Broadband update – GOOD NEWS – Superfast broadband in Brentor by mid 2016 (but deadlines are slipping)

A broadband briefing meeting for the parishes on Dartmoor near Mary Tavy was held at Mary Tavy Village Hall on 12th November 2015. This was hosted by the Connecting Devon & Somerset programme. It was reported that the programme is making good progress in rolling out Superfast broadband across Exmoor & Dartmoor. As part of this process the Worcester-based Airband company has been awarded a contract to deliver Superfast Broadband across Dartmoor. This will provide a 30mbs Superfast broadband service to the areas of Dartmoor National Park not served by the BT fibre optic cable network, including Brentor. The company has been contracted to provide the service to a minimum of 86% of the homes and business in these areas.
Three high capacity microwave transmitters around the edge of Dartmoor will feed encrypted Superfast broadband signals to about 50 smaller relay microwave transmitters, discretely located throughout the moor to provide the best coverage possible. These relay transmitters will broadcast to small microwave receiver/transmitter units on individual houses. We were told at the meeting that this would guarantee reliable unlimited superfast broadband connections with no slowing down at peak times. Quite different to our current service!  We were also told that the service would be no more expensive than that provided through cable and that users could also have their telephone provided through the Airband system.  There will be a one-off connection charge (about £100-£150) for installation of the receiver/transmitter.  The actual broadband suppliers who bill users (ISPs) will be the same as for cable, such as Virgin Media, Talk Talk etc.
The caveat is that, to receive the service, the microwave receiver/transmitters on individual homes will need to have direct line of sight to the relay transmitters, with nothing (such as hills, buildings or even trees) in between. This may be difficult to achieve in practice to all properties in Brentor. 
During last summer Airband engineers surveyed, in house by house detail, the areas to be served, including Brentor. We were told that by 20th November we should be able to find out which houses will be able to receive the service by visiting the Airband website (but in fact this did not happen). It was reported at the meeting that the Superfast Broadband service will be up and running by the middle of 2016.

The Editor spoke to Matt Barrow at Connecting Devon and Somerset on 27th November, since by that date the information about individual houses’ ability to receive the service was still not available on the Airband website. Mr Barrow explained that the delay was due to planning issues relating to the siting of the relay transmitters and was unable to give a new deadline for the publishing of this information.  He told the Editor that if some houses in Brentor could not be provided with superfast broadband due to their location, Airband has also been tasked with providing a minimum of 12Mbs using other methods, such as satellite or radio technology.

If you wish to register interest in receiving Superfast broadband via Airband you should register interest on their website at, where you can enter your post code and other details to get a definitive idea of whether or not the service will reach you.
For more information and dates of sessions in other parishes you can contact Matt Barrow, Stakeholder Engagement Officer, Connecting Devon & Somerset at 01392 382221. You can visit the Connecting Devon and Somerset website by clicking here.

You can still check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).

Colin Dawes, Editor

Devon Main Line Route Options – DNPA Scoping Report

railway scoping reportA report has been commissioned by the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) concerning options for the reinforcement/replacement of the main line from Exeter to Plymouth.  This line was severed at Dawlish in the storms of 2014 and an alternative route in the case of further damage or disruption is considered necessary.  The report focusses on the reinstatement of the line from Okehampton to Bere Alston, since it appears that this could be the most likely option. Other options include conctructing  a new route from Exeter to Newton Abbott or constructing a double track railway on the alignment of the former Teign Valley branch line from Exeter to Newton Abbot.  Network Rail, in their economic appraisal of each of the options, concludes that all options offer poor value for money. At this stage a preferred option has not been identified, although the report identifies that the alternative route options either may not be practical or may be significantly more expensive than reinstating the Okehampton to Bere Alston route.

Brentor would be affected by the reinstatement of the railway, since it would run down the valley from Lydford to Mary Tavy.  It would seem unlikely that Brentor or Mary Tavy would have their stations reinstated. There could be local trains running hourly on the route.  In addition there would be diverted mainline trains on the route when the Dawlish line is closed and some trains for driver training.  The track could also become a route for goods services.

It is suggested  that you may like to read the report - click here to see a PDF copy

If you wish to make comments about the report to DNPA you should address them by email to  Dan Janota at

Brentor Commons Update – December 2015

The recent cutting on the common is an attempt to create a patchwork habitat that will allow different areas to be at different stages of growth. This should be particularly good for fritillary butterflies with the improved conditions for violets, their main food plant. It will also add variety to the visual aspect of the common.
The winter birds are now here in force with the redwings and fieldfares moving from bush to bush along the hedgerows, plundering the hawthorn, holly and rowan berries. I have been surprised to see that on several occasions there have been more fieldfares than redwings as there are usually many more of the latter.
I am hoping that they do not manage to completely strip the holly bushes as some will be required for Xmas decorations. Those on the bushes in the valley below the common have already gone!



Another bird that increases in number at this time of year is the Woodcock  – they can sometimes be seen circling above the treetops as the light fades at dusk. The only other chance of seeing them is if you flush them from the grassy margins. They are like a snipe, but much larger with a heavier appearance, and they do not zig zag as they fly away.
As dusk falls the winter occurrence of parties of starlings passing overhead has been providing a bit of a puzzle. Usually they can clearly be seen to be heading westward to roost in the fir trees behind the army camp at Okehampton. However this year they are moving in an easterly direction, perhaps to the roost in the reed beds of Crowdy reservoir just beyond Davidstow Airfield on Bodmin Moor. Both of these roosts can contain up to half a million birds and are good places to observe the spectacular displays as they descend into their roosting perches.

Barry Albrighton

Newspaper and other deliveries to Brentor

Mary Tavy Post Office has ceased to deliver to Brentor, but all is not lost!

The Riverside Stores and Post Office in Bridestowe is now offering a delivery service to Brentor, including daily papers, magazines, milk, bread and groceries.  Click here to see their advertisement on this website or here to find out more on their website.

Sites for affordable housing in Brentor – update

The village of North Brentor has been identified by Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNP) as a rural settlement where the provision of a small number of affordable houses to meet an identified local need could be permitted. Suitable sites will be within or adjoining the settlement and well related to the existing buildings.

  • Following an appeal for suitable sites for affordable housing nine locations were put forward by the deadline of 30th September 2013.  These were initially assessed by the Community Council of Devon and have already been visited by representatives of Dartmoor National Park Authority Planning, West Devon Borough Council, and the Community Council of Devon, accompanied by Brentor Parish Councillors. Following this, the Dartmoor National Park Authority has produced an assessment of all the sites and a shortlist of those considered to merit further investigation.  All these documents are available on this website from the ‘Affordable Housing – Background documents’ section below.
  • The sites put forward and a shortlist from these were discussed at a special Parish Council meeting on Monday 24th February 2014.
  • A drop in session, where parishioners were able to ask questions about the affordable housing on a one-to-one basis with Parish Councillors, representatives of DNP and WDBC etc, was held on 17th March 2014 and was attended by some 80 parishioners, many of whom filled in feedback forms for the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Planners.  The sites map and consultation/background document available at the session and a feedback form are all available to view or download from the ‘Affordable Housing – Background documents’ section below.
  • Tim Beavon, Chair of the Brentor Parish Council, provided the following update on 17th April 2014:The initial assessment by DNPA of the sites put forward concluded that site 9 was undeliverable following a report that the land price required was too high.  In response to receiving a letter advising him that the site was considered undeliverable the owner has been in contact with DNPA and confirmed that affordable housing land prices are acceptable to him, making the site an option for affordable housing. DNPA has therefore revised its report, also updating some inconsistencies drawn to its attention at the consultation event.  The revised report is available below in the ‘background documents’ section.   
  • A question and answer session was held at the Village Hall on 12 May 2014, where  planning officers from DNPA, the Housing Officer from West Devon Borough Council and the Community Council of Devon’s Rural Housing Enabler answered questions about the plans for affordable housing. DNPA has completed a summary of the feedback received by 8 April on the possible sites for affordable housing. This is available in the ‘background documents’ section below.  Since receiving the feedback site 9, land at Station View, has been reassessed as deliverable therefore DNPA was able to accept further comments on this site.
  • Further discussion about affordable housing took place at a Parish Council Meeting on Monday 19th May 2014. The three Parish Councillors not affected by a declaration of interest were asked to rank the five shortlisted sites in order of preference and the result of the voting was as follows, in order of preference:-  Site 2 (War Memorial), site 3 (Shell Park), Site 1 (Hammer Park), Site 4 (Station Road) and site 9 (Station View).  This order of preference has been passed on to the Dartmoor National Park Authority planners.  The full minutes of the Parish Council meeting are available in the ‘Parish Council’ pages of this website.
  • The Dartmoor National Park Authority planners wrote to the owners/developers of the shortlisted sites, asking them to fill in a questionnaire about the deliverability of their sites – a copy of this letter and the questionnaire are available below in the ‘background documents’ section. 
  • DNPA has now provided its report on the responses made by landowners to the questionnaire on whether the sites can be developed to provide affordable housing in a reasonable period of time. The report is available below and is also pinned on the village notice board outside the village hall.
  • Officers from DNPA and WDBC attended the parish council meeting on Monday 15 September and responded to questions about the report. DNPA also reported that an outline planning application had been submitted for the development of 12 houses at the Hammer Park site. Not all of the requirements regarding the drawings and supporting information were met at the time of the meeting but the application was validated on 17 October 2014 and was published online in the DNPA planning applications list. A site notice was displayed advertising where the plans can be viewed, and how to comment on the plans. A notice was also placed in the local newspaper. A copy of the planning application was placed in the village hall. Copies of all the documents can be viewed on the planning section of DNPA’s website as well as at DNPA’s offices. Anyone wishing to comment on the application had to do so by writing direct to DNPA or submitting comments online by 14 November 2014.
    The application was considered by the Parish Council at its meeting on 17 November 2014. Dartmoor National Park authority put on hold any further work on the call for sites exercise until the planning application was determined.
  • The Chair of Brentor Parish Council, Sheila Burrows, wrote, as an insert for the Brentor News:   ‘Dartmoor National Park Development & Planning Committee met on the 9th January 2015 and refused Planning Application 0606/14 for outline planning permission for 12 affordable homes on a site at Hammer Park. The need for affordable homes in Brentor remains, therefore DNPA Planning Officers and representatives from West Devon Borough Council and Devon Communities Together (formerly Community Council of Devon) are seeking to explain the next stage of the planning process at the earliest opportunity.
    Many challenges remain in fulfilling this process and therefore an additional meeting of the Parish Council is being called where the above representatives will explain what are likely to be the next steps. A period of purdah due to forthcoming local council elections starts on 22nd March 2015, so there is little time available.’ Therefore the Parish Council is taking the opportunity to call an additional meeting on Monday 16th February 2015 at Brentor Village Hall starting at 7.30pm.
  • For further general information about affordable housing contact the Rural Housing Enabler, Sue Southwell, at Devon Communities Together, telephone 01392 248919 ext 122.

Affordable Housing – Background documents

The following links are for documents which relate to the topic of affordable housing in Brentor.  Click on them to go to the relevant website and document:

Brentor Housing Needs Survey Report, February 2011, produced by the Community Council for Devon on behalf of the Devon Rural Housing Partnership

Brentor Housing Needs Survey comments, February 2011.  Comments provided by respondents to the survey to question C8 of the Brentor Housing Needs Survey.  Please note that these are unedited comments and are provided on this website in response to a request to the current Parish Council by a local parishioner.  This document was released by the Community Council for Devon in response to a request by the Parish Council.

General information about affordable housing on the Dartmoor National Park website

Dartmoor National Park Development Plan on the Dartmoor National Park website

Dartmoor National Park Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), relating to Affordable Housing in Dartmoor National Park, from the Dartmoor National Park website

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites assessment produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Housing Needs Survey Report produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

17th March 2014 drop-in session background/consultation document, produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

(Left) Annotated plan of sites put forward for consideration, produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority and displayed at the 17th March 2014drop-in session.

Click on the plan to see an enlarged version


Housing sites consultation feedback form produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority.  Use this form to send your comments on affordable housing to the Dartmoor National Park planners.

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Assessment (revised April 2014) – the latest Sites Assessment produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Shortlist (revised April 2014) – the latest Sites Shortlist produced by the Dartmoor National Park Authority

Brentor Affordable Housing Sites Final Feedback Summary -  feedback from the 8th April 2014 drop-in session, compiled by the Dartmoor National Park Authority (final amended version made available on 12th May 2014)

Letter to the owners of shortlisted sites - a letter from the Senior Forward Planner at Dartmoor National Park Authority to the owners/developers of the shortlisted sites for affordable housing in Brentor,  introducing the questionnaire below

Questionnaire about the shortlisted sites – sent for completion by the Dartmoor National Park Authority to the owners/developers of the shortlisted affordable housing sites in Brentor (this has to be returned to the Authority by 1st August 2014)

 Review of landowner’s returns – compiled by the Dartmoor National Park Authority from the responses to the questionnaire about the shortlisted sites

Planning Application for Site 1 (Hammer Park) – published on the Dartmoor National Part Authority website on 17 October 2014. (This link takes you to the Planning section of the DNPA website – first accept the terms on the first page and then text search for ‘Hammer Park’ or enter the application number, 0606/14 to view the application).

Please register for better broadband in Brentor!

INCA Welcomes Broadband Funding & Launches Superfast Notspot Registration Scheme

The Independent Networks Co-operative Association has launched a registration scheme for people who want to access better broadband but can’t get it.  Announced  on the BBC Radio 4 You and Yours programme, the scheme encourages individuals, businesses and communities register their notspot information at

The information collected will be made available to alternative broadband providers looking for opportunities to serve areas that are left out of BT’s superfast broad band roll out plans.

Earlier this week the government announced the distribution of an additional £250m central funding amongst local authorities. Councils are expected to find matching funds making a pot of £500m to extend superfast broadband coverage. Alternative providers delivering fibre, wireless or satellite broadband are well placed to fill in many of the gaps, often more cost-effectively than BT.

David Cullen, INCA’s chair and a director of ITS Technology Group said, “Further government funding to extend superfast broadband into the hardest to reach areas is very welcome. There are many companies and community projects eager to get involved and help deliver a truly world class digital infrastructure for the whole of the UK. The Notspot Registration Scheme will identify pockets of pent up demand, helping private sector providers and local councils direct their efforts to best effect.”

For more information contact

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