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Fury erupts at super inquiry into housing plans for flooded Feniton

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

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“Furious” residents of a flood-hit Devon village have gathered outside a “super inquiry” into plans to increase its size by as much as 40%.

The special inquiry was called by the Planning Inspectorate after proposals by three developers which would see 235 new homes built in Feniton, near Honiton.

Streets were submerged during recent heavy rain with water gushing through a children’s play area and sewage pouring out of drains.

Opponents of the development fear the infrastructure will not be able to cope with such an increase in the number of homes.

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Val Jones, a resident attending the eigh-day hearing, which opens today at Exeter airport, said the village was “united in fury” at the proposals.

“We are flooding so badly here it is unreal – they need to get the sewage and flooding issued sorted out before any more building goes ahead,” she added.

“I have never known the village like this before – they are united in fury.”

Feniton is regularly hit by flooding, mainly due to overflowing drains which struggle to cope with the house network and run-off from fields.

The area was hit three times during the past two weeks.

East Devon independent district councillor Susie Bond said she and many others had been “soaked to the skin” dashing round the village in an effort to keep drains clear.

She said the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) had “left East Devon in a vacuum of uncertainty” over where development should happen.

“The sustainability credentials of the village will be thrashed out over a two-week period.

“But those of us who waded through flood-diluted sewage in the village today know exactly how sustainable Feniton actually is,” she added.

Three separate schemes were refused planning permission by East Devon District Council but the applicants have since appealed.

The Planning Inspectorate has combined three appeal hearings into a single event.

The original venue, Feniton Bowling Club, was changed to the Flybe Training Academy conference rooms, near Exeter Airport.

This decision, said to be prompted by demand, has also angered local residents, who say the venue was moved to suit the construction companies and leaves locals forced to travel and park each day.

The inquiry runs Tuesday to Friday for two weeks and the inspector is expected to take several eeks to make a decision.

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  • SKoM_  |  January 08 2014, 1:16PM

    nick113. Unfortunately planning inspectors frequently get things wrong, can't agree some basic principles of a local plan amongst themselves and some have a basic lack of essential skills - like map reading and knowing the difference between east and west.

  • Mouf1975  |  January 07 2014, 8:26PM

    Nick111 - 'accepting some growth' and building 235 new homes on green belt land are slightly different scenarios. I am all for progress in a measured and planned way. However, dancing to the tune of a bunch of money grabbing developers who are simply trying to expose current planning loop holes is not the way forward. They are not in it for the greater good and they will not have to live with the consequences of their plans - unlike us!

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  • roverdale  |  January 07 2014, 4:26PM

    nick113, what people are told they need is wholly different from what the actually need. So I assume you are saying," If the inspector tells you, you need it, that's ok then".

  • nick113  |  January 07 2014, 2:55PM

    @roverdale. Because that's the Inspector's job - to balance local and national needs and to judge the suitability of what is proposed. They generally do a pretty good job, and are not in the pocket of the council or government. On the one hand drainage and flooding issues have to be addressed, and on the other more houses will sustain local businesses and schools. Feniton is quite a small place, but it's near a main road, and even has a direct train service to London. It could accept some growth without too much stress.

  • leona23  |  January 07 2014, 11:56AM

    Force the developers to pay for All the drainage and sewage works that will need to be upgraded for the whole village, to allow for their new housing plans, they'll not be so keen to build then. Also E&E need to employ a proof reader! "take several 'eeks' to make a decision" should be 'Weeks'!

  • roverdale  |  January 07 2014, 11:39AM

    Why should one person be allowed to make a decision on the lives of so many? Get an inspector to gather and collate the evidence, and then leave it to a panel made up of locals and other interested parties to decide.

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