Archive | May, 2013

What price Britain’s Heritage?

28 May

Budleigh Longboat Site Photos 1 smallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A unique historic feature, in a World Heritage Site, will be sold to developers, if East Devon District Council has its way. This double-whammy has prompted a plea from Budleigh Salterton residents, for more objectors to write to EDDC about its latest NEW set of plans for the demolition of the Longboathouse (ref. 13/0889/FUL).

David Daniel, of the Budleigh Longboat Association writes:“If you share any of our views we would be grateful for your support” . Please send your objections,  citing 13/0889/FUL, to:

EDDC planning website or e-mail: planningcentral@eastdevon.gov.uk
or write to
EDDC Central Planning Team
Knowle
Sidmouth
EX10 8HL

Here’s David’s summary of what it’s all about:

 
“For six years, the Budleigh Longboat Association, a group of residents, has been fighting a plan to build a two storey restaurant on the beach under the cliffs. A poll conducted last year by the Town Council, in the spirit of localism, showed 78% against a plan almost identical to the present, new, application (1163 voters in a 36% turnout – more votes than 70% of EDDC councillors received).
There are two main issues:
This is the first planning application to be made for development inside the footprint of any UK Natural World Heritage Site (in this case the Jurassic Coast WHS). It exposes the non existence of any meaningful National protection for these sites and, if passed would set a precedent. For years EDDC refused to acknowledge that it was in the WHS, now they say it is “in the setting but has no impact” and have waived the need for any Environmental Impact Assessment. Throughout, Natural England have sustained the following objections (in their words):
As a point of clarification the WHS designation is underpinned by the statutory SSSI designations along the coast, so where SSSIs exist at the coast, as is the case at Budleigh Salterton, the boundary of the WHS and SSSI is contiguous. Therefore the existing longboat building lies within both the SSSI and the WHS boundary.
• Impact upon the ‘setting’ of the World Heritage Site, including views to or from the Site and impacts on the understanding and interpretation of the site due to the location, scale and design of the building and the materials proposed.
• The sustainability of any development in this location and the risk that it may prejudice future decisions regarding the need for coastal defences in the area which would adversely impact upon the unique geomorphological interest of the Budleigh Salterton Cliffs SSSI and hence the WHS.
It also requires the demolition of the last known example of an Admiralty Longboat House belonging to the Grade II listed Coastguard Station on the cliffs above. (Longboats were the utility ship’s boat of Nelson’s fleet, so utilitarian that no examples of any boat remain). BS residents were perplexed that English Heritage failed to include the boathouse on the beach when they listed the coastguard complex on top of the cliff behind, despite having the Admiralty plans. This Victorian coastguard station is one of the most complete examples in the country.
Despite this strong local opposition, East Devon District Council granted permission last year ignoring formal objections from: Natural England, the World heritage Management Team and the Town Council. However, the High Court has granted me a judicial review into claims of errors and misdirections in the process used to force the approval through the planning committee. This review is due to be heard on November 8.
Bizarrely, a new application has now been submitted, which is almost identical to one rejected last year just before the contested approval. The application seems designed to bypass the judicial system. It raises further questions about whether and how EDDC can deal validly with this application. They have a vested interest in approving it to further their legal defence in the judicial review.
This might seem to be a small matter in the general run of EDDC planning applications. To BS residents it represents an attempt to start commercialising the unspoilt charm of our beach, which differentiates it from other beaches. The way EDDC is handling this application in a WHS/SSSI/AONB raises fundamental issues which should be of concern to all. “
East Devon Alliance (EDA) members would certainly agree!
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Out of Order

28 May

Whether or not you believe there are “Dinosaurs grazing” at Knowle (See SIN’s previous post, 24 May) , at the recent Full Council Meeting two serious dangers for democracy were shown to be lurking in the undergrowth.

They are:

1. What happens when one Party (whichever it is!) becomes too dominant.

Councillor Andrew Moulding’s comments to Cllr Wright  apparently breached the Code of Conduct. That other Conservative Councillors added further  derisory remarks, in support of what he had said, was not just shameful, but out of order.

2. The reasons why few people, especially the young, are attracted to politics, or even think it’s worthwhile voting.

Yet more candidates of the calibre and courtesy of  e. g. newly-elected Independent Councillor, Susie Bond, would help on both counts.

Dinosaurs grazing at the Knowle?

24 May

An excellent question from a member of the public at last night’s EDDC’s full council meeting asked, “Why do so few people bother to vote in local elections?” There seemed general agreement that it would be good to encourage more participation especially from the young.
And presumably this would mean trying to persuade younger working people- including young mums – to  stand for councils to make them  look more like society as a whole.
By the end of the meeting, however, this message seemed lost on some of the more reactionary members of the Majority
Cllr Claire Wright, recently elected to Devon County Council with the largest majority in the county, asked, reasonably,  if the timing of meetings at the Knowle could take into account time pressures on mothers like herself with young children.
Several Tory gentlemen snapped back that they didn’t have problems, demonstrating their machismo and organising skills.
Then  Deputy  Leader Andrew Moulding rudely commented that he doubted whether Cllr Wright “would be able to cope” with  her new responsibilities.
SIN has no doubts  about Claire, but is a bit worried that the likes of Cllr Moulding might not be able to cope with the 21st Century!

A303 upgrade for discussion at meeting TONIGHT

24 May
Councillors P Diviani and D Key are promoting the upgrade of the A303 (possibly to a dual carriageway).
It is not clear whether this project has been discussed at EDDC, nor how many people would oppose the construction of a major new road in the Blackdown Hills AONB.
The  matter is on the agenda at tonight’s Blackdown Hills Parish Network meeting, Fri 24th May  at 7.30pm in Culmstock Village Hall (opposite the Primary School).
This meeting is open to the public.

Attributes of a good Councillor… “artistic dalliances”, perhaps?

24 May

In his speech of thanks to colleagues at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday (23 May), EDDC Leader Paul Diviani emphasised performance. During the past year, he said,  Andrew Moulding, had “performed with dignity and style” ; Phil Twiss had “performed energetically”; and another Councillor was praised for his “artistic dalliances”.

No mention was made of Councillor Stuart Hughes, nor of his star role in setting up the TAFF on the East Devon Business Forum, while he was ably Chairing the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, a position from which he has been unceremoniously removed.

Some in the audience seemed to rate Cllr Diviani’s own script as overly elaborate. Cllr Trevor Cope leapt to his feet, to appeal for a return to Plain Speaking.

Councillors’ “absolutely outrageous” behaviour to fellow Councillor

24 May

Comment and chart sent in to SIN from a member of the public who went to this week’s Full Council meeting at Knowle:

‘The animosity towards Claire Wright at the Full Council Meeting of EDDC  (Weds 23 May) was absolutely outrageous. Does the chart below have any bearing on the way she was treated by various Conservative Councillors, including at times, the new Chair, Graham Godbeer?
 DCC Election results..individual candidates performance 2nd, May 2013
Report of the meeting at http://www.saveoursidmouth.com shortly.

Reminder: re. Vacancy at Newton Poppleford Parish Council

23 May

There’s a meeting this evening (24 May), at NP Village Hall. The Parish Council website has just announced that the Newton Poppleford AGM is at approximately 8pm, following the Annual Parish Meeting which is at 7.30. Confusing?

Scroll down to SIN post for 22 May, for more about the vacancy.