23 March 2015 – Parish Site Appraisal Reports
Following the Local Affordable Housing Needs Report of August 2014 East Devon District Council together with Devon Communities Together and the local Parish Councils undertook a series of appraisals to identify suitable sites for 6 affordable homes in the four parishes of Farway, Northleigh, Southleigh and Widworthy.
The sites were chosen through a desktop exercise looking at Google maps identifying areas located adjacent to the old built up area boundaries that were well related to the settlements. Local knowledge of Parish Councillors also came into this initial stage. The study was to look at sites that could then be discussed with East Devon District Council planners to obtain informal advice. It was decided to exclude sites that would obviously not get through planning to make the assessment process by the planners more straight forward.
Before the site identification exercises were undertaken on the 23 and 24 March 2015, Farway Parish Council decided that they did not wish to have affordable housing built in their village. The Parish of Widworthy would also later split away from the Upper Coly Valley Parishes (Farway, Northleigh and Southleigh) leaving the only relevant sites being reviewed in Northleigh and Southleigh.
All the sites included in the appraisals were looked at in an unbiased, independent manner and were evaluated against the following criteria:
- That the site should be related to existing development
- That safe highways access could be gained to the site
- That development of the site would not have significant impact on the landscape
- That development of the site would not significantly impair the amenity of existing neighbouring development
- That other environmental, economic and social factors particular to any site should also be considered.
Six sites were identified within Southleigh Parish. A descriptive assessment of each site was recorded including any key issues that might preclude development. Of the six sites in Southleigh, 4 were noted as not being a favoured site from a planning perspective, with the other 2 sites having various pros and cons noted.
Six sites were identified within Northleigh Parish. A descriptive assessment of each site was recorded including any key issues that might preclude development. Of the six sites in Northleigh, 1 was noted as not being a favoured site from a planning perspective with three others identified as having access issues. The Chilcombe Field site was noted as the preferred site due to its ownership, size, level nature and the ability to satisfactorily improve access to it.
May 2015 – EDDC Planning Pre-Application Advice & Local Parish Council Consultations
Prior to being submitted to the local Planning authority for review the Local Parish Councils were asked for their comments on the identified sites. It was felt that the local community, with their knowledge of the sites, planning issues that had arisen on them previously and an awareness of who owned the sites would be well placed to give an informative ‘local knowledge’ awareness to the process.
Southleigh Parish Council responded by discounting three of the sites. The site to the far west of the village would cause a ‘ribbon effect’ and would be too intrusive on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) landscape so was not considered further. Access was seen as too problematic for site to the north of the village and it was considered to be located too far away from the main settlement. The site to the extreme west of the village was located very high above the settlement and had no access onto the highway, it was therefore considered that its development would intrude onto the landscape so it was also not considered further.
In Northleigh, the site to the north of the settlement was considered too expensive to develop due to the length of the access road needed. Planning permission for residential development had also been recently refused on that site. The site to the east of the settlement was considered to be too close to the church and other listed buildings and would therefore development was considered to be detrimental to the character of the village . The adjacent site in the centre of the village and the site to the south of the village were also not considered suitable due to access and issues with visibility. The site to the south of the village was considered a reasonable site for development but the Parish Council felt that the landowner would not wish to sell the site for affordable housing.
In May 2015 East Devon District Council Planning Department were approached by the Housing Enabling Officer who had reviewed the various sites within the four parishes to give their Pre-Application comments on a number of the locations. Some of the locations that had been reviewed in the Site Appraisal Reports in March 2015 had already been excluded for the reasons discussed in the reports and in the consultations with the Parishes and were not put forward for review by the planners.
The Planners noted that all of the sites were with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and all would sit outside of ‘Built up Area Boundaries’ and as such residential development would be considered unsustainable in principle from a Planning Policy point of view. It should be noted however that under Strategy 35 of the East Devon Local Plan Planning Permission can be sought and achieved for community-led affordable housing projects overriding the unsustainable planning argument. Strategy 35 can be viewed on Page 108 of the East Devon Local Plan.
Three sites were reviewed in Southleigh Parish, all at the eastern side of the village. The site to the north of the road heading eastwards out of the village was considered more appropriate for development than the two sites to the south of the road, where development would be considered to have a negative impact on the landscape.
In Northleigh, the Chilcombe Field site to the western edge of the village was considered. The site was reviewed positively, partially due to having decent perimeter hedging that offered screening to the site, being relatively level and having an existing access point that illustrated that access to the site was achievable.
Southleigh Parish Council initially stated they would support the site to the south west of the village but following the Planners comments this was not seen to be suitable from a planning point of view due to it creating a ‘ribbon development’ effect. The Parish Council discussed the matter again at a subsequent Parish Council meeting and decided that they did not feel there was a need for housing in the village although they would support the site at Northleigh and the formation of the Community Land Trust.
To review the full reports, please click on the links below: