The Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has announced that the Minister for Housing and Planning, Kit Malthouse MP, will be coming to Devon next month to address growing concerns amongst local people about the scale and appropriateness of new homes developments across the county.
At the opening of CPRE Devon’s housing seminar in Tavistock on Friday (8th Feb), delegates were told that - as a result of its work to shine a spotlight on the impact of housing developments across Devon and with the support of East Devon MP, Hugo Swire - the Housing Minister has agreed to address the charity’s next seminar on the issue on March 21st in Exeter.
Last Friday’s event at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock attracted around 120 members of the public. The Senior Planning Officer for South Hams District and West Devon Borough councils, Tom Jones, gave an update on the Plymouth and SW Devon Joint Local Plan, followed by an informative Q&A with attendees, including an academic involved in planning and sustainability, and councillors from Tavistock and North Tawton town councils, West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council.
Key topics of concern included: enforcement of Section 106 planning conditions; the lack of infrastructure to support large-scale housing developments; the affordability of new homes, particularly in places with low-paid jobs and a lack of employment opportunities; the failure of developers to use eco-friendly building techniques and incorporate sustainable features into new builds; our ‘broken’ planning system; the number of greenfield sites being built on and worries that the county is being ruined by insensitive development.
CPRE Devon’s Dr. Phil Bratby explained why the Government’s projected number of new homes is a massive over-estimate of real need because it is not based on accurate evidence but on ‘figures plucked out of thin air’.
Chairman Robin Hogg told the meeting that housing has become the dominant planning and development issue across the county and that people are alarmed by the number of Devon’s green fields being lost to housing. He said, “Housing gobbles up more land, disappoints more people, and fails to provide what we all know is the prime requirement - genuinely affordable homes for local people.” He added, “There is a deep sense of unease across the county about housing and increasing frustration about our planning system. Through seminars like this one, CPRE Devon tries to bring these issues to the forefront.”
The charity’s next housing seminar, where Housing Minister Kit Malthouse will be the special guest, will be held at Sandy Park in Exeter on Thursday 21st March. It is free to attend for CPRE members and costs £5 admission for non-members. Places must be booked in advance through Eventbrite. For full details, visit www.cpredevon.org.uk