In my Ottery Rural ward hundreds of houses over and above the levels proposed in EDDC’s local plan, is causing capacity problems for several schools, with pressures to expand class sizes and build on outside space.  The headteacher of King’s School, Faith Jarrett, appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Ottery Herald, expressing her own concerns about the issue.

My proposal to write to central government about the issue came about through a previous motion of Cllr Roger Giles, who proposed that Devon County Council made more robust responses to major planning applications, as a consultee on school places and funding.

Roger’s motion, which was lodged at April’s full DCC council meeting, was referred to cabinet, as is the custom at DCC, which then made a resolution which can be summed up as saying that planning was a district council issue, and DCC would simply continue “doing its thing” re giving consultation responses to planning applications.

The motion was returned to full council on Thursday for rubber-stamping, at which point I gave some examples of the problems in my ward relating to large-scale development as a result of the National Planning Policy Framework, and the pressure this was placing on local schools.  I then moved an amendment to make robust representations to central government about the impact the NPPF is having on our schools.

The motion was seconded by Cllr Des Hannon (libdem) and he and Cllr Eileen Wragg (libdem) both spoke in favour of it, as well as a conservative North Devon councillor Mathews, who was clearly also having similar problems in his ward.

Cllr Andrew Moulding spoke to say any such motion would delay local plans and the labour group wanted assurances my motion wasn’t a “nimbys charter” before they would consider supporting it.

Leader, John Hart, asked his conservative group to vote against it because planning is primarily an issue for district councils. 

In the event, the independent/non-aligned group voted in favour of the amendment, as did the libdems and the UKIP group.  The labour group abstained and the conservatives (mostly) voted against it.

However, this is a really important issue and central government must be made aware of it.

There are other ways and means….

Here’s the webcast – it is the last item on the agenda. To view the speakers click on the time next to their name – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/93462