The motion was proposed by libdem, Cllr Julian Brazil and seconded by me.
Cllr Brazil spoke on the motion, which as procedure dictates, had already arrived at full council with a recommendation from cabinet, not to support it.
He said that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was a tool used by government to boost economic growth, which was inappropriate and any boost to the economy was short-term only. He said that communities were really concerned about the numbers of houses being built and councillors should act on their behalf and make a strong protest to central government.
I outlined the problems experienced by Feniton, the fact that highways officers are operating with one hand tied behind their backs because the NPPF stated that a planning application could only be rejected on highways grounds if the impact was “severe,” without giving a definition of “severe.”
I went onto read out a statement by The King’s School headteacher, Faith Jarrett, who is extremely worried that the catchment area of the school will gradually reduce, as a result of all the housing being built locally, over and above allocations in EDDC’s local plan.
Here’s Faith’s statement:
“For me the problem will be that housing without proper investment in the education infrastructure will mean that the concept of local schools for local children will simply be eroded. We are full and over planned admission number (PAN). Any children generated in year from additional homes will end up being bussed around the county to any school that has places.
“This is educationally, socially, economically and environmentally a nonsense. For new year 7 groups it will mean a gradual shrinking of our catchment area with families who had bought homes further out but who were still in our catchment not gaining places for their children – some of which may well be siblings making home life very difficult for families. We need planned school place development if we are to have the volume of housing proposed.”
Several libdem councillors spoke in favour of the motion, including Cllrs Connett and Dewhirst. One of the independents – Cllr Mike Edmunds opposed it because of new planning announcements in the autumn statement about affordable housing.
The labour group housing spokesperson, Cllr Rob Hannaford, said that he supported new housing in his area of Exeter and it was needed. He agreed with Cllr Edmunds about the need for affordable housing.
Conservative, Chris Clarence said he wouldn’t support the motion but was unhappy about the fact that planning inspectors were allowing developments he thought the NPPF stated should not be allowed.
Green councillor, Robert Vint, said that this wasn’t about local need and residents voices were being ignored. He added that it was not sustainable development.
Leader, Cllr John Hart, after a relatively long speech, where he referred to the letters that had been published in the local press about the motion. He said that few councillors had been contacted by residents as a result of this letter.
Cllr Hart asked his conservative group to oppose the motion and instead, support the cabinet recommendation, which said that Devon County Council would work with district councils to ensure the correct infrastructure was in place…. it is so not that simple!!
Before the vote on the motion, Cllr Brazil asked for a recorded vote – so how each councillor voted would be on file. But the conservatives voted against a recorded vote!
And so we lost. But I think the NPPF will really make its presence felt in the next six months….
This week a major appeal inquiry gets underway for around 160 houses on the green wedge between Seaton and Colyford.. and then the Feniton triple inquiry appeal kicks off right after Christmas.
The outcome of many future applications and appeals in East Devon will hinge on these.
The webcast will be available in the next day or two here – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/