Concern about building in AONB

SIR - I write in support of Ken Mylne’s letter in last week’s Ottery Herald. I also attended the meeting of Ottery St Mary Parish Council held in Tipton St John on January 16.

As a keen environmentalist, a member of Devon Wildlife Trust and the RSPB, I voiced my concerns about building on an AONB. It is up to every one of us to protect our beautiful countryside for future generations. The chairman attempted to make me feel foolish, even though I indicated that I was taking an active interest in finding suitable sites for affordable properties in the village. This could be under the New Homes Bonus Scheme, which would not destroy an AONB.

Since Tipton St. John was a mere cluster of houses, the Barton Orchard hill has dominated the village as a focal point. Yes, other properties have been nestled in around the base but none have threatened to ruin the hill as does this application. Now, at a time when we are being urged to protect rural England, how can we allow building here?

I note that a recent planning application at West Hayes in West Hill, also offering 66 per cent affordable housing, but not in an AONB, was refused for “landscape reasons” because it would be intrusive! Well, nothing could be more intrusive than properties built on the Barton Orchard hill, an AONB and outside the village boundary. So it does seem incredible that some of the councillors found they could support the application.

Finally, I take comfort from the fact that the application for a vet practice at Sidmouth Garden Centre has been refused again. The reason given being that it is in an AONB, even though there are other buildings on the site. The planning inspector Mr Grantham stated that the need for the development was not great enough to outweigh the “significant harm” it would cause to the area’s character and appearance. How true that would be of the Barton Orchard hill.

I sincerely hope that EDDC will discount the decision of Ottery St Mary Parish Council when discussing the application.

Jean Kotch

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