The informal appeal hearing took place on Wednesday (21 March) at the Knowle.
Unlike the recent major appeal inquiry over an application for 50 houses next to Eastfield, the Westhayes appeal hearing was without legal representation and took the form of a round table discussion, with the appellant, officers, councillors and residents.
Although I have a prejudicial interest in the application I had taken legal advice and was permitted to speak, which I did in relation to the landscape value and drawing the inspector’s attention to key phrases in the Blue Cedar Homes appeal decision, which was for land next to Westhayes.
The planning inspector who dismissed the Blue Cedar Homes appeal did so largely for landscape reasons. EDDC planning officers concluded after reading this appeal decision that the same value should be placed on the Westhayes site, which is beautiful parkland with many mature native trees. It is clearly visible from a public footpath that runs alongside the land up to the B3180.
Cllr Tony Howard, my counterpart for Ottery St Mary Rural Ward was present and raised a number of concerns in relation to affordable housing and the housing needs survey that was submitted as evidence by the applicant.
Cllr Roger Giles was also there and raised issues relating to highways and the pavement on West Hill Road.
Around half a dozen residents from Eastfield attended and several spoke, making pertinent points, including about highways, the lack of pavement on West Hill Road and sustainability of the location – something that the planning inspector for Eastfield was concerned about.
It emerged during the hearing that the appellants did not have a legal agreement in place relating to the affordable housing element of the scheme, only a heads of terms document.
The appeal decision is expected in the next week or two.