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Dozens of Feniton residents pack hall to debate 120 houses

Thursday, 20 October 2011 12 Comments by Claire

It was a full house at Feniton Parish Council’s meeting yesterday evening (Wednesday) held to debate 120 houses on land west of Ottery Road.

The parish council unanimously rejected the application, based on the many concerns expressed by local people at the meeting and via EDDC’s website.

Myself and Roger Giles were in attendance, along with parish councillors.  I spoke of my own concerns about the application, as did Roger. 

The application will now be determined by East Devon District Council.

Below is my submission in full, to EDDC:

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

I have many concerns about this application, which is partly in the Ottery Rural ward and partly in the Feniton ward. 

They are as follows:

-  The application is outside Feniton’s built up area boundary and if approved could give other developers (many of whom appear to be interested in developing at Feniton) grounds to argue for their own schemes to be approved

-  Under the EDDC Local Development Framework Core Strategy Preferred Approach of October 2010, Feniton was classified as a hub village, and was set to have 50 dwellings.  Under the LDF of October 2011 it is set to have a five per cent increase in its housing stock - around 35 dwellings.  The dwellings proposed in this planning application considerably exceed both of these numbers.

- There is a very real and longstanding flooding problem in Feniton .The two properties (Metcombe Cottage and Sweethams Cottage) to the south of the site have been flooded on frequent occasions.  Ottery Road to the east of the site has been flooded on frequent occasions.

- The application states that the proposed development would not worsen the flooding risk.  I find this hard to believe, particularly as the field is on an incline towards the village.

- The application states that it will connect to mains sewage. Feniton has an inadequate sewage system, much of which has not been adopted

- The proposed development could cause an increase in traffic of around 840 vehicle movements per day.  The road is only a slightly wider than an average country lane.  I am concerned that this road is not designed for such a large increase in traffic.

-  The land is grade 2 agricultural land.  There is little or no grade 1 agricultural land in East Devon and not very much grade 2.  Developing on high quality food growing farmland conflicts with both Government guidance and EDDC planning policy.  It also conflicts with common sense in a time of growing scarcity of food.

- I don’t believe that that a need has been established for the 400 sq m of commercial units proposed.  This could draw people away from the centre of the village if the proposal goes ahead as it is.  Or empty units would remain (in common with over 400 others in the district) and blight the area, which could then prompt conversion of the empty units into even more dwellings.

- The design and access statement talks of affordable housing being provided but the application form itself appears to indicate that all the dwellings are market value housing

- The planning application is contrary to the Feniton Parish Plan of February 2007 which clearly established that over 70% of the population were opposed to further development in Feniton, which is reflected in substantial public opposition to this planning application

- The wildlife survey seems to imply that very little wildlife exists in the field currently.  Oddly, it appears to suggest that wildlife would benefit from the proposed development.  The information provided appears inadequate.

- The designated schools for Feniton are Feniton Church of England Primary School and The Kings School, Ottery St Mary.  Both schools are at capacity.

This is my preliminary view and I will reserve my position in the event that this application comes to committee.


1. At 10:49 am on 22th Oct jayne Blackmore wrote:

Thankyou Claire for supporting Feniton. I am part of the Fight for Feniton Group and I welcome this report. Cllr Brown has been very quiet about this development leaving me wondering where he stands is he for or against it? I am going to write to him asking him exactly that.I would hope he is backing Feniton in this fight against this assault on Feniton. I was flooded in 2008 and on two previous occasions. The two previous occasions was not in the house but my garden and conservatory was flooded. The rain stopped just at the back step! People who say that 2008 was freak weather, yes, our right in a way but the two previous occasions were not SO IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. My family and I were out of our house for 6 months some people where out longer. I have no confidence in the developers and do not believe a word they say.  In the mean time we will fight on and thankyou again.

2. At 12:25 pm on 22th Oct Claire wrote:

Thanks Jayne, it is easy to write off flooding events by those people who have not experienced them.  You cannot understimate the devastation that can be caused - emotionally and physically.  I know a family near where I live who had to move out of their house for six months during that storm of 2008.  I saw what they had to go through, it was horrendous - just getting the children to school - which took 45 mins rather than 5, was a challenge, let alone trying to repair the devastation of the house itself or sorting out the mountains of paperwork/insurance/contractors/....

3. At 02:19 pm on 22th Oct Christine Gibbins wrote:

Thank you for your statement, it fully states the case that Feniton cannot take this development. My family farm the field in question and are upset that we could lose the land. This field is a valuable asset in producing feed for the farm livestock.

We are very worried about the development around Exeter Airport and fear the A30 corridor will become a long urban sprawl.

4. At 02:49 pm on 22th Oct Pandora wrote:

Fenitonians should quiz Councillor Brown intensively as to when he knew about developments around Feniton, what meetings he has had with potential developers (if any) and how he intends to ascertain the views of the people he represents and what his views are.  Unfortunately he does not have a website to disseminate his views so parish council meetings are one of the places he ought to attend.

Councillor Brown rarely seems to attend East Devon District Council meetings these days either and as far as I know has not attended any of the new Local adevelopment Framework panel meetings, whereas he attended most of the previous ones so is possily not up to date with things in this area .

He might also have useful information about how local businesses and developers in the area in his capacity as Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum.

It is a shame that he seems to have such a low profile these days as I am sure he could be a great resource for his constituents in this time of need.

5. At 02:50 pm on 22th Oct David Munn wrote:

What an excellent reflection of the Feniton resident’s feelings on this proposed development. I just hope that the planning committee think about the human element rather than the financial element. These developers are cowboys and have completely ignored our problems in an effort to improve their financial gain. If they are allowed to build, they will grab their money and ride off into the sunset. Isn’t it about time that MORE people registered their feelings against this development rather than fill the village hall for the meeting, then walk away!! Where is our councillor Graham Brown’s opinion on this matter or has he become, like lots of others, the invisible man?

6. At 06:56 pm on 22th Oct Claire wrote:

I am sure Cllr Brown will post his comment very soon.

7. At 02:36 pm on 23th Oct Susie Bond wrote:

Thanks, Claire, for your support. This seems to be a national problem, with developers grabbing land when land owners are prepared to sell. There may well be a shortage of housing at present, but if that’s the case why are there so many houses on the market which are not being snapped up and why are house prices dropping? It seems to me that the main problem is the banks not lending.

8. At 03:28 pm on 23th Oct Claire wrote:

It is a very big subject!  Briefly, in East Devon, one of the reasons we have such a lot of developer interest (although Feniton appears to be unusually popular with developers), is that East Devon District Council launched a Local Development Framework (strategic planning document) last year proposing a very large amount of development in the district - growing the district by a third in around 15-20 years.

I was one of the key campaigners against this document,which appeared to be the result of the efforts of a group of determined people at EDDC who wanted significant growth in the district.

Although the strategic planning document is now being reviewed (and I am on the panel reviewing it), little seems to have changed (from the paperwork I have seen and what the panel has been asked to agree), although the distribution of development has moved around a bit. 

The document sign off day is next Tuesday (1 November) so I do not yet know what the final proposals will be.  The signs do not look hopeful, however.

All this merges with the national picture - the National Planning Policy Framework which removes protection for open countryside - previously tightly protected under national planning legislation. 

Designated landscapes such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Parks and Greenbelts are still (largely) protected but our area of East Devon - that is from J29 of the A30 through to the other side of Honiton has no specific protection for its countryside.  The AONB starts the other side of Honiton and also goes from Sidmouth through to Seaton and around so there is some national protection for countryside in our district but not in our patch.

There is no evidence at all that houses are not being built because of the current planning system, despite what some ministers say!

All we can do is contact our MPs and ask for their support (for the national picture) and contact our local councillors and get their support (for the local picture).  And of course ensure that you comment on the application to East Devon District Council - either via the planning section of the EDDC website, or by post.

The East Devon Local Development Framework goes out for its final consultation on week starting 21 November for eight weeks.  It is vital residents read it and comment on it.  All comments will be forwarded to the Planning Inspector who will determine it as ‘sound’ or ‘unsound’.  I will be blogging about this as soon as I know more about the final document.

9. At 04:04 pm on 24th Oct Chris & Chris Burton wrote:

Thank you for the copy of your submission to EDDC and advice.
The point you make that Ottery Road is only slightly wider than a country lane is very valid. In fact between Metcombe Cottage and Toolgate Corner it is only single carriage way.
Vehicles have to wait at each end of this stretch to let others through. Lorries have great difficulty negotiating this part of the road.

10. At 07:42 am on 28th Oct Jenny WIlson wrote:

Thank you, Claire, for fighting to save our village from the developers and your excellent comments.

May I just copy here an e-mail I sent to the EDDC yesterday so that everyone is aware of it.

‘Further to my comments of 23rd October, I am writing to say that after rain this morning fountains of water gushed up out of the manhole covers in Ottery Road and caused the highway to be partly flooded within a very short time. Vehicles caused tidal waves as they drove past my house. Simultaneously,  sewage forced its way up out of a manhole cover close to my window and the sewer and the its various contents are now in my garden and on the pavement. Just as I was about to leave for an important appointment, sewage also rose up in my toilets in the house and threatened to overflow onto my carpets. My neighbour phoned the Council and was told it was not their responsibility, but they gave her the appropriate phone number for SW Water. The person who answered that number was unable to help and my neighbour was passed from department to department as no one would accept responsibility. Finally, several hours later, I have managed to speak to someone who is going to ring me back within a couple of hours. (They arrived six hours after the first call).

It is totally irresponsible to consider building further houses in Ottery Road when we are so prone to flooding not only with surface water, but with sewage, within minutes of a short burst of heavy rain.’

11. At 10:33 am on 28th Oct Jenny WIlson wrote:

Further to my comment this morning, following the clean up operation of yesterday, we are again under a flood of sewage. As cars pass by they are creating a tidal wave of sewage to drench any pedestrian or cyclist. I don’t think we even had any more rain. I gather the builders of the Signals promised this would not happen… doubt we will receive the same promise from LSP.

12. At 06:56 pm on 28th Oct Claire wrote:

That sounds absolutely horrendous Jenny.  I have forwarded the link to this blog to Roger Giles, who is going to take up the matter with Devon County Council.

kind regards

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