Protesters turned out in force to march in Feniton to draw attention to the problems caused by new national planning regulations.
The march, which was organised by the East Devon Alliance, was calling for a delay to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) until East Devon District Council’s local plan is adopted to safeguard the area’s countryside.
The NPPF will come into effect on Wednesday (March 27) and has been dubbed Black Wednesday.
Hundreds of people of all ages, from across East Devon, braved the cold armed with banners and placards and dressed in black and carrying black balloons to symbolise the loss of the countryside.
Protestors included members of action group Fight for Feniton’s Future who took part in the march from Louvigny Close to Camp Field, Ottery Road, the proposed site for up to 160 houses.
The village is currently faced with applications for large-scale developments, which residents say could increase the size of the village by 40 per cent.
Susie Bond of Fight for Feniton’s Future said: “Feniton is just one of a number of villages across England facing massive development.
“We are particularly vulnerable because EDDC failed to ensure it had enough housing land identified and because it has no local plan in place.”
The group has also called on the district council to postpone any discussion of development proposals for Feniton following the resignation of Councillor Graham Brown.
During the march Devon County Councillor Roger Giles and East Devon District Councillor Claire Wright addressed crowds.
Fight for Feniton’s Future campaigner Susie Bond also announced her intention to stand as an independent candidate in the forthcoming EDDC by-election to fill the Feniton and Buckerell seat following the resignation of Councillor Brown, who is the subject of a police investigation. The election is due to take on May 2.
Note from me: The current Local Plan says 35 houses for Feniton (5%), but the current three developments proposed mean 285 houses, and the village will grow by 40%. Typically villages to absorb household growth will need to increase by around 15% over 15 years but this figure can increase to around 18-19% in areas with high second home ownership such as Devon. So here we see the problems of the NPPF, the scramble to appeal means developers are proposing large lumps in large single estates hoping to be the first across the line. The NPPF does not allow consideration of alternative sites or even consideration of the total scale of development compared to a village, as we found recently at an appeal in Norfolk in an area with a core startegy but no sites DPD where an inspector said he had no laternative but to approve a grossly disproprtionate scheme simply because the area had a shortage of a 5 year supply. It will only take a few such appeals in villages next to where MPs and minister live to relaise just how dumb the NPPF is in dealing with villages, however by then much damage will have been done.