• 122 houses at Feniton unanimously refused

    7th December 2011 | News | Claire
  • The applicants, Strategic Land Partnerships, made a last ditch attempt to save their application at Ottery Road, which had been recommended for refusal last week by planning officers.

    In a letter received by EDDC planning department on Monday afternoon (5 December), the developers offered financial sweetners of almost £10,000 for provision of open space, as well as a further £10,000 for a study to look into drainage.

    The applicants also offered a 40 per cent affordable housing deal, at the last minute.  The planning officer’s committee report had stated that no affordable housing offer had been forthcoming, despite repeated attempts to by officers to contact the applicant.

    Agent, Simon Steele-Perkins told the committee yesterday that EDDC should be prioritising the scheme because of the 3,000 households on the housing needs register, which I thought was a bit of a cheek, given that no offer of affordable housing was forthcoming until after the application was recommended for refusal!

    Mr Steele-Perkins also suggested that the committee defer the application, or just impose a condition to approve 50 houses instead of the 122. 

    Was Mr Steele-Perkins really so confident of gaining approval for his scheme that he did not think it was necessary to provide the standard community benefits, as well as the pre-requisite affordable housing, until it was recommended for refusal?  It seems a very odd way to go about doing business.

    Around a dozen Feniton residents spoke passionately against the proposal, citing a range of reasons, including traffic and the road’s ability to cope, flooding, the quality of the agricultural land and the size of the development.

    As ward member for Ottery St Mary Rural, responsible for around half the land in question, I told the committee it was a ‘bit rich’ for Simon Steele Perkins to justify his housing scheme on the basis of affordable housing, when no offer had been forthcoming until the application had been recommended for refusal.  I also criticised the last minute financial offers, which had arrived one day before the committee meeting.  Poor practice in my view.

    I asked the committee to add a further reason for refusal.  Flooding, which the officer’s report claimed would be alleviated, or even improved by the application’s proposal to include ditches near Metcombe and Sweethams Cottages.

    A member of the DMC, Cllr Phil Twiss, described this last minute dealing as ‘horse-trading’ and stated it was ‘unprofessional’.

    Other committee members expressed their surprise and disappointment that there weren’t objections from the Highways Department, as the road is a country lane and would experience a significant increase in traffic.

    Feniton and Buckerell ward member, Cllr Graham Brown also addressed the committee.  He said that it was ‘inevitable’ that the application would be refused and spoke of the flooding problems that Feniton residents have had to deal with.

    The committee were united in their opposition to the proposal.  Cllr Derek Button queried why the application hadn’t simply been refused by planning officers, rather than being considered by the planning committee, it was so poor and inappropriate.  Chairman, Cllr Mark Williamson replied that it was in the public interest for it to come to committee.

    Cllr David Key thought that it was the wrong site for development.  He said the east of the village would be more appropriate.

    The committee unanimously rejected the application, although they did not include flooding on the list of reasons for refusal.