Dartmouth and Kingswear Society



Our Concerns

The Society takes a close interest in those issues which may have a significant impact on the environment of our locality or the vitality of our community. Key aspects which we are currently monitoring include:

The Dartmouth Neighbourhood Plan

Dartmouth is in the process of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and a number of topic groups have already been formed. However, those groups did not include one addressing the Society’s chief concern which is the Built Environment. A new group to cover this has now been proposed and a draft statement of its concerns, prepared by a member of the Society’s Committee, is set out below.

Proposed Built Environment Topic Group

This Topic Group will focus on the Heritage and Conservation and Design and Planning responses to the questionnaire (totalling some 937 ticks) with elements relating to townscape drawn from the responses on Street Life, Pedestrians and Traffic, and Public Spaces. It will gather evidence and formulate policies on:

Individual Building Conservation, particularly listed buildings (and their setting) and alterations including extensions and changes of use to structures of whatever age considered in their context.

Conservation Areas, concentrating particularly on the legal requirement that alterations and new development in these designated zones must both “preserve and enhance” them.

Design Guidance focused particularly on use of appropriate building materials, and the height, bulk and fenestration of new development in both new extensions and minor alterations. It should be emphasised that these considerations are as relevant in the newer parts of town as in the historic neighbourhoods.

Character Areas are small historical or visually significant parts – usually of a town centre. They encourage tourist visits to different parts of the town, with suitable associated signage and interpretation.

The Street Scene including pavement cafes and maintenance of a convenient and attractive shopping environment serving residents as well as visitors. Policy towards commercial advertising is relevant in this context, as is the encouragement of (affordable) residential uses in floors over shops.

Shared Space between pedestrians and traffic and the possible redrawing of pavement provision. There are traffic circulation and pedestrian footfall implications which need to be considered alongside the aesthetics of the townscape.

Policy consistency and enforcement, including the apparent rise in the obtaining of so-called ‘planning permission by attrition’ and the negative (as well as positive) effects of external investment in the town’s fabric. Countering ‘building creep’ by monitoring each stage of a new development as it happens is a vital part of building control.

Process It is expected that the experience in development control matters of the Town Council’s planning committee and the Dartmouth and Kingswear Society will be drawn on. An initial Topic Group of about a dozen people is envisaged. D&K Secretary Kathy Stansfield has offered to arrange a special public meeting of the D&K to consider an initial draft as part of the public consultation on this topic.

The West Dartmouth Development

Following several years of extensive public consultation, South Hams District Council received the government inspector’s approval for development of a defined area of land, lying between Milton Lane and Venn Lane, for 405 housing units (155 by 2016), open spaces for sports and leisure activities plus a Community Hub providing healthcare and commercial facilities that can sustain and extend the employment base of our local economy.

Millwood Homes, an Ashburton firm of developers, put together a Master Plan after a lengthy consultation process in which the Society participated fully. Two representatives attended the Steering Group meetings, enabling our Committee to maintain a watching brief throughout the proceedings.

The essence of our position has consistently been that the new development should be closely integrated with Townstal and, as far as possible, the lower town, and not be an isolated, third Dartmouth community.  However, the Master Plan does not avoid this undesirable result and, while other aspects of the Plan have the Society’s support, it continues to object to this fundamental flaw.

The Society has consulted widely with its members and written to South Hams District Council and the press about the important issues relating to the West Dartmouth Development throughout the consultation period. Copies of these letters, press releases and other relevant documents are available on the Key Submissions page

The Local Development Framework

A local plan has been prepared by South Hams District Council. It includes the West Dartmouth Development above, but also covers other potential development areas. Further details, including the Society’s position, are given under Planning.

Conservation Areas

The existing Conservation Areas for Dartmouth and Kingswear have been reviewed by South Hams District Council. The Society is strongly in favour of extending the Areas and strengthening the relevant planning requirements. We worked closely with Council Officers on draft proposals and, after some delays, these reached public consultation in early 2011. A submission to the full Council followed in early 2012, which included many of the Society’s proposals. Final approval by SHDC is currently awaited.  Further details can be seen here.

Open Spaces

We are keen to ensure that the existing open spaces within our communities are retained and managed in a way which gives maximum benefit to all. As an example we recently participated in the consultations on improvements to leisure use in Coronation Park in Dartmouth. At various times proposals have been made to install permanent car parking on the Park. We are strongly opposed to this, in view of the loss of green space and the visual impact which would result at a key locality in the Dartmouth townscape.

Parking

Parking in Dartmouth is clearly a difficult issue, with no ideal solution available in a town constrained by its geography and history. However the Society believes that many incremental improvements can be made and is accordingly an active member of the Dartmouth Parking Group. Recent changes have seen improvements to the Park-&-Ride and to signage; proposals by Devon County Council to increase the number of on-street parking spaces are being considered, but we are unconvinced about the Council’s recent plans to introduce on-street Pay-&-Display metering. A scheme to install an underground car park beneath Coronation Park was proposed but has now been abandoned.

Noss Redevelopment

The owners of the old shipyard site at Noss submitted redevelopment proposals for outline planning approval in August 2009, following an extended consultation exercise. The Society welcomes renewal of this site and many of the facilities which are planned, but we are concerned about the scale of development and the visual impact in a very sensitive site on the River. We submitted a letter to the planning committee, in particular objecting to the height of the buildings on the waterfront. However, in May 2010 the Council chose to approve the Application.

Subsequently the owner of the marina site was put into administration and, in 2016, the site was bought by Premier Marinas, which owns a number of other marinas. A new planning application for development of the site was submitted to South Hams District Council in July 2017 and has not yet been decided. Meanwhile a new footbridge over the railway has been constructed alongside the old, very narrow, road bridge and works on the road bridge itself are expected soon. Further details of the plans and the latest news on the development can be found here.