Shafted! Disastrous plans for Brimhay stifle community alternative

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Yesterday at South Hams District Council’s Development Management Committee, plans to cram 2 three storey blocks of flats and 12 open market houses on a.75Ha site of high wildlife value in the centre of Dartington were passed. The urban style plans proposed by South Devon Rural Housing Association have met with unanimous opposition. Over 250 locals sent written objections in to South Hams with strong support from their parish council and ward councillor against the proposals that threaten to urbanise the heart of the village, take community open space, bring traffic for 100 people through a quiet cul de sac and threaten European protected bats and dormice. ‘The real losers are SDR’s own tenants’ explained Trudy Turrell of campaign group Don’t’ Bury Dartington Under Concrete. Several were at Wednesday’s meeting and when one councillor derided the current bungalows as unfit, she broke the rules of silence to invite councillors to come and see the home that she loved and that would be bulldozed and replaced by flats with no gardens. A suggestion made by Cllr Pearce that 3 storey flats without lifts would ‘ encourage the elderly to keep fit’ were met with cries of ‘shame on you’ from the public present.

Over recent months, creative locals in Dartington appalled by the scheme have come up with their own, thanks to pro bono help from Bob Tomlinson, Daily Telegraph Builder of the Year. The beautiful high eco spec design clustered around communal gardens, proposes just 6 open market houses to fund 14 cottage style social homes with gardens. Two more than SDR’s plans. Locals were promised that SHDC would not decide the fate of Brimhay until a September committee, but a sudden change to rush it through on 1st July effectively prevented the community led plan supported by over 200 people to be seen.

At Wednesday’s meeting councillors ignored many points made for refusal. The plans contravene SHDC’s own policies on good design and integrated developments where social housing should appear indistinct from open market and much of the National Planning Policy Framework . Councillors took special note of planning consultants comments that they ran the risk of an appeal and possible costs by voting for refusal- and this was mentioned in the summing up.

The newly appointed planning officer that took over the case just 2 weeks ago gave a report that was deficient with misleading facts after an inadequate site meeting where the cul de sac soon to take huge volumes of traffic and woodland soon to be destroyed were not shown to members.

Will Brimhay join Sawmills Field, Great Court Farm and the Riverside Totnes on the roll call of disastrous developments passed by South Hams councillors? Locals are seeking further action.


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