A DRAFT plan to conserve and develop the parish of Calstock over the next decade will go out to public consultation, it was agreed at a meeting last week.

The Calstock Neighbourhood Development Plan has been produced to give local people a say on how the parish — made up of Gunnislake, Calstock, Harrowbarrow, St Ann’s Chapel, Drakewalls, Albaston, Chilsworthy, Latchley and other small villages — will grow over the next 12 years.

A neighbourhood development plan committee was set up, involving parish councillors and local residents, to create a blueprint to determine how land is used for housing, business, shops and leisure, can protect green spaces and influence the design of buildings and estates.

The plan, which also tackles environmental issues, has already been under development for several years.

At a meeting of the full parish council last week, councillors voted on whether to send the draft version of the plan out to public consultation to get residents’ feedback on the document so far.

Before agreeing the motion, an amendment was requested to revise the baseline housing target from the current 60 open market houses, to nil.

The chair of the neighbourhood development plan committee told the meeting that they had consulted on lots of occasions to see if the ‘nil housing option’ was a viable option and advice they had received was that there were several ‘clear disadvantages’ and that negative plans had a greater difficulty in getting adopted by Cornwall Council.

She said: ‘We always thought of it as a development plan, not a stay as you are plan.’

The amendment was made by Cllr Alistair Tinto who believed there should be no allocation for open market housing and development should be based purely on affordable housing and felt that the housing policy should be based on ‘rural exception sites’ — small sites used for affordable housing in perpetuity where sites would not normally be used for housing.

He said he commended all the work that had been done by the committee in creating the plan but was ‘frustrated’ that there hadn’t been proper discussion on a nil housing plan.

He said: ‘The rural exception sites policy would be a much more effective method of meeting affordable housing need without overloading the parish with houses it can’t absorb. The current plan says Calstock Parish has a strong need for market housing — I don’t know how you can agree with that.

‘The local planning authority should support the opportunity to bring forward rural exception sites. Our policy framework seems to say it is perfectly acceptable to have rural exception sites — I don’t think there is any evidence to show that we need any more market value houses.’

Cllr Mike Greenwood said: ‘I think we can all agree there is a need for affordable housing, nobody can deny that but in order to get that, we have to get market housing to pay for it.’

A vote was taken on the amendment to revise the plan to reduce the housing target from 60 back to nil, with seven councillors voting for and 10 voting against.

A vote was then taken on the original motion to send the current draft plan out to public consultation with 14 councillors voting for, two against and one abstention.