A Croke, of Cliff Road, Salcombe, writes:
Virtually every week the Gazette has an article on developments in Salcombe.
First we had reports of South Hams Council’s mission to maximise its financial return
on council-owned land in Salcombe; this is ‘community land’, not a cash cow for the district to overcome shortfalls.
For example, but not exclusively, reports of the development of Shadycombe car park and Whitestrand without any suggestion that the windfall from these proposals will be reinvested in Salcombe.
Then we had reports of a proposal to build around five ‘low-density’ houses on Croft Fields – agricultural land overlooking Batson Creek. I understand this land had been designated for possible development, but was rejected by the town in favour of – not as well as – the Bloor Homes site at Bonfire Hill.
The developer would have us believe that housing on this land, which is outside the development boundary, will ‘enhance the landscape and ecology of the area’ and be ‘organic, sensitive and landscape-led’. I suggest ‘profit-led’ would be a more appropriate description, as I have some difficulty with the concept that new houses, quite probably second homes, will enhance the landscape.
It seems those behind the proposal are confident that established development plans and other checks and controls can be overcome by ‘contributions to affordable housing’, presumably on additional, unidentified agricultural land; ‘passing spaces on Shadycombe Road and resurfacing’ – a small levy that would weaken objections from Highways; and ‘the refurbishment of Egremont and the building of an onshore marine education centre for disadvantaged children and adults’.
I was not aware that one could circumvent inconvenient planning restrictions by making a philanthropic donation to a cause of one’s choice, irrespective of the wider support for that cause within the community.
I would be interested to know what percentage of forecast profit is required, how this is assessed and how much the district would require to be deposited to ensure the long-term preservation, maintenance and viability of such facilities.
The most recent Gazette article, December 30, concerns the prospect of a second homes ban, which I understand at least some district councillors will support. I cannot but wonder if these are the same councillors proposing to build houses – second homes, given the location and potential value – on one of the few car parks in the town and whose support the developer of Croft Field will be seeking.
All three of these issues will impact on the size, shape, feel, beauty and sustainability of the community, all of which – and more – are the focus of the Salcombe Neighbourhood Plan, which we have been assured will influence strongly the future development of our community.
Would it be unreasonable to demand that the district council defers any decisions, or simply denies consent, on the proposed development of both council – ie community – and greenfield land, including the development of car parks, until our neighbourhood plan is rolled out? If it will not, then at least we would know that our councillors are not interested in the community’s wishes.