Category Archives: Housing and Planning


A tour of six self-build properties took place on Exmoor in June, to help young people interested in building their own home in the National Park.

The event was organised by Exmoor National Park Authority, the local planning authority, and the charity Exmoor Young Voices and involved visiting a variety of properties in Wheddon Cross, Cutcombe, Hoe Farm and Exton.

The young people, who all live and work on Exmoor, were shown the variety of ways a self-build home can be achieved through different methods of construction and design.

 “We would like to thank the homeowners who gave up their time to talk to the Young Voices and answer their questions on the whole process of self-build,” said William Lock, Chair of Exmoor Young Voices.

The group also received advice from Dean Kinsella, Exmoor National Park Authority Head of Planning and Sustainable Development, and Tessa Saunders, Senior Planning Officer, about planning and potential opportunities for self-build within Exmoor communities.

Mr Kinsella said: “With the generally higher cost of housing in National Parks, it can be difficult for people to find homes that are both affordable and close to work and family. Our Local Plan aims to help local people get on the housing ladder by enabling self-build homes where suitable homes aren’t available on the open market.

“Through our work with Exmoor Young Voices we aim to guide young people through the planning process to help them decide early on whether a self-build is a realistic opportunity to provide them with the home they need.”

Since the introduction of specialist affordable housing policies in 2005, over 200 local people have benefited from new locally tied affordable homes built in the National Park. Some have been self-build, some delivered by private developers or landlords and others by housing associations.

Earlier this year, National Parks England called on the Government to increase the total stock of affordable housing for families and young people in National Parks through additional financial support, restrictions on holiday and second homes and greater support to empower communities.

Samantha Harris, Exmoor Young Voices Coordinator, said: “Our next meeting when we will explore sites, finance and planning further is going to be at The Rest and Be Thankful, Wheddon Cross, on 11 July at 7.30pm. To book a place email me at, find us on Facebook or just turn up.”

PHOTO: Members of Exmoor Young Voices tour a timber-framed straw-bale self-build built under ENPA’s affordable housing policy and featured in the current issue of Exmoor Magazine.


The newly formed West Somerset Community Land Trust has released a survey, which seeks to ascertain what people actually want and need from their houses, and what really constitutes affordable for the area. The survey can be found at:

The release of this survey follows the WSCLT’s highly successful launch event, which was held on Tuesday 1 November 2016 at the Beach Hotel, Minehead, where a full house demonstrated the need for a different approach to housing in the area.

The launch officially began a process of discussion with the community, which aims to identify the need for affordable housing in West Somerset, and is now being followed up by the survey, intended to reach a much wider audience.

At the launch, voices from the local community, local councils and social housing were all represented. A series of table workshops asked questions of the room, such as ‘What do I want from my home?’ and ‘Where will the money come from?’, with WSCLT Directors facilitating. This followed on from energising talks by architect and TV broadcaster, Piers Taylor, and WSCLT director, David Croxton, who both inspired people to think more broadly about housing and sustainability.

The group intends to engage further with people in need of housing and those that work to help them, including professionals in the field, to ensure that there is a solid understanding of the real housing needs of people in West Somerset before its AGM on 7 February 2017.

WSCLT received initial start-up funding from Forum 21, Somerset Community Foundation and the National CLT Network. It is working to provide homes that are genuinely affordable based on local wages not national averages. The organisation will be community controlled and any homes built or renovated will be owned for the benefit of the community to meet the needs and requirements of the community.

To take part in the survey, become a WSCLT member or supporter, or for more information, please go to: or contact Maureen Smith on 01643 709478.

Cullompton Residents to Have their Say on Changing Local Planning Controls

Mid Devon District Council is seeking local people’s views on plans to relax the current rules on what alterations house owners in the Cullompton Conservation Area can carry out without needing to apply for planning permission.

In 2009 additional planning controls over what house owners could do to their properties were introduced in Cullompton Conservation Area with an “Article 4 Direction”. The additional controls mean that planning permission must be gained before various alterations can be done. These include installing rooflights on front roof slopes, putting up porches or replacing windows and doors on elevations facing a highway including any footpath, waterway or open space, removing chimneys or boundary walls.

The additional controls were part of a package of measures in the Conservation Area Management Plan to regenerate the town centre and improve the appearance of the wider conservation area. The deteriorating quality of the conservation area was recognised in the Heritage at Risk Register published by English Heritage. While the town remains a Conservation Area at Risk the deterioration has been halted.

The proposed changes

After five years and following issues with enforcement of the additional controls Mid Devon District Council commissioned a review of the Article 4 Direction by an independent consultant. As a result a number of changes are proposed. These would result in significantly fewer properties requiring planning permission for replacing windows and doors, demolishing boundary walls or constructing porches. Most dwellings would still need planning permission for installing rooflights on front roof slopes or for demolition of chimneys. In addition it is proposed that most dwellings would need to have planning permission for installation of solar panels.

Read more.