Free-for-all fear as planning in limbo

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 February 2013

Concerns raised by a Honiton councillor following recent decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate.

A Honiton councillor fears there will be a “free-for-all” for developers in East Devon - until a new local plan is put in place.

Councillor Vivienne Ash raised concerns over recent decisions made by the Planning Inspectorate.

One appeal decision allowed a controversial development in Feniton, a proposal rejected by East Devon District Council.

The implications for the planning system were a concern, Honiton Town Council heard.

Cllr Ash said: “Is it going to be a free for all until we get a local plan in place?”

East Devon district councillor Phil Twiss reported that EDDC is in the process of producing its local plan, which would be going to the planning inspector later this year.

However, until this was finalised, it had to rely on national guidelines.

He said: “The problem is we are between local plans. We are not the only council in that position; a great many are.”

He added: “This new national planning framework overrides what we would have thrown out and have done.”

The meeting heard that the district council is making representations to Westminster.

Councillor Twiss stated: “We had a five year land supply, to the west of Cranbrook, and had more than enough intention to build enough homes. The National Planning Framework is still difficult to interpret. The national planning inspector has decided it is not good enough to say there is an intention to build.”

He explained that, because phase two of the Cranbrook development does not yet have planning permission, the inspector stated that the district council was not satisfying its five year land supply and planning permission was critical.

Councillor Vernon Whitlock questioned the role of localism in the planning process.

Councillor Liz Tirard added: “Top down decisions are being made not by the people who are affected but by somebody who has no idea about the local area, imposing a decision that will not benefit the local community in any shape or form.”

Councillor Twiss said: “We are in this period, when the new local plan comes into place we are fine, but that could be 2014.”

“We are very much in a state of limbo – nobody is happy,” he added.

Cllr Tirard also raised concerns about the limited time period the town council was given to consider planning applications which she felt did not afford them enough time to carry out site visits.

Councillr Twiss made reassurances that all comments made by the town council were taken in account and it was important the town council continued to make these contributions.

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