Ottery councillor’s motion to stop developers cramming small homes onto East Devon plots wins support

A bid to prevent housebuilders cramming as many dwellings as possible onto new East Devon developments – leading to homes too small for comfort – has been backed. 

District councillors passed a motion to add new standards for space to an updated Local Plan, writes Local Democracy Reporter Joe Ives.

Ottery St Mary representative Councillor Peter Faithfull, who proposed the motion, said the lack of a policy means the authority cannot reject residential planning applications based on size.

He argued that developers take advantage by building more homes than there is space for – all in the interests of profitability.

Cllr Faithfull said: “Within my own ward I know of three applications which should have been rejected due to them being under the nationally-recognised size.”

In 2015, the Government published space standards but left it to councils to enforce them through policies in their Local Plans.

Despite attempts by some councillors, no action has yet been taken by East Devon District Council (EDDC) to put these standards in place.

Cllr Faithfull said he worried for the future of British sport if EDDC keeps allowing small homes.

He added: “With younger residents getting taller by the year, I feel it is our duty to build residential units large enough for the next generation to live in.

“If we want to support our rugby players and our basketball players, the least we can offer is rooms large enough for them to live in.”

His motion was passed with 41 votes in favour at a full council meeting on Tuesday, July 27.

A temporary decision-making framework was launched on Monday after the council decided to make its meetings virtual again because of fears over current Covid-19 risks.

For the time-being,  senior East Devon officers now have to rubber-stamp councillor’s recommendations.

EDDC will now seek to implement the national space standards as part of its updated 2021 – 2040 Local Plan, which is currently being drafted.

Honiton St. Michael’s ward member Cllr Mike Allen said lack of action had resulted in some houses being built to substandard sizes – something that ‘should never have happened’.

Cllr Vicky Johns, who represents Ottery, seconded the motion and said: “It’s a shame that developers do get away with doing this kind of thing and hopefully, if we do put the policy in place, it will nip in the bud.”

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