Search results for 'local plan'

Some fascinating Local Plan history

26 Apr

On the. East Devon Alliance  website

which seems to confirm that the project started badly and did not improve.

Read and digest: York council criticised for keeping documents about their Local Plan secret

21 Apr

Local Plan just “motoring along” , says relaxed EDDC Leader

9 Apr

That was this evening’s best quote at the Full Council meeting at Knowle.   It was in Paul Diviani’s reply to Councillor Roger Giles,: “Roger, you have a big hangup about the Local Plan. It’s motoring along”, he said, to much laughter from the assembly.

At the same meeting, in Councillor Bloxham’s words, there was “No rubber-stamping exercise” of changes to public speaking rules. See first report at this link:

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!




Employment Land figures and other parts of the Local Plan NOT passed

6 Apr

On rereading EDDC’s press releases, it appears that the Inspector has refused to look at the rest of the submitted Local Plan until the housing figures have been reworked and resubmitted, cross-border housing has been sorted and gypsy and traveller sites evidence reworked and resubmitted.  Only then will he consider other issues.

The East Devon District Council press release on the failure of the Local Plan, dissected

6 Apr

Enough time for reflection, it is now time to dissect EDDC’s travesty of an explanation for the humungous cock-up that was the submission of its Local Plan for inspection.

Here is the press release (c0mments in BOLD):

East Devon is not an island so its future is linked to neighbours

This has absolutely NOTHING to do with the cock-up which was entirely because EDDC did not submit the right evidence or up-to-date evidence. It relied on old policies that had been replaced in the National Planning Policy Framework. EDDC’s housing evidence was so out-of-date and such poor quality that the Inspector refused to deal with any other aspect of the Local Plan until this basic major mistake is corrected.

How on earth the Development Management officers and the councillors who passed on the draft Local Plan to the Inspector ever expected this not to be noticed is beyond belief. Nor from the bits we saw of the Inspector’s public meetings did they make any effort whatsoever to either excuse themselves or defend themselves for the mistake.

EDDC is to be given more time to provide additional evidence as to the volume of housing that is right for the district looking ahead over the next two decades. That’s the key message from a preliminary letter to the council from a planning inspector examining East Devon’s draft Local Plan.

EDDC is NOT being given time to provide additional evidence. It is being ordered to provide NEW and CONVINCING evidence rather than the “suck it and see” figures it submitted this time around.

The council’s efforts to protect East Devon’s unique environment will continue – but against a background of acknowledging the national and regional pressures for new homes.

Translation: well, guess we will have to go back to the drawing board but no sweat – the developers can just tell us what they want and we will give it to them for as long as it takes. And we all know how long things take at EDDC – laid-back council that it is.

Members of the Planning Policy Team will now produce an action plan showing the extra work it intends to do and the timing of each stage that will take these tasks through to completion.

Members of the Planning Policy team that remain in post after this total cock-up should be burning midnight oil 24 hours a day 7 days a week to provide the Inspector with what he has instructed them to provide not “producing a new action plan showing the work they intend to do”. Do the work: don’t talk about doing the work. Though, of course, once again, it will probably be handed out to consultants.

Aware that the council has for some months been working on a joint exercise to look at housing need into the future, Planning Inspector Anthony Thickett says he wants to see the results of that exercise to help him decide if EDDC has forecast the right level of housing.

Er, anyone here aware of anything that EDDC has been working on about housing needs in the future? Anyone seen a press release or a working party or a committee doing this. No, thought not. This again is an excuse for inertia.

Until that data is available, and until several other important matters are resolved, he cannot sign off the plan or – to use the technical term – find it sound.

And until several other important matters are resolved…”. What other important matters?

In August 2013, around the time that East Devon’s draft Local Plan was first submitted to the Inspector, the council agreed to work with Devon County Council, Exeter City Council, Mid Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council on a Strategic Housing Marketing Assessment (SHMA).

Here is what Mid-Devon has to say about this:#

In August 2013, DCA was commissioned to carry out a joint strategic housing market assessment for the partner authorities of Mid Devon District Council, East Devon District Council, Teignbridge District Council, Exeter City Council and Dartmoor National Park.

This assessment, once completed, will be posted on this webpage, hopefully at the beginning of 2014. [April 2014:  no sign of it]


And here is how Exeter has already done its updating of its Local Plan’s SHLA in May 2013 in case EDDC spends too much time reinventing this particular wheel:

And no mention of what was also in the Inspector’s letter: a woeful inability to work with West Dorset! What are the plans for working with them?


It is the outcome of this exercise – expected in the next few months – that the inspector feels will provide more accurate data on which to set a longer term housing target for East Devon.

Months! Months? You have already wasted 5 years! This should be days or weeks, not months! Although, of course, months or years will keep the developers very happy!

In a letter to the council’s planning policy team, to be released at 5pm on Thursday 3 April, Inspector Anthony Thickett explains that the information he collected in a three-week enquiry at the beginning of the year did not fully cover all the bases.

And exactly why was it released exactly four days after EDDC received it? EDDC gave the impression that it was because Mr Thickett insisted on it but there is no mention of this in his letter. Was it because it took that long to find a spin on the blunder? I bet someone burned the midnight oil on that!

He cannot therefore find the current version of the Local Plan to be ‘sound’. In addition to the SHMA work, he also wants EDDC to make more progress than it has done so far in assessing the need for gypsy and traveller sites – and, if there is a demonstrable need, to identify locations where such sites could be created.

He can’t find it sound because you sent in such a lousy document it fell at the first hurdle! Even after he picked up 53 mistakes in it last year.

So far as housing volume is concerned, there needs to be a clear picture as to how many homes are to be built on land in East Devon for the benefit of the district and how many may be needed to satisfy demand in Exeter – which has a dire shortage of housing land. Within East Devon, the inspector also wants more work to be done allocating volumes of housing around the district to get the distribution right.

But that is the whole point of a Local Plan! Anyone would think that EDDC had only just been told of this requirement. It is the fact that they DID IT ALL WRONG that is the problem! And let us not forget: if this plan had been passed BEFORE the NPPF (as it could have done if it had not been hijacked by members of the East Devon Business Forum) it would now have been passed into law without having to take anything at all into account and without a developer building frenzy!

Reacting to the news, Paul Diviani, Leader of EDDC, said: “This is pretty much what we expected. It is quite common for an inspector to ask for more information before finding a local plan to be sound. Neighbouring councils in Teignbridge, West Dorset and West Somerset have all had similar delays for similar reasons.

This really takes the biscuit! Well, it really doesn’t matter because everyone in this area is cocking up so why worry … How come Exeter has had a plan in place for a couple of years then? The Inspector asked for more information last year. This year he has told EDDC: you totally bungled this. Rather different. And if you expected it – why did you expect it. Did you know it was a mess? If so, why submit it?

“This is such a complex subject that it is difficult to get all the boxes ticked in one go. After spending so long refining our plans and consulting on them, at some point you have to jump in and say: ‘OK – let’s see how close we are to what the Government wants to see’.

It is NOT such a complex subject! It MIGHT have been if you had been the first local authority to submit a Local Plan but scores of authorities have had their plans submitted AND passed as sound. You don’t “get close to what the government wants”: you give the government what it wants!

Moving target

“This is especially so when there is a moving target. Our original plan was based on the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), which the Coalition has since scrapped. Now the plan has to conform to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and, just within the past few weeks, that framework’s set of guidelines (NPPG).

See above: every local authority seems to have understood that the RSS would not work and that the NPPF was king. And as for the guidelines: they have no effect at all on putting in Local Plans and what strategy you use – that is totally clear in the NPPF!

“In the circumstances I am relaxed about the extra work we have to do. We will now put together an action plan showing what we will be doing and when. We hope to go back to the inspector in the autumn with the extra information he needs.

Relaxed! Relaxed! Action Plan! Oh, God, do these people NEVER learn! “We hope” to go back in autumn. And which autumn would that be. Or perhaps you are waiting for Nu-EDBF to be reborn so that it can tell you what it wants first!

“In the meantime, our planning procedures will carry on as they have done up to now, with proposals looked at on merit and tested for sustainability, as well as taking into account the issue of land supply.

Pull the other one: Feniton, Gittisham, Newton Poppleford, Old Park Farm … the list is endless – all because you have no idea what “sustainability” is because the NPPF doesn’t define it well enough for anyone to make a judgment call. So, developers, scenting the wounded beast, pounce in and trash the idea.

“One of the important things to remember is that in planning terms East Devon is not an island – and the communities within it cannot be taken in isolation either. We are all a part of the Exeter sub-region and as such the future shape of our district is closely coupled with the needs of our neighbours”.

So, there you are. We are no longer “East Devon” we are the “Exeter Sub-Region”. Well, we knew that really. Otherwise, why move to Skypark!

Farewell EDDC, hail ESR!

Heads? Roll? Never! If anything more heads will be recruited … oh, aren’t we lucky …..


Is it the fault of East Devon NIMBYs that the Local Plan failed?

6 Apr

Some comments on this blog seem to imply that the failure of the Local Plan is because local NIMBYs influenced the housing numbers in the submitted plan.

Rubbish:  if that were so then our councillorss and officers should resign en-masse for being such lily-livers!  We paid officers and consultants thousands and thousands of pounds to come up with these numbers.  And bear in mind that they went up from an original 12,000 to 15,000 in this time.  Doubt the NIMBYs had much to do with that!

Show us your evidence commentators, show us your evidence.


EDDC totally screws up Local Plan: developers free-for-all to continue indefinitely

3 Apr


We all knew the plan was cobbled together in haste – here is the proof, though no mention of employment land so presumably he is happy for Sidford Fields to go ahead ….

Remember this when we come to vote.

Omission sites in the Local Plan and the “Old Park Farm 2” planning application: some worrying facts

19 Mar

These are sites that developers feel should be included in a Local Plan but which are not – the Planning Inspector hears evidence about the sites and then decided whether to include them in the local plan.  EDDC’s list of omission sites and their rationale for each of them is in the evidence they presented to the Inspector earlier this month

Click to access ws19writtenstatement19omissionsitesbuabandgreenwedgefinal.pdf

This matters because one of the omission sites – the “Old Park Farm 2” site – is now the subject of a “special” meeting of the Development Management Committee on 25 March 2014.  This is a site owned by the Stuart family – former enthusiastic members of the East Devon Business Forum.

The Planning Inspector said at the hearing that, if Local Plan numbers are OK, the omission sites will not be discussed in his report at all and he has confirmed that his report will be with EDDC by 31 March 2014.

So, why has a “special” meeting been arranged for this particular planning application (on a site owned by a former EDBF member) when it may well be that by 31 March it could be discounted from the local plan?

It appears that the reason given is that, as a rule, planning applications should be decided within 13 weeks and so this application must be heard before the inspector reports.  However, a correspondent on the website of Independent Councillor Claire Wright has pointed out that the clock only starts ticking on the 13 weeks when all documents have been received, as reported by Damien Mills below:

A district council spokesperson justifies considering these applications ahead of the Planning Inspector’s verdict on the local plan on the basis that, ‘… otherwise they would not be considered within the Government’s specified 13-week period which would put the council at risk of an appeal.’

Like Phil Wakely, I think this is a red herring as the Town and Country Planning [Development Management Procedure] [England] Order 2010 clearly states that the 13-week period begins the day after the application and any supporting documents are received:

‘A valid application shall be taken to have been received when the application, and such of the documents, particulars or evidence referred to above as are required to be included in, or to accompany, the application have been lodged with the appropriate authority mentioned in article 10(1) and the fee required to be paid has been paid.’

While it is not clear from East Devon’s planning portal when, exactly, the revised application was submitted, it is apparent that the supporting documents were not lodged with the council until Monday, January 6 – see, for instance, documents 1313229 [on Page 2] and 1313227 and 1313228 on Page 3:

On this basis, the Development Management Committee has until April 4 to reach a decision so, why is it we are being encouraged to believe otherwise?!

So, we seem to have special treatment for a planning application which might, within days of its hearing, be declared as not being needed.

Sidmouth – Local Plan, day 2 – more snippets

13 Mar

Knowle: Objections raised over change of use/loss of employment to Sidmouth & East Devon; to loss of Council Chambers as community assets; to damage to park/loss of garden-lawn prospect (Inspector called this “curtilage”)/garden depot; to loss of 232 parking spaces for visitors; to threat
to wildlife (horseshoe bats, badgers, dormice); to traffic hazards…It was suggested that a mixed employment site at Knowle would cater for many of businesses proposed for Sidford site.
Port Royal: Little discussion/no details. 30 houses likely to be luxury flats/second homes.  Concerns expressed over proximity of sewage station, loss of drill hall and possibly of sailing club.
Persimmon’s proposal for 152 houses on AONB at Woolbrook: Agent argued that Sidmouth “needed” 300 houses, not 150, that Persimmon would pay for a roundabout on A3052 and a 100-space park-and-leave facility (this either with hopper bus or based on notion that visitors would arrange to arrive in two cars and leave one there!). The development would be behind hedges and had support of Sidmouth Town Council (Inspector said country “needed” more housing).
Boutique hotel-cum-cookery school on AONB at Fortescue: Richard Eley’s proposal based on fact that Sidmouth was a tourist town and had lost several hotels recently to housing (Inspector suggested that Knowle might be a better site for this hotel!).