Archive | February, 2014

“Planning Impossible” – on TV this evening

26 Feb

Best put it on record, as you will be at the EDDC meeting which decides what happens about Knowle/Skypark, won’t you!

BBC2 7 pm

Advertised as:

“Residents protest against a housing development on a greenfield site in Cheshire and an architect tries to get approval to extend a Turkish restaurant in Hertfordshire.  Continues tomorrow”

Episode 1 is still on iPlayer HERE 

and contains some bits that are of direct relevance in our area

Duration: 1 hour

In this episode of Permission Impossible: Britain’s Planners, one of Britain’s biggest house builders is proposing to build 1,500 homes near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. While many local objectors are concerned about losing the green fields, one couple stand not just to lose their business but the home they’ve lived in for 22 years.

In Denbigh, North Wales head of planning, Graham Boase is on a mission to save a Grade II listed building. Denbigh Hospital was built in 1848 to care for mentally ill patients. Now the building is in the hands of private developers who have let it fall into disrepair. The planners want to issue a compulsory purchase order forcing the owners to sell them the building, but they need the full backing of the planning committee. Will permission be granted to save this historic building?

In the sleepy hamlet of Butterow in the Cotswolds, a landowner has applied for planning permission for a builders’ yard at the end of a residential lane. For local residents and objectors, the prospect of having their quiet country idyll interrupted by heavy goods vehicles hasn’t gone down well. And in Frodsham, Cheshire, a property developer has plans to build two new and contemporary design homes. But will the objectors stop the scheme from going ahead?

Chief Executives, councillors and democracy – Welsh style

26 Feb

Anyone who has been following the fiasco that is Welsh Local Government politics (and even those who have not but are unhappy about  officer/executive board/leader relationships should take a look at the Welsh language version of our own Inside Out (relax, with subtitles) which will be available for a few more days.  Illegal payments, private meetings in the Chief Executive’s office about his salary and possible ways to avoid tax on it, government auditors, officers in charge …. it has it all!

You want to know what is wrong with local politics?  View this:

http://www.s4c.co.uk/clic/e_level2.shtml?series_id=518068192

Choose the English language site then click on subtitles (one of the buttons on the right hand side, the button on the far left of the right hand side if that doesn’t sound too confusing!) for subtitles.

A named vote for the move to Skypark? Probably not, so …..

26 Feb

Remember the last “named vote” fiasco when it was voted down by the majority party?

Just in case this happens tonight, suggest everyone has a “councillor buddy” to keep an eye on and see how they vote.

EDDC Skypark move “not set in stone”, says councillor

26 Feb

Voting at tonight’s Full Council (6.30pm , Knowle) will reveal more.  See  http://eastdevonalliance.org/2014/02/26/eddc-move-to-skypark-deal-could-be-sealed-today/

“Flood zone 3A will become Flood Zone 3B by 2025” , Sidmouth hearing told.

26 Feb

Yesterday’s resumed Hearings into EDDC’s Local Plan took a long hard look at the proposal for housing at Sidmouth  and  a 12.5 acre business park at Sidford.

 A score of speakers representing Sidmouth Town Council, Sidmouth  Chamber of Commerce, Save our Sidmouth and Sidmouth and Sidford residents put the case against the Council’s controversial employment land allocation. Some highlights:

1.       The council’s justification for the scale of the proposed development appeared about as robust as a dead duck.

a)      A succession of speakers pointed out the EDDC’s own figures for the number of houses planned (150) would justify  a couple of acres of employment land at most (preferably on several small scale, mostly existing, sites) .

b)      Unemployment in Sidmouth was minimal.

c)       Currently in-commuters exceeded out-commuters: a big new business park  would drag in hundreds more workers defeating the Council’s  aim of reducing commuting.

2.       The Sidford site ticked all the ‘disastrous choice’ boxes.

a)      It would sacrifice a chunk of the AONB in one of the most visible places.

b)      It’s on a flood plain, and would likely  make flooding worse, including lower down the Sid.

c)       It would fatally weaken the  ‘green gap ‘ between Sidford and Sidbury.

d)      It’s not accessible: two lorries can’t pass in School Street leading to the site.

3.       EDDC seem to have looked at alternative sites with a Nelson’s eye, apparently losing one rival landowners proposal, and according to another one, dismissing his offer because of his continuing feud with the council.

4.       EDDC’s plan was valiantly defended by………….the agent for the promoter of the site!

5.       When the Council team put their oar in, it splintered! The planning officer was given the equivalent of six of the best by the Inspector­­- who would make an excellent headmaster- when he confessed, that EDDC had failed to conduct its own flood risk assessment on the Sidford.

Never mind, the Council had complete confidence in the promoter’s consultant’s research which concluded building a business park was the ultimate flood defence!(Expensive business, if Halcrow Report about Flood zone 3A proves right!)

6.       Attention finally turned to the Alexandria Road site which most speakers thought was under-used. The promoter’s agent predictably condemned it as unfit for purpose, and the access impossible to improve.

7.       Some irreverent wag commented that the big supermarket lined up to move in to Alex would quickly solve this problem.

Sidmouth’s Day at the Local Plan inspection – highlights

26 Feb

As anticipated, there was too much to cover in the Sidmouth hearing – many speakers (though as mentioned before not a single EDDC councillor asked to speak – odd that, all of them thinking alike again as they seem to do all the time these days, though they are not, of course whipped).

Day 2 will be Wednesday 12 March.

Inspector Thickett maintained a neutral demeanour throughout, as befits a Planning Inspector!

For further highlights, see

http://saveoursidmouth.com/

and

The Express and Echo report here:

http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/8220-Sidmouth-does-need-employment-land-8221/story-20706337-detail/story.html

Richard Eley questioned the absurdity of the commuting calculations, where it is claimed that EDDC, once again, fails to have a firm grip on basic mathematics.

EDDC officers looked uncomfortable when asked to explain their assessments of the relative merits of the four employment sites that had been put forward.

Dr Stephen Wozniak gave an impressive  presentation of flooding issues.

One highlight was when EDDC officer Matt Dickens said that he never expected the Sidford site to be delivered in its entirety because of the need to address the flooding issues, to which Ian Barlow responded: “Does that mean we don’t need 5.5 hectares”!

Better than TV … the EDDC full council meeting, Wednesday 26 February 2014

25 Feb

6.30 p.m. Council Chamber, Knowle.

LOTS of juicy stuff on the agenda which is here

Roll up, roll up – see “local democracy” (or what passes for it in East Devon) at work.

W(h)ither the East Devon Business Forum Task and Finish Group?

25 Feb

Remember it?  Kicked into the long grass for as long as possible with many and varied excuses?

The main one (and it was an excuse not a reason) was that it must NOT take place whilst the Local Plan was being inspected – though we never really understood why, as it was nothing to do with the Inspector and he seems well able enough to take care of himself in these matters as some of his comments have shown – nothing quite like a blunt Lancastrian for showing who is in charge.

Well, that’s just about in its last week now so time to get the show back on the road boys and girls.

EDBF still has a fully-functioning website by the way – presumably paid for by EDDC as they didn’t get money from anyone else to run it – just one of the things that needs attention.

We look forward to seeing the agenda for the next meeting VERY shortly.  Remember, councils with Executive Boards must have Overview and Scrutiny Committees by law so that they can be seen to be accountable ……. er …..

Building free-for-all in National Parks? Boles has a solution …

25 Feb

Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes is worried that if landowners in National Parks are free to convert their barns into accommodation it will be only for the rich, meaning that there is even less chance of people getting affordable homes in the nearby areas.

However, fear not, Nick Boles, the (in)famous Planning Minister has the solution: he says: “National Parks could instead be given guidance to look upon planning applications favourably“.

Now, there’s a solution!
Still, on the bright side, EDDC fought tooth-and-nail the idea, mooted favourably in Dorset, that the World Heritage Jurassic Coast should become a National Park, because they would lose control pf planning matters.
This way, they could retain control AND have a National Park with nothing changing!  Except, of course, that National Parks wouldn’t be National Parks any longer, they would be “development opportunities”.

Strange goings on in Exmouth

25 Feb

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/debate_concerns_delay_strand_shelter_discussion_1_3364196

Is it just us, or do councils these days seem to have ever-changing rules depending on who is discussing what?  Or perhaps no rules at all except the ones made up on the day?  Or is there more to this than meets the eye?  Who knows?  And, more important, how will we ever know!