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Residents fear blueprint plans too many homes for Torbay

By Herald Express  |  Posted: March 24, 2014

David Watts, chairman Paignton Neighbourhood Forum

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TOO many houses are being proposed in the planning blueprint for Torbay for the next 20 years and it could threaten green areas of the resort with bulldozers, Paignton residents fear.

Torbay Council released its latest version of the Local Plan for public consultation at the end of February.

More than 400 members of the Paignton Neighbourhood Forum are going through the proposed blueprint for the resort with a fine toothcomb.

The plan covers all parts of Torbay for the next 20 years. Up to 10,000 additional homes are proposed and 6,000 jobs.

Among the concerns for Forum members are that they say areas of Great Landscape Value will no longer be defined as they are in the current Local Plan and attractive areas have been earmarked for future housing development.

The conclusion currently reached in the Forum’s 25 page draft response is that only 3,000 to 4,000 houses are needed, not 8,000 to 10,000 as proposed the plan which needs to be changed.

The Forum’s draft response says that building 9,200 homes would cause the loss of large tracts of land currently designated as Countryside Areas or Areas of Great Landscape Value such as near Collaton St Mary.

The population of Torbay is not growing fast enough to justify the number of houses proposed, they say, and births continue to be lower than deaths and any growth is through inward migration.

They say there is no justification for the Local Plan’s assumption that population will only go up. Between 2001 and 2011 the Bay’s resident population grew by one per cent, 1,400, but 5,000 homes were built.

They also cite a letter sent by the Minister for Planning, Nick Boles MP, to the Chief Executive of the Planning Inspectorate earlier this month stating that under the National Planning Policy Framework local authorities and communities are in charge of planning for their own areas. The Minister said: “That is why we abolished the top down regional strategies, why we have emphasised the primacy of the Local Plan and why we gave communities the powers to create Neighbourhood Plans”. The letter goes on to say this includes “maintaining key protections for the countryside”.

The plan also proposes a major review every five years. The Forum has previously expressed concern that monitoring arrangements should enable downward revision, as well as upward, but they say this approach has not so far been included.

Chairman of the Paignton Forum, David Watts, said: “The Forum has been saying for a long time that full support will be given to jobs led growth. We all agree this is what the Bay needs. But the Forum is very worried that the plan focuses on housing led growth with more homes than the Forum believe will be required and will not protect the countryside as expected by the Minister.”

He added: “The draft Forum response has taken a comprehensive approach and gives clear support to those parts of the plan that will help achieve a sustainable future and explains in detail where the plan needs to be altered.”

The meeting will also hear that discussions have taken place with representatives of the neighbouring Forums for Torquay and Brixham to achieve a joined up approach.

The Forum meeting will be held in public on Thursday March 27 at the Gerston Chapel Hall, Torquay Road, Paignton. The Forum will consider exactly where in the plan it needs to be altered line by line.

Full details can be found on the Forum web site at www.paigntonneighbourhoodplan.org.uk.

The deadline for comments is 9am on April 7 which will then be sent on by the council to the Secretary of State who will appoint an Inspector to consider all views received before the plan goes any further.

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