• EDDC planning cttee to visit site before making decision on 300 houses between Honiton and Gittisham

    3rd April 2014 | News | Claire
  • At this morning’s meeting many committee members expressed their reservations about the application, with Cllrs Mike Allen, Alan Dent and David Key among the principal objectors.

    The public gallery was packed and several members of the public spoke, as well as Sara Trumper from Gittisham Parish Council and David Valentine.

    A representative from Honiton Town Council also addressed the committee.

    I spoke against the application as Gittisham’s Devon County Councillor and Susie Bond spoke as EDDC ward member.

    The land has been designated as a reserve site in the draft local plan.

    Objectors argued that there was already enough land coming forward for housing in the Honiton area so that there was no need to approve this application.

    It appears to be recommended for approval by officers mainly on the grounds that EDDC does not have an adequate five year land supply.

    This is despite the committee approving some 850 houses last week at Pinhoe. The committee report however, gives the same land supply shortfall figure as was published before last week’s planning committee meeting, so cannot be up-to-date.

    Also, there are grave doubts over school places, and Devon County Council has asked for an £800,000 contribution to education provision, as officers are concerned that approving such a large application on the edge of the town will have big implications for housing coming forward in the centre of the town. I suggested that approving the application could mean that children generated from developments closer in the town that comply with local plan policy, may not get places at local schools.

    From a sustainability perspective it is hopeless in my view, being around a mile away from most facilities, including schools, shops and medical facilities.

    Cllr Susie Bond said “it stuck out like a sore thumb” and had no infrastructure, despite its size. 

    Cllr Sara Trumper suggested it was one of those sprawling housing estates that the prime minister referred to on Countryfile – “plonked down” on the edge of a community.  She also cast doubt on the distances in the committee report, to the community facilities. The parish council’s research had examined the distances on the internet and found them to be underestimates.

    Residents were very concerned about the traffic implications and the narrowness of Hayne Lane, especially the bridge, which means that the road widening scheme cannot properly be carried out.

    But Devon County Council highways team and also the Highways Agency had not objected so the committee was advised it could not reject the application on this basis.

    The lack of objections seems to be because of new relaxed rules on traffic in the national planning policy framework, which decrees that only if traffic implications are “severe” that can a recommendation for refusal be justified, by highways teams..

    Gittisham resident and parish councillor, David Valentine, asked why, if officers had told Mr Thickett, the local plan planning inspector about a month ago, that there was “no justification” for the site being brought forward early, had things changed so quickly?

    At the beginning of the meeting, an officer made a statement relating to the mysterious letter penned by Mr Thickett that must be kept under wraps until 5pm today. The officer said that the letter, which has been received by the council but not seen by the committee, made no material difference to the decision they had to make on the application.

    The site inspection will take place in the next couple of weeks.