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Inspector Dismisses Appeals Over East Devon Homes

A planning inspector has rejected three out of four appeals against a council's refusal of plans for nearly 300 homes in East Devon.

The homes were all proposed around the village of Feniton, near Honiton in East Devon.

The proposals totalled up to 294 homes in the village, which currently has 674 homes and a further 50 under construction.

Many local people had opposed the developments due to concerns that they would increase flood risk in the area, the inspector's report noted.

The village already has significant problems with this and is waiting for the construction of a flood defence scheme, expected to take place in 2015/16, it states.

But inspector Jessica Graham noted that the presence of existing flooding problems does not act as an outright bar to further development, either in national or local planning policy.

However, she judged that the application for 120 homes by developer Strategic Land Partnerships would damage the setting of a Grade II Listed Building known as Sweethams, and the historic boundary separating the parishes of Feniton and Ottery St Mary.

The same developer had proposed 59 other homes in the area, but the inspector ruled that this development would cause harm to the appearance of the area while providing only 25 per cent affordable housing, compared to the 40 per cent required by East Devon District Council (EDDC) in its local plan.

Wainhomes Holdings Ltd's application for 83 homes was also refused due to the impact it would have on the area's appearance, loss of grade two agricultural land and an increase in car journeys.

The inspector approved the application for 32 homes by Feniton Homes, as she judged it would help to remedy the significant shortfall in housing in the area. The developer has agreed to pay £85,000 towards flood relief in the village under a section 106 agreement.

EDDC deputy leader Andrew Moulding said: "This appeal decision totally vindicates our decision to defend Feniton against wholesale development. It also puts the lie to the contention by some scaremongers that East Devon is open to a planning free-for-all."

Richard Ground acted for East Devon Council.