Update March 2019
Written by Colin Dawes, Editor of the website, who attended the Local Needs Housing presentation at Brentor Village Hall on 2nd March 2019.
The Local Needs Housing presentation and discussion session held after the Brentor coffee morning on 2nd March 2019 was attended by about 30 residents. Members of the Parish Council were joined by Alex Rehaag and Tom Morris (from the West Devon Borough Council housing team) and Mike Hope (an Architect and Managing Partner from Roderick James Architects of Totnes, who are designing the scheme).
It was explained that there has been an identified need for local housing in Brentor, so West Devon BC must provide it, otherwise private developers will attempt to build it, possibly with less affordable content. It is also clear that DNPA will not allow speculative building. Currently there are eight people with the required attachment to Brentor who are interested in the houses, and more are coming forward as the scheme becomes more widely publicised. There could be a waiting list by the time the scheme is built. In response to a question from the audience, Brentor PC agreed to publish the results of the housing survey as soon as possible on the Village Website.
The Hammer Park Local Needs Housing Scheme is now at the design stage, and alterations to the scheme can still be made referencing the views of local people.
In response to questions, Alex Rehaag said that profit from the three open market houses will avoid having to obtain a grant from Homes England, (the government’s ‘housing accelerator’). The planning and design costs were being covered from existing funds and grants, but grants would be sought for infrastructure costs. It was possible that funding would be needed for sewage works improvements, although SW Water has an obligation to upgrade local sewage works as this becomes necessary. The reason for planning refusal last time included that it was for 12 not 10 houses, which was the identified need at that time. Tom Morris explained that the Hammer Park site is only one that is viable due to services being nearby. Therefore the scheme can be built with less open market houses than on other sites. The two other sites are not suitable due to the high price asked for the land or high building costs due to springs etc. The owner of the Hammer Park site is willing to sell the land at a very low price. The other sites owners have not come forward with any alternative proposals since the last scheme for Hammer Park was shelved.
A member of the audience asked whether it could be said that the building would be detrimental to the National Park. It was explained that the Hammer Park site has been listed on the ‘Land Availability Assessment‘ survey by DNPA for some years. Previous reasons for the failure to obtain planning permission at this site were unlikely to be relevant now, since rules have been relaxed. For example, a ‘sustainable location’ could now be up to one mile from a village centre.
Mike Hope, the scheme architect, made a presentation on the overall scheme and the design of individual houses. The plans and illustrations from this presentation are available below.
The new layout has been designed to have as low an impact on adjacent houses as possible. The new housing will be high quality sustainable houses, using natural materials. The project is at early design stage, so he welcomed comments and provided forms where they could be written. The opportunity to make formal comments to the architects closed on 22nd March 2019.
The key things about the plan were that:
1) It should not look like a mini housing estate (the last design was simply a row).
2) It should be sensitively designed, respect the location, and provide a sense of place.
3) The houses should be efficient to build but be generous and practical houses.
4) The scheme should minimise impact on trees and hedgerows.
5) There should be only one access from the road.
The scheme would use high quality materials and keep views from the road to the moor. There would be two parking spaces per house, extra visitor parking and a children’s play area.
The houses would have rooms upstairs under the roof, since this is efficient to build and reduces heat loss and hence running costs. All are one storey to the rear, so from the moor we will just see slate roofs behind Devon banks. From a distance we will not be presented with just a row of houses, and the site will look more like a group of farm buildings. The exterior finish will be rendered, with some stone walls and some hung slate on gable ends. There will be no timber cladding but they will be of timber framed construction, fabricated offsite.
Each of the four terraces and the houses within them will be subtly different, some with garages in addition to their parking spaces . They will have two and three bedrooms, some for up to five people. Bedrooms will be big enough to be shared by two occupants.
The scheme will try to create good housing, all with halls for the staircase, with kitchen, utility room, large doors to exterior, built-in storage and wardrobes. Externally there will be bin storage, electric car charge points etc. Where houses have no garages, there will be external stores provided, to prevent a proliferation of sheds.
Solar panels or ground source heat pump will be used to keep down running costs. There will be a need for a maintenance plan for the public areas of the site, but who would pay for this is not clear. A report will be done on the need for better broadband coverage for the new site.
The audience expressed a concern about where the residents will come from. It was explained that in first instance the occupants will be from Brentor. Later, if a house becomes vacant and no one from Brentor requires it, then the new occupant could come from the surrounding parishes, then the DNPA area. This ‘occupancy cascade’ will be set out in a document that is tailored to Brentor. All this is subject to a Section 106 agreement. For changes to me made to this the proposals would have to be countersigned by WDBC, Devon CC, Brentor PC and DNPA. It was thought that it would be very unlikely that abandonment of this policy could happen.
No more houses could be built at the Hammer Park site since the remaining part of the field is poorly drained and subject to waterlogging. Elsewhere in Brentor it is possible that more houses could eventually be built, since the DNPA plan sets the maximum number of new homes for Brentor at 30.
Colin Dawes, Editor
Click on the illustrations below to view in more detail