WINKLEIGH resident Penny Griffiths has written the following open letter to Torridge Planning Department.

She writes:

IN reply to “Plan for 71 new homes for Winkleigh approved”, (March 14, “Crediton Courier”).

Winkleigh's Neighbourhood Plan has been a waste of precious time because Torridge planning Department has failed to champion Winkleigh's  vision of a sustainable community as set out in its Neighbourhood Plan that the community voted for in its referendum.

When accessing the Torridge planning portal for a planning application in the parish of Winkleigh it states that the Neighbourhood Plan is CONFIRMED  but then states it is UNAVAILABLE.

Several times I have spoken to the chief planning officer about this startling omission;  but he tells me it is not possible to change this on their computer system.

I have been told that it is up to us (the village community) to inform the land owner and Developer about our Neighbourhood Plan.  But we are not in the room with them when a deal is made.

We do not know what is planned until the plans land fully formed on our computer screens.

There have been no pre-planning discussions, no engagement with the village, indeed no recognition at all of the vast amount of work and research the community has put into creating and then voting for our Neighbourhood Plan.

There then follows stormy meetings with the developers and landowner where the computer-generated design is pilloried for its greed, lack of vision, imagination, local distinctiveness and ecological awareness. This is not a nimby objection.

This land was  approved for 55 houses; the shock is the upping of this to 71 by getting rid of a woodland area.

Our District Councillor Simon Newton MBE called in the latest major application in Winkleigh for 71 homes and upbraided the Developers for failing to do their homework about our Neighbourhood Plan.

Members of Winkleigh Planning Group also objected.

Surely, Torridge planners, you could do so much more to raise planning standards, promote local distinctiveness, ensure bio-diversity gain and sustainability by insisting that Neighbourhood Plans (which you have championed and financed) are consulted and referenced?  

Penny Griffiths