Many residents were clearly very angry about the way in which their village is being targeted, and determined to do their bit, whether it be putting up posters or helping to collect money.
Around 180 people attended the meeting, which was jointly hosted by campaign group, Fight for Feniton’s Future. It was chaired by Feniton Parish Council chairman, Cllr Martyn Smith.
BBC Inside Out were filming the meeting as part of their programme about the village’s battles with flooding and development. The programme is expected to be aired in January.
Earlier in the evening BBC Spotlight carried a live broadcast from the village, including interviews with Fight for Feniton’s Future chair, John Withrington, Cllr Martyn Smith and Jayne Blackmore, who spoke about the horrors of being repeatedly flooded.
The pledges were being gathered to put towards legal fees of £10,000, for a legal planning consultant to assist the parish council with its case at the inquiry.
Three developers and their barristers will be arguing to build 235 houses in the village. It would clearly be extremely hard to fight such an inquiry without any legal representation.
I have pledged £1000 from my locality budget (after checking that this was allowable under the scheme) and Cllr Susie Bond has pledged £250.
Cllr Smith explained the process for the inquiry and said that MP, Neil Parish, is fully supportive. He urged people to attend the appeal.
John Withrington, chair of Fight for Feniton’s Future, mentioned developer claims about the silent majority being in favour of major development. There was much derisory laughter at this. Feniton was supposed to receive 35 houses. The outcome of the “super appeal” was of interest not only to Feniton, but all of East Devon and even the country, he said.
Cllr Susie Bond told residents about the EDDC local plan and about the oft used term of “sustainable development,” which has no clear definition in planning terms since the new government planning guidance was published, the national planning policy framework. The local plan examination in public takes place in February, which is very unfortunate timing, she said.
Residents made many points, including:
– there is a declining train service, particularly since the advent Cranbrook, which has meant a poorer service for Feniton
– one university student said she had to get up at 4am to get public transport to university
– Feniton Primary School and King’s School are both over capacity and there are many more houses being built in other parts of the area
– there is a positive sense of community in Feniton and this might be compromised if Feniton grew much bigger
– the importance of retaining high quality agricultural land for food production
– the problems of sewage bubbling up around the road drain covers
The owner of the local hairdressing salon offered to have a collection tin in her shop … and suddenly everyone was talking about posters. Many people indicated that they want to display poster to demonstrate that they were going to fight mass over-development of the village.
One of the developers has said that the “silent majority” at Feniton would be happy to see it grow much bigger. I hope that the developer concerned had a spy at last night’s meeting because I think I can say with considerable authority that the majority of Feniton are most certainly very opposed to the village growing by 40 per cent – and they are far from silent about it!
The appeal inquiry will start on Tuesday 7 January and is expected to last around two weeks. It will be held at the Bowling Club, in the Old Village. Feniton residents – please attend whenever you are able to.
To download a poster visit the Fight for Feniton’s Future website here – http://theffff.wordpress.com/