To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Cllr Cutts representing Sampford Peverell Parish Council and referring to item 7 on the agenda stated that: According to the Main Modifications in your pack, the tie between Policy SP2 and Policy J27 is to be cut. I am concerned by the consequences of this proposed change.
Without the tie to J27 I can no longer see any need for 60 houses anywhere in the village.
In the Local Plan submission, your emerging policy S13, identifies Sampford Peverell as one of 23 villages where there will be ‘… small scale housing and other limited development which enhances community vitality or meets a ?local social or economic need’.
Using figures from the table on page 47 of your pack, calculations show that the proportion of housing allocated to our village is almost twice as high as that for any of the other 22 villages listed for ‘limited development’.
The Inspector has indicated that the tie to J27 should be removed. He says that SP2’s 60 houses are needed to meet the ‘overall’ housing supply. Apparently he has failed to note that emerging Policy S2 requires that housing in Sampford Peverell must meet ‘local needs’, not ‘overall’ needs. He is surely creating an internal inconsistency in the emerging Plan.
So, my question is …In the light of emerging policies S2 and S13, and without the justification provided by the proposed development at Junction 27, what precise evidence does the Council now have for a ‘local need’ to justify 60 houses at Higher Town, Sampford Peverell?
Jamie Byron speaking in relation to item 7 on the agenda stated I trust you have all been able to consider the paper that I circulated to you on Tuesday evening. Thank you for giving time and consideration to that. It asks you to explore the deletion of Policy SP2. Please try to make it work. We are trying to avoid any possibility of legal challenges.
Paragraph 47 of the National Planning Policy Framework sets down a requirement that only ‘deliverable’ sites should appear in the first five years of a plan. To be ‘deliverable’ a site must be ‘… available now, offer a suitable location for development now, and be achievable with a realistic prospect that housing will be delivered on the site within five years’. This must be based on ‘robust up to date evidence’ (PPGuidance). A mistake could lead to months of delay.
Your officers assure you that SP2 is ‘deliverable’ and have told the Inspector that it will be fully built-out by March 2023 (in document ED20). I cannot see how this is possible. The five year period in question started in April 2018. Eighteen months have gone already and no applicant has secured even outline planning permission.
Officers apply the so-called HELAA model to calculate delivery times. To meet HELAA requirements, building should be starting five months from now - but ten months of drainage testing is still needed, as officers recognise (in document ED22).
Planning Practice Guidance lists evidence that can support claims of deliverability. These include ‘a written agreement between the local planning authority and the site developer(s) which confirms the developers’ delivery intentions and anticipated start and build-out rates’. There is an agent for SP2, but no developer. There is, therefore, no such written agreement with the Council.
Another issue is that the Devon Historic Environment Team has required a full programme of archaeological works to be carried out on the SP2 site. Results must be analysed before any outline permission can be granted. That work has just started. The Inspector does not know about this potential obstacle to deliverability.
My questions are:
Peter Dumble speaking about item 7 on the agenda In the report you have before you today, the Sustainability Appraisal for SP2 has incredibly been re-scored by +1 on the basis of adding a statement that there must be ‘improved’ access for pedestrians moving between the site and the village.
Easy to say, impossible to do.
An experienced member of your planning committee in July 2018 when first voting against the planning application stated that he felt “misled” by Planning Officers.
There is a pattern.
From 2014 to 2016, the Sustainability Appraisal stated that ‘Turnpike is a dangerous road for pedestrians’. But in late 2016, when the site was brought into the Local Plan to justify the J27 development, the reference to Turnpike being dangerous was dropped. Why? No evidence has ever been given.
The text was then replaced with the assertion that ‘There is a footpath [from the site] which leads into the village’. That wording is still there. Again it is untrue and misleading. Local schools’ risk assessments do not allow children to walk along Turnpike. The reality is that to walk from the site to the village there is a need to cross dangerous sections of road on 3 occasions including crossing on a blind bend approaching the canal bridge.
Few of your planning officers dared do this during a site visit – and I seriously ask all of you today in Cabinet to walk that route before you agree to recommend keeping SP2 in the local plan.
The failed planning application for 60 houses on the site provides new information which should be taken into account. Officers say this application complies with elements of SP2 and have recommended approval. Your fellow Councillors on the Planning Committee are adamant that permission should be refused. They have seen the evidence.
Highway experts have considered the applicant’s plans for highway improvements to make access to the village safe. Every one of them describes the proposed improvements as ‘substandard’. One says ‘severely substandard’ and “unsafe”. If that is the best that can be achieved, how did this policy ever get into your plan?
Removing or adding words does not remove the problem. Your Planning Committee Members know this.
Please, listen to your colleagues on the Planning Committee. Two differently composed Committees have been convinced that development at SP2 would be wrong. Only 1 vote in 22 cast was in favour.
There is no evidence that safe access for pedestrians is achievable and you will be undermining the considered judgements of your own Planning Committee.
Please will you take steps today to delete SP2 from the Plan?
Hayley Keary referring to item 7, stated I live at 44 Higher Town which is a designated heritage asset in its own right. I am the third generation of my family to live there and I have lived there 43 years.
I live approximately one metre away, and six foot below the level of the site known as SP2.
My question concerns Agenda item 7, the proposed Main Modifications, and how to resolve the fact that SP2 is unsound.
Three years ago, to the day, I asked officers why the Higher Town site was being included in the revised Local Plan proposals when it had not appeared in the 2015 version. I was clearly told that the reason was that the 60 houses were not needed in 2015 but that the Junction 27 allocation had created the need for additional housing. It even says this in the paragraphs below the policy wording. It cannot be denied. No other justification has ever been given for the SP2 allocation.
We have also been told time and time again by officers that this site was selected from a shortlist of sites that were all ‘proximate to’ Junction 27. This is made very clear in the 2018 Sustainability Appraisal Update.
But if the sites chosen had to be proximate to J27, why now are we being told that the housing serves district-wide need? If that is the case, this Council was wrong to apply the ‘proximity test’. The houses could just as well have been built in some other more distant location.
As Mr Cutts has reminded us, this village is listed as being suitable for ‘small scale’ housing. Your Sustainability Appraisal defines small-scale as 1-19 dwellings. Even these are only allowed to meet ‘local needs’.
If Sampford Peverell was always an appropriate place for district wide housing provision, why was it not allocated more housing in 2015? The answer is clear: not only was there no need, there could be no justification for 60 extra houses at Sampford Peverell without the J27 allocation.
Pressing ahead with this allocation will take Grade 2 farmland without any justification. The Framework is very clear that this should not be done where lower grade land is available. It is - at Willand, where 83 extra houses have been confirmed. They are also within the ‘proximity’ of J27. You have no need for SP2.
There is clearly no local need. It will do harm. There should be no allocation.
My question is to Cabinet Members:
Please will you stand up for us and do what is right and fair by seeking the deletion of SP2? We are depending on your integrity to protect us.
Referring to Item 7 on the agenda, Greta Tucker stated Residents of Sampford Peverell understand that the request to delete policy SP2 may raise concerns over creating a precedent. Other allocations may ask why this opportunity to seek deletion was not open to them. There are, however, strong justifications for saying that SP2’s situation is unique.
So, my question is …
Please will the Council and its officers pass on to the Inspector
David Barnes addressing the Cabinet in relation to the Local Plan Review asked in considering the review the Inspector questions whether the Local Plan review will meet delivery targets for housing and along with 3 other proposals he asked that consideration be given to bringing forward the contingency sites previously identified in the Plan. The amended Local Plan Review being considered today does not include bringing forward the contingency site at Tidcombe Hall TIV13. My question is does this mean that MDDC delivery targets for housing can be met without the land at Tidcombe Hall TIV13 being developed?
Stephen Pugh stated he was a resident near Tidcombe Hall and stated that he would like to refer to 2 documents. The first one, refer to pages 121 and 122 where it mentions in the modified proposals that TIV 13 the Tidcombe Hall proposal is not deliverable and there appears to be significant land assembly issues. My question though referring to page 80 is that I note in this Local Plan Review that the Tidcombe Hall contingency site has been expanded from its original 5 hectares to 8.4 hectares. I have three related questions regarding this change:
What was the reason for this change?
Was there a requirement to consult on the change?
If there was a requirement to consult did this take place?
Vicky Macaulay-Pugh speaking with regard to the site at Tidcombe Hall TIV13 asked: is the Cabinet aware that the Secretary of State for Housing is currently reviewing the screening decision in relation to the requirement for a full Environmental Impact Assessment of the Tidcombe site. Is the Cabinet therefore aware that this review will determine if Tidcombe is classifiable as a sensitive site as defined by the National Planning Framework due to 3 pertinent factors: the nearby SSSI, the area floods and that the site contains heritage features
Judy Tucker stated she wanted to talk about item 10 on the agenda. First of all I welcome the fact that the Cabinet has dipped a toe, all be it a very small toe, into the water of governance review. At least there is acknowledgement that there is room for improvement in the present situation. However I can’t help contrasting Mid Devon’s minimalist and reluctant approach with that of our neighbours in East Devon, they are also conducting a review of governance but appear to be embracing it with openness and enthusiasm and inclusivity. They claim its part of their policy to become and outstanding council. Does Mid Devon really aspire to less? I urge the Cabinet and Council to undertake a full and proper review of all governance options and not to be held back by scare stories of past problems with the committee system for instance. We are in a different time, different Council and even a different committee system if other Councils experiences is to be examined. What are you afraid of? I would suggest to use a well-worn phrase you have nothing to fear but fear itself. I would ask you please, therefore, to continue with a full and extensive review of governance.
Mary Nation speaking on Item 10 stated I would like to ask this meeting are you aware that the people of Crediton are extremely concerned and hurt about the decision that was made to sell their Council building and they continue to be upset and hurt about that. The 4 options in this report do not address their concerns that the Cabinet made a decision which went against the wishes of the whole council and therefore it is needed that the Cabinet extends the review to consider different forms of committee structure of the Council or some other element which will prevent the same thing happening either to places in Crediton or within the whole of Mid Devon district.
Alderman David Nation also referring to item 10 stated we’re pleased to see the review, obviously, and hugely disappointed that it fails to address the concerns expressed by so many members of the public not only in Crediton but elsewhere in the district at the failure of the last authority to demonstrate an adequate determination to see that democracy is done. Our major concern is that a council of whatever complexion which can override the wishes of the Full Council is not democracy in action. The Cabinet system here is not working as originally intended and as some of you know I was very closely involved in the introduction of the Cabinet system and the first Chair of the Scrutiny Committee; the powers of which now seem to be quite inadequate, certainly in respect in the way in which the Constitution legally now seems to operate. I want you all to be aware, and I would ask you to bear this in mind please, that unless your system of governance can be changed to take account of these concerns there is still such great strength of feeling in the Crediton area in particular but in the district I believe as a whole that we will be seeking public support for a referendum if you fail to switch to a Committee system voluntarily. There has to be some way of ensuring that the decisions of this authority operates in an open and transparent way but I think your report states you wish to achieve that, but also in a way which takes in to account the feelings of the majority of councillors and provides opportunity for all Councillors including back benchers to have an influence and for their voices to be heard in these matters. I hope very much that you are able to find a way of achieving that and we don’t want to put the authority to the expense and the trouble that would be involved in a referendum if indeed you cannot adequately address our concerns.
Cllr Nick Way, DCC, stated that as you know I was also involved in the transfer from the Committee to the Cabinet system all those years ago and at that time I was quite a fan of the Cabinet system. To some extent I still am but the thing is times do change and in those days when we all sat here as Councillors as I did then with many of you we had a lot of other things to think about. We provided a lot more services than we do at the moment and things have changed. I do think that needs to be taken into consideration when you consider changing your governance. I think it’s an important thing that you should seriously think about because when all’s said and done it affected a lot people’s opinion of this Council in my area which I still represent as the County Councillor. It has had a very bad effect on people, not withstanding it was a Conservative administration that allowed our Council offices to be sold off in Crediton it did give local Government a very bad name as far as the democratic process goes. I hope when you consider this you consider the fact that it’s something that needs to be thought of. PR is important for the Council as it is for all organisations and I do think that redeeming yourself would been a good thing to do. I am a little bit disappointed in the report because it does mention in a couple of places about going back to a Committee system would make decisions making longer, that I am not sure is correct but it could do to some extent. It would depend on what system you went back to but what I am concerned about is it doesn’t say anything about democracy and I think that’s important. It important that residents actually believe that there is a democratic process that they can use and their voices can be heard through their local Members. Unfortunately in my mind it’s something that doesn’t happen at the moment as well as it should. Going back to a Committee system will go a long way to put that right.
The Chairman indicated that questions would be answered during the debate.