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Devon tories dismiss planning framework motion

Friday, 15 November 2013 2 Comments by Claire

The all-conservative Devon County Council cabinet, has dismissed a motion calling on the government to stop using the planning system to promote growth, with the associated uncontrolled development that is taking place as a result in East Devon, and many other parts of the country, thanks to the national planning policy framework, which makes it easier for developers to build in places that otherwise would have been off limits.

At Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, the following motion, proposed by Cllr Julian Brazil (libdem) and seconded by me, was put before the cabinet, following referral from October’s full council meeting.

“This Council is appalled at the effect of the new NPPF document and this Government s policy of building houses as a solution to the economic crisis. This is having an adverse impact on our schools and health provision. We will continue to support the housing needs of our local communities to build houses for local working families but we will reject the destruction of the Devon countryside for the benefit of landowners, developers and short term political expediency.”

Cllr Brazil told councillors and officers present about the pressure his community in south Devon was under from development. He said it would be impossible to build to meet demand because there was a never-ending queue of people who wanted to move to Devon.  He emphasised that it wasn’t about need, but demand.

I outlined the problems at Feniton with developers acting like a pack of vultures, the fact that Devon County Council’s highways officer cannot recommend refusal on highways grounds for 235 houses proposed because the impact cannot be described as “severe” according to the national planning policy framework.

I also read out several statements from local headteachers in the Ottery area, including one particularly powerful one by Faith Jarrett, headteacher of The King’s School, who is very worried indeed about all the housing proposed in the school’s catchment area, over and above housing allocations in EDDC’s Local Plan.

The first to speak was Cllr Jill Owen, a labour councillor in Exeter, who said she couldn’t support the motion because the country needed more social housing .... completely missing the point.

Leader of the libdems, Des Hannon (sporting a fine Movember moustache), provided an articulate riposte to this contribution… only for one member of the cabinet to reply - Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, who simply said there were two points of view and it was important that there were adequate developer contributions!

He did add that he would meet with myself and Cllr Brazil to discuss the issue - I look forward to this meeting because this is a serious problem that we really cannot ignore.

The motion returns to full council next month, so there will be another chance for us to make our case, which I would have thought to most people, was a problem that councillors of all political persuasions cannot and should not dismiss… we will see!

If you want to hear and see what was said, here’s the webcast - 

The agenda item starts at 11.47.


1. At 09:43 pm on 15th Nov Sandra Semple wrote:

None so blind as those who will not see, none so deaf as those who will not hear ....

2. At 06:59 pm on 16th Nov Malcolm wrote:

Having watched Wednesday’s live webcast I was very impressed by the contribution made by Claire, setting out the concerns very effectively at a local level, and encouraged by the supportive comments from two LibDem councillors.

Quite predictably, the issue was kicked into touch by the Conservatives with an undertaking to discuss concerns with Claire and Cllr Julian Brazil outside of the meeting.

I was disgusted that the Labour spokesperson was completely against the proposal, based simplistically upon the fact that there was a national shortage of houses and thousands on the waiting list for social housing in Exeter – she supported building houses anywhere and everywhere regardless of local need or capacity or environmental issues.  How does building hundreds of houses at Feniton (and thousands in other towns in East Devon) help people who work and want to live in Exeter – I thought Cranbrook was intended, in part,  to alleviate the shortage in Exeter.

I would urge all residents in East Devon, particularly those in areas threatened by overdevelopment, to watch the webcast (on the DCC website) for themselves.
If I had been one of the hundreds of people who have loyally voted over the years for the Labour party in East Devon elections, I would be seriously reconsidering who I would vote for in future local elections.  The Conservative government wants to cover the countryside in concrete and local Labour councillors are completely complicit in letting this happen – I would support a candidate who is interested in my locality and in seeking a balance in what happens there.

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