Devon residents challenge development plans with credible alternative
Former Daily Telegraph “House builder of the Year” backs local plans
Proposed new strategic approach offers potential local planning blueprint
Residents in the Devon village of Dartington are challenging local developers to consider alternatives to plans to build a dense development including urban style three storey blocks in their village- by designing their own. The development would set a precedent for height and density in rural villages, bring volumes of traffic through a quiet cul de sac, lose a community garden under concrete and destroy a wild valley; habitat to dormice and five species of bats.
Citing the 2012 Government paper published by Eric Pickles, “Communities together not apart”, local residents have united to form a group; Don’t Bury Dartington Under Concrete, which has engaged its own experts to produce alternative plans which will accommodate the housing needs of the community while preserving its character and environment.
Former Daily Telegraph Housebuilder of the Year and a Founder Director of The Living Village Trust, Bob Tomlinson, has been working pro bono for the group in an effort to produce the fresh proposals. He is regarded by many expert observers as having established what may become a blueprint for local development across England & Wales.
In an approach which is sympathetic to the need for new housing while chiming with the government’s own calls for accountability and localism, the residents are presenting their own fully costed plans to local Devon planning officials in June. In their plan, 6 open market houses will pay for 12 individual social homes. Timber framed and to a high eco spec, the houses will be efficient to heat and address fuel poverty. Built around communal gardens, but not over valuable wildlife habitats, the scheme offers an attractive, rural style development of one and two storey houses that integrates social, open market and homes for adults with learning disabilities.
Speaking outside a meeting of the local group, Daily Telegraph House builder of the Year, Bob Tomlinson said:
“We entirely recognize and understand the need for development and new housing and, as a house builder myself, I also acknowledge that construction is a vital economic driver as the UK emerges from some dark times.
“We are however very concerned that the plans currently under consideration are ill judged and wholly destructive of the environment and community which they seek to develop. .
In response, we have produced a fully costed alternative which meets the needs for capacity and recognizes the uniqueness of this community and its way of life.
“We meet with local planners next month and I fully anticipate a fair hearing and the full attention of the elected representatives who sit on the planning committee. In my professional judgment these plans are appropriate and watertight and I would be surprised and disappointed if they were not accepted as a credible alternative.’’
“Indeed we would seek a review of any such decision in view of the long term ramifications and negative impact of getting this one wrong.”
Rob Hopkins, local resident, and founder of the international Transition movement, says “What’s exciting about the community’s redesign is that it shows there is an alternative to just campaigning against things. This imaginative, creative community have come together to create something far better than what was proposed, something that would meet both the needs of the community and the needs of the developer. Rather than being NIMBYs, you could think of them as SWIMBYs, they want ‘Something Wonderful In My Back Yard’. This is an important national precedent, and I hope the developer and the planning authority will give it the consideration it deserves”.