“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

Click to access 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.

Click to access Bid_rigging_-_advice_on_procurement.pdf

Phil Twiss worried about Tory councillors being assaulted in car parks

This is a reply from Phil Twiss to an elector who wondered whether Councillor Twiss might have over-reacted somewhat to the (correct) use of the word “cull” by a commentator on the blog of Independent Councillor Claire Wright (bold lettering ours). The letter to which this is a reply is below Councillor Twiss’s response:

“Dear (Voter)

The Conservative Party takes all threats of violence or incitement to violence very seriously and will always take appropriate action (no matter how innocuous or isolated/infrequent they may seem to casual observers like yourself) on a better safe than sorry footing. There are no exceptions to this and whilst the problem is more frequent with higher profile politicians (particularly during election periods) it is none the less a problem at all levels. I was election agent for Neil Parish M.P. during the 2010 General election and speak from a position of experience and it is pretty unpleasant.

Following concerns expressed by fellow EDDC Councillors on the precise wording of the comment made on Claire Wrights blog site yesterday as Secretary of the EDDC Conservative Group (a quite distinct role from Party Whip) I asked that it was removed which it was. A complaint was then made to Devon and Cornwall constabulary about the person who submitted the comment and where it was published; this is now subject to police investigation. The police have confirmed that this was the correct course of action to take and if after investigation they conclude there is no problem then that is the end of the matter.

As an illustration of a regrettable and unfortunate aside you may have read that a Councillor was recently attacked in Coventry by three people over a car parking issue, see http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/coventry-city-councillor-attacked-car-8191149 which is also the kind of function EDDC deal with and therefore why this kind of threat is unsettling to our Group members.

I make no apology for this apparently uncompromising position which has absolutely nothing to do with the size of the EDDC Conservative Group.”

Regards
Phil
philtwiss-conservatives@hotmail.co.uk

T: 01404 891327
M: 07971 871651

Web: http://www.tivertonhonitonconservatives.co.uk

One has to hope that the police are more widely read than Mr Twiss.

Here is the original letter to Mr Twiss

“Cllr Twiss,

What on earth has made the majority party, (of which you are not the Whip so why are you reacting on their behalf?) so twitchy as to provoke your over-the-top language and threatening behaviour towards Cllr Wright?

I suggest you read the East devon Alliance website where you will see quotations from Messr Cameron, Clegg and Robinson all using the word cull in the sense of reduction in numbers, not as mass murder.

An apology to Cllr Wright for the threat would be in order if you are man enough.”