What you can do when access to a site is a problem

23 Oct

Article here about a Morrison store in Plymouth which wants to expand by building a huge extension and a larger car park.  They basically want to double the size of the store.  Planners said that it should be refused because access and traffic would be a problem.  Morrisons withdrew the plans at the last minute to revamp the access and are resubmitting them.  This is what supermarkets do and eventually they seem to find a solution to their problems.  Morrisons went on to say “The firm said it has listened planners and neighbouring residents, and revised its plans to ensure “traffic keeps moving in and around the store and to prevent congestion on any of the neighbouring roads”, though oddly consultation is being done INSIDE their store and not outside, so only their shoppers are being asked for their opinions – something that often happens with consultations it seems.

We are constantly being told that the problem with the Alexandria Industrial estate growth is access and that a supermarket would never go there because of this.  This shows what a supermarket is prepared to do to get that kind of access problem sorted if it wants to expand – start small then double up, keep hammering away and eventually you succeed.  This has already happened in Axminster where the Tesco store got planning permission for a second floor, though they have not built it, presumably because a lot of their customers now shop in Seaton.  There was also the plan for Tesco to move in Honiton so that they could double up too, though that one got knocked on the head because it was said that trade in Honiton would suffer (whereas the efect on trade in Axminster and Seaton was not considered a problem).  Where there is a will there is a way.  So, it is no use saying a supermarket would not be interested in a site with so-called poor access.

Some may say that there is no money for Joe Public to make access improvements so that an industrial site does not have to move.  This is not true.  Councils can now basically put a tax on development called the “Community Infrastructure Levy” which is paid per square metre of development elsewhere.  According to the Department of Communities and Local Government

“The money can be used to support development by funding infrastructure that the council, local community and neighbourhoods want – for example new or safer road schemes, park improvements or a new health centre. The system is very simple. It applies to most new buildings and charges are based on the size and type of the new development.”

So, for example, developers in the west side of East Devon (where it might be said to help Exeter commuters more than East Devon residents) could be made to pay this levy and Sidmouth and the other towns and villages of East Devon could benefit.

East Devon District Council set up a Task and Finish Forum (TAFF) to decide how much the Community Infrastructure Levy should be for East Devon’s developers.  Unfortunately, on EDDC’s website there appears to be nothing about how much progress it has made except the agendas of two meetings, the last one on 27 June 2012 – no minutes.

Members of this TAFF are:  Graham Troman (Chairman, Sidmouth Sidford),  Mike Allen (Honiton, St Michaels), Peter Bowden (Broadclyst), Mike Howe (Clyst Valley), Sheila Kerridge (Sidmouth Town), Tim Wood (Exmouth Littleham) and Claire Wright (Ottery St Mary Rural) so, oddly for this one it is a western end of East Devon bias, totally opposite to that of the Cabinet and it is the west of East Devon that might lose out here!

Why is EDDC and the TAFF dragging its heels on taxing developers?  The old Section 106 payments are now going down the drain, so that source of income is drying up for EDDC and anyway that money had to be spent close to the development itself -CIL can be spent anywhere in the district. Perhaps we should ask them what progress is being made as this could solve some of the district’s pressing problems.

And now we see here today that the “Exeter Growth Point” has been awarded an £8 million grant for infrastructure improvements.  To them that hath shall be given!

2 Responses to “What you can do when access to a site is a problem”

  1. Medusa October 23, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    So, Community Infrastructure Levy is paid by developers. East Devon District Council has not set its levy and shows no signs of it happening. So, the Knowle will be sold to a developer who will not pay it. I see.

  2. Not a Developer October 23, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Maybe EDDC is waiting for EDBF to tell it what to do. Do we charge developers to develop or do we give it to them for free? Tough call for a group mostly made up of local and national developers!

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