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Stokenham Parish Council

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Welcome to Stokenham Parish Council Website

The Parish of Stokenham, bounded by the black line on the map, covers the whole of the southern half of Start Bay, from Slapton Sands to Start Point and on to Lannacombe Beach. It encompasses the villages of Torcross, Beesands, Hallsands, Kellaton, Kernborough, Dunstone, Beeson and Chillington, as well as Stokenham itself, covers an area of some 20.6 square kilometres, and has a population of approximately 2,000.

The seven larger settlements and many smaller hamlets and farms are connected by miles of narrow country lanes, byways, bridleways and footpaths. The main arterial route in and out of the parish is the A379, which runs north to Dartmouth and west to Kingsbridge. This route is serviced by the First Western National Bus Company, with connections available to Plymouth (change for Derriford Hospital), Salcombe, Dartmouth, Totnes (our nearest main line railway station) and Exeter. The parish also enjoys the service of The Coleridge Bus, a community bus providing weekly runs from outlying areas to Kingsbridge. There are airports at Plymouth and Exeter.


Stokenham Parish Council rejects parish housing allocations in the Plymouth and West Devon Joint Local Plan

Following extensive local consultation, your parish council yesterday submitted the following response to the JLP:

Housing Demand Forecast

Stokenham Parish Council remains unconvinced by the rationale behind the numbers in the housing demand forecast, in light of the continuing absence of a rebuttal to the authoritative and detailed critique provided by former SHDC Councillor Mark Lawrence.

In particular, we query the applied vacancy rate of 14.8%, which implies that 11% of homes built will be second homes. We do not see why we should be filling our villages with second homes, which have been conclusively demonstrated to lead not to the improvement of communities, but to their impoverishment, breaking the “golden thread” of sustainability.

We dispute the rationale behind the 25% market uplift, the maximum allowable, that has been applied to the numbers to calculate the Overall Assessed Need. The idea that simply building more houses will make them more affordable is wrongheaded: no amount of extra building in the desirable villages and coastal settlements will bring house prices there down to affordable levels. On the contrary, the developers will simply sit on the land until they get the price they want. This classic example of what used to be called “voodoo economics” has the effect of inflating “demand” in the South Hams by a massive 824 dwellings.

We strongly object to the allocation of an extra 900 dwellings to the “Thriving Towns and Villages” of South Hams as a result of a deficit in the supply of TTV homes in West Devon, because forecasts made last year and upon which the proposed JLP allocations were made have turned out to be erroneous.

In the light of the above, we reject the allocations made for the “local centre” of Chillington and Stokenham. We are prepared to accept a much smaller allocation, consisting of a number of small-scale developments in both villages.

Key requirements for development in Stokenham and Chillington

Stokenham and Chillington are prime visitor destinations, and highly dependent on the tourist trade; accordingly, any development must enhance and protect their appeal to visitors and holidaymakers. Any such development must also be contained by and measured against their:

Social capacity – growth in the settlements must be gradual, so as not to lose, damage, or destroy the identity of the villages and their surroundings;

Economic capacity – there must be sufficient local jobs to ensure a stable economy, together with adequate transport facilities, including for pedestrians and cyclists;

Environmental capacity – this includes the provision of adequate surface water drainage that prevents damage to existing properties; sewerage capacity that does not cause overflow problems, and roads that can cope with both current and future requirements;

Checklist for development in the South Hams AONB

1. The presumption in favour of sustainable development does not apply to a site in the AONB, or affecting the setting of the AONB; (NPPF, Paragraph 14, Footnote (9), and see various appeal decision that confirm the above, inter alia R (Mevagissey PC) v Cornwall Council, 2013)

2. There must be a proven residual housing requirement that is specific to meeting local needs within an AONB that cannot be met outside the AONB, or on previously developed land within the AONB.

3. Paragraph 115 of the NPPF states that “great weight” should be given to the conserving landscape and scenic beauty.

4. Paragraph 116 recommends that planning permission should be refused for major developments “except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated that they are in the public interest.”

These are extremely onerous tests and they have not been met in the following instances.

Chillington

The arguments against the proposed development behind Green Park Way have been well rehearsed, and the Parish Council maintains its objection to this as a designated site for reasons stated before, namely:

Drainage Flows from high ground to the north overwhelm the drains on the way down, pooling in the centre of the village, causing misery for residents and contaminating the groundwater with with sewage overflow. Further hard landscaping at the source of these springs and natural watercourses will only exacerbate the existing problems. Footnote 9 to paragraph 14 of the NPPF specifically excludes locations at risk of flooding from the presumption in favour of sustainable development. Paragraph 103 states that planning authorities should only consider development in areas at risk of flooding “where it can be demonstrated that development is appropriately flood resilient and resistant.” The latest iteration of the drainage plan fails to demonstrate this. It contains no provision for the long-term oversight and management of the system, leaving residents of the village at the mercy of any future failure.

Transport The requirement to “make the fullest possible use of public transport, walking and cycling” called for in Para 17 of the NPPF has been ignored. Pedestrian and cycle access to the site is very poor: although much is made of it in the plans, the narrow width of Port Lane and Coleridge Lane means that access will be ruled out on safety grounds except through the main vehicular entrance on Green Park Way. The residential travel plan called for by the National Planning Policy Guidance is long on soft measures, including the bus voucher scheme that is the butt of many jokes in the village, but, crucially, lacks the sort of hard measures – the provision of footpaths, cycleways and bus stops – that might have actually made a difference. Here again, the development fails the test of sustainability.

Setting Future generations will struggle to comprehend why this development is located in a pristine Devon field, in a site affecting the setting of the AONB, and viewable from the many footpaths that criss-cross it. As a site it fails every one of the tests set by the NPPF in the Checklist of Development in the AONB above. Shame on SHDC for promoting it.

Local opinion Villagers have rejected this site with unprecedented unanimity every time they have been asked. This was made clear in the pre-plan response to proposed allocated sites consultation of last summer; again in January; again at the OPP meeting in March. Villagers feel betrayed by an LPA that will not listen to their concerns.

Chillington has had 62 new houses in the past 5 years. Many of these are still vacant, for reasons that are not difficult to understand: there is simply no local market for homes costing in excess of £285,000, which – with a 10% mortgage and on a standard multiplier of x 5 times salary – would require a salary of over £50,000 to purchase. So any notion that these houses are being build to satisfy local demand is clearly nonsensical.

Stokenham

As with Chillington above, Parish Council shares villagers’ dismay at the course of events that has led to the allocation of sites in Stokenham. Having (at the request of SHDC) organized several Parish meetings in summer 2016 to discuss the emerging Local Plan; and having diligently collected residents’ opinions on the proposed sites and encouraged them to send their own views to the LPA; and having presented such views to the LPA, we were gobsmacked (really the only applicable expression) to see that the villagers’ preferred site for development behind Holbrook Terrace has been ignored, while that at Carehouse Cross, which local opinion considers is in every respect inferior, has been preferred. This has led the good burghers of Stokenham to conclude that the consultation is a sham. To quote one elderly resident at April’s packed Parish Council meeting: “Why do they keep asking us what we think if they’re just to going to ignore what we tell them?”

Conclusion

It is our conclusion that the Joint Local Plan is a great opportunity gone to waste. It has been starved of time, resources and senior management attention, with the result that:

  • It is premised on dubious statistics that confuse need with demand
  • It does not address the real need, which is for affordable – by which we mean affordable – houses for local people to rent or buy
  • It is silent on employment sites, undermining the economic sustainability of significant additional housing in such a sensitive area
  • This lack of economic underpinning points to the conclusion that further development is designed to provide homes here for people whose economic activity is elsewhere
  • This creates additional traffic pressures and leads to hollowed-out, dormitory-style settlements that fail the test of sustainability
  • There is a craven acceptance that our villages will continue to be blighted by an unacceptably high percentage of second homes, the proliferation of which is corrosive to community spirit and wellbeing.

Far from the unique opportunity for collaborative partnership that was heralded, it has revealed itself as another top-down planning exercise with the usual vested interests at heart, and will leave Council Tax payers feeling jaded and disheartened.

Cui bono?

At a rate of £1,500 per house built times 10,000 houses, the New Homes Bonus that will follow from approval of the Joint Local Plan is worth £15 million to South Hams District Council. Parishioners will draw their own conclusions.

Piers Spence
Chair
Stokenham Parish Council


Joint Local Plan Consultation 15 March - 26 April – your chance to make your views known

A number of engagement events have been planned throughout the South Hams to allow residents to meet with planners and consult on the Joint Local Plan. Two meetings will be held at different times in each of the three main towns, with further events in the smaller towns and villages. At least one Strategic Planner will be available at each event, and forms will be provided showing how and where to make comments.

Date

Time

Location

Location

Wednesday 15 March

2pm - 6pm

Dartington

Village Hall TBC

Thursday 16 March

3pm - 7pm

Yealmpton

Parish Room

Friday 17 March

3pm - 7pm

Totnes

Library or Methodist Church

Saturday 18 March

10am - 2pm

Woolwell

The Woolwell Centre

Monday 20 March

3pm - 7pm

Dartmouth

Guildhall

Tuesday 21 March

3pm - 7pm

Kingsbridge

Town Council, Quay House, Room 3

Wednesday 22 March

3pm - 6pm

Ivybridge

Watermark Centre, Library

Thursday 23 March

3pm - 7pm

Modbury

Memorial Hall, meeting room

Friday 24 March

10am - 2pm

Ivybridge

Watermark Centre, Library

Saturday 25 March

10am - 2pm

Totnes

TBC

Saturday 1 April

10am - 2pm

Dartmouth

Guildhall

Monday 3 April

3pm - 7pm

Stokenham

Village Hall, Wesley Smith Room

Tuesday 4 April

3pm - 7pm

Salcombe

C of E School, School Hall

Saturday 8 April

10am - 1pm

Kingsbridge

Library

Wednesday 12 April

1pm - 3pm

Neighbourhood Planning Groups,
Follaton House

TBC

Everyone is encouraged if possible to view the documents online: since there are a large number of documents and supporting policies, the best way to view them and make comments is through the online portal at Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan, which is now live.

For anyone who can’t access the documents online or would rather view a hard copy, each Town and Parish Council will have one copy of the plan, as will every ward member. Copies will also be available to view at the following locations: Ivybridge Watermark Centre; Totnes Library; The Woolwell Centre; Kingsbridge Library; Salcombe Library; Dartmouth Library; Follaton House Reception.

Plymouth & Southwest Devon Joint Local Plan – Still Time To Have Your Say

South Hams planners will have plenty to think about, thanks to all those who attended one of last week's lively Local Plan drop-in sessions in Chillington and Stokenham! As well as some very firmly held views in response to the specific proposals in the Plan, villagers expressed a surprisingly wide range of opinions on the best way to manage future development in the Parish and beyond.

Despite an extensive volunteer leafleting exercise in both villages, we know that some people didn't find out about the meetings until it was too late, or were unable to attend either of the sessions. If you were one in one of these groups, don't despair – the consultation runs until 12 August, so there's still plenty of time to make your views known.

For background, best start here. Once you've digested that, the response form can be found here. For those who prefer to fill out a printed version of the form, the parish clerk still has one or two copies. Or, if you prefer, you can put your response in a letter, which should be addressed to: South Hams and West Devon Place Making Team, c/o Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes, TQ9 5NE.

In all cases, be sure to get your responses, whether in print or online, back to South Hams by 5pm on 12 August!


Green Park Way – Public Consultation Date Announced

Acorn Property Group is holding a public consultation to set out its proposals for a development of up to 70 homes in Chillington, to the north of Green Park Way. The event will take place on Monday 12 October, between 2pm and 8pm, in Stokenham Parish Hall. All members of the Parish are invited to attend and make their views known before a planning application is submitted to South Hams District Council. Further information about the consultation can be obtained by emailing as@syvretmedia.co.uk, or telephone 01242 228539.

Green Park Way Development Proposal – public consultation meeting in October

Acorn Property Group has reported back to Stokenham Parish Council following a recent pre-application meeting with planning officers at South Hams District Council, at which many of the issues raised by Chillington residents – including stormwater drainage, sewage disposal, and traffic management around the proposed development – were tabled and discussed with relevant SHDC personnel. Specifics such as the overall number of houses, together with the exact mix of open-market, affordable, age-restricted and starter homes, have yet to be finalized at this Outline Planning Permission stage, but more detail will be available at the public consultation meeting, due to take place in October. This event will run through until the evening, to ensure as many people as possible can attend and make their views known. Watch this space for the date and venue, which will also be publicized in the local press and parish noticeboards.

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