Archive | January, 2013

A must-watch programme on BBC 2 tonight – The Planners

31 Jan

Synopsis here which describes the programme:

Documentary series lifting the lid on the decisions behind planning approvals and refusals, telling the story through the eyes, ears and drawings of the planners themselves. These are the people who interpret the rules, evaluate the proposals and make the recommendations, making homeowners’ dreams come true or bringing them crashing down.

In this episode, three national house builders target a greenfield site outside Winsford in Cheshire. They are proposing to build 540 new homes in the area but the locals are not happy and will stop at nothing to derail the development. A Cheltenham couple erect a mock-up of their neighbour’s extension to highlight their concerns to planners. A retired couple that lives in a conservation area in the heart of Chester submit a planning application to erect 17 solar panels onto their garage roof and a Cheltenham resident spends over £10,000 on her planning application for a dropped kerb outside her home.

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5 year land supply (2)

31 Jan

We can find absolutely no mention online on the EDDC website of who sat on the 5 year land supply TAFF (see two postings below) nor any minutes of when it met, what evidence it took or who it interviewed, except for the final report referred to below, save for a brief reference to it in the Overview and Scrutiny Committee minutes of  1 July 2009 HERE  where it says the following:.

Councillor Phillip Skinner will brief the Members on the work undertaken by the TaFF on the review of the sites that make up the Council’s five year land supply for housing, and the recommendations as a result.  The TaFF was commissioned by the Scrutiny Committee at their meeting on 21 January 2009.

He did indeed brief members with the TAFF report highlighted in the postings below.  Shame that Councillor Skinner didn’t seem to follow up on the recommendations his TAFF made as it might have put us in a much different position now to the dreadful one we find ourselves in.

5 year land supply: problems known about in 2009

31 Jan

Interesting that the potential problems with the 5 year land supply were all highlighted HERE in July 2009 in the report of a Task and Finish Forum on 5 year land supply and that everything negative that was predicted in this document has come to pass.  Here are a few extracts, which need to be read with the post immediately below this one, which was written some four years later.

1. Our assessment of our District wide figures shows that we have only just over five years availability. An Inspector at a planning application appeal could take the view that this is close enough to the five year threshold to side with an applicant/dismiss our arguments.
2. The District wide five year figure is based on our assessment and assumptions we have made. A developer might challenge these and come to a different conclusion (i.e. that land supply falls under five years) and persuade an Inspector that his/her evaluation is the more accurate.
3. Circumstances change and assessment/s done at the present time (and initially in 2008) can and will be out of date in the future.

4.  In the past we had intentionally split the District in to two, 1. the West End and 2. the Rest of East Devon. ….. It is now considered, however, that it is more appropriate to have a single 5 year housing figure for ACROSS THE WHOLE DISTRICT. This will give the Council the ability to deliver housing outside the West End which will encompass not only the Towns but villages too.

Gobsmacked, only word for it, gobsmacked.

To the victor, the spoils

31 Jan

HERE is the sorry tale of EDDC’s five year land supply as told by the barrister for one of the developers who successfully argued the case for their client’s development in Ottery St Mary.

A few quotes from the article:

The Inspector found the rates predicted by the Council in relation to the Cranbrook new development to be exaggerated …..

The Inspector further found the Appellant’s windfall figure to be more soundly based than the Council’s considerably higher figure …..

The Inspector agreed, stating that, “it is by no means certain that the Plan would be adopted in its current form or that the emerging strategy will be found sound… …..

….. the figure for proposed non-strategic small site allocations was also found to be very much lower than that predicted by the Council. …..

and THIS is just one of the consequences of EDDC’s inabillity to do its numbers properly.

Doesn’t auger well for Knowle figures does it!

What do our councillors THINK? What do our councillors DO?

30 Jan

We have 7 district councillors in the Sid Valley area:  Councillors Wale, Drew, Hughes, Troman, Kerridge, Sullivan and Newth,.  CLICK HERE (have list see below) to see a list of the various committees, think tanks and other responsibilities they have.

So, between them, they go to LOTS and LOTS of meetings but what do WE know about what THEY do?

Well, we can read minutes of (some of) the meetings they attend.  But that doesn’t help us much as minutes from East Devon are somewhat sanitised.

We CANNOT read minutes or ever find about  any of the “Think Tanks” they attend nor can we ever know about the various secret meetings they attend such as the Office Relocation Working Party.

So, where can we get our information on what THEY are doing for US?

Occasionally (and more frequently near to election time) we read about the wonderful things they have done for us in the newspapers.   And, somewhat less occasionally (though, again, more often nearer to election time) we read letters from them in newspapers.

The point here?  Well, nowadays how do people communicate?  Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Podcasts.  But, I hear some of you say, this is stuff for young people.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  New media has no age limits.  Many of you will have Facebook pages, some will have Twitter acounts.

And what about our councillors?  Well, apart from Councillor Hughes who did at least make a “very memorable” rap video” to encourage young people to take an interest in planning issues and who in his “normal” life is a disc jockey and radio host – NOTHING, NADA, RIEN, ZERO.

Contrast this with local politicians in other areas, some of them quite close to us.  There are literally thousands of local councillors all over the country keeping their electors informed, telling them what they have been doing, telling them what they are going to be doing and telling them what other people are doing.

Does it matter that our local councillors are not keeping us informed.  Yes it does, because unless we know what THEY are doing for US we cannot make informed choices about whether what they are doing is in our best interests.

The best councillors are those who use every kind of communication method available to them to get their message across AND ask for feedback.  The worst ones are those who do not communicate at all and have nothing but contempt for the people who put them in office.

Those in between really need to decide which side of the fence they are on.  New media is not going to go away – and could be the difference between re-election and no election.

Knowle and ‘hard-nosed economics’

30 Jan

Is EDDC’s ‘ambition’ to move their HQ from Knowle to Honiton, based on solid financial foundations? Would this relocation save, or cost, ratepayers a fortune?  SOS and this SIN blog have been investigating this and other Knowle-related issues (see 30 Jan post, and DOCUMENTS,  on the SOS website; and our SIN archives).

In yesterday’s SIN post Money Does Grow on Trees , there’s mention of a new book on what Prince Charles calls the ‘hard-nosed economics’ of nature’s value. Recommended reading for EDBF/EDDC?

Localism – aah yes …

30 Jan

Interesting take on localism here in a Daily Telegraph article

Wonder if Knowle relocation would lead to similar tax rises in East Devon?