A quick round up of the week’s events.

On Wednesday (26th Feb) the EDDC council voted to push ahead with the relocation, probably to a SkyPark site (pending yet more consultation!), with costs of close to £1,000,000 approved for the purchase of land for the newbuild offices.
For a fuller report, please see following link…http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sale-and-skypark-spend-voted-through-under-veil-of-cabinet-minutes/

On Thursday morning (27th Feb) Cllr. Claire Wright was interviewed on Radio Devon about the motion to have an independent survey of the Knowle Buildings done – Cllr. Diviani declined to make any comment

For Full story – http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/knowle-sell-off-diviani-declines-radio-devons-invitation-to-be-interviewed-this-morning/

For Radio Interview – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01r46tb Claire Wright Interview on BBC Radio Devon – from 40.10 mins

Last week Devon County Council (DCC) voted 32-23 against letting members of the Youth Service speak for 3 minutes about the proposed £970,000 cuts to their budget, on the grounds they had not sought permission within the deadline and to allow them to do so would set a bad precedent.

They failed to mention the deadline for submission was Friday 14th February, 7 days before the meeting, but news of the cuts was only released “accidentally” on Thursday 13th February, so leaving the Youth Service very little time to organise. The organisers contacted the council requesting permission to speak during the week in the run-up to the meeting, which confirms the council were fully aware of their request days beforehand, so could easily have avoided this shameful episode. For webcast of the DCC decision, see following link from 20.20 mins onwards.

Webcast of DCC Decision – http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/118409

And for Cllr. Moulding’s written justification of the decision, please see DCC Reply- http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/why_devon_county_council_tories_voted_against_against_allowing_young_people

To sign the Youth Service petition please follow the link… http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/john-hart-protect-our-youth-services-from-budget-cuts

For latest news on the Local Plan Examination Hearings, please see recent posts on this EDA website.

An Inspector Calls – on Climate Change Policy at EDDC.

An observer has sent us this report of Thursday’s hearing (27th February) in the Examination in Public (EiP), on the Local Plan policy on Climate Change:

An interesting 90 minutes at the Knowle yesterday. The admirable Mr Thickett calmly and powerfully demolished the EDDC policies and procedures. “This policy is so unspecific that it has no likelihood of being implemented.”

I suspect a new set of Building Regulations may emerge in due course.

The Green Party and Tesco had reserved places but failed to put in an appearance. There seemed to be no consideration of food security, water storage and drainage.

The Inspector unpicked the vague, inadequate or non-existent documentation on environmental impact, and sustainable design and construction – “The sustainable construction policy is more a ‘don’t annoy the neighbours’ policy.”

He advised them to rewrite a policy which suggests that the only low energy and renewable energy projects to be considered in East Devon would be as part of a building project, not as stand-alone developments.

The CPRE made a convoluted and unconvincing argument against wind and solar energy projects – but at least they agreed with AD, biomass and hydro. Nobody promoted fracking… EDDC expert advisers said that “CHP and other low carbon solutions are generally not viable”. The Inspector was dubious.

The Inspector probed the justification for inconsistency in the codes to be applied in different parts of the District. A representative for Cranbrook developers drew attention to the unfair treatment they get from the unequal rules for developments elsewhere.

In view of the high levels of mistrust generated among the public over the past two years of manoeuvring by EDDC I feel we need to ask why the documentation was so poor. Is it because

a) the officers are incompetent
b) the ruling group are indifferent
c) the residents of East Devon do not care
d) there is a conspiracy between senior officers, councillors, private developers and landowners – often the same people in different roles – to permit widespread under-regulated highly profitable piecemeal development all over the east of the District while getting brownie points for the fig-leaf of higher standards of compliance and comprehensive low carbon infrastructure within the eco-town of Cranbrook-on-flood plain.

No whipping at EDDC, so why the synchronised change of mind?

Some Conservative Councillors voted against the motion (only slightly differently worded) that they had vociferously backed and voted for at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. No debate was aired, to indicate what had caused this complete reversal. A recorded vote was proposed, but firmly rejected ‘en bloc’ by the Tory Councillors. (Of course, it’s not obligatory to follow a whip. As Cllr Tony Howard told a group of EDA members at last night’s meeting, he has voted against the whip at least twice at the DMC.)

Comment on today’s EDDC press release is at this link: http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/27/council-leader-says-eddc-will-be-engaging-with-customers-and-stakeholders-on-office-relocation/

Principles behind Knowle relocation have been abandoned, says EDDC Councillor

This speech was made last night:

26 FEBRUARY 2014



Chairman, when I first heard of the proposal to relocate the EDDC offices from The Knowle to Honiton, I thought that the principle of it had some merit.
To go from Sidmouth, despite all its many charms, to a much more central East Devon location at Honiton and the benefit of a railway station as well as the A30 and A35 appeared to be sensible.
To have new designed-for-purpose offices, rather than a converted hotel with myriad corridors and staircases also seemed sensible on the face of it.
Of course the principle often becomes much less attractive when the details of what is necessary become known – particularly the costings.

The costs of the project have rocketed.

And the principles behind it have been abandoned.

No longer is a central location proposed – but a location virtually in Exeter.

Quite understandably the people of Sidmouth and Sidmouth Town Council were very concerned about the proposed relocation. Concerned about the effect on The Knowle and its magnificent grounds and trees. Concerned about the effect on Sidmouth`s economy and the loss of jobs. Concerned about the consequent and excessive provision of 5 hectares of employment at Sidford.

But Sidmouth`s loss was to be Honiton`s gain. Lots of jobs for Honiton people, and a boost for Honiton`s economy.

Not now!

When this relocation project was first proposed the economy was relatively buoyant; people were relatively well off; and this Council was also relatively well off.

Not now! There is a much harsher economic climate. Many ordinary people – the better off – have had to pull their belts in. Many more are in a far far worse situation and are really struggling to pay their bills – including their Council Tax bills. This Council is suffering from unfair financial settlements from the Government.

It is important that we do not lose sight of the purpose of East Devon District Council. EDDC exists to provide services for the people of East Devon. To provide those services it spends taxpayers` money. Of course to enable it to provide services for the people of East Devon EDDC needs offices.

It does seem to me that there are some people who are running this Council who have lost sight of the purpose of EDDC. People who seem to be determined to press ahead, with what many members of the public see as a vanity project, regardless of the cost; regardless of what the people of East Devon think; regardless of the cost to EDDC`s reputation. And I very much suspect regardless of what the staff of EDDC think.

Yesterday afternoon all EDDC councillors received a letter from Mike Owen on behalf of the Cranbrook Consortium expressing concern about the decision to go for Skypark. The letter asked for the process to remain open.

Chairman the Council should listen to Mike Owen. But the Council should also listen to the people of Sidmouth; and also listen to the East Devon Council Taxpayer.

I urge the Council to support the Notice of Motion. To halt the reckless charge towards this damaging and hugely expensive project. And to stop the chain of devastation that would be left in its wake.

EDDC move (to Skypark???)..Deal could be sealed today!

EDA hears that the Skypark destination still unsure. And EDDC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee has said the justification for the move is uncertain, as Councillors have not been given sufficient evidence to make an informed decision. (How many have actually visited the Skypark site, or know that it has recently been downgraded ?)

The many questions expected tonight, from Councillors and public, include “Is the relocation move worth the harm to the economy of two major East Devon towns, Sidmouth and Honiton?”

So crunch time is this evening, (6.30pm at Knowle, Sidmouth) when Full Council will be asked to approve an extra £1,000,000 to buy land for offices at Skypark.

East Devon taxpayers’ money is being thrown at this project. If you think EDDC should attend to more urgent priorities …. See you at Knowle this evening!

Councils on the move.

Some Councils decide to move with good reason, and clear cost-savings. East Devon District Council’s plan to relocate to newbuild offices at the faltering Skypark, has no such certainty.

So tomorrow’s Full Council meeting will hear vigorous calls from Councillors and the public, for more complete information about relocation costs and how they were arrived at. (In fact, EDDC’s own Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently voted with a two-third’s majority, and no objections, to ask for precisely that). The necessity for the move has also been called into question.

Despite a Councillor’s mention to an EDA member this evening that nothing is set in stone, the Cabinet seems to be feverishly pursuing the purchase of land for new offices at Skypark. The Full Council will be asked to approve £1,000,000 for this purpose, tomorrow evening (6.30pm at Knowle, Sidmouth). £350,000 (not including officer time) has already been spent, and an additional budget of £400,000 (over two years) has also been set aside just for preparing the move.

Other Councils, meanwhile, are responding to Government cuts in a different style, as reported in the Western Morning News:

New Councillors needed in East Devon. Here’s how to become one!

EDDC’s advice evening for prospective councillors, on Thurs. 13th March, should be very popular this year! Please note the Friday 28th February deadline for registration to attend.
More information on http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/do-you-want-to-be-a-councillor-advice-evening-but-you-must-register-by-28-february-2014/

Bad smells from the Venn Ottery piggery plans (now prevented)?

The appeal regarding plans for a piggery in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at Venn Ottery, has been dismissed. Inspector Pete Drew concluded that “this development would harm the character and appearance of this designated landscape”.

Story on the SIN blog :http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/venn-ottery-piggery-inspectors-decision-another-example-of-eddcs-paperwork-not-being-at-its-best-nor-the-applicants/

Planning laws will trigger “a second and luxury homes bonanza”, says Devon MP

Conservative MP for Totnes, Sarah Wollaston, sounds the alarm, in today’s Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/23/building-regulations-national-parks-disaster-planning

Sarah Wollaston is one of the growing number of Westminster MPs who see the dangers of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They are backed by a new nationwide movement of campaign groups calling for changes to the NPPF. The East Devon Alliance is an active part of this Community Voice on Planning http://www.covop.org

Examination in Public (EiP) of EDDC’s new Local Plan ….summary so far.

The Examination continues next Tuesday,25th February, with the Sidmouth hearing. The whole day session will start at 9.30 a.m. at Knowle Council Chamber, Sidmouth.

For an overview of what has already been discussed, please see the following links:









The EDDC Village Development Plan.

Some of the issues are summarised here by an East Devon Alliance correspondent, reporting on concerns at Budleigh Salterton and Newton Poppleford.


Recording one of the early days during the public hearing on the local plan, Cllr Claire Wright wrote:

“The usually unflappable EDDC planning policy officer got irritated at this and read out paragraph 1 of the national planning policy framework, which was all about encouraging communities to get involved in the planning process.

He said that communities were the best judge of where development should go.”

In East Budleigh due process of consultation has been followed with regard to three sites all of which had been identified by EDDC as suitable. The people overwhelmingly preferred a brown field site at the village entry to the South by a majority of 68.5%. In the plan, EDDC have introduced a series of spurious arguments to reject this site despite it being previously deemed suitable, and chosen a site favoured by only 29.7% with an entry at a known accident black spot.

Formal comments on the village development plan do not seem to be readily available on EDDC’s web site so the input from the Otter Valley Association has been circulated widely within the village by angry residents.

Steve Baker, the Chairman of the Parish Council, which conducted the consultation is quoted in yesterday’s Journal (20 Feb) as saying “we are reasonably happy with [the Syon House site] from all the bits of land around….I think we have got away with it pretty lightly when you consider Feniton and all the rest of it.”

In Newton Poppleford the Parish Council quite brazenly put forward the unpopular King Alfred’s Way site admitting the decision to choose this site was made behind closed doors. As we all know this turned out to be the EDDC preferred site but not that of the local community.

The end result of both processes cannot be said to confirm the notion put to the Planning Inspector that in EDDC communities are the best judge of where development should go. They have either not been consulted or where they have, they have been ignored.’


Reference Point r12.93

Policy 20 Residential Land Development in East Budleigh.

This representation is made by the Otter Valley Association (OVA). The OVA’s purpose is to promote and conserve the history, geography, architecture and natural history of this area of Devon and is a member of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership. The OVA is deeply aware that any development in East Budleigh must “conserve and enhance” the area. The choice of sites to be included in the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) must conform to this policy.

The OVA cannot support the “Proposed Allocation Justification” (PAJ) set out in policy 20 of the draft East Devon Villages Plan which has been submitted for consultation.

The PAJ identifies site C059 as the preferred site for the development of 15 dwellings.

In November 2012 in accordance with a statutory requirement East Devon District Council (EDDC) invited the residents of East Budleigh to consider through a consultation process the sites put forward as available for development.

Due process took place and the views of the residents were expressed and are set out in the Village Consultation and Engagement Report 2013. However their views have been ignored.

The proposed site C059 was the least popular option. Only 29.5% of the residents completing the questionnaire prepared by the East Budleigh Parish Council identified this site and then only as “a last resort”.

See Village Consultation Report – C059. “was not favoured by members of the public who completed the questionnaire; 29.5% in favour. It was the last resort if we must attitude. It was felt that if development was here then it would be cut off from the village by the main road which is very busy and difficult to cross.”

East Budleigh is in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is enjoyed as an historic village visited by many tourists and any development must be undertaken with great care.

The OVA cannot understand how this site was included in the assessment as the Draft East Devon Villages Plan recognises that “the site is particularly sensitive due to its location in the AONB”

The site C059 is grade 1 agricultural land and before considering development of such land the planners must take into account the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) guidelines paragraphs 111 and 112.

NPPF paragraph 111 says “planning policies and decisions should encourage the effective use of land by reusing land that has been previously developed (brownfield land).”

NPPF paragraph 112 says “Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land. Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poor quality land in preference to that of higher quality”

Site C059 is on the gradient and on the edge of a floodplain. Building will increase the risk of flooding into the row of cottages below the site. Frogmore Road has experienced frequent flooding. Question 15 of the Sustainability Appraisal Objective was not answered on this topic which given the recent history of flooding in the area was a major omission.

The site is 50m. from a substantial Georgian house (now an hotel). If EDDC had a local heritage asset list this house would surely be included in it. A housing development in close proximity to this property will impact on its character.

OVA is concerned that an access road to 15 houses should exit from the site straight onto the B3178 and very near the crossroads at the Rolle Arms. This stretch of the B3178 has had three road accidents in the recent past. The OVA is astonished that it is deemed acceptable for children to cross this very busy road to access the Village Centre, the shop and the school.

There is an alternative site which meets the NPPF paragraph 111 criteria and other requirements. This is site C307.

The draft plan has ignored the wishes of the residents of East Budleigh whose preferred site is C307. This site was favoured by all who attended the meeting and 68.5% of those who completed the Parish Council questionnaire. It is a brownfield site including an industrial unit at the edge of the village. A new development on this site would have the least adverse impact on the village and surrounding countryside. It is within the recommended 600 metre distance from the centre of the village. One of the main attributes of East Budleigh is that is not bisected by a major road. The development of this site would contain the expansion of the village to the west of the B3178 and therefore will not impact on the exceptional landscape of the Otter Valley to the east of this road. With the construction of a pavement (which may have a calming effect on the traffic) residents of the new development would not have to cross the busy B3178 to reach the facilities in the village.

In the view of the OVA site C307 is the more acceptable site to meet the housing requirements demanded by the SHLAA.

Finally, the most important point the OVA wishes to emphasise is that the Draft Plan has disregarded the democratic process and ignored the views of the people of East Budleigh who did not vote in favour of site C059.

Next steps on Knowle footpaths.

Devon County Council has now acted on the Inspector’s recent ruling (See links given below). What implications does this have for East Devon District Council leaders, who plan to sell-off the site of their present HQ for residential development?

Some thoughts here, from Vice-Chair of the Knowle Residents’ Association, Kelvin Dent:

“Another important landmark along the tortuous journey to preserve rights of way at the Knowle. EDDC can, if they wish, lodge a further objection to Devon County Council’s modification order. Will the District Council continue to fight the local residents, I wonder, or will they respect the views of the Independent Inspector regarding the footpaths? Hmm. Tough one to call, that one.”

The Inspector’s report, and DCC’s follow-up, are stored on the SIN blog:


What price flood insurance for the now approved Longboat cafe?

Some clues might be found in the following extract from a letter, dated 25 September 2009, to Mr John Wardle of the Devon Area Office of the Environment Agency. It was sent by Budleigh Salterton resident, David Daniel, and is headed ‘Data relevant to Flooding from the Sea – Budleigh Salterton’,and mentions that damage had occurred 7 times between 1970 & 2000.

‘Dear Mr Wardle
Thank you for letting me come over to meet you on Tuesday , to discuss flooding from the sea at Budleigh Salterton.
I have been collating the evidence of severely damaging storms and storm surges from records kept in the local Museum. These are mainly eyewitness accounts, newspaper cuttings and photographs. These are not a complete record of all storms only those of sufficient severity as to warrant special mention. From empirical evidence (which PPS25 seems to suggest should always be used where available), the part of the beach worst affected by storm driven flooding from the sea is the eastern section of approx 1.2 km, from the Longboat to the Otter Head, of the 4.5 km beach. I am of the opinion that the section of the beach subject to flood damage and the extent of this damage is not easily subject to predictive calculation. This is because it is a three dimensional hydrodynamic effect caused by wind, waves and the angle they hit the beach, but perhaps your experts can correct me.

From this I believe there were at least eight storms between 1951 and 2000 of sufficient severity to flood this section of the beach. Namely: mid 50’s; 1970 (Feb); 1974 (Jan or Feb); 1982; 1989 (16 Dec); 1990 (2 Feb); 1991(end March); and 2000 (Oct). (Approximately one every six years although in practice they are far from evenly spaced). The effects of global warming are predicted to increase the frequency and severity of these storm surges. This represents an annual flood risk of 16% which seems to me to be thirty times greater than the “high risk” threshold used as guidelines in PPS 25 for flooding from the sea. We seem to be in uncharted “exceptional risk” territory.

Budleigh Salterton beach is described as “naturally protected” by the pebbles washed out from the “Bunter Beds” and thrown onto an underlying sandy substructure. But this protection is dynamic. Living memory from my family relates that on occasion some severe storms scour the pebbles off the beach and then years later another storm will throw them back. This has meant in the past the temporary loss of paths and a threat to the protection of the Otter Estuary. So, following the 1970 storm, protective gabions were installed in 1972. Their height had to be increased in 1974. And they were extensively repaired again by EDDC in 1990 following the 1989 storm in which 150m of gabions were torn open directly in front of the Longboat House. These repairs were incomplete when further damage was sustained in February 1990.

The purpose of gabions is to contain erosion, although as you can see from the evidence, they are not invulnerable to the extraordinary power of the sea. They are not impervious and they do not stop water coming through them or over the top.

I enclose a selection of photographs to indicate the extent of erosion storms of this severity cause and strewn pebble “witness” of how high the water has carried them.

Yours sincerely,
David Daniel

Gabions installation, 1972
gabions installation 1972
Storm 1974
Storm 1974
Storm Dec 1989
Storm dec 1989 1

The above letter will make uncomfortable reading for the owner of the Longboathouse cafe, as will reports in the national media of higher insurance premiums for properties, including small businesses, at risk of flooding.

The Inspector’s report and decision on the Longboathouse cafe appeal was announced today. Details here:
LB Appeal

Comments on the SIN blog at this link: http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/longboat-cafe-update/

Destination Skypark: the ‘underlying assumptions, and effects’, of EDDC’s planned move

Next week, EDDC councillors will be asked to vote for a £1,000,000 spend on land at Skypark, for new Council headquarters which could cost a whopping £15,000,000 of taxpayers’ money.
But can councillors make an informed decision on the scant evidence so far provided? No they can’t, according to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC), which voted by a two-thirds majority for further details to be released before any decision should be taken. Despite this serious caution from its own watchdog, the Cabinet seems intent on forging ahead, with councillors blindly in tow.

This has prompted Save Our Sidmouth (SOS) to send an appeal to all councillors to read the details and implications of the relocation plan, (in a document SOS has provided), before the vote at Full Council on Wednesday, 26th February (6.30 p.m at Knowle).
The SOS letter and document are here: http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/18/sos-to-eddc-councillors-re-skypark/

Why Skypark?

As reported widely in the media, EDDC’s reasons for moving their offices, particularly to Skypark, have been greeted with derision. The financial basis for the move has also been questioned by the Council’s own Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC). They recently voted (by 8 votes to 4 abstentions), for a review of the cost of Knowle refurbishment (1970’s buildings) with the possible sale for conversion of the historic building, compared to the spiralling, uncertain and unspecified relocation costs. “Creative accounting” has been alleged by one member of the ruling party; other councillors are uncomfortable about what seems to be an untimely leap in the dark.

Will the OSC have an “open and transparent” answer? Will taxpayers be reassured? And will the Cabinet finally reveal the real reason behind the planned move?

Come to the Full Council on 26th February (6.30 p.m at Knowle) to find out!

More relocation-linked questions at this link: http://saveoursidmouth.com/2014/02/17/unreliable-statistics-again-from-eddc/