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11 Tamars Drive
EX15 2PQ

Mrs Jenny Clifford
Head of Planning and Regeneration Mid Devon District Council
Phoenix House, Phoenix Lane
EX16 6PP

27th October, 2018

Dear Mrs Clifford

Proposal: Conversion of existing building to Pre-School and Community rooms and erection of extension for storage area
Location: The Gables, Gables Road, Willand
Reference: 18/01471/FULL

I wish to object to planning application for the following reasons

Use of the site
In 2014 an S106 agreement was signed to allow developer obligations to be used to offset the cost of this site to the Parish Council.  This reduced the cost of the site from £80,000 to just over £5,000  The proposed use presented to MDDC planning, during the development of the plan, was for the construction of a Health and Community Centre incorporating a GP surgery, relocated pharmacy and space for a substantial community centre. 

The Parish Council applied to the Charity Commission to set up a Charitable Incorporated Organisation(CIO) to carry out the development and running of the centre. As part of the application, lease Heads of Agreement were submitted to and accepted by the Charity Commission.  The Parish Council also applied for Planning Consent for a Health and Community Centre which was granted Ref 14/01911/FULL.

The Parish Council then changed its mind for reasons unknown and "served” a lease on the charity without consultation and with clauses added which were very different to the Heads of Agreement submitted to the Charity Commission. 

During consultation with three lawyers the trustees were advised not to sign the lease as it was not in line with charity law and left the Trustees with potentially high personal obligations.  The Parish Council refused to follow the agreed Heads of agreement and after a long stalemate period declared that they would find an alternative use for the site.  This application is the alternative. 

There is documentary evidence for all the activities above which has been built into a time line on the Willand Matters web site and can be found in the heritage section.

The Application process
No democratic consultation has been carried out with the residents even though Design and Access Statement states that it has.  Where is the evidence?.  The Charity carried out a village wide survey earlier this year on the original planned use and of the residents who responded to a feasibility study, 94% were in favour of the WHCC.  The Parish Council were aware of the survey and the results were presented to the Councillors at the same meeting the alternative was passed.

This clearly does not represent the spirit of the original S106 agreement agreed by MDDC planning which has been thwarted by a deliberate change in direction by the Parish Council against the wishes of the residents.
There are other Pre-Schools in the area who will feel pressure from increased competition and can provide a good service. By far the greater needs are community services to support all sectors of the community especially the elderly.

The letting of the community rooms which now have to be general purpose will compete with the village hall.

It is accepted by DCC MDC and until recently by the Parish Council that community facilities are extremely scarce and with continued development in the village and surrounding towns and villages, this problem will only get worse. 

The application
The design and Access statement is an edited copy of the earlier planning application and much remains the same.  This application has removed the GP surgery and relocated Pharmacy.  The planned extension to house the health and community services has now been replaced by an outside play area for the pre-school.

Willand has a higher than average elderly population and this is only set to increase with cuts in social services which returns residents to their homes before they are fully able to look after themselves.  These are the residents we need to help and support.

As there is no lift in the community block, services for the elderly will be restricted to one room only and some of the services require static specialist equipment. The day care centre, for example needs the large, comfortable chairs with mobile trays for the use of the attendees.  The original plans would have designated a room for this purpose.

Therefore many of the proposed services cannot be provided from the extremely restricted community facilities despite the planned services claimed in the DAS ( which are identical to those in the  original WHCC application.)

Additionally, any community activities using the upper rooms will be not accessible by our less able residents.  Therapy rooms cannot be provided without professional equipment such as massage bed sink, etc.  Even if these are provided they cannot be used by less able residents on the upper floor. This will be seen as disability discrimination.

The upper floor c0nsists of 2 rooms. Access to the back room is through the front.  This will have a serious effect on privacy and disruption which will effectively further limit the usefulness of this "Community” facility..

This application is clearly a cynical token gesture designed to meet the letter of the S106 agreement but not the spirit of what was planned and agreed by MDDC and the Parish Council of which I was the Chair at the time..  It is light years away from what was planned and approved by yourself and is generally believed to be a way to allow the pre-school to occupy the site legitimately by retaining this token gesture.  It is also believed that the Pre-school will want to take over the whole site as it further expands. 

Additionally, I was informed some time ago by the current Chair of the Parish Council that he intended to apply to have the S106 agreement altered to include education as a use.  This has been a long premeditated concept.

I believe that the main use of the "community” area is to be used used by the Parish Council for meetings as it is not fit for purpose for the majority of the proposed services, particularly as very small number of rooms will restrict the volume of services required in our village and surrounding areas to a level much below the demand.  There are no future possibilities built into this application.

The Village hall will also suffer as the Parish Council stops using their facilities for meetings after several decades.

The pre-school will run at the same time as the school and existing pre-school which will seriously add to the traffic congestion in the Village Hall car park and Gables Road area. The limited parking on the site will be taken up by staff!

I would ask you to refuse this application and recommend a formal review of this manipulated situation so that Willand can finally have good quality health and community service facilities it has been promised on so many occasions.

Surely our residents cannot be denied what was promised by substituting this application you are now considering with the plan conceived and supported by the Parish Council and MDDC following the original S106 agreement. 

Once the lease is signed, the site will be out of reach of the residents for 99 years.  Or in the immortal words of Tesco "when it’s gone, it’s gone”


Yours Faithfully


Ray Ursell

Past Chair of Willand Parish Council
Past Chair of Willand Health and Community Centre CIO

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