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What really is Devon’s housing need? (S Devon Branch)
Thu. 10 June 2021 at 2:00 pm
To be held by Zoom video conferencing
A talk entitled “What really is Devon’s housing need?” to be given by Penny Mills, the Director of Devon CPRE, and Dr Phillip Bratby.
Devon CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) is the local branch of the countryside charity that works to raise public awareness of issues affecting the environment and rural life in Devon, and to educate people about the Planning system and the important role we all play in protecting Devon’s landscapes for future generations.
The talk will focus on the South Devon area.
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Report on the talk
“What Really is Devon’s Housing Need?” was a talk recently given to the Branch by Penny Mills and Dr Phillip Bratby of the Devon Campaign for the Protection of Rural England. The national charity was established in 1926 and there are now 43 branches which are all independent and separate from the national organisation. Penny Mills is the Director of Devon CPRE and Dr Phillip Bratby, a physicist, is a member of their committee. The aim of the organisation is to protect Devon from inappropriate development.
Funding for Devon CPRE is from membership only; there is no national funding, though organisations such as town and parish councils can join (and do!). Housing is a big issue.
There is a PR consultant who works with the Press to get their message out and training courses are run for the education of children, encouraging them to go outside. For the last four years, they have organised Devon’s Best Churchyard competition with entries increasing every year. There will be a prize-giving event in September.
But their main focus is on planning. They have held seminars to which the Housing Minister was invited and attended. Currently six massive solar panel farms are proposed for Devon, and celebrity John Nettles has become involved, introducing a video on YouTube. He has generated a lot of support. Though the proposal for 250 homes on the Tor Estuary has been refused by North Devon Council, other massive developments are in the pipeline.
Devon CPRE are concerned about the proposed reforms of the planning system which will give more power to central government and a reduction in local democracy. The 2011 Government Housing Policy document supported local decision making but this has not been followed and minimum housing needs have been imposed upon Local Authorities. The Government has set a target for 300,000 new homes per year in England but there is very little evidence to support this. The figures are based mainly on opinions, and most of those come from developers.
Second homes and holiday lets are a feature of the Devon housing stock. Affordability is another issue that affects the local population as many houses are of a price that locals cannot afford to pay. Local plans take about seven years to complete as they have to go out to consultation and are out of date before they are published. The CPRE believe that the Government is using outdated projections.
Reports by the Devon CPRE have found that the real need is for affordable housing and they believe that local councils should determine local need. Nationally there is planning permission to build one million homes and the CPRE believe that there is sufficient brownfield sites on which to build them.
Devon CPRE is the only organisation which campaigns to protect Devon’s countryside from inappropriate and damaging development. Their main concerns are housing development and solar farms –they remain vigilant!