New homes 'will be approved as local plan now in tatters'
The inspector at last week's controversial planning appeal for 90 new homes in Evercreech will undoubtedly grant permission for the scheme, district councillor Peter Bradshaw has warned.
"We have arrived at a position where our Mendip District Council Local Plan is now in tatters," he said at Evercreech's Parish Council meeting on Wednesday night last week.
"It is like being a grouse on July 1. That is what is our village has now become and so has every other village in Mendip – it has become "open season" for developers!"
He said that Mendip's "methodology" in deciding what new homes can be built under its Local Plan constraints were wrong. "They made assumptions that were obviously wrong," he told worried residents at the meeting in the village hall.
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The district council's planning department had made assumptions in figures of permissions granted that were obviously flawed in their preparation of the Local Plan for future housing provision across the district, he said.
Counted into the equation were ancient planning permissions for development that had never been activated and built – and have now expired. But they are still on the council's radar and now form part of the Local Plan.
Mr Bradshaw said last week's planning inquiry regarding the 90 homes development on land at Horsehill Farm in his village had been one of the most difficult situations he had faced for many a year.
He said they had all been geared up for a three-day appeal hearing. And his submission had been based on the provisions for future housing as set out in the Mendip Local Plan.
He said he appreciated people were feeling anger and frustration about the Mendip's planning department failing to get their figures right about projected housing needs for the future in the Local Plan.
"Now is the time for reflection and understanding about where it went wrong and to make sure it does not happen again," he said.
He said chief planning officer Matthew Williams had been invited to attend the inquiry but declined as he was born and bred in Evercreech and his father Roy Williams is an Evercreech parish councillor. He had therefore made the decision he could not take any part in the inquiry. It was, said Mr Bradshaw, the right thing for Mr Williams to do under the circumstances.
"But nevertheless we have had a problem with the calculations on our land supplies," he said.
He said officers at the appeal could not defend that their evidence of five-and-a-half years' land supply – which forms the basis of the Mendip Local Plan for the need for new homes across the district for the future – now had a deficit of about 30 per cent.
"That means that our Local Plan Parts 1 and 2 are no longer valid in determining planning appeals – and that has tremendous implications for our whole district," warned Mr Bradshaw.
And he said: "I don't think it is an exaggeration to say many nice places across our district will now face numerous planning applications from developers who now don't have to take into consideration the Local Plan."
See page 11.