Villages need say on their futures

PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 April 2015

Roger Giles

Roger Giles

Archant

The expansion of East Devon’s ‘growth point’ threatens the ability of the villages to determine their own future.

That was the warning from district councillor Roger Giles, who said that the sovereignty of communities – such as Newton Poppleford – was at risk if their neighbourhood plans were not taken into account.

The debate arose last month around the growth of Cranbrook, which his colleagues said could absorb neighbouring villages if it were not kept in check.

Ottery’s Councillor Giles said: “This council has made a commitment to the people of Rockbeare. How could we possibly rip that up and say housing needs are more important?

“If we go ahead, we might as well say to all the communities [drawing up a neighbourhood plan] ‘don’t bother’.”

Cranbrook has been allocated more than 7,000 homes in the Local Plan, a document that sets out where developments can take place up to 2031.

It also sets out a ‘study area’ for possible expansion for East Devon’s newest town – but it shows that Cranbrook could edge towards the parishes of Rockbeare, Broadclyst and Clyst Honiton.

Dr Emma Taylor, one of those behind Newton Poppleford’s emerging plan, told the Herald: “A neighbourhood plan is especially important for our area because the new draft Local Plan allocates significantly more houses to the parish than was proposed under the original plan.

“Our community needs to have its say on where this goes and what form it takes.”

She said although the village document did not give the final say on planning applications, it was the ‘clearest possible indicator of a community’s wishes’.

Dr Taylor added: “Ultimately, the councillors are elected representatives of local communities, and it is their duty to serve them and defend their interests.

“I would hope that the mandate provided by a neighbourhood plan would be given significant weight.

“It would be a scandal if the significant time and money invested in the production of a neighbourhood plan turned out to be futile.”

Newton Poppleford’s plan is gathering pace, but new people interested in helping are always welcome.

Anyone interested in the village’s neighbourhood plan should call 01395 567457 or email nph-nplan@outlook.com


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