Planning pain


On September 17, East Devon District Council’s development management committee passed the application to build 40 houses and a doctors’ surgery at King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford.

Newton Poppleford residents presented objections – traffic, road safety, loss of a safe route to the school, pollution and flooding; the land is AONB, outside the village boundary and on high quality agricultural land.

Development is not permitted on AONB unless a clear community need is provided – hence the doctors’ surgery.

However, planning officers stated that 40 houses don’t make the surgery necessary, so discounted it.

Many may think a new surgery for Ottery St Mary desirable, but objectors highlighted a number of risks:

l Four consulting rooms will serve a population of 5,300 (NHS figures) but Newton Poppleford only has 2,200 residents so many patients would have to come in from the surrounding area, exacerbating existing traffic problems. The option of rebuilding the existing doctor’s surgery with two consulting rooms was discounted.

l Developers may seek to renegotiate their planning application to remove the surgery as financial studies show it’s not viable with 40 per cent affordable housing.

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l If built, the surgery may never open as ongoing costs (eg rent) have not been approved and local money has been focused on the new Stowford surgery which will have capacity to take more patients from Newton Poppleford, and is on a direct bus route from Newton Poppleford.

Newton Poppleford must have only 40 houses (18 affordable) over the next 13 years.

In a 2010 survey, 78 per cent asked for small building plots, not one big estate, achievable as there are several interested landowners, one with an application already in process.

August’s survey showed 94 per cent of respondents opposed the application and 385 households lodged formal objections with EDDC.

Residents who hoped for support from their ward and parish councillors will be sadly disappointed.

Ward councillor Potter and parish councillor Tillotson (who live adjacent to an alternative development site) supported the King Alfred Way application. Although the parish council twice rejected the application, the only two parish councillors present (Cllrs Cole and Tillotson) chose to represent themselves and support the application instead.

The development management committee (DMC) was advised that formal complaints had already been submitted to the Local Government Ombudsman, especially about the process used by the parish council to select King Alfred Way as their preferred site.

Because Newton Poppleford Parish Council decided against having a ‘neighbourhood plan’ the development management committee decided that ‘first developer past the post gets all 40 houses’ in direct opposition to residents’ objections.

Thanks DMC.

Gill Savage

Station Road

Newton Poppleford