Consultation deadline looms over future vision for Newton Poppleford and Harpford

Residents have less than a week left to express their views over a a future vision for development in Newton Poppleford and Harpford. 

A public consultation over the Neighbourhood Plan for both villages – which has seven objectives ranging from traffic to medical facilities –  runs until  Friday, May 1.

The detailed document will help shape development in the parish over the next decade and beyond.

It  aims to protects and enhance its distinctive character, rich heritage and its East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty setting.

The plan also states Newton Poppleford and Harpford should become an even better place for residents of all ages to live in.

The plan has been submitted to the district authority by the parish Council.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) launched a six-week public consultation on March 18.

Councillor Bruce De Saram, lead member for neighbourhood planning on EDDC, said: “It is very encouraging to see that the people of Newton Poppleford and Harpford have worked very hard to produce a Neighbourhood Plan, which reflects their desire to grow in a sustainable and appropriate manner.

“Looking at the key issue of transport, the plan also recognises that the car is the main form of transport in and out of the village.

“Therefore, within the villages, footpaths are valued but many of these are unpaved and unlit.

“There is strong support for improved walking provision throughout the village and for a cycle path to Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth to improve health and safety.

“Finally, it’s pleasing to see that all the evidence suggests that this Neighbourhood Plan will seek to ensure that Newton Poppleford and Harpford can continue to be a thriving and vibrant village community.

“The plan will protect and enhance its distinctive character, rich heritage and its AONB setting, and ensure that it should become an even better place for young and old in which to live.”

Newton Poppleford. Image: Sarah Charlesworth/Geograph

Newton Poppleford. Image: Sarah Charlesworth/Geograph

What the plan says: Seven objectives for Newton Poppleford & Harpford

Objective 1 – Improve all aspects of traffic and pedestrian movement to make the parish a more pleasant place to live. To limit air pollution, reduce volume of traffic and increase safety, sustainability and access within the parish and to the main centres of Ottery St Mary, Sidmouth, Exeter and Exmouth.

Newton Poppleford suffers from traffic congestion – especially during the summer months and at peak times of day. The continual flow of traffic at these times means that exiting from all junctions onto the A3052 is difficult and dangerous.

In the past four years, the number of vehicle movements has risen from 12,000 to 16,000 a day, and the A3052 has a lack of pavements, a 30mph speed limit which is often exceeded, and only one safe road crossing, with none at the spots where there are no pavements.

While there are two crossing islands with collapsible bollards, they are unsafe given the size and speed of vehicles, so crossing the road is challenging for everyone and almost impossible for some.

Any further housing or business development in the parish, or along the A3052 outside the parish, would inevitably increase such usage and further aggravate parking.

All developments must provide adequate off-road parking.

The plan adds: “Proposals for new development will only be supported where they demonstrate that they will…not lead to an increase in existing HGV movements through the village and not exacerbate existing parking problems in and around Newton Poppleford and the surrounding villages.

“The introduction of a 20mph speed limit along the A3052 through Newton Poppleford would be supported.”

Objective 2 – Protect and enhance the natural environment of the parish and reduce vulnerability to impacts of climate change including minimising and managing flood risk.

The plan says that the primary focus of future development should be to preserve, restore and re-create all natural environments, habitats and priority species, including distinctive landscape and ecology, as precious assets for the present and future.

Objective 3 – Make sure future development delivers the demonstrable needs and requirements of parishioners, in particular smaller affordable homes within the built-up area boundary, that protect the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and those elements of the parish which are valuable to its character and history, through high quality design.

The 2011 census recorded that there were 927 households in the parish and the majority of parishioners wanted to see fewer than 20 new homes within the life of the plan.

But, 67 new houses have been granted planning permission the parish since 2013, with further applications expected, and 53 houses were built in Newton Poppleford in 2019 alone.

As there has been no improvement in infrastructure, it would be inappropriate at this stage to allocate sites for development, the plan proposes.

It does support residential development within the built-up area boundary providing that dwellings are small, with no more than three bedrooms, and provide a high standard of amenity for the occupants.

Any residential development outside the built-up area boundary must be adjacent to it, conserve and enhance the East Devon AONB and demonstrate an exceptional need for affordable housing which could not be accommodated elsewhere, and provide a minimum of 66 per cent affordable homes.

Objective 4 – Promote opportunities for residents of all ages to access education, community facilities and leisure within the village.

The plan says that community facilities are at the heart of the parish and support many of the health, wellbeing, social, educational, spiritual, recreational, leisure and cultural needs of residents.

It explains how the playing fields are well-used for a variety of sporting activities including football and cricket, and for some, especially the elderly, young and those without cars, they are an essential lifeline.

Residents have shown a strong desire to retain and improve existing facilities together with requests for the provision of additional facilities, and proposals which would result in the loss of existing community facilities, amenities and assets, including the loss of any existing sports facility to a non-sports use, will not be supported.

Improvements and extensions to existing sports and recreation facilities that meet a proven need and increase opportunities for local people to participate in leisure, recreation, play and associated social activities will be supported, as would additional play facilities for children of all ages across the parish will be supported.

Objective 5 – Protect and enhance the provision of local green spaces, including its green infrastructure and wildlife habitats, for the benefit of parishioners and the ecosystem.

Newton Poppleford currently has many green spaces, but many are small, few are suitable for children’s play and some areas are not suitable for those with disabilities, the plan says, with the precious green spaces increasingly threatened by future development, especially by infill.

It outlines 15 green space areas to be retained as undeveloped land: St Gregory’s Church churchyard and cemetery; Venn Ottery Green; Turner’s Close park and play area; Chestnut Way park; Burrow Village Green; Back Lane Recreation Ground, including sports pitches, cricket pitch, tennis courts and children’s play area; Alfred’s Gate children’s play area and community orchard;  Badger Close play area, Green Bank, High Street, Shrubbery, Station Road, opposite Oak Tree Villas; the allotments, St Luke’s Church churchyard and cemetery; Venn Ottery Road Cemetery, St Gregory the Great Church churchyard; and Webbers Meadow.

Objective 6 – Support the provision of local medical facilities.

Although the parish population of approximately 2,000 is set to increase, there is no full-time medical centre.

The Ottery St Mary Coleridge Medical Centre operates a satellite hub in Newton Poppleford which opens only twice a week for three hours a day.

Residents currently have to attend the Coleridge surgery in Ottery, Sidmouth’s Stowford surgery or Budleigh Salterton surgery.

Sidmouth, however, is not taking any more patients, while 78 per cent of people attend the Coleridge surgery and there is no direct bus for those who must take public transport. The return journey takes three hours and costs £13.80 for one adult and child.

Proposals for the development of local medical facilities will be supported in the plan, as would proposals for change-of-use of an existing building to deliver a health service facility that serves the needs of Newton Poppleford and Harpford parish area.

An upgrade of the existing surgery building would be supported.

Objective 7 – Support the local economy through its existing businesses, and by encouraging new enterprises and facilities that enhance commercial effectiveness and employment opportunities.

The plan says that local businesses should be supported and encouraged as they help to improve the economic health of the community and, if providing employment to local people, they will help to keep traffic down.

It adds that the change of use of existing residential buildings, or part there-of, to small business use will be supported, provided proposals ensure that they do not have a significant adverse impact on the character and appearance of the area and the amenity of neighbouring residents.

East Devon District Council is inviting comments on the content of the plan, which will be used to help inform future decisions about development and planning applications in the parish.

Following the consultation period it will be submitted to an examiner.

It will then proceed to a local referendum where, should more than half of the electors in the local area vote in favour of the plan, it will become part of the statutory development plan for East Devon.

An EDDC spokesperson added: “The consultation period began on March 18, prior to the Government’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

“We hope that people will appreciate that it is the council’s duty to conclude the legal process in the best and safest way possible, while respecting the guidance that has been put in place to keep people safe and prevent Covid-19 spreading so quickly.

“We would like to thank people for their understanding during this difficult time.”

Any representations received will be made available on the EDDC website, as well as being sent to the examiner for consideration.

The plan and its supporting documents can be viewed here.

Anyone wishing to comment can complete a form and email it to: planningpolicy@eastdevon.gov.uk.

Email is the council’s preferred method of contact during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, comments can also be sent in writing to both:

Angela King, Planning Policy Section, East Devon District Council, Blackdown House, Border Road, Honiton, EX14 1EJ;

and

Paul Haywood (clerk), Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council, Plumtree, Old North Street, Axminster, EX13 5QF.

Anyone sending comments by post is also asked to call EDDC on 01395 571740 to notify it of the submission.

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