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Special Planning Meeting – June 2021


Special Planning Meeting held at 8 pm on 29th June 2021


Present: Michael Ash (Joint Chairman), Ann Norman (Joint Chairman), Paul Boyce, Peter Cooper, Susan Norrish, Jon Pike. Theresa Weaver, Kate Little (Clerk)  and Sally Fullwood (Future Clerk).

In attendance: Ella Curnow, Lillias Guyon, Jenny Gibbons, Chris and Sue Goulding, Margaret Martin, Alix Quested, Michael Reddaway, Bill Wedlake and Sean Lehni.

Minute No. 2021/22:

25. Apologies:  None

26. Declarations of Interest: None

27. Planning Item:  Water treatment Works, Taw Marsh, Belstone- DNPA ref 0312/21.

It was resolved to submit the following response to the Dartmoor National Park Planning Authority – proposed by Cllr Ann Norman and second by Cllr Susan Norrish:

The Parish Council recommends that the certificate of lawfulness for B2 and/or B8 on the Taw Marsh site use not be granted for the following reasons:

  1. The applicant describes the existing use of the Taw Marsh underground tank as being for …”driving off radon gas and CO2 from the water extracted from the boreholes before passing through the balancing tanks prior to proceeding off site for further treatment, storage and distribution” (our emphasis). The oxygenating cylinders in the underground tank have been removed or damaged beyond repair and have been for many years i.e. for more than 10 years. Consequently abandonment has occurred, caused by the actions of the previous owner of the site without major re-building works
  1. The North Devon Water Board was set up under the North Devon Waterboard Act of 1959 which had the right to build its infrastructure without the need for planning permission.  In other words, the Taw Marsh water works structures are permitted development in their own right and fall within Part III Class A of the General Permitted Development Order – that is development allowed under private acts or orders of Parliament.  Permitted development in its own right cannot accrue further permitted development rights. These structures are in fact plant and/or equipment, not buildings or uses of land in the same way as a dam or pylons are.  The waterworks building at Watchet Hill is the processing and distribution site and this is over a mile away from the infrastructure at Taw Marsh and is a different planning unit and ownership.
  1. If however the DNPA believes that there is a use of land involved, it is argued that it does not fall within either Classes B2 or B8.  Firstly, a B2 use has not taken place within   the last 10 years on this site (see above) and, secondly by definition in the Use Classes Order, is a use that cannot function within a residential area without causing a nuisance.  The oxygenating of water is neither noisy nor polluting. A B8 use is a storage or distribution activity.  Again, the site has not functioned in the last 10 years and this site only has a rough moorland track up to it, over which the landowner, the Duchy of Cornwall has only allowed a licence for two domestic vehicles and no commercial vehicles. A commercial activity (a B class of use) cannot therefore take place here. It is therefore contended that, if anything, the use is a sui generis use with no permitted development rights.

In addition to the Parish Council would question whether the Water Authority had the legal right to sell on this site as a functioning piece of plant.  It is understood that part of its condition of sale from the Duchy, was that upon the abandonment of the use the site, it had to be returned to its original condition i.e. moorland.

Finally, the PC would wish to draw attention to the unsafe state of the above ground part of the balancing tanks where the concrete is disintegrating as the earth around it is being eroded.  It is reaching the state where there could be an unpleasant accident now.

There being no further business, the meeting chairman closed the meeting at 8.30 pm.

Explanatory Briefing Notes as supplied at the meeting are available here: