“The A3052 corridor” – When is discussing planning applications NOT discussing planning applications?

3 Mar

When it is called something else.

We are increasingly concerned about what the East Devon Business Forum has designated the “A3052 Corridor” – see posting here earlier this week and agenda item 68 HERE.

Councillor Brown has always said that EDBF does not discuss individual planning applications.  However, this re-naming of an agenda item at EDBF seems to be bunching together several planning applications or potential planning applications of EDBF members and then having a presentation and a discussion about them in the presence of councillors and officers, some of whom are wearing their “other” hats.

What “A 3052 corridor” seems to mean is the business and development interests of three families which have large holdings in the area roughly between Woodbury Salterton, Farringdon and Clyst St Mary and who all assiduously attend EDBF meetings.  It does not seem to mean the road that runs from the Dorset border to the outskirts of Exeter and the M5 at junction 30.

The Stuarts own the Hill Barton Industrial Estate and FWS Carter owns Greendale Business Park and is rumoured to have recently acquired more land at Farringdon.   The Carters also own Ladram Bay holiday park, land at Otterton, the Kings Arms at Otterton, Exmouth Docks and had or possibly still have plans to develop a marina at Sidmouth, as outlined in the Sidmouth Herald a couple of years ago.  The third potential developer is Mr Chris Down, who owns Crealy Adventure Park, and got permission to turn his farm buildings at Clyst St Mary into an industrial estate in 2011 and who has spoken at LDF meetings of his desire to develop the area around Crealy.

The ambitions for FWS Carter in the Woodbury Salterton area can be summarised by the presentation they made to the LDF Panel in 2011 to be found HERE.

The ambitions for the Stuarts can be found HERE -in EDDC’s draft Local Plan (page 34) where they have been collectively allocated around 30 acres of green fields on which to extend their industrial land.

We must also remember that just before the Cloakham Lawns (Axminster) planning approval in September 2010, the Managing Director of Axminster Carpets (which owns the site) made a special presentation to EDBF and attendant district councillors (some of whom were wearing their “other” hats) stressing how important the planning application was for the future of the now very insecure company.

This would be totally acceptable if EDBF were a group completely independent of East Devon District Council and did not have the frequent and regular services of district council officers, one of whom has the remit to comment on planning applications of “economic interest”.

With its total reliance on funding from EDDC and the Chief Executive insisting that the relationship between EDDC and EDBF is that of a joint body (though this is disputed by many) it does seem that pre-presentation and discussion of development opportunities  by developers such as Axminster Carpets and the landowners in the “A 3052 corridor” and the involvement of an EDDC Officer in EDBF on a regular and routine basis runs a high risk of giving the appearance to the general public that these issues may become intertwined and inter-related between individual developers, EDBF and EDDC councillors and officers in a very complicated way  – not a situation that would seem to be a sensible one for EDDC.

Let us hope that the future meetings of the East Devon District Council Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish Forum is able to discuss this very complex relationship and come up with some solution.

Or will the Chief Executive rule it out of bounds?

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One Response to ““The A3052 corridor” – When is discussing planning applications NOT discussing planning applications?”

  1. Mr Spleen March 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm #

    What we have here is a classic case of ‘Corporate Welfare’. Not subsidies or tax breaks. But privileged access to planning information. This is not fair on other businesses who do not have the ear of planning officers when it comes to planning applications. This is not fair on the local communities who are blighted by arrogant, top-down decision-making carried out on the sly. This is not fair on our countryside which is to be tarmaced over in the name of development whilst actually filling the pockets of the lucky few who’ve been granted carte-blanche to build where they will.
    This is precisely what the TAFF set up to consider the goings on of the EDBF should be looking at – which is precisely what the big-wigs at EDDC don’t want of course.

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