Residential Development

6.2    There are 1562 dwellings in the Parish, most of which are in, or close to, one of the five villages of Clearbrook, Crapstone, Yelverton, Buckland Monachorum or Milton Combe. There are, however, a significant number of dwellings spread across the Parish which could not be defined as lying within one of the villages. Dwellings such as those at Axtown fit this category.

6.3    The Strategic Housing Market Needs Analysis (SHMNA) looks at both the number and type of houses needed to meet the changing demographics in the area. The latest SHMNA (Annex M in the 'Download' section) conducted for the whole of West Devon (including the National Park) was completed in 2013 and contains analysis specific to the Parish (called the Buckland sub-area in the report). This supports the evidence gained by both the questionnaire and the Housing Day by identifying that the Parish has the highest percentage of fully owned or owned with a mortgage homes in West Devon, is amongst the most expensive area in terms of house prices, will see a rise in the percentage of residents over the age of 65 and an increase in the percentage of people living alone. Any future housing development in the Parish needs to note these trends and provide accordingly.
6.4    Each village has its own unique community/residential ‘footprint' and it is important to recognise this when deciding on future needs. In short, these are as fol-lows:

Yelverton - the largest village, has a wide selection of shops (garage, Co-op, post office, ATMs, Estate Agents etc) together with three churches, two community halls, a public houses, a play park, a good, frequent bus service, health centre and leisure facilities (golf club, cricket club, bowling club, cycle route). Yelverton, being with the National Park, has seen little new housing other than one affordable housing development (Briar Tor). Currently there is an approved application to extend this development with a mix of 32 affordable and market housing although building has yet to start. One site, close to the retail centre of Yelverton, was considered suitable for residential development in the DNPA's SHLAA.   

Clearbrook - a small hamlet within the National Park, has a village hall and a public house but no other services (including no bus service). No new housing has been built in the last 20 years and there is no practical scope for development of any significance.  

Milton Combe - a 'compact' village with a rich history at the bottom of a steep valley has a village hall, a church and a public house. It has an infrequent 'hopper' bus service but no shops or other facilities. Although the terrain is difficult, some new housing has been built within the last 15 years. The village suffers from occasional flooding when a small number of houses at the 'lower end' of the village are affected. Given the constrains on space, there is no scope for any significant development  

Buckland Monachorum - a large village with the only school (primary) within the Parish together with a church, two village halls, a play park, a public house and a bus service. This village can suffer flooding although the number of affected properties is relatively small. The village has seen significant development over the last 25 years and given the variety of community assets, could support further development.  

Crapstone - this village has borne the majority of the Parish's residential development over the last 25 years as it lies within a defined Settlement Boundary but outside of the National Park. Of the five Parish villages it is amongst the poorest with respect to community resources. It has one shop (a post office) but no pub, no church, no village hall. It has a small play park and a cricket field.

WDBC have proposed a template against which villages can be assessed for sustainability in terms of the range of services (such as shops, pubs, playgrounds, bus services, communication networks etc) they can offer residents without the need to travel. The analysis (at Annex L in the 'Download section) shows that Yelverton ‘scores’ 41, Buckland 29, Crapstone 23 , Milton Combe 18 and Clearbrook 16.  

Local Authority forward plans for residential development.  

6.5    The policies of the two Local Authorities with regard to the amount of residential development required are different and are set out in the Authority’s relevant Development Documents and, as relate to the Parish, are:

6.6    WDBC - Although WDBC’s adopted Development Plan does not establish target housing numbers, both the draft 'Our Plan' and the more recent draft Joint Local Plan does establish a target; the former down to village level, the latter, a total number across all villages in West Devon. If this figure is accepted, it indicates a target of a minimum of 24 dwellings (4 already approved, 20 as yet unapproved) in the period between 2014 and 2034 within the area of the Parish under WD’s planning authority (Buckland, Crapstone, & Milton Combe). Additionally, WDBC recognise that around 3% of the total housing requirement will be ’windfall’ development over the period (these are houses not specifically planned or allocated within the plan).

6.7    DNPA - The National Park’s adopted policy is to build 50 houses within the Park each year and that 60% of these should be located within Local Centres. Yelverton is a Local Centre although it is not the Park’s practice to designate any particular number of homes in any given location.

6.8    The Neighbourhood Planning Group and the Parish Council support both the need for a modest amount of new housing and the need for affordable housing within the Parish and does not see either of the Authorities 'targets' as alarming. Indeed, over the last 15 years, without any strategic guidance or imposed demand, almost this number of new homes have been built.  The Parish Council has for many years, when commenting on housing applications, appealed (invariably unsuccessfully) that these houses should be built close to the services which are there to support them. As a consequence, there is now a significant imbalance between community facilities and residential dwellings. This in part is a consequence of defined settlement boundaries being established in places without services (ie Crapstone) and no strategic objective to provide community facilities to complement housing development.

Settlement Boundaries

6.9    Settlement Boundaries (SB) are in place for Buckland, Yelverton and Crapstone. (These are at Annex K (i), (ii) & (iii) respectivly in the 'Download' section). The broad logic used by Local Authority planning officers is that development inside a defined SB has effectively met the criteria for sustainable development (as any new housing will be adjacent to existing dwellings which were approved on the basis that they were in sustainable locations), whereas applications that lie outside the SB may not have and the ‘sustainability criteria’ needs to be tested. While the impact of this policy has been to contain development and prevent rural sprawl it has three drawbacks; firstly, it can promote housing being crammed in inappropriately, secondly there is now so little room remaining for development within existing SBs, this policy will, by itself, constrain further development and thirdly, many of the facilities which existed when the SBs were first drawn no longer exist thereby challenging the future sustainability of the original SB.  

6.10    The NPSG concluded that a policy regarding SBs should be established to allow some flexibility and acknowledge that facilities which exist to support development (such as shops, bus services, local amenities) change.   

Affordable homes

6.11    The Parish Council conducted a Housing Needs Assessment to understand the number and types of Affordable homes required in the Parish and the report is at the Download section at Annex N. During the Plan’s production, a planning application for another tranche of Affordable homes at Briar Tor, Yelverton, was approved by DNP and this, together with other, already constructed Affordable homes, adequately caters for the Parish’s requirement.   

Available sites for development

6.12    Both Authorities conduct ‘call for sites’ exercises to see whether landowners have land that they would be prepared to develop. This exercise is known as a SHLAA (Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment) and the most recent SHLAAs indicate the land within the Parish that has been ‘offered’ by landowners and whether these plots are, in the view of the Local Authority, suitable. The most recent SHLAAs are at Annex I(i) - Buckland & Crapstone and Annex I(ii) - Yelverton  in the 'Download' section.

6.13    The Neighbourhood Plan looked at whether the sites identified at Crapstone & Buckland in WDBC’s 2014 SHLAA and a site at Yelverton in the DNP SHLAA offered the best place for housing and also called for any other land owners to come forward if they thought that they had what might be suitable plots for development. These were included in the 2016 SHLAA but only one additional site, in Crapstone, was judged, by WDBC,  to have potential. Other questions put to those who responded to the NP ques-tionnaire and housing day elucidated the following:

  • Would ‘random’ placement be better than ‘estate’ placement? There was no clear preference.
  • What type of housing best meets local needs? The majority supported a need to better cater for young families and ‘down-sizers’.
  • Whether some ‘accommodation’ should be reached between WDBC and DNPA to encourage housing to be better located adjacent to services? This is rele-vant because Yelverton, which has the majority of Parish services, is within the National Park (which has no specific target to provide housing in the Parish) whereas Crapstone and Buckland, which have few services, are within WDBC’s ambit, and will be subject to such targets. Without such ‘accommodation’ housing could be predominantly sited where there are few services, and few housing sited where there are. Meetings held with both Authorities failed to reach a position of such accommodation. Both Authorities remained of the view that their remits were different and the NP needed to accommodate these different approaches.

6.14    Bringing together the available sites (in both SHLAAs), the different approaches by the two Local authorities to the number of houses and the views of local residents, the NP Group came to the following conclusions before setting its residential development polices:

Within the West Devon part of the Parish, the indicative figure of 20 houses over the next 20 years (as estimated in the analysis within Our Plan and an extrapolation of the figures in the Joint Local Plan) was not unreasonable and land judged as suitable to accommodate this figure had been identified by the most recent SHLAA exercise. Given the NP's objective to provide starter homes suited to young families and the imbalance of facilities between Buckland and Crapstone, the NPSG judged that the site at Buckland should be allocated and the SB adjusted to include this site. This site was seen as particularly suited for the provision of starter homes suited to young families given its location close to the only primary school in the Parish.

As Yelverton was the village best able to provide services to the community, the one site considered suited to development should be allocated and the SB amended accordingly. Given Yelverton’s unrivalled access to services such as the health centre, bus services and shops, this site was seen as ideally located  for the provision much needed houses suited to more elderly residents.  

When allocating sites, new housing should be sited as close to supporting facili-ties as is practical. For this reason, the villages of Milton Combe and Clearbrook should not be considered for development other than windfall.

There was a consensus that a mix of housing types was preferred over type specific housing in any one location.

As the parish had a history of a higher proportion of windfall housing than the estimates made by WD for the Borough as a whole, this should be factored in to meeting the housing requirement.

Both WDBC and DNPA have conducted SHLAAs and the NPSG concur that the most appropriate sites have been identified and no others have been proposed which offer better opportunities for development. The sites have been subjected to review (in addition to that contained within the respective SHLAAs) and this is at Annex O in the 'Download' section.

6.15    The following Residential Development Policies were agreed

Residential Development Policy 1:   RD1 - Meeting our housing need

The Parish’s future housing need for the period of the Plan will be met by development on two sites; one at Buckland Monachorum and one at Yelverton and the rele-vant Settlement Boundaries extended to encompass these sites (as indicated at Annexes K(i) & (ii)). Proposals to build homes suited to young families at Buckland and homes specifically suited to more elderly residents seeking to downsize at Yelverton will be actively supported.

Residential Development Policy 2:  RD2 - Windfall

Applications for windfall development within already developed areas in the Parish will be supported provided they meet the following criteria:

(a)    they are within existing settlements rather than in the open countryside
(b)    they do not encroach on land separating villages
(c)    they are in keeping with adjacent properties and maintain the area’s character
(d)    they do not conflict with the other policies in the Plan.

Residential Development Policy 3: RD 3 - Broad mix of housing type

New housing developments (three houses or more) must provide a mix of housing types. Where practicable and viable, two thirds of housing built on the Buckland  site should be starter homes and two thirds of the homes built on the Yelverton site homes suitable for older people. Both these sites are shown at Annex K in the 'Download' section(and see Policy RD1 above)

Residential Development Policy 4: RD4 - Affordable housing

The proposed development of affordable homes at Briar Tor, Yelverton, for which planning approval has been granted, will be actively supported. Other proposals for affordable housing within the Parish, across the NP period will be required to be supported by up to date housing need survey information and designed to meet identified local housing needs.

Residential Development Policy 5: RD5 - Design

The NPPF requires all new development to be sustainable. In order to achieve this, applicants need to demonstrate how sustainability has been addressed in any applica-tion and proposals conforming to the Building of Life criteria (at Annex J in the 'Download' section) will be actively supported with particular focus falling on the need for safe access linking such development to local services.

²Windfall sites are those which have not been specifically identified as available in the Local Plan process.