Newton Poppleford & Harpford
Residents may remember the grim days of 2013 when the outline planning application from Clinton Devon Estates to build 40 houses on land south of King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford came to be heard at the Development Planning Committee (DMC) at EDDC.
At the first hearing, the day ran on and the application was ‘postponed’ as time ran out. Members of the public had taken a day off work to come and object to the application. They had been waiting patiently all day only to be sent home without being heard.
At the next hearing, the application was not heard until after lunch, despite the meeting starting at 10.00 am. The arguments and debate ran all through the afternoon. Some DMC members had to leave at the end of the afternoon but still, the meeting and consideration of the King Alfred Way application ran on.
Around 7.30 pm the final deliberations were heard. It was clear by then that DMC members were tired and fed up, having been in the meeting for nearly 10 hours and just wanted a decision to be made. Outline approval was given.
After the terrible process, changes were made so that DMC meetings did not run on from 10.00 am till late into the evening, and shorter days were stipulated. Participants and members of the public would be given at least a shorter window of morning or afternoon to attend a hearing and comment on the application. Too late for Newton Poppleford but better for future meetings.
So it came as a surprise to see that in the list of forthcoming meetings for April and going up to 22nd May 2019, no mention was made of DMC, originally scheduled on the yearly planner to run on 30th April. This is odd as if a meeting is ever cancelled it shows up in councillor email reminders as a cancelled meeting but DMC had just disappeared from the list.
Another councillor, who is not on DMC, told me today that it was proposed that there is a very high number of applications all to be heard on the same day.
My first thoughts were surely EDDC cannot be returning to the days of applications rushed through DMC without due time built in for full and open discussion?
I queried this today (13th April) and the information coming forward is that two days have provisionally been booked to deal with all the applications.
However, my concern is that not all DMC members may be available for the previously unscheduled day and certainly, interested parties or members of the public may not be able to take time out of work at short notice.
Finally, what is the rush to hear such a high number of applications all on one day? I hope that this is not all due to the forthcoming District and Towns/Parishes elections because that just cannot be right.
With yet another application to replace the promised doctors surgery with two luxury houses at King Alfred Way due to be heard at some point, I am very concerned that this should not coincide with more poor scheduling.
I will find out more next week but I am very puzzled about the reasons behind this change in DMC arrangements.