Recent News

Heritage Open Days 11th – 20th September

Because of Covid 19 the Heritage Open Day programme has been curtailed this year, but there is still an extensive and wide – ranging series of visits and events. The Devon Programme is available online.

Tiverton Museum Reopening

The Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life will be reopening on Thursday, September 10th. Opening hours will be:

Thursday and Friday 11:00am – 4:00pm
Saturdays from 26th September 11:00am – 4:00pm

Advance booking is strongly recommended. Please ring 01884 256295 or contact the curator: curator@tivertonmuseum.org.uk

Tiverton Museum Temporary Closure Emergency Appeal

The long period of closure has been very challenging, with a massive reduction in revenues. ‘We will be very grateful if you could make any donation to help us survive this closure period. You can donate online by clicking here.

You can also support us by becoming a museum member. Download the form here. Your membership period will commence from the time that we  re-open the museum.

We will continue to share our collections via social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram); just search for @TivertonMuseum.’

Planning Proposal for 22 Dwellings at Tumbling Field Lane

Tiverton Civic Society have objected to this Planning Application( TCS Objection to Planning Application 20.01263.MFUL (Tumbling Fields). August 2020 ) on an unallocated greenfield site because of a number of issues including flood risk, damage to the setting of Cranmore Castle and potential impairment of the views southward from the town centre. Please follow the link to the MDDC Planning Portal for this application.

CPRE DEVON

The CPRE Devon Summer Newsletter has now been published.

TIdcombe Hall 

An outline planning application for up to 179 houses has been submitted for the Tidcombe Hall site. Full details for the application can be found by clicking on 20/01174/MOUT

‘Outline for the erection of up to 179 dwellings, including the conversion of Tidcombe Hall and outbuildings to 12 dwellings, a shop, a cafe, an open sided shelter, community allotments, community orchards, public open space, associated infrastructure and access with all other matters reserved | Tidcombe Hall Tidcombe Lane Tiverton Devon EX16 4EJ’

Information about the background to this application, which was validated on July 27th, can be found below

Future Housing Development at Tidcombe Hall

LVA (Land Value Alliances) bought Tidcombe Hall over a year ago and have been putting together a speculative planning application with Walsingham Planning to deliver 179 homes covering over 12 hectares (30 acres), 35% of these being affordable houses, while Clifton Emery Design  have been working on design. Under the plan Tidcombe Hall would also be restored and converted into housing units. (Outline details, including an aerial view, of the application site, can be viewed online).

An application, 19/00645/SCR, has already been submitted for screening around the proposed development, which is shown on the accompanying map, and an advice letter, including discussion of the overall planning proposal, which was sent to Walsingham Planning by Lucy Hodgson, MDDC Planning, can also be accessed.

Developers and Architects proposing development of this site gave a presentation to the members of the Grand Western Canal Advisory Committee during their meeting on Tuesday, October 1st 2019. The report of the committee’s subsequent discussion included the conclusion that ‘it was generally recognised that the proposed development, if it came to fruition, could have a significant impact upon the canal.’

A presentation was also made to Tiverton Town Council Planning Committee on Monday, September 2nd 2019.

Devon Live and the Tiverton Gazette discussed this application in early November. See:

https://www.devonlive.com/news/local-news/grand-western-canal-150-homes-3490685

The developers of this proposed application held a Public Consultation in the New Hall, Barrington Street, on Saturday, November 30th from 12 noon – 5 pm. Following this Devon Live included an article which covered the views of both objectors and developers, the main focus being on potential road safety and congestion issues. A fuller version was included in the Tiverton Gazette on December 19th.

IMG_0389
Consultation on November 30th, 2019

Reasons for Objection to this Application. (This section will be added to and modified when the proposed application documentation has been thoroughly analysed)

Tiverton Civic Society’s Letter of Objection has now been submitted, is posted on the MDDC website page for this application, and can be downloaded by clicking here:TCS Letter for Planning Application 20.01174 MOUT Tidcombe Hall. August 2020 (2)

Tiverton Town Council voted unanimously to recommend refusal of the application at their meeting on Monday, August 24th. This was the first encouraging step in what is likely to be a long battle, and much will now depend on the forthcoming report by Devon Highways, on the recommendations of the MDDC Planning Officers, and on the eventual decision of the MDDC Planning Committee. Although the final official date for submission of letters has now been reached, in practice further letters are accepted up until the date of the planning committee meeting when this application is on the agenda. It is important that members of the public continue to submit letters, especially if new information becomes available!

Much concern has previously been expressed about any large housing development at this and nearby sites. The forthcoming application, on a greenfield site, would be for a development which would include part of the Grand Western Canal Conservation Area and County Wildlife site, it would severely impair the largely rural landscape and vistas to the south of the canal at this point, it would damage the setting of significant Heritage Assets, it would further endanger users of Tidcombe Lane, it would increase pressure on the local infrastructure and services, and, unless carefully managed, it could lead to significantly increased surface runoff, which would be channelled through the Tidcombe Fen Site of Special Scientific Interest and along the flood-prone Ailsa Brook and River Lowman. The present scheme has several attractions including the provision of ultra- low carbon housing, allotments and ample green infrastructure, and we do not object to the sensitive restoration of  the buildings and grounds of Tidcombe Hall, which need not be dependent on the remainder of the application going forward, and we share concerns about the viability of the proposed shop. However, we do emphatically stress that we are appalled by much of the application, which  is contrary to many aspects of the recently adopted Local Plan Review. Development of this greenfield site would involve the unnecessary loss to Tiverton of an attractive area of open countryside and productive farmland when ample land has already been allocated for development within the settlement boundary, especially in the Eastern Urban Extension, for the duration of the Local Plan Review/ Local Plan 2013-2033, and beyond.

Road traffic concerns are undoubtedly the greatest issue for local residents, and the proposed new development would undoubtedly add to the adverse cumulative impact of recent development on Tidcombe Lane, a narrow country road with sharp corners, narrow bridges and few pavements. It is acknowledged that Canal Hill should easily be able to cope with additional traffic from this development which makes use of that route. However, Mid Devon Local Plan Review Policy TIV14, 3.51) states that, for the contingency site, ‘a key factor is access. ‘Tidcombe Lane has limited width without footways and Tidcombe Bridge is very narrow.’ This road is very hazardous for pedestrians, the canal bridge is a particular concern for local residents, and a further increase in traffic here would exacerbate the potential danger. The problem is acknowledged in the Transport Statement which states ‘the existing layout of the route, and the limited extent of highway, means that opportunities for intervention are limited’ (5.19).  Between the junction with Marina Way and the site access the proposed build-outs outlined in 5.19-5.24 only superficially address the problem created by ‘shared space’ at a narrow canal bridge on a dangerous corner. ‘The delivery of a new canal parkland which will enhance and protect the Grand Western Canal creating a diverse tapestry of habitats improving biodiversity across the site and enhancing the visitor destination status of Tiverton’ (Planning Statement 1.1.4) could, because of an increase in pedestrians from the canal, make this problem considerably worse, and one much safer alternative, funded by the potential developers, would surely be the provision of a new footbridge! The site access, also on a sharp corner, is, despite suggested improvements illustrated on page 58 in the Transport Assessment, far from ideal, and it would also mean the destruction of an attractive gateway. The existing problems at the northern end of Tidcombe Lane would also be impacted. Because of severe traffic problems here detailed plans were put forward in the 1980s for this section to become a cul-de-sac at the Blundell’s Road end, and for the existing road to be diverted from close to the Lowman Bridge to a new junction on Blundell’s Road, east of the present Blundell’s Junior School. These plans, however, were abandoned when the Tidcombe Fen SSSI was designated in 1988, and the traffic problem remained, being exacerbated when housing was developed at Tidcombe Walk, and it would deteriorate further if the Tidcombe Hall site is developed, especially when the link from Blundell’s Road to the A361 is completed. This northern part of the road is narrow and dangerous, there were several accidents here in the 1980s, one resulting in serious injuries to a pedestrian, and a further problem resulting from increased traffic is harmful pollution, especially as congestion builds up at peak traffic periods. Increased levels of nitrous oxide resulting from traffic emissions, which are an especial concern close to school premises, could increasingly become a significant problem in the ‘canyon-like’ part of the road approaching the junction with Blundell’s Road. Mid Devon Local Plan Review Policy DM4 states that ‘applications for development that risks negatively impacting on the quality of the environment through noise, odour, light, air, water, land and other forms of pollutionmust be accompanied by a pollution impact assessment and mitigation scheme where necessary.’ (This potential problem applies equally to Tidcombe School. Public Health England has published a review of evidence on how to improve air quality. Part of the review focuses on children, saying that they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, and urges for action to be taken to improve air quality in the vicinity of schools. It recommends that no-idling zones are implemented outside schools, for it to be made easier for children to walk or cycle to school, and to increase public awareness in relation to air pollution and children).

On several occasions the Head of Planning and Regeneration and other members of the MDDC Planning Department have stated that development of housing at this site is unnecessary and unwanted for the foreseeable future. The proposed development area is not allocated for development in the recently adopted Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013-2033, although it would include part of the smaller TIV 13 contingency site for housing, which MDDC do not consider is needed for housing during the period, ending in 2022, of this Local Plan. In their latest submission  (Sustainabilty Appraisal) submitted in July 2019 to the Planning Inspector for the Mid Devon Local Plan Review, 2013-2033, MDDC ‘demonstrate that a five year supply of deliverable sites will be maintained over the initial five years and subsequent periods …without the need to bring forward the TIV13 Tidcombe Hall contingency site’ .(Page 8). The priority is surely to develop land allocated the Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension, as outlined in the Masterplan, and approval of the current application would, almost certainly, make it even less likely that builders would come forward to purchase land in Areas A and B of the Eastern Urban Extension, and that there would therefore further delays in completing the road to the new A361 junction, in developing new employment land, and in the provision of vital services, such as the school and the shops in the planned local centre. MDDC also considers that there would be problems in bringing forward the contingency site quickly for reasons ‘including a covenant on the land that forms the western part of the allocation, which is also in separate ownership to the larger part of the allocation to the east’. (ED22, Page 53, September 2019). Also see the Mid Devon District Council Local Plan Review Sustainability Appraisal Memorandum October 2019 Page 11/12.  This is clearly an example of the type of speculative development, in this case on a partly unallocated site, which the Head of Planning and Regeneration at MDDC had warned was likely to come forward if 5 year national housing targets were not met and a new, fully compliant, local plan was not approved and adopted.

Settlement boundaries prevent sprawl, create certainty, protect the countryside from unnecessary development, and make site choices easy and enforceable. The changing of a settlement boundary to suit a specific planning application would set a very undesirable precedent.(Another example is Manley Lane, which local residents have for long, and so far successfully, campaigned to maintain as Tiverton’s Eastern settlement boundary) . Part of the Tidcombe Hall site is outside the defined settlement boundary for  Tiverton and, therefore, the application conflicts with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), and with the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013-2033 Policy S14, which seek to severely limit residential development outside defined settlement boundaries, any proposals for dwellings outside development limits only being accepted under exceptional circumstances which are designed to enhance the rural economy. Development outside defined settlement limits ‘will be strictly controlled, enhancing the character, appearance and biodiversity of the countryside while promoting sustainable diversification of the rural economy’, and the Local Plan Review Policy DM18 states that ‘it is also important that development outside settlement limits only occurs where there are insufficient alternatives available, otherwise such development would not be sustainable.’ (4.56), and Policy S.13 states ‘that it is also likely that a small number of windfall developments will be built within settlement limits or through the rural exceptions policy.’ (2.78), and Policy DM6. This is not a rural exception site and there are no exceptional circumstances for planning consent to be given for that part of the proposal lying outside the settlement boundary. Plenty of alternative sites on allocated land are available within the Tiverton boundary and the applicants do not disagree with MDDC on this point: ‘It is acknowledged that the Council can currently demonstrate a five-year land supply of deliverable sites according to their latest position statement dated April 2019. This is also likely to be the case at the point of adoption of the Local Plan Review’ (Planning Statement 6.2.5). Threfore, unless there is a sudden urgent demand for a large ‘windfall’ or ‘buffer’ the application should be refused.

The Mid Devon Local Plan Review TIV 13 limits the number of houses which could be constructed at the Tidcombe Contingency site to one hundred, with design and landscaping, ‘Although the site could accommodate more than 100 dwellings, a lower density would help protect the setting of the canal and Tidcombe Hall. The site is adjacent to residential development to the west, and low density reflecting this existing development’ (TIV 13, 3.49). MDDC Local Plan Review Policy DM27 (d) follows the National Planning Policy Framework Paragraph 134 in stating that ‘where a development proposal would lead to less than substantial harm, that harm will be weighed against any public benefit, including securing optimum viable use.’ In particular, the proposed development would compromise the settings of the historically significant Tidcombe Hall, ‘Tidcombe Hall is an unlisted building but is considered a heritage asset and the setting should be respected.’ (TIV13, 3.50); and that of an important listed building, the 16th century Little Tidcombe Farm House,‘which internally retains evidence of an important earlier status as is proven by the very high quality of its hall ceiling’. (Historic England).  Policy DM28 for ‘Other Protected Sites’, including County Wildlife Sites and Nature Reserves, (included in the Conservation Area), states that, for development to be permitted, ‘the benefits of and need for the development must clearly outweigh the direct and indirect impact to the protected site and the ecosystem services it provides.’ We contend that the benefits of and need for the Tidcombe Hall development clearly do not outweigh the direct and indirect impact to the protected sites and the ecosystem services it provides. We also agree with the Tiverton Archaeological Group and the Devon Historical Environment Team who consider that, the archaeology of the site, which is potentially of considerable historical significance, should be thoroughly investigated and we support the latter group’s recommendation for refusal of the application unless ‘a programme of archaeological field evaluation that would investigate the anomalies identified by the geophysical survey’ is carried out.

The proposed development would have an obtrusive potential impact on views from parts of the south side of Knightshayes Park. In addition, it would further breach Mid Devon District Council’s policy, much eroded in recent years ‘to guide high quality development and other investment to retain the green setting provided by the steep open hillsides, particularly to the west and the south of the town.’

As has been demonstrated by several major flood events in South-West England, including those at Boscastle in 2004, Polperro in 1993 and 2004, Ottery St Mary in 2012, and localized intense storms causing flash flooding on steep slopes in urban areas have become increasingly frequent in recent years, often with catastrophic results, while  the major breach in the Grand Western Canal near Halberton in November, 2012 was also the result an extended period of heavy rainfall. Increased storminess is occurring because of accelerating climatic change, ‘100 year storm events’ having been greatly exceeded on many occasions in parts of northern England in recent years, and scientists predict that this trend is likely to increase further in future years. Southern parts of the proposed development are located on quite steep slopes, with impermeable soils, there being no significant soil infiltration, and the proposed ‘sustainable’ system of attenuation ponds, a geo-cellular attenuation tank and other measures outlined in the Flood Risk Assessment can only partially address the potential problems created by a rapid increase in runoff ‘exceedance flows’ from impermeable surfaces, while discharge of overflows into existing culverts could exacerbate the risks of flooding at Glebelands in particular. Partly as a result of the pressure of cumulative development the River Lowman and its tributary, the Ailsa Brook have been increasingly subject to flooding in recent years, including minor flooding to properties in Blundell’s Avenue in 2001 and 2012, serious damage to several houses in Lower St Andrew Street in 2014, and the necessity to provide flood prevention measures for many new buildings, including the new Lidl store. The main watercourse draining the Tidcombe site flows into the Ailsa Brook, upstream of the Tidcombe Fen Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a rare wetland habitat 300 metres from the proposed development, and protection here is particularly important. Policy DM28, 4.96, of the Mid Devon Local Plan Review states that ‘within the Mid Devon district, the Council accords the highest degree of importance to Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as these are sites of national importance with regard to flora, fauna, geological and physiographical (landform) features. They are statutorily protected from harmful operations under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.’ It is most regrettable that, following an intervention from the applicant, the Secretary of State rescinded a previous decision to make Tidcombe an IEA development in April, considering that the proposed development would have a negligible impact on the SSSI.

(Ultra-Low Carbon Homes) 

The applicants make considerable claims for ultra-low carbon houses, which they are planning to build on this site:

‘The proposed development includes the provision of 167 ultra-low carbon homes. The ultralow carbon energy efficient homes will generate their own energy via solar PV panels and selfregulate energy usage via smart home integration to maximise efficiency. The houses will not
incorporate fossil fuel heating (e.g. gas boilers) or cooking appliances (e.g. gas hobs)’. (Planning Statement).

Such houses can certainly help in tackling the climate emergency, and, the claims made for this development are, no doubt, made to impress the local council who have an ambitious zero carbon target. However, they have frequently been criticised:

  • Poor Air Quality. Because it is ‘airtight’, living in such a  house is often stuffy and uncomfortable, and it  can be compared to living in a submarine or airliner!
  • Condensation. This can be unhealthy and can damage furniture and paintwork.
  • Overheating. A frequent problem, especially in summer months, which can cause the occupants to open windows and doors. thereby negating the ‘green’ advantages!
  • Overdependence on Smart Technology. Are such buildings sustainable over long periods?
  • Unattractiveness. Such houses have been compared to hermetically sealed envelopes and essentially they are insulated rectangular boxes with large areas of glass and solar panels. For this reason, it is difficult to obtain planning consent for them in central urban areas, especially in Conservation Areas.                                                                                                                                                                    Many more questions need to be asked about the claims made for this particular development! The problems listed above, and others, should, in time, be remedied, especially if Passive House (‘Passivhaus‘) standards are applied, and a Combined Heat and Power system is proposed to provide electricity and heat to the whole site. However, such housing, because it is likely to be unattractive, needs to be carefully located, and well away from Heritage Assets and Conservation Areas such as the Tidcombe Hall site!                 

                       ————————————————————————————————–                       

An earlier response was submitted by Jonathan Chick of Walsingham Planning on behalf of LVA to the Local Plan Review Sustainability Appraisal Consultation in April 2018. This challenged the decision not to bring forward the Tidcombe contingency site, as well as what they consider to be the low number of houses (100) which would be allocated to this site if it was ever to be adopted.

It is the view of this Society that, for Tiverton, sufficient housing for many years to come will be provided in the Eastern Urban Extension, we support the view that the Tidcombe contingency site should not be adopted for housing, and we object to any further loss of greenfield agricultural land. as well as the threat to landscape, heritage and recreational assets.

On behalf of Mid Devon CPRE Mike Sanderson, one of our committee members, has sent an important letter, which can be downloaded below. This is very critical of the approach of MDDC to the proposed scheme, and echoes the strong reservations of TCS.

Letter to the Tiverton Gazette 12-19 (1)

For all reasons given above both Tiverton Civic Society and Mid Devon CPRE oppose this unnecessary application strongly.

Responses to this application should be submitted by August 28th, but, in practice, letters will be accepted right up until the date of the Planning Committee meeting.

‘Planning for the Future’ and The Threat of Deregulation of the Planning System

‘Planning for the Future’, outlining reforms to the planning system, was published by the Government on August 4th, and its contents have already been widely publicised. Reforms include:

  • All land in local authority areas will be designated as ‘renewal’, ‘development’ or ‘protection’. (Local authorities will be given two to three years to make these designations)
  • Developers wishing to build on land designated for ‘renewal’ or ‘development’ will no longer have to go through full planning procedures.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Green Belt will be designated for ‘Protection’.
  • There will be standards to ensure properties match the style of existing homes.
  • There will be a new system of developer contributions to local infrastructure.

Eighteen charities, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Woodland Trust and RSPB, have written to the prime minister to call for “locally accountable and democratic” planning rather than further deregulation.

The letter says: “Further deregulation of the planning system would erode the foundations of any green and just recovery long before the first brick is laid. Nowhere else in the world is such a deregulatory race to the bottom being considered.

“It would be completely out of touch with the public mood, when two thirds of people reported wanting to see greater protection and investment in local green spaces after lockdown. This surge of appreciation for quality local green spaces is just one indicator of the increased appetite for action to tackle the housing, climate and nature crises head on.”

_____________________________________

‘We fear that the rush to remove appropriate checks and balances on how planning decisions are made could have a disastrous effect on our countryside, our communities and local democracy, without providing the affordable, sustainable homes that Devon badly needs.’  (Penny Mills, CPRE Devon)

Mid Devon Local Plan 2013-2033.

MDDC received the Inspector’s Report on the Examination of the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013-2033 from the Planning Inspectorate on 26th June.

The Inspector has concluded that the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013 – 2033 provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the District, provided that a number of main modifications (MMs), are made to it to make the Plan sound and capable of adoption. With the inclusion of the Inspector’s recommended MMs, the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013 – 2033 satisfies the requirements of Section 20(5) of the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and meets the criteria for soundness in the Framework.

The Inspector’s Report sets out where 55 MMs (Major Modifications) are needed to the Mid Devon Local Plan Review 2013-2033. The MMs all concern matters that were discussed at the examination hearings and which were subject to public consultation over a six-week period, together with the updated Sustainability Appraisal (SA), Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA), and the Equalities Impact Assessment. In some cases, where these relate to the provisions for Gypsies and Travellers, and Junction 27 of the M5, the Inspector has amended the detailed wording of the MM and/or added consequential modifications where necessary.

The full MDDC Council voted to adopt the Local Plan Review, with minor modifications, at their meeting on Wednesday, July 29th. One important effect of this vote is that ‘substantial weight may now be attached to the policies of the Local Plan Review when making planning decisions’ and ‘where there is a conflict between the outcome which arises from the application of policies of the adopted development plan and those of the Local Plan Review, the Local Plan Review will generally outweigh the adopted plan and will prevail’. (Planning Committee Agenda, July 29th, 2020)

Our Comment: Much of the report refers to proposed developments at Cullompton and elsewhere, but some rewording to the draft policy is suggested for Tiverton, in particular the Eastern Urban Extension, which is discussed in Paragraphs 59-61.

At the Inspector’s Examinations Tiverton Civic Society representatives expressed particular concerns about the impact of a new Designer Outlet Village at Junction 27 of the M5. The inspector, although approving the aspiration and overall concept of the Junction 27 development, seeks to provide greater protection for Tiverton and other local retail centres by adding the following strengthened condition to the Plan : “Any planning application which includes a ‘designer outlet shopping centre’ should be accompanied by a full retail and Leisure Impact Assessment to ensure that any potential adverse impacts will be identified and addressed and mitigated.” 

Paragraph 139 comments on the section in the submitted Review on climate change and its mitigation.

“The Plan includes policies designed to secure that the development and use of
land in the local planning authority’s area contribute to the mitigation of, and
adaptation to, climate change. In particular, criterion j) of Policy S1 which sets
out sustainable development priorities commits the Council to meeting the
challenge of climate change by supporting a low carbon future, energy
efficiency, increasing the use and supply of renewable and low carbon energy,
managing flood risk and conserving natural resources, amongst other things.
Moreover, Policy DM2 (as modified) allows for renewable energy schemes to
come forward.”

The Inspector has also strengthened the section on Design (Page 39):

“g) Adequate levels of daylight, sunlight and privacy to private amenity spaces and principal windows;
h) Suitably sized rooms and overall floorspace which allows for adequate storage and movement within the building together as set out in the Nationally Described Space Standard with external spaces for recycling, refuse and cycle storage; and
i) On sites of 10 houses or more the provision of 20% of dwellings built to Level 2 of Building Regulations Part M ‘access to and use of dwellings.”Insert additional supporting text as follows:
“4.5b National policy states that planning should always seek to secure high quality design and a good standard of amenity for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings. This is particularly important for the design of the homes that people live in and the spaces that surround those homes. The aim in Mid Devon is to deliver high quality buildings and spaces that meet the needs of users, taking accountof an aging population whilst ensuring compatibility with surrounding development and uses. Though compliance is delivered through buildings regulations, criterion i) will be implemented through a condition attached to the planning permission.”

The Inspector has, in Paragraphs 122 – 130, clarified and modified Policy DM25 on the Protection of Heritage Assets and other protected sites.

Proposal by Petroc to build 60 houses at Bolham Road, Tiverton.

Details of this proposal will be found on the MDDC Planning Public Access webpages.We agree with Sport England that the grievous loss of playing fields, such as, potentially, this field, should be strongly opposed, especially at present when the government are campaigning against obesity and promoting active outdoor activity. ‘Playing fields are one of the most important resources for sport in England. They provide the space which is required for the playing of team sports on outdoor pitches. Yet as open land, particularly in urban areas, becomes an increasingly scarce resource, they often seem to offer a tempting opportunity for other forms of development…………the loss of any part of a playing field may represent the irretrievable loss of an opportunity for participation in pitch sports, and with it the many benefits which sport brings’ .TCS Letter for Planning Application 20.00832.MOUT. July 2020.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and Hartnoll Farm

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan published a Draft Policies and Site Options Consultation    in which a major residential development of between 950 and 2172 houses was proposed for 101 hectares at Hartnoll Farm by the landowner, the final number being dependent on the ‘site sensitivities’.

The GESP Plan was discussed at a ‘remote’ meeting by the MDDC Cabinet, on Thursday, August 6th. At this meeting the Cabinet voted, by 7 votes to 1 to pull out of the GESP. ‘This Cabinet believes that GESP presents Mid Devon with an unacceptable risk of large scale developments that are not warranted by any formal measure of local housing need.

  • The Cabinet, therefore, does not approve the recommendations of the Head of Planning in her report on the GESP draft policies and site options.RECOMMENDED  TO COUNCIL  that: Mid Devon:-
    1. Withdraw from GESP
    2. Bring forward the preparation of the next Local Plan Review
    3. Enter into discussions with our former GESP partners on a new Joint Strategic Planning Framework that ensures responsibility for development site allocations and targets is retained with the Local Plan

    Reason for decision:

    This Cabinet believes that GESP presents Mid Devon with an unacceptable risk of large scale developments that are not warranted by any formal measure of local housing need.

During discussions the impact of any development at Hartnoll Farm on Halberton and Sampford Peverell was highlighted.

The one member who voted against the decision was Councillor Bob Deed (Independent), Chairman of the Council, and he subsequently sacked the four Liberal members of the Cabinet, replacing them with Conservative Councillors, and thereby, if he votes with them, handing control of the Cabinet back to the Conservatives! The reaction of the sacked councillors has been posted on Devon Live.

At the Full Council Meeting on August 26th Bob Deed proposed following amendment:

The Amendment

  1. Commit to prepare a revised joint strategic statutory plan;
  2. Should Officers subsequently advise that 1. proves not to be the most appropriate option in planning terms, consider a review of other options for further strategic and cross-boundary planning matters with willing participatory authorities in the Housing Market Area;
  3. Instruct officers to review and incorporate relevant elements of the GESP Draft Policies and Site Options consultation document and other supporting documentation and evidence that remain valid;
  4. Jointly prepare necessary technical studies and evidence for the new strategic plan, including conducting a further call for sites process, align monitoring and share resources where there are planning and cost benefits for doing so;
  5. Reaffirm the Council’s commitment to the delivery of high quality development at Culm Garden Village as part of the Garden Communities Programme and continue to work collaboratively as a group of Councils in the garden communities programme with Homes England;
  6. and Task Officers to prepare a further report on staff resources to prepare a revised joint strategic plan with resources to be provided equitably to the team through equalisation arrangements.
  7. Task Officers to bring forward the preparation of the next Local Plan Review.

A vote on this amendment was carried by 25 – 10, with two abstentions.

In other words, the door is still open for Mid Devon District Council to form some kind of re-hashed GESP with the other two remaining councils, Exeter and Teignbridge and the threat to Hartnoll Farm and other sites in Mid Devon remains a possibility. 

Amory House, St Peter Street

Amory House, one of  Tiverton’s finest buildings, is listed Grade II*. It has a fine Queen Anne facade, seven bedrooms and an extensive garden.

The house is now on the market: Details

The photographs suggest that the interior of the house is in a poor and neglected condition, and that considerable restoration expenditure will be necessary. Is the asking price of £525,000 aspirational rather than realistic?

Mid Devon Design Guide SPD Public Consultation

The public consultation for the design guide ran for an eight week period from Monday, May 11th until Monday 6th July. Full details will be found at

https://www.middevon.gov.uk/residents/planning-policy/supplementary-planning-documents/mid-devon-design-guide/

MDDC Planning Committee Decisions During the Coronavirus Infection

It was recommended that, during the present infection, and initially for six months, all non-controversial planning decisions would be made by the Head of Planning and Regeneration. However, following protests by councillors, members of the public and others, this will not happen, and decisions, as recommended in government guidelines, will be reached by the MDDC Planning Committee using a video conferencing platform, such as Zoom. It is hoped that members of the public who wish to speak or ask questions will still be able to do so.

Blundell’s Food Box Distribution

The last distribution of food boxes at Blundell;s took place on Friday, July 3rd.

This was a valuable service, which was greatly appreciated by many people.

Tiverton Neighbourhood Plan Website

The website for the emerging Tiverton Neighbourhood Plan has now been launched. It can be accessed at: tivertonneighbourhoodplan.org.uk/

The Newte Library at St Peter’s Church

IMG_0431
Part of the Newte Library, St Peter’s Church.

Nothing has been finally arranged, but the Newte Library is possibly going to move to a new home because of the need to find extra space for the reordering of the church.
The Library was founded from part of the private library of Rev. John Newte, rector of the Tidcombe and Pitt portions of Tiverton on his death in 1716. He had inherited the library of his father, Richard, in 1678. The books bequeathed are consistent with what would be expected of an Anglican clergyman of the later 17C and early 18C. There are also some later books and a 15th century ‘Book of Hours’.
A survey, published in 1959, and research carried out since then shows that the Newte Library is one of only 4 of the 13 parish libraries known to have been founded in Devon before 1800 for which the bulk of the collection still survives. Of these it is the only parish library to be housed in the original parochial church, and it is not only an important survival, but also a key part of Tiverton’s history which must be preserved intact.

Anna-Lujz Gilbert, a PhD student working in the field of early modern book history, who has written a paper on the Library, and Emma Down, a professional archivist,
are at present both working on cataloguing the Newte Library and carrying out a condition report.

Living with Beauty – The Final Report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission was published on January 30th 2020.

The full report is now available online

This report, which has important implications for housing design, was led by the late Sir Roger Scruton and Nicholas Boys Smith (Create Streets) and contains dozens of recommendations to support the creation of ‘more beautiful’ communities, including:

• Speeding up the planning process for ‘beautiful buildings’ through a new ‘Fast Track for Beauty’ rule for councils
• Recognising that some developers can abuse permitted developments rights to produce accommodation of the lowest quality. They call for all new homes to meet minimum standards for space, amenity and comfort
• Increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications, including using digital technology like virtual reality and 3D modelling to help local people shape their own areas
• Recognises that a lack of resources and expertise in local authority planning departments was contributing to wider design-evaluation problems and suggests a new planning “fast stream” could be a solution

Our Website

There were 5517 views of our website from 2800 visitors in 2019. This maintains the steady increase since the website was launched in 2015. Last year 5038 views were from the United Kingdom, the next highest being 164 from the USA and 122 from British Commonwealth countries.

The Great Tiverton Tree Plan

We fully support the aims and activities of Sustainable Tiverton and the Tiverton Tree Team

.Civic Voice Manifesto

The Civic Voice Manifesto was launched on November 18th 2019.

The National Design Guide and Design: Process and Tools planning practice guidance were published this week on gov.uk.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/design
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-design-guide

The National Design Guide forms part of the suite of planning practice guidance and is capable of being a material consideration for planning decisions. Both the National Design Guide and the Design: Process and Tools PPG should be read alongside each other.

As well as the design guidance, a Written Ministerial Statement has also been published setting out the following:

  • the intention to consult on a National Model Design Code in the new year, which will set out recommended parameters for key elements of successful design
  • that the National Model Design Code, and the requirement for local planning authorities to produce local design codes or guides, will be informed by consideration of recommendations made by the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission when they report in December 2019.
Guidance sets out principles for design review which suggests that there should be a mechanism for involving local communities and that the findings are transparent and accessible.

The importance of the engagement of local communities and people at all stages of the design process is stressed! ‘Our job is to create communities where people want to live and work together, and to empower local people to shape what happens in their area’.

Also, please see PCT_3619_High_Street_Pamphlet_FINAL_LR  This pamphlet on ‘Take Back the High Street’ puts forward ideas for the revival of town centres and again stresses the importance of the involvement of local communities.

Podcast on TCR Radio 

There is a 27 minute podcast on Tiverton Community Radio in which the excellently prepared Caro Bushnell talks to the TCS Chairman about  the society’s 50th anniversary and Tiverton’s heritage.

Caro Bushnell also talked to the TCS Chairman about the Town Leat on June 14th, and this can be listened to online.

Tiverton Town Leat

The Town Leat was temporarily repaired and flowed again in early summer 2018, but since then it has been largely dry. Although a major meeting is planned between interested parties, probably on June 18th, the local concern about the lack of progress is very considerable and a protest meeting in Castle Street, followed by a march through the town to Coggans Well, was held on Saturday, June 1st. This was fully supported by Tiverton Civic Society, many of our members taking part.

IMG_0162
The Town Leat in Castle Street Flowing Temporarily During May, 2018.

The protest and march was set up by Caro Bushnell (TCR) and Jo Mortimer. Our Chairman made a short speech at the meeting TOWN LEAT

Both local and national media have shown a considerable interest and, as well as the online petition (see the Sidebar), a Facebook page has been set up https://www.facebook.com/groups/2723616954322233/?ref=share.

A committee of Tiverton Council are researching sources of finance for the necessary repairs, including an application for Heritage Lottery funding. (August 2019). Plans to restore the flow to the leat at the Chettiscombe end, and to enhance Chettiscombe Green have been outlined. in January 2020 by Councillor Irene Hill:

The enhancement and renovation of Chettiscombe Green for public enjoyment includes*the restoration of Chettiscombe Weir

*the installation of public benches

*the creation of a wildflower meadow

*provision of open, safe, natural, space and resource for the local playgroup.

The Village of Chettiscombe is built on land owned by the Chettiscombe Trust and managed by the Knighsthayes Estate.  It lies about 1½ miles northeast of Tiverton town centre. Estate cottages are found built close to a triangular green, bounded on one side by a stream whichsupplies water to The Tiverton Town Leat.  At the southern narrow end of the green the road leading to Chevithorne Village passes over a small stone-built bridge. At this point the stream divides:  part runs over a small (currently broken down) weir eventually to the Lowman river.  The pond created by the weir forms the head water for the Town Leat which flows along a separate channel into the town.  This is an integral and important part of the history and heritage of the town, which it does not wish to lose.

The work to enhance the weir involves bringing the structure back up to it former height and strengthening it so that the Leat continues to

flow.  The finish will be sympathetic to the history and existing environment, ensuring it complies with suggestions made by the conservation officer, and fits in with the surrounding village green. This work could also help to alleviate the flooding of the green which has happened due to the sudden increased flow of water from the surrounding hills.

At the other wider end of the Green there is a ford and a small wooden bridge for pedestrians. The Village provides a very picturesque scene with the cottages, farm buildings and a children’s playgroup.

The Chettiscombe Trust have agreed that this area could be enhanced to enable other people to enjoy this open space. A circular walk from the National Trust Property at Knightshayes Court to include the village is being enabled. A tea shop is soon to be opened by the Chettiscombe Trust in one of the old Barns just North of the Green. 

The Town Council would like to purchase two benches which will be located on the green, to enable residents, walkers, and cyclists to enjoy a rest and open space so created. The benches to be purchased will be made of recycled plastic and fixed permanently to the ground. The use of recycled material fits in wit6h Council policy.

The Green will be prepared and planted with wild flowers to create a meadow appearance, leaving a metre of rough grass around the trees, edges and surrounding the wild flower area to enable easy access to the banks of the stream. This is required when the stream needs de-silting or for weeding. 

The meadow will take two seasons to establish but should be sustainable after that. The children in the playgroup and the villagers will be invited to take part in the planting and the Council hopes that it will become an area for them to experience and learn about the abundance of flora and insect life which the wild flowers would attract. The meadow should encourage bees and pollinators to thrive.

This project, as well as providing a new open space for all to enjoy, will also be one of the areas where the Council is looking to make a statement and a positive contribution in answer to the climate change challenge we all face. 

Please also see Devon Live 

Please also see item above (TCR Radio) for a discussion between Caro Bushnell and Jeremy Salter.

Exeleigh House

IMG_3776
Exeleigh House

Many people have expressed concern about Exeleigh House, very significant because of its links with John Heathcoat, because it is a fine building and because it is in the Tiverton Conservation Area. Jo Mortimer has, at our request, produced this excellent, but depressing, picture of the front of the house in its recent condition. She has also kindly presented the original picture to the Society. The picture, entitled ‘Agent of Change’, reached the long list for the John Ruskin Prize, 2019. The jury said:
“On this occasion your work has not been shortlisted. However, your submitted work did reach the penultimate stages of the judging process, reaching the long list of just 150 artists. Given the strength of this years applicants you should be encouraged by this news.”

For further information  please see further information on the Listed Buildings and Scheduled Ancient Monuments Page.

The condition of this listed house was one of the reasons for Historic England’s classification of the Tiverton Conservation Area as ‘Heritage at Risk’, ‘Very Bad’ and ‘Deteriorating’.

The good news is that work is now in progress to restore the exterior of the house.

BBC Radio Devon

Tiverton Civic Society featured in BBC Radio Devon’s new  community focused evening show– ‘celebrating the county of Devon and the people who live there’ on Tuesday, January 15th from 8 – 9.15 p.m. Anne Davies, Jeremy Salter and Mike Sanderson joined the programme host, Michael Chequer, in the studio.

Tiverton Conservation Area was 8th in Civic Voice’s Competition to find England’s Favourite Conservation Area! 

Civic Voice asked their members to nominate their choice as their Favourite Conservation Area in England and, out of the 249 nominations, Tiverton Conservation Area was included in a shortlist of 18, the nomination being made by this society. The first conservation area was established at Stamford fifty years ago, there are now more than 10,000. (However, many, including Civic Voice, are concerned about their future).

Following a nationwide vote the result was declared on October 20th 2018. The final vote placed Swindon GWR Railway Village Conservation Area first. The Tiverton Conservation Area did very well to achieve 8th place, and together with the 2017 nomination of this as one of six ‘Amazing Conservation Areas’ in England, confirms that the town has one of the finest of this country’s conservation areas. However, it is classified as ‘Heritage at Risk’, ‘Very Bad’ and ‘Deteriorating’ by Historic England, and everyone needs to do more to enhance it!

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice said: “When we decided to launch England’s Favourite Conservation Area, we wanted to use it to test the enthusiasm people have for the place where they live. To get people talking about why conservation areas matter. What it has turned out to be is something truly amazing. It has surpassed all our expectations at Civic Voice. We received 249 entries from across the country and from announcing the shortlist to announcing the winner, we received just under 16,000 votes in 14 days. People do care about where they live. I look forward to visiting each of the winners at some point soon with Civic Voice.”

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

All organisations were required to comply with the new GDPR regulations by May 25th 2018, and we have made every effort to do so. We have written a new Privacy Statement which can be read here: Tiverton Civic Society Privacy Statement

We have also contacted all members to request their permission to continue to use the contact details they have provided, including postal and e mail addresses as well as telephone numbers.

Conservation Areas

Historic England have mounted a campaign to celebrate 50 years of Conservation Areas in England. They have highlighted six examples of ‘amazing conservation areas’, including  the Tiverton  Conservation Area, after a submission by this Society! Nevertheless this area remains classified as ‘Heritage at Risk’.

See the latest Historic England findings about ‘Heritage at Risk’.

Canonsleigh Abbey – see the Archives Page.

Launch of ‘Tiverton Cloth’ by Pater Maunder -see the Archives Page.

The Fountain in the People’s Park – see the Archives Page.

Local Plan Review Examination – see the Archives Page.

Links Provided by Tristan Peat (MDDC) following his presentation on October 30th 2018 – see the Archives Page.

Tiverton Floods in 1960 – see the Archives Page.

Unveiling of Plaque to Private Thomas Sage VC on October 4th 2017 – see the Archives Page.

Planning Committee on 29th March 2017 – see the Archives Page

Pictures accompanying the article on John Heathcoat in the November 2016 Newsletter – see the Archives Page

Oil Paintings in Tiverton Town Hall – see the Archives Page

Flood Risk – see the Archives Page.

Diesel Emissions – see the Archives Page.

J.D.Salinger in Tiverton – see the Archives Page

Tiverton Floods in 1960 – see the Archives Page.