Persistence Pays at Teignmouth

February 26, 2008 10:26 am Published by

Tetlow King Planning’s (TKPs) first involvement dates back to 1996 when we were instructed by Devon and Cornwall Housing Association to carry out an initial planning appraisal, prior to their entering into an option.  Subsequently they entered into joint option arrangements with Midas Homes.

In subsequent years TKP promoted the inclusion of the site in the Council’s emerging Local Plan and persuaded Teignbridge District Council to allocate the greenfield site in the First Deposit Local Plan in 2002.  We then collaborated with the Council in producing a draft Development Brief.  Just as we were preparing to submit a planning application, work on the emerging Local Plan was completely abandoned.

A period of policy hiatus ensued during which the first planning application was submitted in 2005.  Teignbridge District Council refused this on three grounds including landscape and ecological impact and prematurity.  A further ground concerning highways was withdrawn prior to an appeal which took place in 2006 but this issue was contested at the public inquiry by third party residents.  The appeal was dismissed by the Inspector who ruled that the application was premature in the context of the emerging Local Development Framework.

In parallel representations had been made to the Council’s Submitted Core Strategy culminating in appearance at the Public Examination in 2007.  These were instrumental in the Inspector ultimately declaring the whole Core Strategy unsound, with work having to be recommenced.

At around this time there were important changes to government policy on housing, encapsulated in PPS3, inter alia requiring councils more specifically  than previously to ensure a continuous supply of housing land and to prioritise the provision of affordable housing.

In 2007 and 2008 Tetlow King Planning also advised Midas Homes on an application for 300 homes on another greenfield site at Exminster, on the edge of Exeter but in the same District.  This was also refused by the Council but was granted by appeal by the Secretary of State In October 2008; with the 35% affordable housing offered being deemed a significant benefit.

A new planning application for the Teignmouth site was submitted in November 2008, as previously offering 50% affordable housing, well in excess of the 35% level that the Council could require under the current development plan framework.

In considering the new application Teignbridge District Council chose to rebalance the planning issues. The landscape and ecology issues were deemed to have been resolved through  technical work by specialist consultants whilst  severe delays in the preparation of the Council’s Core Strategy; the absence of a five-year land supply; lack of alternative sites; and most importantly the 50% affordable housing provision were deemed to override any prematurity concerns.  The application was recommended for approval by officers, and the Development Control Committee voted to approve the application on 16 February 2009 subject to the completion of a Section 106 Agreement.

Robin Tetlow, Chairman, who has been involved with the project since its inception in 1997 commented:

“We knew from the outset that this was a suitable site for housing development and that with the right promotion a successful outcome was likely.  However, we have had to overcome many obstacles on the way, some of which have had little to do with rational planning. The main lesson to draw from this whole process is that a lot of persistence is sometimes required even with a good site and a strong planning case.”