In October 2014 developers Waddeton Park Ltd made an application for outline planning approval for an elderly persons housing scheme (60 bed Residential Care Home, 47 assisted living apartments and 55 age restricted dwellings – ECC ref 14/2066/01). Given that this land was within the still protected northern Topsham Gap and was unallocated in Exeter City Council’s Development Plan, the general consensus was that this was unlikely to succeed. The Society submitted an objection on 15 October 2014.
In late 2014 ECC lost an appeal for the Home Farm, Pinhoe housing development. The Planning Inspector determined that ECC had failed to demonstrate that it had sufficient housing land designated within its current policy. Under the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework, all Local Planning Authorities must demonstrate that they have enough allocations to serve 5 years of housing demand, otherwise they are compelled to consider any “sustainable” (served by public transport) development applications. This decision places many previously unallocated/protected sites within the Exeter District under threat of development and is a potential “game changer” in respect of the land adjacent the Topsham Rugby Club.
In December 2014, the Society wrote to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) highlighting the threat to the Topsham Gap and requesting that the land adjacent the Topsham Rugby Club application should be “called in” for determination by the SoS. This letter was copied to various other parties including our local MP Hugo Swire. No response was received from either the SoS or Mr Swire.
ECC subsequently commenced a legal challenge against the Hill Farm Appeal and deferred all planning decisions on applications reliant on that Appeal, including the Topsham Rugby Ground. In February 2015, Waddington Park submitted an appeal in respect of the land adjacent the Topsham Rugby Club to the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds on ECC’s non determination. Once this appeal was registered, ECC were non longer permitted to determine this application.
Shortly after the appeal submission, a second application (15/0222/01) for the same scheme, with supplementary information addressing previous issues of contention, was submitted by Waddeton Park. This seems to be an attempt to put pressure on ECC to grant approval before the determination of the legal challenge and appeal and places the land adjacent the Rugby Club and the Topsham Gap generally under a real threat of imminent development.
As part of their defence of the application 14/2066/01 appeal, ECC Planning Committee will be considering the officer report at their meeting on 30 March 2015. The Society will be reiterating its previous representations. Any interested parties can attend the meeting. Further representations in respect of the appeal of 14/2066/01 are invited to be submitted to to the Planning inspectorate by 20 April 2015. (The Planning Inspectorate, 3/05 Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN quoting ref APP/Y1110/W/15/3005030). The Society will be reiterating its previous representations and making further representations that determination of any appeal, prior to the conclusion of ECC’s legal challenge to the Hill Farm appeal, is premature.
Objections in respect of the new application should be made by 16 April 2015 to Exeter City Council, Planning Services, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter, EX1 1NN marked for the attention of Michael Higgins quoting the reference 15/0222/01, or email to email@example.com. The Society will be making representations on similar lines to the previous objection.
The preservation of the remaining elements of the Tospham gap is of key significance to the maintenance of an independent identity for the Town and the Topsham Society Committee would urge all members to object to the above applications/appeals.
If any members have any queries in respect of the above, please contact David Burley on 01392 876777 or Jeremy Rawlings on 07725 047571. Alternatively, use the Contact Us page.