Dartmoor Preservation Association
Friends of Dartmoor
National Planning Policy
Over the past 12 months, national planning policy has continued to focus on the removal of perceived impediments to development. Opposition to the Department for Communities and Local Government's (DCLG) proposal to allow the change of use of "redundant" agricultural buildings to residential, without the need for planning permission, resulted in a concession exempting the National Parks. However, it was quickly followed by a further DCLG proposal to remove the need for planning permission when converting light industrial and storage and distribution buildings to residential use. We joined the Campaign for National Parks (CNP) in opposing this provision and await the outcome of this consultation.
In November the results of a further consultation, this time on affordable housing, was announced. In a move ostensibly aimed at helping small developers, DCLG decided that developments of 10 units or less would not be required to include an affordable element. National Parks were given the option of working to a lower threshold of 5-units or less. The Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) has confirmed that the 5 unit threshold will apply. Its position is that its Development Management Plan contains a presumption in favour of sustainable development and that developments which do not contain affordable housing will not be considered as being sustainable.
Arqiva have withdrawn the application for the highly inappropriate mast at Drywell Farm, Widecombe. This is entirely due to the vigilance and solidarity of local residents, over 60 of whom turned up to see the pump up mast on 3rd June and 20 of whom registered their opposition on the planning website. The campaign was fully backed by the DPA with written objections and Director Phil Hutt attended the demonstration. Credit is due to the Arqiva representative who listened to everyone and then saw to it that a quick decision was taken to withdraw the application. But it should never have got this far; in the pre-application stage the DNPA made it clear that this site was unacceptable. Arqiva or its agent should have listened; statutory undertakers and government departments have a duty under the 1995 Act to have regard to NP purposes.
A protest took place today against the siting of a mobile communications mast at Drywell Farm near Widecombe. Arqiva, the company which is seeking planning permission to install it, brought a pop-up mast to the proposed location to demonstrate its height.