Sunday, February 17, 2013
SIR - Last week the development management committee of East Devon District Council approved a recommendation that the “committee endorse the requirement to secure a six year land supply and note the need for granting planning approval for high quality development proposals to help address land supply shortfall and address the objectives of securing sustainable development”.
This innocuous sounding proposal would mean, in practice, that EDDC declares open season on new development and abandons the policies in place today or in the emerging Local Plan.
We understand the very difficult situation EDDC now finds itself in as a result of recent appeal decisions at Feniton and Ottery, where planning inspectors based their findings on perceived government policy and flawed reasoning. The appeal decisions cannot be changed but they should not become the basis for a new planning policy.
There are three points emerging from the appeals on which there are strong grounds for argument:
1. The policy of disaggregation (in which the council proposes to consider land availability in and around Cranbrook separately from the rest of the district) was dismissed. But there are sound reasons for disaggregation in East Devon and it could easily be incorporated formally in EDDC policy;
2. There is no evidence that land supply is a limiting factor on current rates of development. The main factor is the economic situation. Permitting new developments now will not automatically increase the number of houses available; developers will simply sit on their consents until the economic situation improves;
3. The Inspector advocated the use of the old Regional Spatial Strategy evidence base in preference to a more recent report commissioned by EDDC saying it was “arguably more robust”, despite the fact that we now know that the RSS evidence base is wrong, massively over-estimating the rates of population growth.
What is happening is patently wrong and, if the revised policy is implemented, the potential for damage to our district is enormous. We urge the district council not to adopt this new policy but to use every means at its disposal to resist and to continue to work within the core strategy of the emerging Local Plan.
Chairman, West Hill Residents’ Association