Archive | August, 2013

Make your new comments on the Local Plan

23 Aug

And when does consultation on the 53 major amendments to the Local Plan start?  Today:  the day before a long bank holiday and with no announcements in the press to tell people that it has started.  It mentions that they will be writing to all those without email addressed and to statutory consultees.  But when will those people receive their letters – perhaps more than a week into the new consultation period.  Is this proper procedure one has to ask.

How many people know that the site is up and running and the clock has started ticking?

If you wish to make comments online go to

http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/lpchanges

and make sure you make as many comments as possible.

You have until 12 Noon on Monday 7 October 2013 to submit your comments

Pickles speaks (again) and it isn’t good news for EDDC. He says that councils who do not allow recording are guilty of “Abuse of state powers “

22 Aug

We all know that EDDC is dragging its heels as slowly as possible over the recording of meetings.  It has reluctantly so far recorded only one meeting on a trial basis.

Thinks like this are upsetting Mr Pickles and today he has released yet more guidance on what is and is not allowed and he has said that he is  opening up planning appeals to recording by the public and to tweets and emails in real time.  The information is HERE.

A few paragraphs from this guidance give the picture:

A small number of councils are blocking filming because they want to suppress independent reporting, just as some councils are clinging to their town hall Pravdas. An independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy: without the sunlight of transparency, the flowering of localism will wither. Heavy-handed councils who call the police to suppress freedom of speech are abusing state powers.

….. “In June, Mr Pickles published clear guidance to councils asking them to open up to overt filming and social media. This builds on the rights to attend council meetings that were introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1960, following a Private Members’ Bill in her maiden speech to Parliament.

However, since June, some councils are still continuing to oppose an independent press:

  • Wirral Council has said filming a planning committee would compromise “health and safety”
  • Tower Hamlets Council barred a 71 year old resident from filming due the risk of “reputational damage to the authority”
  • Keighley Town Council blocked residents filming as it would amount to a “breach of standing orders”
  • Bexley Council said audio and visual filming would breach its “agreed protocol”
  • Stamford Town Council has placed a ban on journalists tweeting from meetings due to the risk of them “not accurately portraying a debate”
  • a blogger in Huntingdonshire was removed by police for filming, and has advised fellow bloggers to “be prepared for the police to be called and the possibility of arrest” if they try to film or report council meetings

The Welsh government has also rebuffed the suggestion that the same approach should be taken to open up council meetings in Wales, as is being pushed in England. Welsh ministers have claimed that the interest in openness is “an unhealthy obsession” and a blogger in Carmarthenshire was arrested and handcuffed by the police for filming a council meeting. …..

….. “A small number of councils are blocking filming because they want to suppress independent reporting, just as some councils are clinging to their town hall Pravdas. An independent local press and robust public scrutiny is essential for a healthy local democracy: without the sunlight of transparency, the flowering of localism will wither. Heavy-handed councils who call the police to suppress freedom of speech are abusing state powers.” …..

Unfortunately, Mr Pickles is also guilty of being less than transparent here – he is not actually forcing councils to do this.  What he is putting out is still “advice” and “guidance” only.  Until the law is changed councils such as ours will be able to continue dragging their heels, no matter what he says.

Unless WE ensure that this does not happen by constantly making our views known at every council meeting and in public and in the press.

East Devon Business Forum investigation posponed yet again – for the most spurious of reasons

22 Aug

Details HERE.

Surely it should be up to the current TAFF to decide its own method of investigation – yes – investigation – and whether to invite any members of a new business forum to any of its meetings?  Who took this extraordinary decision on behalf of this TAFF one wonders?  How far was the Chief Executive involved?  Note that the press release does not mention the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

What is the point of an Overview and Scrutiny Committee manipulated by EDDC Officers?

And, once again, EDDC officers are attempting to postpone any discussion of how employment land came to be inflated until the Local Plan is (again) safely with the Inspector in the hope that the problem will somehow go away then.  No chance EDDC.

Does anyone detect a strong smell around the Knowle? Remember Clive Aslet noticed it some time ago, in his Telegraph article, Sidmouth Mans the Barricades?  Check it at  http://www.saveoursidmouth.com  (Oct 23 2012),   search Save Our Sidmouth reaches the Daily Telegraph

Newton Poppleford pulled application: another EDDC planning bungle?

21 Aug

The Clinton Devon Estates’ planning application for 40 houses at King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford, was pulled from deliberation at yesterday’s DMC after a ‘last minute’ intervention from Natural England. Committee chair Cllr Helen Parr expressed surprise.

SIN’s friendly planning expert tells us that EDDC planners shouldn’t have been surprised that the application was challenged – and, in fact, had it been approved, it would have been wide open to judicial review because vital environmental safeguards were missing.

The Newton Pop site is a short bird flight from the internationally protected East Devon Pebblebed Heaths where Dartford warblers and nightjars nest.

Any major development near such a Special Protection Area is deemed likely to have  significant effects on them. Therefore legally, it must include very detailed provisions to mitigate these effects.

The CDE application included no such provisions.

Which makes it even more remarkable that planning officers’ recommended the application for approval.

And that East Devon AONB has failed to comment on this proposal to concrete over part of the landscapes they are supposed to protect.

Seaton: EDDC votes to share the profits with Tesco but no affordable housing on the site

21 Aug

The following comes by email from Sandra Semple, who was at yesterday’s Development Management Committee meeting for the item on Seaton, where Tesco has petitioned for the removal of all the affordable housing on its site to make it more saleable, as it has many problems associated with the infilling of the site which mean that only certain types of houses can be built and fewer of them.

“What I say below is a personal opinion only and reflects my layperson understanding of the debate.

The DMC heard from myself and Paul Arnott:  there were no representatives of the town council in attendance.  District Councillor Peter Burrows was in attendance earlier in the day as a member of the DMC but left before this item.  District Councillor Steph Jones appeared in her capacity as Deputy Portfolio Holder for Housing.

Members of the committee appeared strongly of the view that Tesco was going a step too far.  They particularly disliked the comment from the company’s agent that if EDDC did not agree to what they wanted, they would appeal.  Some thought this was unacceptable pressure.  One member of the committee noted that no affordable housing has been built in Seaton for many, many years and if this reduction was allowed other developers in the town would think they should have the same treatment.

Mr Freeman (I forget what title he has these days) pointed out that there was a mistake in calculations in the documentation (not sure whose fault) and that whereas it had been stated that the company might sustain a loss of over £2 million if affordable housing were included, the real amount on the figures provided was more like £750,000. 

It was suggested that this application was a good candidate for EDDC’s new policy of “overage” and here I get a little fuzzy about what they mean – and to be fair so did some of the members of the committee.  However, what it appears (to me) to be is that yes, Tesco will be allowed to take out the affordable housing BUT EDDC will put in place an overage clause which says that when the potential loss has been recovered (i.e. after the £750,000 loss has been taken into account – or whatever the correct figure is) then EDDC will take a percentage of the profit thereafter.  This means, as I understand it, that, say, Tesco sells the site for £5 million, then they ignore the first £750,000 and the remaining profit is then split between EDDC and Tesco.  The EDDC lawyer in attendance could not remember what the percentages agreed were but I have looked it up and the default allowed in the new policy is 50% each but EDDC has the option to increase this percentage if it sees paperwork which shows that the profit could be extremely high. 

This only applies to the current planning application.  If the site is still vacant when the current planning application runs out then everything has to be renegotiated including the S106 agreements and percentage of affordable housing.

Throughout the afternoon several members of the committee (perhaps with an eye to the next election) said that the economic climate was improving and that this meant that Tesco has less to worry about.

Waldron’s Farm extension: planning permission refused – just

21 Aug

EDDC’s Development Management Committee refused the planning application to extend the Waldron’s Farm Industrial Estate by a majority of only 1 – six votes to five after committee members heard from members of the public living near the site who complained that the businesses on the site were noisy and repeatedly flouted conditions regarding noise and late night and weekend working.  In the end the committee ignored these pleas but were swayed by the size, mass and appearance of the buildings, particularly from the A3052.

Those with long memories will know that the original granting of planning permission for this site was highly controversial and it seems that the controversy will not go away.

EDDC’s Plan Unravels?

20 Aug

The inspector who told EDDC to consult again on their Local Plan mentioned two key aspects of the Leadership’s “ambitions” for the Sid Valley.

Namely, Knowle (to be flogged off to pay for Cllr Diviani’s dream of moving to new offices in Honiton) and Sidford (where a 12-acre  business park in the AONB will “compensate” for the resultant loss of employment land .)

Alexandria Road Industrial Estate, which according to the Leader has insoluble problems of accessibility for industrial activities, will then become very accessible indeed  for a supermarket and/or housing.  It will be just like “winning the lottery” for certain lucky landowners.

Except now the usual hounds will have another opportunity to poke their noses into these secretive projects.

Who knows what fresh truffles they may unearth?

Now EDDC’s Local Plan has to go back to the drawing board: 53 major problems

19 Aug

Full story HERE

The CEO of East Devon and South Somerset district councils now has the dubious honour of both of his Local Plans being in major difficulties.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Development Management Committee says: ““This development comes as no surprise to me or to our planning team. It is common for Inspectors to call for further consultation on Local Plans submitted to them and this is only to be expected when you consider how much interest there is in the planning agenda both nationally and locally.”

Mrs Parr: the further consultation required is because the Inspector says that East Devon District Council did not consult on major changes to your Local Plan when it should have done so, not because it was so interesting!

Comments anyone?

Newton Poppleford planning application will not be heard tomorrow, after intervention by Natural England

19 Aug

Story broken by Sidmouth Herald today:

A controversial planning application at Newton Poppleford has been taken off the agenda of an EDDC planning meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at the eleventh hour due to an intervention by Natural England.

The Government’s official adviser on wildlife and conservation is one of several ‘statutory consultees’ who were asked to comment on Clinton Devon estates’ proposal for up to 40 homes plus doctors’ surgery off King Alfred Way.

Their comments had not been received when the formal deadline passed several weeks ago, but finally arrived today (Monday). Such is the weight attached to Natural England’s views that EDDC had no option but to postpone the item so that their comments could be considered and built into the recommendation to the Development Management Committee (DMC).

Councillor Mrs Helen Parr, Chairman of East Devon’s DMC, commented: “It’s a pity that these comments were delayed to the extent that we were about to meet to decide the application, but the democratic process dictates that we should consider all relevant views.

“Officers will now consider the comments made by Natural England and will assess what, if any, impact this will have on the recommendation to DMC. The application will be debated by committee at the first available opportunity, hopefully in September”.

“Planning by the back door” at Tipton St John?

19 Aug

Article, reproduced in full below HERE

CHANGES to plans for 15 new homes in Tipton St John have been branded ‘planning by the back-door’ by the village residents sssociation.

The site at Barton Orchard originally included provision for 1.75 acres of public open space, but this was reduced to 0.5 acres after East Devon District Council (EDDC) approved the changes at a private meeting last week.

Bill Bolt, treasurer of the Tipton Residents’ Association, said the news had not been well received in the village. He said: “This is planning by the back door – we’re up in arms about it.  “EDDC have said it’s a legal issue not a planning one but as far as we’re concerned they have changed the application without any public consultation.”  “A lot of people are worried they’re fencing off the land because they plan to build more houses there in the future. Why else would they be doing it?”

The original application received a number of complaints from Tipton residents who were unhappy that the development was taking place on such a prominent hill and on land designated an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’.

Councillor John Harding, who lives close to the site, said: “Tipton was allocated 10 houses in the local plan which runs until 2026 – we’re already 50 per cent over this.  “EDDC say this change isn’t a major material issue, but it certainly is for the residents of the village who are worried this is the first step ahead of an application for more houses.”  “If we had legal assurance from the developer that there would be no more houses people wouldn’t be so concerned; but of course we’ve not been given that assurance.”

A spokesman for EDDC said that the change to the application is limited to the fencing off of existing agricultural land and that the remaining open space was still adequate for a development of that scale. He added: “Any potential threat of additional housing on the excluded land would be subject to a new planning application which would be considered on its merits and against the provisions of the upcoming Village Plan.”