Neil Parish seeks reassurance on Junction 28 Development

Neil Parish, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Tiverton and Honiton, has recieved an email from the Head of Planning at Mid Devon District Council, in response to representation made on behalf of Cullompton residents regarding proposals to build 2.5 thousand new houses east of Junction 28 of the M5:

Dear Mr Parish,

Re: Proposed Amendments to the Mid Devon Local Plan

Thank you for your representation to the Mid Devon Local Plan submitted by e-mail on 27 April 2015.  This will ultimately be considered by an independent Inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate, along with all the other representations submitted during the consultation period.  We note that you have raised some specific questions which you have requested clarification from ourselves. I trust that the following response is helpful in answering these specific queries.  I will take each of the issues in turn:

As you may be aware the District Council does not retain any specialist flood and drainage expertise in house and are reliant on professional expertise from external specialist consultants (Jeremy Benn Associates), the Environment Agency and Devon County Council. The latter two organisations have statutory responsibility for flood prevention and management issues.  Work to date on the local plan has been a collaborative effort. 

The approach taken to date on the Local Plan has been fit for purpose and consistent with national guidance.  The plan has been prepared in close liaison with the Environment Agency and Devon County Council, who have both endorsed our approach.   We will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency to ensure that a Catchment Based Approach is adopted with respect to the forthcoming more detailed Master Planning work. 

Importantly, there have been representations made through the local plan consultation regarding flooding concerns relating to the Eastern Urban Extension of Cullompton.  These comments will be considered by the Inspector who will determine whether the plan is sustainable and deliverable based on the submitted evidence.  It should also be noted that if the scheme were to reach application stage there will be the need for a detailed flood risk assessment as a statutory requirement which would be scrutinised by the relevant statutory bodies including the Environment Agency. 

I also note that you raise issues with regard to retail provision at Junction 28 and impact to the businesses in Cullompton town centre.  The only retail provision proposed as part of the Eastern Area Extension relates to local convenience needs.  It is envisaged that new residents will look to Cullompton town centre to meet their wider retail needs.  Therefore the proposed new development should be beneficial to existing shops and businesses. 

There are currently no proposals for the town centre for additional public car parking or pedestrianisation, although the re-opening of the railway station is currently being considered. Once a route for the relief road has been agreed there will be an opportunity to consider options for the High Street/Fore Street area.  Cullompton Town Council is also pursuing a neighbourhood plan. This also gives opportunity for these issues to be considered.

With respect to concerns raised regarding ‘pressure on both education provision and healthcare’; we are working closely with statutory consultees with regard to education and health care issues.  We whole heartedly agree with your suggestion that development should contribute towards such provision.  Although in the case of health care there are other existing funding sources which make provision in areas subject to housing growth.  In the case of education there is specific provision identified in Policy CU10 of the emerging Local Plan.  This includes provision of “a site of 2.5 hectares for a new primary school at no cost to the Local Education Authority”, “construction costs for a 650 place primary school or two 325 place primary schools, including provision for early years’ education” and “contributions towards the expansion of secondary education facilities in the local area”.

You refer to residents expressing preference for the housing proposed in the draft Cullompton East allocation being redistributed across the District. You will recall that at an earlier stage in the Local Plan Review process the Council considered and consulted upon alternative growth options, including one continuing the existing town centred approach which would have meant higher housing numbers in Tiverton, Crediton and to some extent in our rural areas that was initially envisaged in the Core strategy. Instead the majority of respondents supported the option for a new community later in the plan period, with greatest support for the location for this to be based at Junction 28.

In addition to the points referred to above, the remaining points raised in your e-mail are noted and will be considered by the Inspector. 

Regards

Head of Planning and Regeneration