At the recent Public Consultation on NA3, we spoke to Simon Thornley (pictured above. We've backdropped his face with a picture of environmental destruction to make it less scary). He's TDC’s Business Manager Strategic Place.
You know a council is trying to hide something when they start calling town planners “Business Managers of Strategic Place”. However, at least Simon turned up, unlike ANY of the senior council executives, so we’ll try to be kind. When we asked him why on earth a small market town like Newton Abbot should be expected to absorb a 50% population increase, he told us that this was perfectly normal. Market towns have been targeted by the government for high growth. Nothing can be done about it. It’s in the Local Plan and you’re lucky it’s not more.
It was perhaps when he started to argue that Newton Abbot doesn’t even have a traffic problem that we started to wonder whether Simon might be guilty of, ahem, terminological inexactitude.
So we looked for some comparison data. How about the leafy market town of Farnham, in the district of Waverley in Surrey? The district has almost the same population as Teignbridge, although Waverley has around 40% more land to put houses on. Farnham has 40,000 residents. Newton Abbot only has a population of 25,000, although spookily enough, if TDC gets its way then Newton Abbot will end up with 40,000 too.
Anyway, back to Farnham. Just 45 minutes on the train to Waterloo. Good connections to Heathrow and a short drive to the M3 and M4 corridors. Affluent Farnham has loads more job opportunities, a young(er) population, booming house prices….. in short, Farnham is great. They could build 100,000 new homes in Farnham and sell them easily.
Now, bearing in mind that Farnham is bigger than Newton Abbot, has more land to develop and is a hugely desirable area, how many houses do you think Waverley Borough Council will build in Farnham over the next few years?
That’s right, just one third of the 6000 houses TDC wants to dump on Newton Abbot in an orgy of short-term stupidity. And if you question TDC, they’ll tell you that the number is in the Local Plan, as if it were some sort of sacred text that mustn’t be questioned.
Next year, the Teignbridge Local Plan has its 5 year review. Last time around, TDC used ludicrous population forecasts to come up with crazy housing targets which will ruin the town. This time, TDC can expect a fight, because Newton Says No.