LDF concern

SIR - The Herald (March 18 2011) publishes a letter from Ralph Gray of West Hill which refers to a “vociferous local independent councillor” campaigning about the future expansion of East Devon proposed in the Local Development Framework (LDF).

I assume the comment refers to me (and would not have objected had Mr Gray identified me by name).

Mr Gray is the agent for a contentious planning application in West Hill, which might be measured against the LDF, and is understandably concerned about the applicant’s prospects. My concern is the impact of the LDF in the ward I represent over the next two decades and even beyond. I am also concerned about the impact across the whole of East Devon.

Of course, there has to be some development, particularly the provision of affordable homes for local younger and less well-off people, but the scale of what is proposed is unjustified and very damaging. The LDF proposes an additional 19,400 houses in East Devon up to 2026. A level of increase, which an East Devon Parish Council pointed out, had previously taken 500 years to achieve. In addition, the LDF proposes watered-down landscape protection policies, Built-up Area Boundaries which will be “flexible” and loop-holes to allow developers not to provide necessary infrastructure. No wonder bodies such as Natural England and Devon County Council have made strong objections to the LDF. No wonder the people of East Devon have expressed their concern and objections to the LDF.

East Devon’s greatest asset is its beautiful countryside. Its most important industry is tourism. If the bulldozers and concrete mixers are let loose to rip out trees and hedges and cover green fields with concrete and tarmac, the quality of life of East Devon residents will be damaged. But so will our tourism industry on which we depend.

A balance between achieving the right amount of development and preserving our countryside has to be achieved. The East Devon LDF is nowhere near achieving such a balance.

That is why I have been vociferous in opposing the LDF.

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Roger Giles

East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Town (Independent)