Community supports news houses, say councillors
A community-supported plan for new housing in an East Devon village has been approved – overturning a recommendation of officers to refuse it that some councillors describe as "disgraceful.".
This scheme is for nine homes, office space, a farm office, meeting room and a village car park for Slade Barton in Payhembury.
Chris Rose, East Devon District Council’s development manager, said that because it represented open-market housing outside the built-up area boundary and no affordable housing was provided for this scheme, it was contrary to the local plan and neighbourhood plan policies.
But Cllr Philip Skinner, who represents the Tale Vale ward in which the site lies, said the only reason the site wasn’t included in the neighbourhood plan was because East Devon District Council vetoed the site when it was proposed. Calling for the plans to be approved, Cllr Skinner said: “This is absolutely supported by community. Of course there are one or two doubters, but this is from a wonderful applicant who’s very much engaged and a third generation of landowners in his village, who is trying to do the best thing to see this village.
“This is on a brownfield site you think would tick the box and consultation went to the community who came up with a Neighbourhood Plan with this as the preferred site, and as only people who objected to it was East Devon District Council, and because of their veto, it had to be removed.
“This is at the very heart and the essence of the community. This is not development-led, this is community-led and I find this disgraceful that we want to refuse this. This is want we want our community to be doing and there is no reason why this would be turned down. This should be encouraged and approved, and the offsite contribution could go to Broadhembury which has a dire need for affordable housing.”
Cllr Geoff Pook added: “This is certainly not harmful to the environment, the neighbourhood aspirations or the community, and I think this offers so much so I am happy to support it.” Cllr Olly Davey added: “There is widespread local support from the village for it to happen, so we have to listen to them. It will improve the amenity and given the overwhelming local support, it would be undemocratic of us to go against that.”
Mr Rose, in his report to the committee, said that there were matters which could be considered to be material which weigh in favour of the development. He said: “Most significantly, the proposal includes the removal of large industrial and agricultural buildings at the entrance to the site, and are therefore prominent within the village. It is agreed that these buildings are not aesthetically pleasing and their removal may result in the immediate area appearing more attractive.
“Also weighing in favour of the proposal is the provision of a parking area, which would serve many of the facilities surrounding the development. Notwithstanding the concern raised by one objector that this would still be insufficient to serve the needs of the swimming pool, it is clear that this would benefit the immediate area by the removal of vehicles on the main road through the village, which currently have nowhere else to park.
“There are also benefits in the provision of nine new dwellings and employment units in providing some local employment during construction, and in the longer term contributing towards village services such as supporting the school or shop. However, the introduction of nine new properties, with no affordable housing, is a significant departure from the development strategy of the District which seeks to only permit housing outside of built up area boundaries/settlements in exceptional circumstances.”
Councillors though agreed that subject to section 106 contributions being agreed, they were in favour of the application, and voted for it by 10 votes to three abstentions.