Campaign group's first march

PUBLISHED: 11:02 20 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:02 20 March 2013

Protest

Protest

Archant

A NEWLY formed East Devon-wide campaign group, which includes activists from Exmouth, will stage its first-ever protest on Saturday, March 23.

East Devon Alliance (EDA) members will march gainst what they say will be environmentally damaging new national planning regulations in Feniton.

They are aiming to draw attention to problems caused in the district by the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which is now almost a year old.

EDA leaders say environmental problems will become even more serious as all councils without adopted Local Plans will be forced to apply a presumption in favour of development - which will allow far more building in inappropriate places.

They have dubbed the date “Black Wednesday”.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is one of around half of all councils in England that will not have an up-to-date Local Plan by March 27.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, the National Trust and EDA believe that this will lead to widespread “environmental devastation” across the country, with developers “taking advantage of the most deregulated planning system in half a century”.

EDA chairman, Ian McKintosh, said: “We are holding the protest at Feniton because it epitomises all that is wrong with the NPPF. Feniton is allocated 35 houses in EDDC’s draft Local Plan.

“But it is looking at the possibility of 300 houses and more, with EDDC representatives admitting that they don’t think they will be able to defend refusing large–scale applications at appeal.”

The EDA wrote to planning minister, Nick Boles, last week urging him to defer the March 27 deadline by a year, as well as asking him to restore the balance in national planning policy so that social and environmental considerations are as equally important as development – an approach that has been enshrined into national planning policy for the previous 50 years.

Dr John Withrington, chairman of action group, Fight for Feniton’s Future, added: “If all the applications currently in the system are approved, our village will mushroom by almost half in just a few months. Developments will not only wreck the lovely countryside around Feniton, but will totally overwhelm the schools and medical facilities.

“Developers will be working up large-scale, unsuitable applications for many other parts of the district and across the country, because of relaxed planning rules in the NPPF.”

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