She has allowed the appeal for 32 houses at Acland Park, but the most damaging applications have been rejected.
Absolutely brilliant news for the community after years of battling against floods and large-scale planning applications. Let’s hope this stops the developers in their tracks.
Ms Graham found that the 83 houses off Green Lane (Wainhomes) and the 120 houses adjacent to Ottery Road (Strategic Land Partnerships) would both cause significant and demonstrable harm to the landscape and setting of Feniton.
She concluded that although Feniton was a reasonably sustainable location due to its railway station, the lack of shops and services at Feniton would considerably increase journeys by private car. She agreed with residents, councillors and Feniton Parish Council that the village was NOT infinitely sustainable and that the bus service was infrequent.
On highways and traffic movements, she took the highways officer’s view of the situation, who did not object. This is disappointing. She said that she based her view on the National Planning Policy Framework, which states refusals for developments can only be sustained if the impact is “severe.”
Happily, she did attach weight to the loss of good quality agricultural land (grade 2).
Strategic Land Partnership’s arguments that their scheme carried benefits because they owned the land that the school could expand on, fell on stony ground. Ms Graham dismissed this largely because the land could be acquired by Devon County Council through compulsory purchase – one of my points in my oral submission, as county councillor.
Feniton Parish Council chairman, Martyn Smith’s argument that the developments would damage community cohesion did carry weight with Ms Graham.
Ms Graham did not put a figure on the housing land supply but said that this was a matter for the local plan examination in public to determine. Incidentally, she has confirmed that she saw the letter from Mr Thickett on EDDC’s local plan – and that this did not affect her decision.
Well done to all those of you who repeatedly objected, even when you felt it was hopeless, well done to all those of you who spoke at the planning inquiry and at EDDC planning committee meetings.
Most of all well done to Cllr Susie Bond, EDDC councillor for Feniton, John Withrington and Jayne Blackmore from Fight for Feniton for a monumental amount of sterling work over the YEARS that these applications have been submitted, debated, dismissed, resubmitted and gone to appeal.
Also, a huge well done to Feniton Parish Council, particularly Martyn Smith and Nick Spence, who made the brave decision to undertake an eye-watering amount of work by applying for Rule 6 status at the planning inquiry, which meant that they could take a full part in the sessions, led by their planning consultant, Charlie Hopkins, whose fees were paid for by community fundraising, with some help from my locality budget and parish council precept.
The East Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England also put is a significant amount of work in preparing evidence for the inquiry and addressing the planning inspector, which she refers to in her decision.
Thanks also to EDDC officers for all the work they put in to defending the appeal.
All this, when the village was being battered by repeated floods. What a massive achievement.
It takes a lot of work, a lot of determination and a lot of faith, but this decision goes to show what can happen when communities pull together to fight a developer onslaught.
Photograph: Camp Field in the summer. It was under threat of 120 houses from Strategic Land Partnerships.