• Design for 15 houses in a beauty spot backed by councillors

    23rd May 2012 | News | Claire
  • It is the third time that the application, submitted by landowners, the Taylor family, has come before Ottery St Mary Town Council.

    It is on a hill behind Barton Orchard, on land designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, outside Tipton’s built-up area boundary.

    10 of the dwellings are classed as affordable and five are market value.  The application was submitted under the council’s ‘exceptions’ policy, which allows development outside built-up area boundaries, providing that no more than 15 houses are proposed and two thirds are affordable.

    Around 40-50 residents attended the meeting last night at the community hall at Tipton St John and many spoke.  All spoke against the application except one resident who supported the provision of affordable housing in the village.

    The applicant’s representative, Paul Humphries was there and explained the changes that had been made to the design, which had been requested by East Devon District Council.

    I asked Mr Humphries whether there had been any investigation into Tipton St John’s sewage pumping station, following South West Water’s comment that it was at capacity and any investigation and increased capacity would have to be funded by the applicant.

    I was very surprised that Mr Humphries said that no investigation had yet taken place, however, it was thought that at worst case scenario it would cost around £50-£60,000 to increase the capacity, in addition to the exploratory work.

    Why has this not been investigated yet, given the application originally went live in October.  Revised plans have been considered twice by Ottery St Mary Town Council.

    Last night, most councillors said that as they had already supported the application and all we were supposed to be considering were amended plans relating to design, that they continued to support the application, as the revised designs were an improvement.

    However, I had not supported the principle of the application previously for landscape reasons, so I continued to oppose it.

    It was voted through by a whisker at six votes to five.  Myself, Roger Giles, Lyn Harding, John Harding and Jo Talbot voted against it.

    I have this morning submitted a revised response to planning officers, which I have pasted below:

    This application is in my ward and my preliminary view is that it should be REFUSED.

    I will not repeat everything I have said previously but I would add the following:

    Given that the application has been in the system since the beginning of October I was really surprised last night at Ottery St Mary Town Council’s planning meeting, to hear from the applicant’s representative that there has been no assessment of the Tipton Sewage Pumping Station capacity.  This is absolutely fundamental information that is needed when determining the application, given South West Water’s comments on the planning portal.

    Last night, the applicant’s representative also said that this work would cost between £50,000 and £60,000.  How then, does this make this application economically viable, given the number of affordable dwellings proposed?

    This to me, shows the danger of approving this application on such a large field. It would seem very likely to me, that if this application is approved, the applicant could delay the build and submit revised plans for a very different scheme in due course.

    EDDC refused permission for 15 dwellings at Westhayes at Eastfield in a similar ‘exceptions’ scheme.  Westhayes is a piece of land, although very attractive, is not nearly as visible as the Barton Orchard field, which is one of the most prominent and pretty fields in the village.  Anything other than a refusal for this application is inconsistent with the decision for Westhayes. 

    Its AONB status is well deserved and a group of houses, even at the bottom of this field, would still spoil a lovely hill, visible from many parts of the village.

    The design, to me, is not in keeping with Tipton St John nor with an AONB setting. 

    The affordable housing issue, I believe, is another cause for concern.  This should be managed by a registered housing provider, as your housing officer, Paul Lowe advises, however, this does not appear to be the case.

    Finally, I am disturbed that this application is regarded as ‘windfall.’
    Tipton St John is allocated 10 houses in the Local Plan and if this application is approved, it will receive at least two and a half times this allocation.

    I will reserve my position until all the facts are known and in the event that this application comes to committee.

    Photograph:  The view of the Barton Orchard steep hill subject to a planning application, from the centre of the village.