Why Should We Worry?
It’s hard to believe that such an outrage could happen, but it will unless we stop it. These are the facts:
South Hams District Council has had 40% of its budget slashed. It appears that they are looking to sell off their assets. They have also included the markets and car parks of Kingsbridge and Salcombe
New government legislation has meant that developers can push through the sorts of development that they would have been unable to a few years ago. They can now more easily ignore infrastructural requirements and bypass planning permission restrictions
Our roads, car parking and sewage systems are already at breaking point
Developers no longer have to build affordable homes, just ‘starter homes’ - small houses which cost £250K plus.
Everything has changed
Recent government changes to the National Planning Policy Framework and the Housing Act have made it much easier for those interested in building for greed rather than need to get their own way. It is the era of the land grab. There are enormous profits to be made.
What kind of houses will they build?
Developers no longer have to provide a percentage of ‘affordable’ housing. Instead, they will build a small number ‘starter homes’, available only to people under 40. These will cost approximately £250,000 - well out of the reach of most local people.
Consultation with the public
The Plymouth and South West Joint Local Plan Consultation was launched in July 2016, with very little publicity. Luckily, some people noticed. During this consultation, there were more comments written about the Totnes central area than any other area - at least 40% of all the comments lodged. One of the people who wrote in was our Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who called for the car parks, garden and market square to be removed from the Joint Plan. The final consultation is expected to be in February 2017 after the final draft is published. Once it’s in the final document, it will be much harder to stop. We need to ensure the council takes it out of the Joint Plan.
What happens next?The Joint Plan will then go to a planning inspector to ratify. He will take notice of objections, but at that stage it would be counting on a miracle for the inspector to reject the whole Plan because of objections to one small part of it. It is not really the planning inspector’s job to judge the whole Plan based on:
- The opinions and feelings of local people
- Whether a particular development will have such an appalling impact on a town that it might never recover
- The damage caused by building on a square that has hosted a market since early medieval times
- The insanity of removing car parks in a town choked by traffic where there is not enough parking to begin with
- The livelihoods and wellbeing of the people who live here, many of whom depend on tourism to survive That this will destroy a heritage area and ruin of one of the last unspoilt towns in Devon.