Around 40 members of the public gave their views on the association’s draft response, which was tweaked accordingly.
Overwhelmingly, residents gave it the thumbs up, however, as an accurate portrayal of their thoughts on the development proposed for the district.
There was considerable concern that the 35 houses proposed for West Hill, will be the tip of the iceberg, with unplanned or ‘windfall’ development being in addition to the allocation. Dozens of ‘windfalls’ – usually in the form of sub-divisions of gardens have taken place over the past few years in the village.
Also, industrial developments or units in villages were not supported, with one resident describing proposals as ‘mumbo jumbo.’
Affordable housing was also debated once again, with people questioning the new policy of 50 per cent affordable housing in any development in rural areas. However, only 25 per cent affordable housing in developments in most towns, including Ottery St Mary. This is apparently due to economic reasons and land values, as advised by EDDC’s consultants. It was noted, however, that there are other issues besides economic ones and proximity to shops, work and other services should play a bigger part in this policy.
People spoke of the distinctiveness of West Hill, with its country lanes, low density development and abundance of trees. It is clear that this is what many people cherish and value most about West Hill.
West Hill Residents Association (WHRA) – and in particular Dick Beardsall – has taken on first the Local Development Framework (autumn 2010) and then the Local Plan, with tenacity, commitment and a sure determination to represent residents views meticulously. This is demonstrated by having two meetings each time. Firstly, to inform people about what is proposed, and a second meeting (last night), to go through a prepared response to the Local Plan, prior to it being submitted.
Dick has attended several Local Plan meetings and addressed the panel. His knowledge of the Local Plan, I would hazard a guess, is vastly greater than that of the average EDDC councillor.
I think that WHRA deserves much credit for the way it has handled this process. I hope that as a result, more people will join the organisation.
Sadly, membership is dropping steadily and it would be a great shame to put in jeopardy, an organisation that contributes so much to our village.