The following questions were asked by Councillor Hook:
Question 1: Does the Council undertake safety checks on our trees? If so how frequently? If not, why not and can we? I assume suitable insurance is in place?
Answer given by the
Leader: The Council has a tree risk inspection program and
all trees are inspected on a routine basis. The frequency of
inspection is dependent on the trees location and the use of the
site (e.g. trees next to main roads are inspected more frequently
than those in low use locations), as well as tree species and
age. The frequency of inspection is risk based and accords
with national best practice, as set out by the National Tree Safety
Group. The inspections range from annually to every 5 years
depending on circumstances, with ad hoc inspections as
We have appropriate insurance and, from time to time, the insurers request confirmation that the program is implemented.
Question 2: Can the PH for Planning confirm that members will shortly be consulted, via the Local Plan 5 year review, on housing within village envelopes. Will he agree with me that much more needs to be done to ensure these communities remain viable, and to ensure they are sustainable over the life of the Local Plan we should be proactive in finding suitable sites for house building, particularly for local residents.
Answer given by the Portfolio Holder for Housing & Planning: It should be noted that there is nothing to prevent the development of new homes on appropriate sites in within the settlement limits of villages (village limits), and it is not necessary for sites to be indicated in a local plan for permission to be granted. In addition, the local plan allows new affordable housing on exception sites outside but adjoining villages, to meet local needs. You may be interested to know that over the last 10 years there have been 2434 dwellings completed in rural areas (that is parishes other than Newton Abbot, Kingskerswell, Kingsteington, Teignmouth, Dawlish and Ogwell).
Teignbridge is in the rare/unique position of having both a Community & Neighbourhood Portfolio Holder and a dedicated Neighbourhood Planning Officer which has helped deliver rural housing opportunities based on local needs. Moving forward, this work will play a vital role in assessing the delivery of affordable local needs housing in the review of the Local Plans.
It should also be recalled that communities can bring forward new homes within their area via the Neighbourhood Planning process if they are concerned about the issues the Cllr Hook has raised. One neighbourhood plan has done so, allocating a site for live-work units.
In terms of change in village services, officers have carried out a survey of village service and facilities recently. Compared with the results of a similar survey carried out in 2011, there has been very little loss in that time.
The Teignbridge Local Plan review will carry out a re-survey of the existing settlement limits to ensure that they are up to date and reflect the latest changes on the ground. It is expected that a consultation document on these will be out for consultation in spring next year. The local plan review will also be considering the need for new housing, employment and other forms of development which may include additional housing and other sites in and adjoining the villages, and we would expect consultation on such matters to take place later in 2018 and after that. It would seem inappropriate to pre-judge the outcome of that work at this stage. Cllr Hook is of course welcome to make any specific suggestions of development sites which the spatial planning team can then consider in the local plan work.
Councillor Hook thanked the Leader and Portfolio Holder for their full and helpful answers, and suggest for the second question that Parish and Town Councils be made aware of the information.
The Leader advised that it had been suggested those communities that had successfully implemented a Neighbourhood Plan could share their learning with others and this would either take place through the Teignbridge Association of Local Councils or directly through an event hosted by Teignbridge.