The application is on land belonging to the Taylor family and is for 15 dwellings (amended from 19) on a steep hill behind Barton Orchard, Tipton St John.

The town council meeting, which was held at Tipton St John, was packed with residents and many spoke.  Most objected, but some supported the provision of affordable housing contained in the application.  Amid heated exchanges with planning chairman, Cllr Paul Carter, the debate among members of the public lasted for over two hours.

Councillors were divided on their support for the application.  I said that I acknowledged the affordable housing element, which was backed by some residents and was based on a housing needs survey, however that this did not outweigh the landscape issues as the field is designated an AONB and visible from many parts of the village.

Other councillors had a different view, however, and decided that the application was suitable and appropriate for the village.

The vote was split 5-5.  Backing the application were Cllrs George Hansford, Glyn Dobson, Ian Holmes, and Paul Bartlett.  Against were myself with Cllrs Roger Giles, Robin Mitchell, Vesey Devoran and Jo Talbot.

Planning chairman, Paul Carter, voted for the application.and then used his casting vote to swing the vote in favour of the application.

The decision now rests with East Devon District Council to determine whether or not the application gets the green light.

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Below are my formal comments on the application as district councillor for Ottery St Mary Rural.

This application is in my ward and my preliminary view, based on the information presently available, is that it should be REFUSED.

My comments from the previous application for 19 dwellings still stand, however I would like to add the following:

– I take into account the housing needs survey for Tipton St John and the fact that this application may meet the interim exceptions policy for affordable housing, however on balance I do not believe that this outweighs the landscape impact of the location of this development.

–  I note that SWW is still recommending refusal for the scheme and is asking for the developer to contribute to the cost of investigative works at Tipton St John sewage pumping station to check whether there is capacity.  If there is not capacity the applicant will need to fund the upgrade to this, and potentially the Fluxton sewage treatment works.  For a scheme with 66 per cent affordable housing, this would seem unaffordable, even without the extra cost in the design of attempting to make the application as unobtrusive as possible in an AONB. 

– Many Tipton residents are concerned that this scheme may not be deliverable, and if given approval, there could be a follow-up application with revisions to build more houses.  The application site is just a small part of the field in question.  I share this concern.

Given that deliverability is a planning consideration I would be grateful if the district valuer could give his/her views on this application. 

I note that the occupants of 9 Barton Orchard are about five feet below the field in question and the soakaway would be directly behind their house.  They are understandably worried that this would undermine their boundary bank and cause it to become unstable.

Finally, I note that a very similar application at West Hill (Westhayes) which was also for 15 houses, outside the BUAB, with a 66 per cent affordable element, was refused recently for landscape reasons, following the Blue Cedar Homes appeal decision.  Given that the Barton Orchard application is on nationally designated land and visible from many parts of the village, it would surely have a greater landscape impact than the Westhayes application.

I will reserve my position until all the facts are known or in the event that this application comes to committee.