Local Plan hearings – full information

With thanks to Independent Councillor Susie Bond (Feniton) from whose blog this is taken:

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Local Plan hearing sessions kick off next week
Posted on June 30, 2015 by susiebond
Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth
Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth

Anthony Thickett, the Planning Inspector charged with scrutinising EDDC’s Local Plan, re-opens the hearing sessions next week at the Council’s offices at the Knowle in Sidmouth. The programme for the sessions is below and is open to members of the public. There is, however, no right to public speaking:

Tuesday, 7 July: Gypsies and Travellers Plan, and allocation sites, including Cranbrook
Wednesday, 8 July: Housing (excluding Cranbrook)
Thursday, 9 July: Reserve day
Friday, 10 July: Community Infrastructure Levy
The Local Plan has been the subject of an 8-week public consultation exercise and submissions have been sent in by both Gittisham and Feniton Parish Councils.

In total, 145 organisations and individuals submitted comments and these have been forwarded to Mr Thickett for his consideration in advance of the hearing sessions. Every submission is available here (http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/emerging-plans-and-policies/the-new-local-plan/examination-and-hearing-sessions-and-further-consultation-at-april-2015/responses-to-consultation-16-april-to-12-june-2015/)

modern housesThe Local Plan currently envisages 950 new homes every year for the next 18 years. This is a very high level of build and doesn’t take account of the likelihood (even certainty) that the country will go into recession at some point in that period, which will mean that the houses just won’t be built. This is exactly the position that was faced by East Devon following the crash of 2008. The easy availability of finance completely dried up, so there were no buyers in the market for new homes, and developers simply stopped building. This resulted in an undersupply of housing which has to be taken up in the first 5 years of the Local Plan.

This simple piece of logic hasn’t prevented the developers submitting extensive papers on the need to build even more houses over the plan period.

Residents in Feniton will be interested to read the submissions from Wainhomes (land behind Louvigny Close), Strategic Land Partnership (who hold an option on Camp Field on Ottery Road) and PCL Planning (who act for Strategic Land Partnership and who appear to think that Feniton’s sustainability credentials know no bounds).

Part of the emerging Local Plan to be scrutinised next week is Strategy 27. This lists 15 or so of the larger villages and smaller towns (and the list includes Feniton).

Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year
Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year

The Plan proposes that these settlements allow building only within their Built-Up Area Boundary and that development is in accord with a Neighbourhood Plan. Feniton is currently preparing a Neighbourhood Plan as enshrined in the Localism Act (2011). There have been a number of public consultation exercises in the village and residents have had the opportunity to voice their opinion on the future of their community.

Other villages in East Devon will not be developed unless they draw up a Neighbourhood Plan, and their Built-Up Area Boundaries have been removed which effectively means that any new development would be in open countryside, which is unacceptable.

I’ll be attending two of the sessions and will post a blog about the sessions as soon as I can.

Voters – targets for the future – and those polling stations must be reviewed

Electoral Commission targets for voter registration – Mr Williams is no doubt working on these targets as we write!  Hmmm.

On-going work to get people registered to vote

From 1 July 2015, Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) across Great Britain will be carrying out a comprehensive household canvass. They will send ‘Household Enquiry Forms’ to all properties to identify who is resident at an address and eligible to be registered. This will help EROs identify how many of the 1.9 million register entries are redundant and should be removed before the publication of the revised registers in December 2015; and how many relate to an individual who is entitled to be on the register and therefore needs to complete an individual registration application.

The Electoral Commission will run campaigns ahead of the elections in May 2016 to encourage people to register and to make the registers more accurate and complete. In Scotland, a specific campaign to encourage 15 – 17 year olds to register to vote will coincide with the canvass.

Attainers (16 and 17 year olds)

The Commission’s report found that there remains an issue with the number of registered attainers (16 and 17 year olds). There were fewer than 250,000 attainers on the May 2015 registers, a fall of 47% since February / March 2014. The Commission largely attributes the decline to the one-off lack of comprehensive household canvass activity in 2014. In 2015, comprehensive household activity will take place and each Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) will have plans in place maximise the number of attainers on their registers.

 Polling Stations

We hear from a correspondent that EDDC did not make a review of polling stations before the last election – this was a mandatory task which should have been completed, put out for public consultation and agreed formally at Council well before the election. Here is how Dorset explained it:, which applies to all councils:


It seems the Electoral Commission has informed EDDC that it must not wait any longer to conduct such a review and it MUST be started in July 2015.  A number of polling stations are no longer fit-for-purpose as regards facilities for disabled people and consideration will need to be given to polling stations that may give rise to perceived conflict with councillor interests.  Watch this space.

The requirements:


Here is how you appeal if you think a particular polling station does not meet requirements:


EDDC in the electoral limelight again

From Electoral Commission reports below:

“In contrast, in East Devon, where the challenges are different, there has been an increase in the number of entries on the register. The ERO has attributed this to the success of making visits to non-responding properties and individuals, which were carried out across the area in 2014 for the first time since 2010.”

Many will recall the very successful East Devon Watch campaign that resulted in many, many extra voters being added to the electoral roll prior to the elections in May this year.  Our CEO and Electoral Officer, Mark Williams was summonsed to Parliament in December 2014 to be grilled on why East Devon’s total electorate had falled spectacularly between 2010 and 2014.

Mr Williams maintained that it wasn’t so bad and that he had made the executive decision that simply telephoning potential voters was good enough, despite a ruling that all missing voters should receive personal household visits – now it seems from the above that he has done a complete about-turn!  He memorably said that this would be much too dangerous in a dark and wintry East Devon – something which cut no ice at the hearing and must have been a bit puzzling to those canvassers out in Cumbria, Scotland and the like – not to mention London!


The Electoral Commission took a very keen interest in East Devon with the result that some 20 or so canvassers were hurriedly recruited in time for the elections, though little else by way of voter encouragement was offered, despite a large budget for election expenses.

Now the Electoral Commission has brought out reports on things as they were in December 2014 and East Devon is mentioned specifically several times (see quote at top of article).


It is noted that AFTER EDW’s campaign, EDDC’s Electoral Register jumped FIVE PER CENT!  That’s 4,665 electors that Mr Williams appears not to have been able to contact by telephone between 2010 and 2014!

The Government wanted the Electoral Commission to end its work promoting voter registration by the end of 2015 [possibly due to the SNP effect it isn’t keen to see Scottish registration improve?] but, citing East Devon and other councils, the Electoral Commission says it is essential that it continues until the end of 2016.  The report is HERE and cites report in justification HERE:




Feniton: Neighbourhood Plan event 5 July

Feniton Neighbourhood Plan committee will be at the Fun Day on Sunday 5 July to continue the extensive programme of public engagement in the NP process which started in November last year. Full details of the Neighbourhood Plan are available here https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/first-consultation-exercise-for-fenitons-neighbourhood-plan/ and https://susiebond.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/feniton-neighbourhood-plan-powers-ahead/.

Feniton village sign(3)The stand will be manned between 1 and 5 o’clock and the committee would welcome your thoughts on how Feniton should develop in the coming 15 years.

While you’re chatting to members of the committee why not have a go at the free raffle for a chance to become a millionaire?!

Neighbourhood Plans are taking on a renewed significance with a Planning Inspector scrutinising EDDC’s Local Plan next week to decide whether it can be adopted or whether East Devon will be slung back into a planning vacuum.

This will be the last major consultation exercise before the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire is distributed to every household later in the summer. If you have been unable to attend any of the public consultation events and would like to make your voice heard in shaping your village, please email fenitonneighbourhoodplan@gmail.com.

Best utilisation of council assets?

Is it perhaps time to sell leases on Knowle office car parking spaces – as with proposals for leases on beach hut

sites?  It might only be for a year or two but it definitely would make a profit on the current charge to staff and councillors of – nothing!

They can then do it in Honiton and Exmouth and make a tidy profit!

“Improved recycling” = fewer collections!

EDDC believes that by including cardboard in recycling collections it can reduce collection of other waste from once a fortnight to once every three weeks. There is concern from families that this will be inadequate and the problem of build-up of disposable nappies will increase. In the past, East Devon has responded to this by suggesting parents change to terry cloth nappies and wash them instead:


Dunkeswell – also suddenly has its built up area boundary changed to facilitate development

Dunkeswell is where former EDDC Conservative councillor Bob Buxton was “unselected”  (the word favoured by Councillor  Phil Twiss, who is NOT the EDDC Conservative Party whip) who then stood as an Independent candidatebut lost to new district councillor Colin Brown.

Here is an extract from Dunkeswell Parish Council minutes of 20 June 2015:

Clerk has circulated and sent a response objecting to Dunkeswell’s inclusion at the last minute with no consultation
and against the officers recommendations by the EDDC Development Management Committee.  Dunkeswell was
included as our former ward member told the meeting that provision of a school was imminent in Dunkeswell, which is
not to our knowledge the case.
As agreed at the planning meeting on Monday 8th  June 2015, response for ratification.
AGREED (full responseis attached) Cllr Clewer to pursue the issue further
The views of Councillor Brown are not yet on record (but if he would like to write to us at eastdevonwatch@gmail.com we will he happy to print his response).  However, we do know that he lists in his EDDC register of interests:
Bell View Developments (Company Secretary) and Monckton Court Hotel
and details
Belle (sic) View, Axminster and Monckton Court Hotel as land or ownership where there is beneficial interest, as below:
Looks like Axminster and Chard could soon be a “supertown” and Dunkeswell a suburb of Honiton which will itself be a suburb of Exeter!  Or maybe two new towns a la Cranbrook?

Chardstock – sustainable or unsustainable for Local Plan purposes? Decision changes within days!

Letter to Midweek Herald 28 June 2015

I am writing in response to the article in Axminster’s Pulman’s Weekly News, dated March 31st 2015

The article headline ” Amended Local Plan on its way to inspector” refers to the amendments to the plan that East Devon Councillors agreed to at a special meeting on Thursday 26th March, which included granting a “built-up-area Boundary ” for Chardstock, in order to facilitate sustainable development.

For the benefit of your readers, I would like to put this statement in context and point out how the the agreement to include this amendment would appear to have been reached. But firstly a bit of background information. Chardstock has always had a Built up Area Boundary ( BUAB) and the previous draft Local Plan allocated a quota of ten houses, which have subsequently been built. Since then planning permission has been granted for a further four dwellings. However, in December 2014 and February 2015, three planning applications, two of which went before the Development Management Committee ( DMC) were refused permission on the grounds that Chardstock was not considered to be sustainable.

This is the Planning Officers report :

The proposed development by reason of its location on the edge of a village in the countryside which has limited services to support growth, fails to accord with the definition of sustainable development, specifically the environmental role, found within the National Planning Policy Framework.  In this case, the Local Planning Authority considers that the adverse impacts of this development in terms of unsustainable location with the occupiers of the dwellings having limited access to essential services and infrastructure (including public transport and access to it) significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of providing these dwellings to meet the shortfall of housing within the district (5 year land supply) when assessed against the policies within the Framework as a whole.

During this period a DMC “Think-tank” along with planning officers were making a careful study of all the villages in East Devon, looking at their services and facilities as well as public transport and access to it. Chardstock is fortunate that it has an excellent local shop and Post Office, as well as a church, pub and primary school, but access to other essential services only found in Chard or Axminster necessitate a journey by car and are not realistically accessible by public transport, as the nearest bus stop is best part of a mile down a single track lane, with no lighting or pavements from the centre of the village. These facts therefore meant that under the latest draft of the Local Plan, Chardstock was one of the villages recommended to not have a BUAB.

This recommendation was upheld by the DMC at their special meeting on Monday 23rd March. But at the full Council meeting on 26th March, a member of the public, who isn’t actually a resident of East Devon, but happens to own a plot of land in Chardstock on which he has applied to build 5 houses, spoke and asked that Members also consider the inclusion of Chardstock in the list of sustainable villages.

Is it just coincidence, that what followed was a proposal from Cllr Andrew Moulding that Chardstock be added to the list of settlements to have a BUAB ? The minutes from this meeting also point out that,

  • the village is not served by public transport,
  • the views of the parish council had not been sought,
  • it was more appropriate for the village to identify appropriate levels of development through a Neighbourhood Plan.

But the proposal was put to the vote and carried.

This decision and the way in which it was reached also demonstrates the lack of support from the Council for the Parish Council, the local community agenda and an apparent lack of engagement with Chardstock’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan, failing to consult with the Parish Council or local community over a major policy change, rather being led by the wishes of a local developer.

The issue of sustainability is one that the Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Team have been looking at very closely, and is an issue that has generated a lot of interest from the residents of Chardstock, who have been consulted on this and other subjects as part of the production of our Neighbourhood Plan.

It’s not just about not having a realistic bus service in the parish – less than 12% of the population have any sort of relatively easy access to the service, and the majority are anything from 1 to 4 miles from the nearest bus stop, as well as the fact that this is also a bus service that as of 12th April will be reduced from an hourly service to a 90 minute service, making access to Chard and Axminster even more difficult.

It is also about other aspects of our infrastructure, including poor roads, which with the cuts to services from Devon County Council will be receiving even less attention than they were before. So what is it that has made the Council decide that all of a sudden we are sustainable. Are there measures that are being put in place that we are unaware of ? Or is this indeed an example of the influence that developers have over the Council ?

Mary de Souza Chairman, Chardstock Parish Council and Neighbourhood Plan Team.


The Wise Old Owl returns to its territory … eyes bright, claws sharp

The old owl is rather like Hedwig in the Harry Potter books: always faithful to its master  – in this case East Devon Watch readers – and has returned home to its roost and ready to keep its beady eye on its home territory of East Devon again.

And so much going on!  Beach huts for rich people, rumblings in Chardstock and Dunkeswell, Budleigh Salterton and Feniton not to mention Cranbrook –  and general dismay that things are already going very, very pear-shaped at Knowle.

Much to come in the next few months … and you, dear readers, can keep in touch by mailing the roost at


discretion assured.



Teignbridge, Exeter and East Devon combined authority??

Baroness Hollis of Heigham Labour 3:30 pm, 22nd June 2015

Can the Minister say how devolution might work now in two-tier shire authorities such as Norwich, Cambridge, Exeter and many others? We have in place a city deal, delivered for example through the Greater Norwich area partnership, bringing together Norwich, its two adjacent districts which share in the gain from our economic growth, and the county council. Norwich already pools its community infrastructure levy receipts to help fund economic investment in the Greater Norwich area. Cambridge City, I understand, similarly partners South Cambs and Cambridge County Council. Exeter, I learnt today, is working with East Devon and Teignbridge district councils towards a combined authority or possibly an economic prosperity board.

Owl says – So there you have it from a member of the House of Lords – EDDC is working towards a combined authority with Exeter City Council and Teignbridge District Council.  Any comments anyone?

The NEW owl has arrived …


2 February 2020





East Devon could NEVER remain Owl-less …

As one departed another has taken its place …

The new Owl has arrived!

Talons sharpened, eyes trained …

A new light now shining into the darkest corners of East Devon

Contact us at eastdevon.owl@gmail.com

In the link below EDDC announces the launch on Monday 30 March 2020 of the East Devon District Council Coronavirus Community Support Hub and explains what  it will seek to do.

It also brings you up to date with a comprehensive range of local services appropriate to the Coronavirus  emergency.

It is too long to post but is a useful reference.