The Linden Homes Development At Rocklands: An Update
Councillor Michael McCormick, Chair of Planning for Chudleigh Town Council (CTC), spoke during public participation at the Teignbridge District Council (TDC) Planning Committee meeting on 15th May. He spoke to object to the application to the plan to develop land at Station Hill. CTC objected to this application at both the outline stage and the current detailed stage. Details of these objections can be found on both the TDC and CTC websites.
The original outline application called for up to 230 houses, with 20% being affordable housing, and changes to road access from both Station Hill and Oldway. Oldway was to be closed somewhere beyond Lower Trindle Close.
There were a number of things wrong with this application: it involved increasing the number of houses by 30% with a reduction in affordable housing by 7 units; it also restricted access for the current 300+ households of Oldway to a huge cul-de-sac. Using figures from Devon County Council (DCC) Highways, each household generates some 6-8 traffic movements per day. This would mean between 1800 and 2400 traffic movements at the junction of Oldway and Parade/Fore Street at the chicane.
A solution to the road closure problem, pushed by CTC, was to make the lower part of Oldway one-way towards the A38. The developer agreed to this and it is subject to a variation application.
The main objection raised by Cllr McCormick at the TDC meeting was to the sustainability of the development. The National Planning Framework is based on sustainability; in fact the word appears 106 times! For example:
The TDC Local Plan continues this theme of sustainability. Having now seen the detailed plans for the Rocklands Development, CTC is concerned that it is unsustainable because of a lack of connectivity in two respects in particular:
Firstly, one aspect of sustainability in the Teignbridge Local Plan is to prioritise pedestrian and cycle movement over motorised vehicles. This development has two exits into town: Oldway and Station Hill. Neither is suitable for pedestrian traffic as any parent who is walking with a child or pushing a buggy will have to walk into the carriageway at some point as the pavements are too narrow or missing. The same applies for dog walkers. Station Hill in particular has documented traffic speeds in excess of the 30mph limit. Oldway, if closed, would result in pedestrians joining a stream of traffic; or if one-way, facing head-on vehicular traffic.
Second, sustainability is about community. Chudleigh has a vibrant community with some seventy-plus community organisations in the town. Virtually all the community facilities are in the town centre: Town Hall, Church, Scouts, Playparks, Shops, Pubs, Hairdressers, School, Doctors, Dentist etc. This development will isolate new residents because of its poor and unsafe access to town. It will have no community facilities of its own. Vehicular traffic will add some four hundred-plus vehicle movements to Oldway per day, plus traffic generated by the three hundred people working on the employment site. The main site will add more than one thousand vehicle movements per day onto Station Hill. There needs to be better access to town or better facilities on-site; Station Hill is inadequate and neither closing nor making Oldway one-way will achieve good access.
Many people in town either think the whole development is a done deal already, or that they won’t be listened too anyway. Cllr McCormick urged TDC to reject this application as to approve it would jeopardise the existing community and fail to provide sustainability for the new residents.
In addition to the representation by Cllr McCormick, Chudleigh resident, Karen Castle, reiterated the point that access on Station Hill for pedestrians, particularly children, was dangerous.
An agent for the developer, Linden Homes, spoke in favour of the application and stressed the benefits of this development to Chudleigh. However, it appears the only benefit directly to Chudleigh is the affordable homes; all other payments for bus vouchers, education etc are administered by TDC or Devon County Council and are required to mitigate the disbenefits of the development.
Members of the Planning Committee discussed the application over the next hour with many objecting to lack of access and the possibility of accidents involving children. At the outset of the discussion TDC’s Business Manager for Strategic Places, Nick Davies, made it clear matters already agreed at the Outline Stage were not up for decision. The number of houses, including affordable units, and access to and from the site were already decided. He repeated several times that access was not part of today’s decision as it had already been agreed. The other area of contention related to open spaces: play areas and allotments. These are inadequate measured against guidelines within the Teignbridge Local Plan. It was suggested the application be rejected on these grounds. A second suggestion was made to defer the decision until the developer had met open spaces criteria. Nick Davies advised that the developer could appeal, probably win and lead to large costs to TDC.
Members decided to defer the decision until the developer has come up with a better layout for the site.
A second application to not close Oldway and make it one-way was not discussed in light of the above decision.
Several members of the Planning Committee were concerned that outline permission means these matters cannot be revisited, even when the details of the development lead to the conclusion that alterations are needed. It is up to the developer to concede via variation of the outline permission.
The conclusion to this is that we, as a town, need to be far more vocal in our objections to planning applications at outline stage, by registering our discontent on the TDC planning system.
Chair of Planning Committee