A new area for possible village expansion was identified for further investigation at a meeting with Dartmoor planners in the parish hall last night (Tues Nov 28).
Two Dartmoor National Park Authority officers attended the last meeting in a series of eight, in the main settlements around the moor, to hear reaction to their existing policies and suggestions for the new outline development plan they are drawing up.
Dan Janota, forward planning manager, and Alex Gandy, a deputy, said they currently had two main areas of Horrabridge favoured for housing development – from New Park uphill on the river side of Walkhampton Road and uphill from Youldon Way on the other side.
But that was because they had not had many other suggestions. Landowners had to volunteer sites for consideration.
Mr Janota said most villages tended to think they had had enough new housing. But society was changing and the same number of people needed more housing, for smaller households and more elderly people downsizing. If there was no new building, populations would drop.
The national parks were under less pressure than most of the country – where the need for housing is a trump card almost anywhere – but they still had to aim for roughly 50 houses a year around Dartmoor over the next 15 years and they had a small target for “affordable housing”, which usually meant doing a deal with developers to include some more profitable building.
About 30 villagers turned up to ask questions.
The most senior of them, Jinks Fitzsimmons of Station Road, former shopkeeper, former councillor and holder of the village archives, said bad planning since the 1960s had turned Horrabridge from a centre of work and commerce into a dormitory for Plymouth. He had been watching the Dartmoor NPA since 1990 and all its plans had led to nothing useful. He wanted to know where was the infrastructure – roads, sewers, drains and other connections – to support more people and more cars.
The planners said they were always consulting Devon Highways, South West Water and Environment Agency, and no serious obstacles to Horrabridge expansion had been raised.
But Youldon Way residents said they were already suffering drainage problems and more development uphill from them would only make matters worse.
Jinks warned that the woodland up there was full of old mine shafts and the infilling of them must have deteriorated badly by now.
He added that he had seen much of the land earmarked at the New Park end under two feet of water during a flood.
Everyone was concerned about road congestion and parking.
Both Jinks Fitzsimmons and David Cloke, the village representative on West Devon Council, asked if anyone had considered building downhill from the A386 between Horrabridge and Bedford Bridge – from the outer edge of Copperfields towards the Magpie caravan park. There was already a footpath connection to the village and traffic could get on and off the A386 directly, without necessarily going through the village.
The planners said they would make some inquiries to find the landowners and see if they were interested.
They also promised to think about Councillor Cloke’s argument that allowing redevelopment of old farm buildings would trickle down into more housing availability somewhere else.
They were asked why they had ruled out Dostabrook Field, by the riverside off the Whitchurch Road as the road rises to Sortridge, while giving the all-clear to riverside fields off Walkhampton Road – even though plans exist for flood-proof housing at Dostabrook, financed by private money. They said their hands were tied. If land was identified as flood plain, it was ruled out. But some of the land at the New Park end was above flood level.
They were asked if their plans included the closure of Princetown Prison and Mr Gandy said they would do when the situation became clearer but the Home Office still wanted the site until 2023 and it was difficult terrain and nobody yet had any good ideas for using it.
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