“Are we committing ourselves to the slums of the future?”

Those in charge of planning must be asking themselves the same question.
The Town and Country Planning Association’s annual conference raised some of the issues facing EDDC and their planning partners Exeter City and Teignbridge:

Extracted from Planning Resource:

New residential PD rights are ‘heart of darkness’ says TCPA planning chief
27 November 2014 by John Geoghegan , 1 comment

England’s planning system is in its ‘poorest state’ since it was created and needs ‘a fundamental reassessment’, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA)’s head of policy has said.
The TCPA’s Hugh Ellis, speaking at the association’s annual conference in London earlier this week, singled out controversial new permitted development (PD) rights easing the conversion of offices and shops into homes as the “heart of darkness”.

Talking about planning from 2015 onwards, he said: “We need to start again, because we don’t have a system that’s fit for purpose.

“We need a fundamental reassessment of planning in England.

“How can we cease to be an embarrassment in the context of Western Europe on urbanism, on sustainable transport, on design?

“The system is highly deregulated and it seems to be probably in the poorest state since 1947 when it came into being.

Ellis went on to say that “the heart of darkness is the permitted development regime”, which allows commercial premises to be converted into homes without needing planning permission.

The PD rights “unlock two fundamental tenets” of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, he said: the nationalisation of development rights and democratic comprehensive planning.

The development outcomes of the PD rights, he said, “are going to be very poor”, adding: “Are we committing ourselves to the slums of the future?

“Is this really what the fifth-richest country on earth wants to leave as a legacy?”

Speaking earlier, chief planner Steve Quartermain, reading a speech from planning minister Brandon Lewis, said the office-to-residential permitted development rights had “proved to be successful” and were helping to deliver new homes on brownfield land.

Calling for more ambition, Ellis said a new purpose for planning was needed so that it is “outcome-led” rather than “process-led”, with its social purpose restored.

His wishlist for the next government included a national plan and the reintroduction of the New Towns Act with 10 areas designated for new settlements. Ellis also called for and an update to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and better building standards.

Elsewhere, Chris Tinker, regeneration chairman of housebuilder Crest Nicolson, said developers faced problems dealing with neighbourhood planning and had little representation in the process.

“So you have a system of land allocation being done without the deliverer,” he said.

Tinker also said it was beyond the resources of housebuilders like Crest to deliver a garden city or large urban extension, something that would require the government to lead on.

Local and neighbourhood planning would never deliver the major housing sites of 10-15,000 homes, he added.

Other speakers, including Alice Lester, programme manager at the Planning Advisory Service (PAS), expressed support for a national spatial plan.

But shadow communities secretary Hillary Benn, speaking later, confirmed that the Labour Party had no plans to introduce such a plan if it came to power in next year’s general election.

Labour would “leave in place” the NPPF, said Benn, though it would strengthen its requirement to build homes on previously-used brownfield land.

Under a Labour government, “every community must take responsibility for meeting its own housing need”, said Benn, and would be given tools to make sure schemes granted planning condition are actually built out by developers.

Oh, oh! East Devon District Council wants no more cuts and more powers

“… COUNCIL leaders from Devon are among more than 100 English council bosses who’ve publicly opposed further cuts in their funding.

The leaders who have demanded in an open letter more powers be devolved from Westminster included West, North and East Devon district councils. …

… In a letter to the Observer the leaders – including many Tories and some mayors – said English voters would not accept greater devolution to Scotland if a transfer did not also take place in England, adding “It’s England’s turn now”.

… The Observer letter has 121 signatories in total. It is signed by senior Local Government Association (LGA) figures including chairman David Sparks, along with 65 Labour council leaders, 40 Conservative leaders, 10 Liberal Democrat leaders and one independent
Source: http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/Devon-councils-demand-spending-cuts/story-24921724-detail/story.html

Do we REALLY want the council, with its current power base, in charge of more of our hard-earned money? If EDDC was a bank might we be looking to change to a better one?

‘Enforcement action is being considered’ in the Ware Farm case

The delegated report re the failed application by Graham Brown for a ‘certificate of lawfulness’ can now be seen on the EDDC planning website.

Some issues that make this of interest to the general public, are raised at this link: https://eastdevonwatch.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/express-and-echo-reports-on-concerns-about-browns-application/

50% of EDDC staff to be made redundant?

In Cabinet papers is the following:

...”In the interim, Exmouth Town Hall has been vacated by Devon County Council Services and represents a new opportunity within the relocation … new HQ in Honiton can be restricted in size and cost to a 170 desk equivalent scale with an improved Exmouth Town Hall for 80 EDDC staff ...”

This is a total of 250 full-time equivalent staff

http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/media/526937/031214-cabinet-agenda-public-version.pdf

According to this link, there are around 500 current full-time equivalent staff currently employed by EDDC

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

Does this mean that 50% of staff will be made redundant in the next two or three years? And if 50% of staff are to be lost, surely the newer part of Knowle offices would accommodate the rest as EDDC has made it clear that for much of the time, some staff will be constantly on the road or hot-desking?

Or will so many people be working so often from home that they will have to declare this for tax purposes?

Or is it yet another case of figures not making sense? Or the new reality of how the move must be funded in these austerity days?

Positively the last word(s) on culling politicians and councillors!

http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/local-news/tory-calls-cull-waverley-councillors-4816974

http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/cull-conservative-councillors-ahead-elections-5966664

http://www.gloucestercitizen.co.uk/Tories-cull-councillors-ignored/story-11862155-detail/story.html

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/local-stories/pensions-decision-follows-cull-of-tory-councillors-1-3026364

http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/8388924.Cull_of_councillors_could_save___200k_in_Southend/

http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/Councillor-cull-cards-North-East-Lincolnshire/story-17985455-detail/story.html

http://www.readingchronicle.co.uk/news/reading/articles/2009/10/08/42051-councillor-cull-plan-in-doubt/

http://www.spaldingtoday.co.uk/news/latest-news/future-councillor-cull-could-help-to-save-cash-1-4272116

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/10390878.Bromley_Council_councillor_cull_call_gets_boost_from_Department_for_Communities_and_Local_Government/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2449331/Ed-bows-union-calls-cull-Blairites-Two-shadow-ministers-dumped-Labour-leaders-Unite-leader-demanded-go.html

Another bit of help for our struggling councillors

When you finally settle on your new HQ (it sometimes seems in East Devon that as well as a Gypsy and Travellers Policy there should be an Itinerant Council HQ policy) do be careful that

a) if you have to tender, you check the rules
and
b) use this handy checklist to make sure that the companies tendering are not bid-rigging, which seems to be a particular problem in public sector procurement. So big that there is actually a hotline to report it.

Better safe than sorry.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/378097/Bid_rigging_-_advice_on_procurement.pdf