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.