The Dartington Hall Trust’s Chief Executive, Rhodri Samuel, has expressed serious concern about development proposals announced today by South Hams District Council (SHDC) in the latest version of Plymouth and South West Devon’s Joint Local Plan (.pdf, 5MB) (and South Hams map viewed here, .pdf, 20MB). He asks the local community to join forces with the Trust to challenge the Plan.

His key concern focuses on the boundaries of several Dartington Hall Estate sites in the latest Plan which do not match those proposed to SHDC by the Trust last August, following a very careful process of public consultation carried out over the last two years with the local Dartington community. (Read our proposals in response to the Joint Local Plan back in August 2016.) The Trust’s preferred site boundaries put forward in that response, with community backing, offer the best opportunity to deliver a sustainable future for the Trust and the village. The focus was very much on sensitive development on the core estate, noting the strength of local opinion to protect Dartington Village from over-development.  The Trust’s focus remains the same today.

The site boundaries  shown in the latest proposals from South Hams reduce the developable areas of the Trust’s proposed Foxhole and Barton Farm sites which, if approved, will limit the number of houses that can be delivered on those sites and put greater pressure on the development of the particularly sensitive area of Broom Park Field. This site was the subject of much debate during the public consultation process and the Trust responded to the community’s concerns by prioritising alternative sites in order to spread development more evenly across the Estate. The Trust remains firmly committed to greater development at Foxhole and Barton Farm and will continue to fight for its preferred boundaries for these sites. As far as the Trust is concerned, Broom Park should only be considered as a ‘Plan B’ after all other options have been exhausted and even then for minimal development only.

The Trust is keen to reassure the community that this is not the end of the matter and that it will make robust representation against these latest proposals. The collaborative working processes will continue over the six-week consultation window through the formal Joint Local Plan process with SHDC and there is every opportunity still to have impact on the final agreed version. The Trust is committed to pursue this in a united stance with the community.

Says Dartington Hall Trust CEO Rhodri Samuel:

‘Developing on the Dartington Hall Estate was always going to be a sensitive issue, and that’s why we’ve spent so much time over the last two years talking to our neighbours about our plans. Dartington Hall is a vital part of the local economy and absolutely key to what makes this area of Devon such a beautiful place in which to live.

‘We have walked a very careful line in proposing a set of development sites that offer the Trust an opportunity to underpin its future financial survival and which are more acceptable to the local people. We will not develop across the Estate at the expense of our relationship with the community and will continue to approach this in partnership with them. Our work with the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, the establishment of an ongoing cross-community Placemaking Advisory Group and past and upcoming public engagement meetings are evidence of our determination to get this right.

‘I shall be seeking a meeting with SHDC as soon as possible to see how we can all work together to deliver one shared plan that works for the entire community.’

Dartington Hall’s submission to the Joint Local Plan process has also been developed in consultation with Historic England and Design and Conservation Officers at SHDC to ensure that all the proposals took careful account of the heritage buildings and the heritage settings on the Estate.

For further details, view Plymouth City Council’s Joint Local Plan ‘hub’ page here.

The Trust will be working closely with the community in responding to the SHDC’s plans, and we will be providing updates as soon as we can on how you can have your say in this process. In the meantime, we recommend that any feedback is directed through the official channels provided by SHDC (more info to follow).