• 100 residents pack out Feniton “super inquiry”

    7th January 2014 | News | Claire
  • I stayed for the morning session (as I was speaking at EDDC’s planning committee this afternoon) and listened to the opening stages, including all the introductory statements by all the parties.

    Three developers are making a case to build between them, 235 houses in the village, growing it by over 40 per cent.

    The developers are: Wainhomes, Strategic Land Partnerships and Feniton Park.  On the opposing side is East Devon District Council and Feniton Parish Council.

    All parties have legal representation. The developers, I believe are all represented by barristers.

    During the opening statements, the developers focused on the lack of five year land supply and out of date local plan, as justification for their schemes. No surprises there.  One developer’s representative said that he wished to argue against the “soundness” of EDDC’s local plan, which will be going through its examination in public next month. Many developers don’t think enough houses are being built in East Devon. Again, no surprises.

    Charlie Hopkins, Feniton Parish Council’s planning consultant (and non practising solicitor) gave a really rather excellent speech, which combined inspirational vision and national planning policy. I am going to try and get hold of a copy of it as it is well worth sharing!

    Witnesses that will be called by Feniton Parish Council by Charlie Hopkins will be Martyn Smith (Chairman), Roger Giles (on sustainability) and Dr Claire Horrocks (expert in sustainability). Mr Hopkins said that he also wished to challenge the traffic report, which was compiled by a consultant of Wainhomes on behalf of all three developers and said that traffic from 235 houses was not only, not a problem for the village, but that significant capacity remained in the road network for even more developments! 

    The witnesses from each side will be cross-examined by the parties’ legal teams.

    It looks likely that these witnesses won’t be on the stand until Thursday or Friday. I probably won’t be speaking until Friday either, nor will Cllr Susie Bond.  There were many residents queueing up to sign the book to speak.

    My observations of the planning inspector, was that she was very considerate and fair and thoughtful, compared with other inspectors that I have observed.

    She offered to come to Feniton next Wednesday evening (15th) from between 6-10pm to hear residents views, who cannot get to the inquiry.  This will be held at Feniton Primary School.

    The inspector was also most concerned that residents present heard proceedings and each party was issued with a microphone and was frequently reminded to adjust it so that people could hear properly. Unfortunately no loop system is available in the room, so there is a certain amount of fumbling while the microphone gets passed on to colleagues.

    The inspector did make the point that while she wants to hear everyone who wishes to speak she would rather not hear the same views repeated as this was not a good use of her time.  She said that she would not impose a limit on time, however, asked that people do not repeat each other and to limit their contributions to 20 minutes absolute maximum. Shorter if possible.

    The teams had agreed (to some relief as these discussions were due to go on for DAYS) that the five year land supply was in the range of 2.2 and 4.3 years, so this agreement will speed up the pedantic arguments over numbers considerably.

    The inquiry will start each day at 10am and finish at about 5pm. It will not sit on Monday.  It is expected to last until Friday 17 January.

    For a full account of each day’s proceedings, see Susie Bond’s blog here – http://susiebond.wordpress.com/author/susiebond/

    Photograph:  From the back of the room at the Feniton inquiry this morning. The BBC were filming at the time.