Highways authorities cannot recommend refusal for a major planning application unless the impact is “severe.”

If this wasn’t bad enough, there is no definition of severe … leaving the wealthy lawyers to battle it out at appeal. But of course, because the government is starving councils of funding, most councils simply cave in, knowing that they cannot afford to fight an appeal, especially one rigged in favour of the developer.

At Devon County Council’s last full council meeting on Thursday (23 July) Cllr Brian Greenslade (libdem) lodged a motion proposing that councillors and officers draft out a definition of “severe”, in order to support communities that are trying to keep levels of traffic at reasonable levels – and are so deeply disappointed at the lack of objection from Devon County Council highways officers.

Unfortunately Devon County Council’s all Conservative cabinet weren’t keen on this idea, fearing that a local definition of appeal wouldn’t stand up at appeal. So instead they decided to send a letter to central government, asking that ministers define the traffic policy so that there is no further ambiguity.

Although this was better than no further action, I thought that this approach would very likely fall on deaf and unwilling ears.

Having battled far more major planning applications than I care to remember – most since the introduction of the nppf – including the prospect of Feniton growing by a third, 300 houses near Gittisham, with access onto a narrow country lane – and countless applications in and around Ottery St Mary, I felt strongly that the council should do more to secure support for the motion.

So I proposed an amendment that all Devon MPs should be asked to support Devon County Council’s position in seeking a definition on “severe.”

I wanted us to ask the MPs for their “explicit support” in my amendment but Leader, Cllr John Hart, was less than enthusiastic about this, however, the amended motion, also incorporating other changes, was supported unanimously.

Here’s the webcast (with a delightful pic of Richard Younger-Ross attached to it – haha!)- http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/…/portal/webcast_inte…/153187

Something went a bit wrong with the webcast so that names and speeches don’t align. However it is item 10 on the webcast agenda and the debate starts at 16.38.

My speech starts at 16.51, under the name of Christine Channon!