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OTTERY: Residents angry after housing inquiry is moved outside village
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
The “super inquiry” into potential housing development in Feniton has been moved to a venue outside the village, after East Devon District Council decided the initial location was not big enough for the eight-day hearing.
The inquiry was due to be held at Feniton Bowling Club but will now take place at the FlyBe Training Academy Conference Rooms near Exeter Airport.
Councillor Andrew Moulding, Deputy Leader of EDDC, and Cabinet Member for Strategic Development and Partnerships, said: “As the hearings grew nearer and we had a better idea of the numbers involved, it became clear that the original setting would be too small. With regret we have decided that we should change the venue and give everyone a sensible amount of notice of the new location.
“There was a very real risk that if the inquiry started at Feniton Bowling Club and the Inspector found the venue too small and cramped, the hearings might have to be suspended and reconvened at a later date. That would have caused delays and extra expense that nobody wants to see. The new venue is still reasonably accessible from Feniton and a better proposition all round.”
The change of venue has left some villagers concerned they will not be able to attend and that their voices will not be heard.
Councillor Susie Bond, East Devon District Councillor for the Feniton and Buckerell Ward, said: “Together with officers from EDDC and the chairman of Feniton Parish Council, I have been trying to ensure that the inquiry will be held in Feniton. We have trolled up and down the village armed with tape measures to try and accommodate the very stringent needs of the various parties, to no avail.
“The irony is that Feniton is an unsustainable location from a public transport perspective and the only means of transport to the new venue at Exeter airport is by car!
“But what irritates me most is that we shall all be sitting at the FlyBe Training Academy in an artificial bubble in a swanky-pants venue, with megabucks-earning QCs, discussing a village which is being held together with Blu-Tak and Sellotape.”
Phillip Major, the government planning inspector, is due to hear appeals from Wainhomes, Feniton Park Ltd and Strategic Land Partnerships. Between them they are hoping to build 235 new homes, which would increase the size of the village by 40 per cent. EDDC refused the developers’ initial proposals.
Councillor Moulding said: “We understand how keen Feniton people were to see the inquiry held in the village. It would certainly have been more convenient for them and also easier for the Inspector to visit the sites.
“However, we have to consider the logistics of an inquiry that will last for at least eight working days and will involve about a dozen witnesses and potentially more than 100 people either participating or in the public gallery.”
The inquiry begins on January 7th at 10am.
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