Update to residents on the Neighbourhood Plan

You may be aware that there has been a substantial delay in processing the Plan to its next stage, i.e., submission to West Devon Borough Council (WDBC) for final review (known as Regulation 15) before it can move forward to a Parish Referendum and ultimate approval for inclusion as a statutory planning document and, by design, added protection against uncontrolled building development in the Parish.

This delay began with the Parish Council narrowly voting to cease support for WDBC’s Green Hill affordable housing scheme and instead opting for an independent review of sites back in May 2019.  The independent review conducted by AECOM was discussed by the Parish Council on the 18th November 2019 and thereafter Councillors voted “for” or “against” each site assessed.  Court Barton (The Old Dairy) and Green Hill were confirmed by the Council as the two sites to be included in the Lamerton Neighbourhood Plan.  Following the Councils decision, we are pleased to advise you it is now possible to get the Neighbourhood Plan back on track.  Details of the next steps to be taken are now being determined.

Inevitably not all parishioner’s will be pleased with the Councils site selections.  The correct procedure for objectors to follow now is either to vote against the Plan at the point of referendum and/or to submit objections to planning applications as and when they come forward.  

Unfortunately, a group of residents primarily concerned about the Green Hill development appear to be doing everything possible to derail due process. Both the Parish Council and the Lamerton Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group have listened to their views, given them immense freedom in public meetings to express their concerns and have publicly responded to them at length.  Regrettably they appear intent on disrupting Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group activities through the excessive and uncontrolled use of the Freedom of Information Act requests. This is causing great disruption and expense, since the impact of complying with these vexatious and frivolous requests absorbs much time, predominately that of our Parish Clerk.  Whilst we respect their democratic right to object, we would respectfully ask that they follow due process and respect the decisions taken by the Parish Council who are mandated to act in the best interests of the parish as a whole.

The proposed Green Hill development has been allocated within the Plan for well over two years and has been discussed, outlined and explained in detail at numerous Parish and public meetings. It has been a preferred site chosen by residents at public meetings and the parish councillors are fully aware of the pros and cons of all the evaluated sites.  

Developers associated with sites which the Council voted against are now looking to exploit the fact that an approved Neighbourhood Plan has not yet been achieved.  Now is the time to do everything possible to help expedite the plan, not to have it delayed further.  

We would ask that all parishioners now get behind the plan to protect the parish from indiscriminate and unwanted further development. 

 

20.01.2020

 

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Statement for Councillors and Public display re.,Motion to Rescind 

 

Councillors Edgar and Green have deferred the Motion to rescind the previous Council vote rejecting further support of the WDBC Green Hill proposal, (Agenda item 8) from the Council meeting on July 8th 2019, at this moment in time.

 

This concession has been determined as a key element in the need for village unity, since the decision has been taken by Council to await the conclusion of the independent third-party site assessment procedure shortly to be implemented.

Ultimately, this is intended to enable continuation of work on the Neighbourhood Plan once a suitable site is determined and can be incorporated into the Plan as the site which can provide community / truly affordable housing for local people.

 

Proposers of the motion to rescind, Councillors Edgar and Green hereby commit their full support to the result of this new assessment of all potential sites within the parish and it is anticipated that all other Councillors and residents will do the same when the survey is concluded.

While the Lamerton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group awaits the outcome of this review, its time will be spent responding to various comments and communications which have been received in accordance with Regulation 14 consultation. 

Details and updates will be posted as applicable on the Parish Council website under the Neighbourhood Plan section and we would encourage you to refer to this periodically.

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Neighbourhood Plan Statement – to be recorded in the Minutes of the Meeting June 4, 2019

Implications to future success of Lamerton Neighbourhood Plan (the Plan) following recent Parish Council decision to terminate its support for the WDBC-led Green Hill project.

Green Hill has always been one of the two allocated sites integral to the Draft Plan since the Public Meeting site preferences were made in August 2017 and the specific West Devon proposal has been discussed at eight Council meetings since December 2016.

In all consultations with West Devon, the Parish Council has been consistent, insisting on a justifiable need and for houses to be made available to Lamerton residents or people with a strong parish connection only. 

Whilst recognising that Councillors are at liberty to change their minds, it should be noted that no Councillor has previously expressed ANY concern about this site in all that time. West Devon have, however, consistently demonstrated a justifiable need and confirmed publicly once again the allocation of housing methodology.

During the past 3 years, the Plan Steering Group has thoroughly assessed all potentially-approvable sites in full accordance with WDBC guidelines which could provide affordable homes development. The special reduced land price offered by the landowner made the Green Hill site unique and ideal for the construction of truly affordable homes.

Lamerton’s young residents who are unable to afford local house purchase and/or rental prices, will now be forced to seek homes out of our village and Councillors should be reminded that, in responses to our Questionnaire submitted to all residents in July 2016, affordable housing was a key public requirement for the long-term sustainability of our village. Our responsibility must, and must always be, to the whole Parish.

Now that the Council support of WDBC proposal has been rejected, the owner of the site has already verbally indicated his feeling that the Green Hill site now be developed for more market-price properties. In the absence of a Neighbourhood Plan, the Parish will have minimal opportunity to control this sites future development, as the number of houses sought could now be considerably more than the rejected WDBC proposal in which there was some measure of control.

Coincidentally, numerous developers’ have already made enquiries to this Council seeking available building sites in the few weeks since Council rejected support of the WDBC Green Hill project.  It is, however, no coincidence that Green Hill is one of those sites.

In light of the Councils decision, I fear that Lamerton generally and Green Hill specifically, will now be ‘open house’ for developers, since the Neighbourhood Plans is on hold for an indefinite period, (possibly permanently) despite clear warnings in previous Steering Group reports to Council that a Plan without affordable homes would be doomed to failure.

I feel this Council has failed the Parish and its residents who voted unanimously to bring forward a Neighbourhood Plan including Affordable Homes and I, on behalf of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, hope that Councillors will now reflect upon this and work to help get the Plan back on track. 

It is the protection offered by an approved Plan, working in conjunction with the Joint Local Plan, which would prevent all unwanted development.

Hopefully a site acceptable to all will be identified by an independent third -party assessment reviewing all available sites, but it should be re-stated that the West Devon proposal was unique for truly affordable homes. 

Whether any other land owner is willing to offer such advantageous terms remains to be seen.