Devon County Council has ripped up the rulebook and adopted a new approach to community planning in the village of High Bickington. It entered into an agreement with the High Bickington Community Property Trust (HBCPT) to redevelop one third of a smallholding by providing 39 new homes and other facilities.
A 3-phase development will provide 16 affordable homes and 23 open market homes; 6 workspace units; a woodchip fuelled district heating system to serve the whole development; a new community building and replacement primary school; open space, including a playing field, allotments and community woodland and a potential site for a new health centre. The first homes should be occupied from February 2012.
The scheme has encountered many problems in the rapidly changing planning and financial environments. Described as a “Major Departure from the Local Development Plan” by the Government Office for the South West, the project was refused permission by the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Ruth Kelly MP, in 2006. However, it is certainly visionary ; it is one of the first new-style 20-year Development Plans to see the light of day and the first to be driven by residents rather than officials.