Don't rush new developments

PUBLISHED: 01:01 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:35 15 June 2010

On the surface it would be hard to disagree with John Gibson's sentiments (Village homes long over due) but, sadly, the current planning applications for affordable housing in Colyton and Kilmington are not a straight-forward decision between the 'haves'

On the surface it would be hard to disagree with John Gibson's sentiments (Village homes long over due) but, sadly, the current planning applications for affordable housing in Colyton and Kilmington are not a straight-forward decision between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. It is true that both parishes have recorded a positive response to the building of affordable housing, but it is clearly with the proviso that any building should be on 'suitable land' that falls within the exceptions rule. In both cases the Rural Housing Trust has opted for 'unsuitable land' even when, it would appear, more appropriate locations are available and on offer. In Colyton agricultural land of specific interest has been targeted. It lies on the skyline alongside a beauty spot at a dangerous highways junction with surface water problems. In Kilmington the RHT are proposing to build on a piece of land given to the village by a benefactor who wished to protect it from further development. I do not envy rural parishes and town councils who have been instructed by central government to provide local homes for local people. Nevertheless, their role must remain bi-partisan. It is essential that they represent the wishes of the parish and seek the best and most environmentally damage-free options. At a time when rural communities are suffering post office and shop closures; where local transport is virtually non-existent; where small businesses in the South West have suffered 25 per cent insolvency in the last three months; where there are more empty houses in existence than the proposed number of new builds; where the housing market is in free fall and the local job scene diminishing; where the demographics and social needs of the region are likely to change dramatically over the next few years, it is difficult to understand how building non-eco friendly houses at highly inappropriate locations can possibly be shown to be sustainable. And 'sustainablity' is surely one of the 'absolutes' of Labour policy, as is the free market! The 'exceptions policy' also applies to housing needs in settlements with a population below 3,000. Colyton's Local Plan refers clearly to 'parish' not 'town'. Colyton must, therefore, include Colyford and hence a population in excess of 3,000. This is just one of many troubling 'anomalies' in the present fever of activity to rush through affordable housing in East Devon. This government is too quick to devise policies on the back of an envelope, only to rewrite them at a later date. Once the concrete is down for 22 houses, 22 patios, 44 parking spaces, a nice wide road and Niagra Falls down Hillhead, the damage is done. Carol Jonesby email


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