East Devon District Council has reluctantly decided to move the venue of the Feniton ‘super inquiry’ because the initial location is not big enough for the eight-day hearing.
After appeals by three developers against EDDC’s refusal of planning permission for their proposals, the Planning Inspectorate decided to combine appeal hearings for three Feniton sites into a single event.
The appeals are by Feniton Park Ltd for Acland Park (32 homes), Strategic Land Partnership for land west of Ottery Road (up to 120 homes) and Wainhomes for an extension to the 50 homes allowed at appeal last August (additional 83 homes).
The original venue set for the inquiry was Feniton Bowling Club, but due to size limitations this has now been changed to the Flybe Training Academy conference rooms near Exeter Airport.
Taking into account all of the paraphernalia of a public inquiry, which requires a significant amount of space, the new venue will allow more room for Feniton residents to attend and watch the proceedings in comfort.
Councillor Andrew Moulding, EDDC’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Development and Partnerships, said: “We understand how keen Feniton people were to see the inquiry held in the village. It would certainly have been more convenient for them and also easier for the Inspector to visit the sites.
“However, we have to consider the logistics of an inquiry that will last for at least eight working days and will involve about a dozen witnesses and potentially more than 100 people either participating or in the public gallery. As the hearings grew nearer and we had a better idea of the numbers involved, it became clear that the original setting would be too small. With regret we have decided that we should change the venue and give everyone a sensible amount of notice of the new location.
“There was a very real risk that if the inquiry started at Feniton Bowling Club and the Inspector found the venue too small and cramped, the hearings might have to be suspended and reconvened at a later date. That would have caused delays and extra expense that nobody wants to see. The new venue is still reasonably accessible from Feniton and a better proposition all round”.