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 Ashburton Town Plan

In 2005, as a part of a wider consultation process, every household in Ashburton was sent a questionnaire to survey the people of Ashburton’s views on a range of issues facing our town. The results of the survey were put together and form the basis of the Town Plan.

The Ashburton Town Plan is three things:

  •     It is a profile of where we live – Ashburton town and the wider parish
  •     It is a needs analysis of what will build upon the many good things about Ashburton and make it sustainable as a safe, clean, prosperous, vibrant, diverse and happy place to live, work and visit.
  •     It is an action plan: a working document that turns what we need into what we have. Initially this plan looks ahead for five years but it will need to be updated regularly as things change over time.

This part of the town’s website is designed to feedback some of the issues raised and to give you an understanding of what lies ahead.

What is in the Plan?

Some of the main points within the Town Plan assessed as being of high importance are summarised here:
  1.     The survey recognised that Ashburton wanted to keep its Town Hall but was reluctant to pay more Council Tax for its upkeep. The Town Council therefore negotiated with Teignbridge to take ownership of the Town Hall for the benefit of the community. In 2008 this was achieved and a programme was put in place to refurbish the building. This included commercial development of the ground floor, replacement of the roof, upgrading the kitchen and the lift and installing new toilets on the first floor.
  2.     Parking is a growing problem in the Town. There needs to be more enforcement of the existing regulations to stop thoughtless parking and free up the traffic flow.  Consultation is underway to improve the arrangements for traffic in the Balland Lane area and to re-introduce conventional double-yellow lining in the town centre, Chuley Road and elsewhere.
  3.     The Swimming Pool needs to be covered and made available for year-round use. This will need the formation of a group of local people for fundraising and management of the project. Can you help?
  4.     There is a need to engage with the disaffected youth of the Town. The Ashburton Youth Issues Group is already hard at work on this. The Bank Youth Project is flourishing and has been able to expand its activities. There are other organisations that cater for young people in the town as well, such as Scouts, Guides, Army Cadet Force, St John Ambulance, Performance and Dance, Sport including football.
  5.     All of the existing facilities within the Town need to be maintained, especially the Post Office and provision of NHS dentistry. It is gratifying that a new NHS dentistry practice has recently opened in the Town.
  6.     There is a great need for affordable housing in Ashburton. An Affordable Housing Group has been set up to explore the options. The group conducted a very thorough survey in 2008 and has located a site for affordable housing for local people. It has recently engaged a Housing Association to progress the scheme.
What happens now?

The Town Plan is a tool to inform and to put pressure upon the relevant authorities so that they can act in accordance with the wishes of the people of Ashburton. To that end, it has been distributed widely, including the following:

    Teignbridge District Council
    Devon County Council
    Dartmoor National Park Authority
    NHS Agencies
    Devon and Cornwall Police
    Bus companies
    Other relevant agencies and authorities (over 50 in total)

The Plan has been adopted by your Town Council, which means that the Council knows the views of the people of the town and will be guided by their wishes in future works.

Progress has been made but there is still more work to do to take forward all the proposed actions in the Town Plan. The help and hard work of local people in taking forward some of these will be invaluable. Perhaps you could help?

Copies of the Plan are available to view at the Library, the Information Centre or the Town Clerk’s Office in the Town Hall. Alternatively, follow the link to see a copy of the complete Plan.

What is the next step?

Because the Town Plan is a living document, it needs reviewing. This started immediately after publication, in order to gauge the people of Ashburton’s reaction to it. This part of the website is a part of that process. A suitable point for a further review may be after five years or so, after time has elapsed for some of the actions to have been carried through to fruition.

In time, it may be necessary to rewrite the Town Plan completely. On the other hand, it may only be necessary to amend it here and there. Whichever applies, having done it once, doing it again should be very much easier.

If you can help to take forward any of the issues and actions in the Plan, please contact the Town Clerk in the Town Hall. He will be able to put you in touch with a member of the Town Council or to advise you on what to do next.

And finally…. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Town Plan. It is a great example of how local people, working together, can make this great town better still for everyone who lives here, works here and comes to visit.

For further information on the affordable housing developments, below is the chairman’s report and the question and answer session from the Annual General Meeting held on 23 September 2010

Chairman’s report.

The majority of what would be the contents of the report has been widely circulated in the most recent newsletter, press articles and in pamphlet form around the Town, and I do not believe that I need to repeat the same verbatim simply to take up more time. However, there are several points that do need covering in this report: -

As you are aware, we have asked the Hastoe Group to work alongside us to bring the matter to fruition, and I am advised that they now hold all of the relevant information to permit matters to go to the next stage.  It is now up to Hastoe to consider the feasibility of our proposition and undertake a proper survey of the site and the infra-structure; negotiate with landowners; conduct a public consultation and seek planning consent from Dartmoor National Park.  They will then, we hope, actually build the properties for people to live in (something which they have successfully achieved thousands of times in the past).

The 2010 Housing Needs Survey shows an initial urgent need for 36 homes, but there is an ultimate estimated requirement in Ashburton for in excess of 100 homes by 2020.  Our need to identify other areas for development and suitable housing land within the Town is an ongoing activity – although it would hearten everyone involved if the current project can reach completion within a reasonable time frame.

However, the spectre at the feast remains the Strategic Spending Review, because the need for continuing funding for housing by all governments is essential, and the fact that all new projects have been frozen pending the outcome of the review on the 20th October, is a source of great concern.  The Homes and Communities Agency will not know what funds it has for new projects until after the outcome of the Review, and we can only hope that funding will be adequate for our purposes.  Nevertheless, at the same time there is a parallel tightening of mortgage funds and a squeeze on lending, which makes the plight of those hoping to have the security of their own homes in which to bring up their children even more difficult.

Nevertheless, we have now reached a positive stage in the process and what looked impossible when I held my first meeting with the planning officers in 2007, currently looks feasible and achievable, but only because a small number of volunteers have worked very hard to make it so.  I do thank the whole Committee for their efforts and support and it would be unreasonable to single out individuals for praise, when everyone has been involved.  That being said, I do personally thank our secretary Karen Turner for all the help she has given me and for the hours of typing and general publishing of all documents that she has undertaken.  Finally, I would wish to thank Ashburton Town Council for their ongoing support of this organisation, and everyone here this evening for attending.

Questions from the public

Q. Where is access to council owned land?
Probably in the same place as it currently is.

Q. Exactly what is the plan and size of houses?
At present there are no actual plans. The land exists and there is a need for 36 houses of differing varieties. The housing will have to be built to a specific standard including eco-friendly. The survey done in 2008 showed a need for:

10 – one or two bedrooms for single people

10 – one or two bedrooms for couples

11 – two bedrooms for families

5 – three bedrooms for families

0 – four bedrooms

However, the number of dwellings will change as one has already come off the list and several more added.

Hastoe will have to do a feasibility study on the infrastructure, impact on schools etc. There has recently been pressure on the primary school but this will cease in two years’ time.

There has to be a public consultation, you cannot just put up what you want.

Michael Posner stressed that if the town is to survive, there will be a need for 100 homes during the next decade. It is a desire that we can retain property for people who grow up in the town and can stay in the town if they wish to do so. Also older people may wish to relinquish family housing and move into something smaller and cheaper to run. Hastoe group is looking to do equity release, which will give them extra housing stock for local families.

Q. How will the houses be allocated?
The housing will be subject to a Section 106 agreement stating that the housing will be for local people. The housing will be allocated via a cascade system. Firstly to local people, then to those in adjoining parishes, then to the whole district.

Do not envisage all the houses built at once, phased to cater for local needs.

It must be pointed out that there is a need for extra land for the ongoing demand.

The main interest comes from those wishing to rent and secondly for shared ownership. It is likely that the majority of housing will be for rent.

Q. Will the housing always be for local people?
The 106 agreement will continue in perpetuity. The 106 will state that the affordable housing is for local people and it will always continue for local people. However, there must be a mechanism to allow the properties not to be empty, therefore the cascade system will be used.

This is attempting to create a legacy for the community of sufficient quality for the children and grandchildren.

Q. What is an exception site?
There has been an overall review of building in Dartmoor National Park and in essence there is no building in DNP until 2022. The only way that building can go ahead is treating land as an exception site and these fall outside of the strategic plan. Exception sites must be for affordable housing.

Several sites have been identified around town, this does not mean that they have planning only that they are noted as potential sites. Even though they are exception sites it still has to have DNP planning and need to go through a public consultation. One landowner has submitted plans on several occasions for affordable housing and private housing and has not been given permission.

Q. Will some of the housing be open market?
There are several methods that can be affordable. There can be a cross funding from private development to finance if you cannot raise the money from the government or banks.

It is unlikely there will be private housing in this first phase on this land but there may be in any future developments on other land. Although Michael Posner said that until the spending review on 20 October it was premature for him to make any definite comments. However, this is not the basis that the group has gone into discussion with Hastoe.

Shared ownership is difficult. It is complicated and difficult to borrow money.

Q. At what stage in the process will it be known what the facts and figures are on what it will cost to buy or rent?
The rent is fixed depending on the size of the property.

Shared ownership depends on the value of the property and what a buyer can afford. The remaining portion is rented.

Q. Do I qualify, I have lived in the town for six years?
If you have lived in the town for five years you qualify, also people who work here but cannot afford anywhere to live.

Q. Will the property continue to be for local people?
Yes. If a local person buys a property, the covenant will say it can only go to another local person. As long as there is a group/local authority continuing to oversee the properties.

Q. Is there a timescale?
Hastoe has asked architects to investigate and they will report back with a design feasibility study at the end of October 2010.

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