Another month, another chaotic planning meeting at Newton Poppleford

25 Jun

“It’s chaos,” commented chairman Cllr Sanders at about 10.30pm, on Monday24 June, at Newton Poppleford village hall.

The troubled  parish council’s latest meeting was considering a revised controversial planning application from Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) to build 40 houses (and a doctor’s surgery) on the AONB beyond King Alfred’s Way. Two houses and a village hall site had been removed from the original proposal supported by the parish clerk and certain councillors.
This one too was thrown out after a period of farcical confusion with two rival motions to reject the application!
Extraordinarily, the planning discussion was tacked on to the end of a full council meeting and only started at 10.20 pm. A tired, but determined public (standing room only) stuck it out with a clear majority against the project.
EDDC Councillor Potter surprisingly nailed his colours to the mast despite being a member of the Development Management Committee.  He said  that a new estate of 40 houses would “enhance the village” and would have no effect on the AONB.  Local residents wouldn’t agree,  as the site is elevated and the new buildings would be visible from the north for miles around
Former  EDDC planning officer ,Barry Easter, who appears to  know the Parish Clerk well, spoke passionately in favour of the new fully equipped surgery promised by CDE, and was supported by a letter received yesterday from a senior partner in the Coleridge practice. This enthusiastic advocacy was almost immediately undermined by County Councillor Christine Channon who had just attended a commissioning groups meeting, and had a different impression of the level of support for a new surgery.
Members of the public asked how  the CDE application had become the “preferred option” of certain councillors and wondered why other potential developers had not been informed that a village hall site and doctor’s surgery were essential criteria.  They raised concerns about increased traffic  that 40 new houses and an enlarged doctor’s surgery would cause.
Then it was the  councillors’ turn. Cllr Salter argued  that the application should not be discussed at all, as CDE had included an “inaccurate” statement  of “explicit council support” in their first application. (This was the subject of a complaint to EDDC Planning Department which was being considered.) He was overruled.
Several councillors objected to the application as excessive, when the Local Plan recommended only 50 houses in total for the village by 2026.
Cllr Coles repeated his support for  the original application, and then dramatically proposed that the council vote against the current one because the village hall had been removed. A rival motion from other councillors argued  that it should be rejected because there were too many houses.
Confusion! The chairman talked about voting for the motion against the application! In the end, I think(!), they voted 5 to 4 to reject the application because it did not include a village hall site, and contained an excessive number of houses!
All this at times farcical activity took place against a background of serious allegations, by an as yet unnamed person, that Cllr Salter  voted illegally on a planning matter after declaring a  Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI)
As a result he is now the subject of police enquiries . He strongly denies having or declaring a DPI.
At the beginning of the meeting Cllr Salter asked the parish clerk,   about  a letter, dated 24th May, which he (Mr Atkins)  had received  from the developer’s agent. Why had the letter referred to Councillor Salter having been reported to the police, when Cllr Salter  himself knew nothing about this until six days later?
No answer was forthcoming.

4 Responses to “Another month, another chaotic planning meeting at Newton Poppleford”

  1. Tim t June 26, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    10:30 pm! This takes the cynical manipulation of timetables to a new level. I imagine a parish election can’t come soon enough for NP.

    • Emma June 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Before the meeting, the Parish Clerk was contacted to request that a separate planning meeting be held for the King Alfred Way proposal, as had been the case for the previous version of the application. This was declined, and it was stated that the planning application would be discussed for 15 minutes during this full council meeting on the proviso “that the meeting is not overunning, as you can see it is a full Council meeting. If another meeting is required for the applications a new date and time will be agreed.”

      The Good Councillors Guide states that “As a rule, meetings should not last more than two hours otherwise concentration begins to lapse”. This meeting began at 8pm, and discussion of the King Alfred Way proposed development was rushed through at the end of a meeting that had clearly overrun. Support for the proposal was discussed first, followed by objections, and not all comments from objectors were heard due to time constraints. There were still several people wishing to raise objections at the time the vote was taken.

  2. L. Woodward June 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Just to make it clear, they were all against the application, but 5 because of too many houses and 4 because the community hall site was removed. Two councillors abstained.


  1. “Why don’t EDDC listen…?” | East Devon Alliance - August 5, 2014

    […] N.B. The SIN blog has a considerable archive on the relevant Parish Council meetings e.g.… […]

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