the parish. The western parish boundary is relatively close to the village proper. One enthusiastic Cullompton resident drew a line well into Kentisbeare Parish, but in the various discussions it was very clear that the Kentisbeare representatives did not feel this was acceptable and we thought that the point had been taken on board and accepted by the majority of those present. We reinforced the point in our correspondence with Mid Devon referred to before.
We were surprised and upset at the December Stakeholder Forum to find that development has been earmarked well into Kentisbeare in the plans for general public consultation. The village is about 3 miles from the M5 and 2.5 miles from the current limit of the existing town extension along the A373. The proposed development in the current outline plan would bring the new town to within half a mile of our village. Despite the commitment to consultation in Mrs Clifford’s letter to the Parish Council in late October, this makes it feel to us as though consultation is in name only.
We urge you to reconsider the boundaries if you want to be able to claim real community support. We would strongly urge that there is a green buffer between the easterly limit of the Garden Village and the Kentisbeare parish boundary, in other words west of Horn Road not between Horn Road and Dead Lane. The parish boundary runs one field to the west of Horn Road for those who may not have detailed knowledge of our parish.
While I am here, please can I also express our concern about flood risk. There was flooding in Kentisbeare in 2012 and while we are delighted that a full catchment-based study is now promised in respect of the proposed Garden Village, we are alarmed that 4,000 houses can be proposed to the north west and east of Cullompton in the Local Plan with no overall flood strategy. The Arcadis report in respect of the Relief Road is only concerned with incremental risk and we feel strongly that the flooding issue needs to be looked at as a whole.
We would also like to highlight our concern that at the Stakeholder Forum, it seemed to be confirmed that any meaningful road upgrades other than the Relief Road would be at least 10 years away. The Relief Road to the SW of junction 28 won’t solve the existing access issues from the east and north west to the M5 and with further developments of such scale proposed, the road situation is likely to be dire. Even otherwise ardent Cullompton supporters of the Garden Village at the December Stakeholder Forum were aghast that general infrastructure delivery (not just roads) would be delivered so far into the overall plan.
Mr Berry also referring to items 11 and 12 on the agenda (Culm Garden Village) referred to the necessity for a greenbelt between the proposed development in the Garden Village and Kentisbeare. There was also a need to address infrastructure issues early on in the development programme; he urged the authority to have urgent discussions with the Highway Authority with regard to the motorway junction and issues on Honiton Road. He stated that there must be a cycleway and pedestrian walkway from the new development across the railway, river and motorway to link the 2 towns and he feared that this would not be done until an issue arose with someone trying to walk to Tesco. He added that if the Government wanted housing then the Highway Authority must put in the necessary improvements to the M5 junction.
The Chairman indicated that the issues raised would be addressed when the items were discussed.