Planning appeal finds in favour of Wainhomes.

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Feniton residents are reeling from news that 50 new homes are to be built in a field on the edge of their village - following the outcome of a public inquiry that, they say, could set a precedent.

The inquiry found in favour of Wainhomes - even though East Devon District Council, Feniton Parish Council and campaigning villagers were united in their opposition to the scheme.

The application, which was refused by the district council, is seen as an initial phase of a larger development of 150 new homes.

Campaigners say “Feniton is in a state of shock” and that the outcome is a “tragedy” for East Devon.

They fear previous planning applications, which were refused, could now be forced through.

The district authority and parish council, together with residents, have been working together to ensure the village can meet housing obligations set out by central Government.

Through the local development framework, a site currently occupied by derelict buildings has been identified by Feniton and EDDC for the provision of 32 houses before 2026.

Wainhomes successfully argued that the district council had failed to meet its five-year housing land obligation.

Dr John Withrington, chairman of Fight for Feniton’s Future, said of the appeal outcome: “It is a tragedy, not just for Feniton but for East Devon.

“The Planning Inspectorate has opened the floodgates.

“There is nothing to stop a rash of housing developments, including those previously refused, being forced through.

“The village is still in a state of shock over the outcome.

“The proposal is for 50 homes, but even the planning inspector recognised the prospect that Wainhomes could reapply to build the 150 homes it always intended.”

At previous public inquiries, the district council successfully defended its record on meeting housing land obligations.

Dr Withrington believes there could now be implications for Ottery St Mary, which is fighting a development proposed by Redrow Homes.

In January, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, was quoted in the national press as saying that housing estates would not be “plonked” on the edge of villages.

“Well that is precisely what will happen to Feniton,” said Dr Withrington.

“We are the target of no fewer than three separate developers who, between them, could increase the size of our 800-home village by about 300 new houses.”

And he insists: “We are not NIMBYs.

“We have thought carefully about the Local Plan, worked closely with EDDC, and while the Wainhomes’ proposal was rejected unanimously at public meetings, the alternative sites proposed were accepted unanimously too.”

Dr Withrington has branded the Planning Inspectorate’s ruling as “nonsensical and irresponsible”.

He said: “The proposed site is on open green fields.

“The exit from the estate is onto a single track lane with no footpath.

“The local infrastructure, including our primary school, is already at breaking point and Feniton has received national coverage due its persistent problems with flooding.

“But Feniton’s greatest tragedy is that, because we have a take-away pizza shop, a hairdresser, a Spar and a train station with a service so poor even the Inspectorate recognised people would rather use a car, we are seen as sustainable.”

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