PART 4 - THE FUTURE
"I don't want the village to change
too much or else it would become a town.
I don't want any more car parks, or big
housing estates. If houses are built, they
should be built for the locals, not holiday
homes. Otherwise, local people won't
have any neighbours."
Pupil, Otterton School, 2004
The local plan sets a `development boundary' for Otterton and designates areas ofland of local amenity importance'. There appears to be an endorsement for these by the community through this document. Their enforcement should protect Otterton's remaining green space from the type of off-the-peg development clusters that have begun to erode the settlement's intrinsic character.
None the less, opportunities for development will arise, (e.g. a windfall site, a redundant farm building etc) and these could, depending upon their nature, be potentially beneficial to the village. But any such gain is easily lost. Currently the planning framework cannot prescribe what type of dwelling is built on any given plot, especially in relation to small-scale development. This might well soon change and accordingly, there are clear views as to what would and perhaps would not, benefit the settlement.
Nearly nine out of ten inhabitants felt that any new development should take the form of small/first time buyer properties. (In the South West's rural areas, house prices are rising faster than anywhere in the country and have reached levels second only to London, while the ability to purchase continues to diminish. The term 'affordable housing' is therefore easily used and yet difficult to enjoin. For housing to remain affordable it would have to be subject to some form of community land trust or other similar mechanism).
Approximately half felt that there should be retirement or sheltered housing. Perhaps the fact that this is not higher reflects the fact that Clinton Devon Estates currently maintains 48 residential properties within the village which are let under a policy of affordable housing for local people. A direct legacy to improvements instigated by Mark Rolle and a practice which has contributed immeasurably to maintaining the social fabric of the village, it should be applauded accordingly.
There is a clear view that Otterton would not benefit from further executive housing. Although there is no clear consensus as to the need for further shops, three quarters of villagers who expressed a view said no to any new industrial/business premises.
"We returned in the fly we had hired for
the trip - the roads were very bad most
of the way along narrow lanes where
for considerable distance two carriages
could not pass - passed the poor village of
Otterton and also Budleigh - saw Bicton
Park, Lord Rolle's at a distance....
got home about three."
Thomas Russell, 1837
Clearly, Otterton will and must continue to evolve, but that evolution must as in earlier times, be for the good of the settlement, for the people who live here, rather than for the good or convenience of would be developers. For the character of Otterton's built environment yet remains special - different eras and distinct styles, unified by their use of materials of common origin, individuality linked by common elements of design.
However, Otterton is much more than a collection of individual buildings.
It is the sum of all the buildings, spaces, streets and trees; it is the material heart of the community.
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