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The Duke has consulted with his subjects… well, er.. 52 of them

The proposed development at Great Court Farm in Totnes will make the Duke of Somerset an awful lot of money but will it also cost lives?

Great court farm development in totnes will increase the traffic at the true street accident black spot, berry pomeroy turning

Tell me again how 89 more dwellings won’t increase traffic accidents

PCL planning LTD recently carried out a ‘consultation event’ in a local church. They wanted to know if the proposed development ‘should have its own character, or if it should seek to blend in with existing houses’. All I want to know is: will it contain a street named ‘The Old Dairy’.

50 people filled in a questionnaire in the church and handed it to the men in suits running the event. 2 people emailed the office. 52 responses is not a consultation, it’s not even a decent survey. I could stand outside the SPAR for 2 hours and better your efforts, PCL Planning, shame on you.

Here’s my feedback (I emailed them):

The death rate at the Berry Pomeroy turning (True Street) is too high. The primary schools are all oversubscribed. The GP’s are oversubscribed. Getting across the river can take over an hour already at peak times (3 estates have planning and are yet to be built 1, 2, 3).

The planners will build as many houses as they can in the space and as few of them will be ‘affordable housing’ as they can muster (the riverside developers have negotiated to have just 7 affordable ‘dwellings’ PDF). It looks like we are being shown phase 1 of the development – perhaps a future phase 2 might include converting the farmhouse and barn into flats once the farmers have been driven away. As much as I criticise the planning company’s public-facing work ethic, I doubt they will have missed the panoramic views on offer at the eastern edge of the site.

The duke owns most of the area, he could grow a pair and propose a safer road layout, on his own land, that would reduce the accident rate. He could also grow a pair and do a proper consultation.

I am aware that I could be accused of a Not-In-My-Back-Yard mentality, I live right next to the site, yet I believe a better place for the new estate would be between my own home and my own panoramic view of Dartmoor, thus leaving the farm unscathed. Then again, maybe he is saving that field for phase 3?

If I come across as cynical, it’s because when I hear that an aristocrat is proposing to turf a local farmer out of business it makes me wonder what century we are living in. Seriously, what has this man done to deserve this land he was given by accident of birth?

Great Court Farm: ‘consultation event’ this Monday

Without these buildings (in red) the farm is nothing but a field

Plans that will rip the heart out of a local farm will be shown to the public this coming Monday. The plans involve demolishing a local dairy and cowshed, therefore closing a 4th generation Totnes family farm. Don’t wait around to see what happens, there are only two ‘consultation events’ and this is the second one.

The proposals that will be presented at the second event will be designed taking account of the issues raised at the (first) visioning event. – PCL Planning LTD (operating on behalf of the Duke of Somerset)

I’m not personally against the houses, I just wish they picked a different field. What do you think?

Monday 14th April

2pm – 7pm - St John’s Church

Bridgetown, Totnes


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TOTNES – Minor Royal to close 4th Generation Family Dairy

The current Duke, John Seymour, was given the land by his father, Percy Seymour, who was given it by his father before him all the way back to 1547. Before this time the land at Great Court Farm in Totnes was gifted to the Beaufort family.

John Seymour has two large stately homes. One of these is in Wiltshire, where he lives, and one in Berry Pomeroy, Totnes. The Duke owns a good deal of Berry Pomeroy (and Totnes) but is hoping to build on just nine acres of Great Court Farm.

So, why the fuss, it’s only a little field isn’t it? The trouble is it’s nine acres at the heart of the farm. It’s nine acres of pasture land, milking parlour and cow sheds. Without these essential pieces of infrastructure the dairy will close.

Without these buildings the dairy will close

For very nearly 100 years the Hooper family have lived and worked this land. The Duke is proposing to rip the heart out of the farm because he wants to make a shed load of money. I question why, in the year 2014 we still maintain that some blood is better than others.

We are supposed to be living in a meritocracy, but all this man did was get born lucky. A quick scan on the internet will reveal the titles bestowed on John Seymour – Deputy Lieutenant for Wiltshire and Devon, holder of the Dukedom of Somerset… But what it does not show is to what benefit he has put his Eton education.

There will be a meeting soon for people interested in the proposed development at Great Court Farm, a meeting to which the Hooper family, your good self, and the Duke of Somerset will be invited. I hope to see you there.