Council loses homes battle

Residents warned that saying ‘no’ to developers is ‘not an option’.

Saying no to developers is not an option - if it makes East Devon District Council vulnerable to losing planning appeals.

That is the message council is sending residents after it lost a planning battle against Wainhomes.

The developer successfully argued that the council was failing to meet its five-year land supply quota to serve housing needs in the district.

Wainhomes can now build 50 new homes on a greenfield site near Louvigny Close, in Feniton.

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Councillor Andrew Moulding, the council’s cabinet member for strategic development and partnerships, said: “This is most certainly a setback for us in terms of our desire to protect the environment and see new homes built in a controlled manner.

“We are well aware that new homes – especially affordable housing – need to be built and we are making ongoing efforts to convince some of our residents that saying no to new development is not an option.

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“Blanket or widespread refusal only makes the council vulnerable to losing appeals – as in this case – or to receiving more applications for sites that we deem unsuitable.”

Councillor Moulding pointed out: “When we grant permission, we are sometimes accused of not listening to towns and parishes.

“What people need to understand is that we can only refuse permission if there are sound planning reasons that we can defend.

“This case demonstrates just how thin that line can sometimes be.”

The importance of Five-year Land Supply carries more weight after the Government published its National Planning Policy Framework earlier this year.

It requires an annually updated supply of deliverable development sites, with an additional buffer to ensure choice and competition in the market for land.

The inspector advised that this buffer should be 20 per cent (rather than the five per cent that the council contends is sufficient).

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