It’s all OUR fault that the Local Plan failed! We local people, campaigners and NIMBYs, not EDDC officers and councillors!

8 Apr

Some interesting comments further down this blog imply that it is local campaign groups and NIMBYs who have caused the draft Local Plan to fail.  According to the commentators (who seem to have an awful lot of information about the planning process and the history of the Local Plan), former Planning supremo Kate Little really wanted 18,000 houses, NIMBYs, naughty protesters and local people in general wanted 12,000 and so the council settled for a figure in the middle of 15,000 – rather in the manner that they seem to have picked numbers generally for the Local Plan – without any or much evidence, according to the Planning Inspector.

If NIMBYs had not moaned and protested, the comments imply, the figure of 18,000 would have satisfied the Inspector and everything would be hunky-dory.

But let us look at the Inspector’s letter more closely. He says:

The 2007 SHMA was updated in 2011 and it was accepted by your consultant at the hearing that it was prepared before the most recent guidance was issued. The 2011 update is founded in part on survey work done in 2007 and so its reliability is questionable. Further, it only covers 2011 to 2016 and is criticised by your other consultants, Roger Tym and Partners who produced the 2011 Housing and Employment Study.

Now, where does the general public or campaign groups or NIMBYs figure in that statement? Could anyone by any stretch of the imagination blame anyone but councillors and officers for this basic error.

In fact, you could say that campaign groups attempted to assist EDDC in correcting its mistakes since they pointed out time and again that EDDC had not taken enough notice of the Tym report where these errors were flagged up.

He goes on:

…I give little weight to the County Council’s work given that it is county wide and is based in part on demand rather than objectively assessed need. I cannot, therefore, conclude that the figure of 15,000 is justified by up to date and appropriate evidence.

Once again, where would campaign groups or NIMBYs be in any position to influence that decision by officers and councillors of a completely different council?  Anyone remember protests outside DCC?

And again:

…. As discussed at the hearing its seems most unlikely to me that parts of West Dorset and East Devon do not fall into the same housing market area. I see that according to the 2007 SHMA and 2011 update the Coastal Towns sub market area includes part of West Dorset and Lyme Regis in particular. However, none of the survey work appears to include any parts of West Dorset.

Please can we see your evidence that the general public, campaign groups or NIMBYs were responsible for this error!

Further on he says:

I am aware that the numbers allocated for villages in Strategy 27 are based on consultations with local communities. However, I am concerned that these figures are not based on an assessment of the ability of the small towns and villages to accommodate growth and that the blanket application of a 5% minimum growth is too crude a tool. Further, the post submission changes to Policy 27 strongly imply that the 5% will be treated as a maxima.

Yes, here we must admit we all played our part. Knowing that it was a “blanket figure” villages bit the bullet and generally agreed to the figures for the greater good. But was it their fault that the officers and councillors did not offer a more flexible tool for their needs?

He continues:

The NPPF advises that plans should preferably have a life of 15 years. This is not fixed in stone but if adopted in 2014, the plan would only have a life of 12 years. …

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I did not hear any of the protesters at EDDC chanting

“What do we want?  A 12 year nor a 15 year local plan!  When do we want it?  NOW!”

I would imagine a Freedom of Information request (probably to be denied) could come up with the person who thought this one up and it is unlikely to be anyone who was not at the time a councillor or officer!

Further on:

The last assessment of the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers was carried out in 2006 and only addressed provision up to 2011.

Again, does anyone recall a protest group shouting “Your gypsy and traveller information is woefully out of date – update it NOW”? Who decided the agenda for the SECOND LDF panel and left it off?  After the first one made no progress whatsoever in its 3 year life under Councillor Brown who was, at the time, also Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum and MUCH more interested in that and visiting housing sites put forward by EDBF members!

Sorry, contributors, fight your corner – as you must – but blaming the public, protest groups and NIMBYs for procedural and mathematical errors in the Local Plan is taking things just a bit too far!





3 Responses to “It’s all OUR fault that the Local Plan failed! We local people, campaigners and NIMBYs, not EDDC officers and councillors!”

  1. feuxdusoleil April 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    I think you have misinterpreted my comment, which was the one that appeared first.

    I was merely stating the facts as I remember them from a meeting of the Local Plan Development working group.

    I didn’t say that it was the fault of the pressure groups. It was your second commentator, Mark Eppels, who claimed that the evidence supported the 18,000 which the LPD working group abandoned because of pressure from speakers.

    As you say in the article, the original Officer proposed figures were closer to 12,000 and that is what the speakers wished EDDC to stick with. The speakers all questioned where the revised figure of 18,000 came from and, since the Officers and Councillors obviously wished to stick with the 18,000, Ms Little proposed the compromise of 15,000.

    It is up to the professionals to judge whether or not they had sufficient evidence to justify moving up from the original 12,000 and down from the new 18,000. It is undoubtedly fact that Ms Little was the person who proposed 15,000, on the fly without any apparent preparation or evidence, at that working party meeting.

    There were many other members of the public at the working group meeting. Perhaps one of them can make a comment to clarify the situation.

  2. Sandra Semple April 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    I was at Local Plan meetings and I think I may be able to undo some of the confusion. As I recall, what was proposed was 15,000 units PLUS windfalls which were expected to total 3,000 units = 18,000 units. So Miss Little proposed both 15,000 AND 18,000 units. Where that seems to fall down may be that either officers dropped the windfalls from their figures or the Inspector was not able to include them in his totals for policy reasons.

  3. Mark Eppels April 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Of course I accept that I may be mistaken. So please forgive me for the rising blood pressure on this site. I am honestly only stating that things are never black and white.

    Here’s to a new, robust a local plan and in the meantime lets hope that the planning committee can ensure development in the interim is truly sustainable. I fear it may not be…

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