The significance of Dawlish Warren, Exe Estuary and Pebblebed Heaths to Planning in East Devon

One of our correspondents writes again:

Another thing the Talaton appeal has thrown a spotlight on is the lack of progress EDDC has made turning a strategy into an action plan. In this case it concerns EDDC’s failure in the draft Local Plan to meet obligatory requirements to demonstrate that it has a plan to mitigate the pressure increased population will place on three very sensitive wildlife habitats: Dawlish Warren; the Exe estuary and the Pebblebed Heaths.

This is something that EDDC, Teignbridge and Exeter have been working on since around 2012/2013 when they commissioned the “South-east Devon European Mitigation Strategy” report. This study concluded that, without appropriate mitigation measures, further development within 10Km of these sites would have adverse effects.

One of the central mitigation measures is the identification and creation of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to replace specialised habitat and to provide additional recreation space to draw people away from these sites. Unfortunately, having identified one particular SANG, EDDC promptly granted planning permission for it, even before the report was published (see para 7.19 of the report)!

Since the beginning of August 2014, EDDC have been trousering between £749 and £626 per dwelling from developers to “make it easier for developers to ‘deliver’ such mitigation” but in the words of Natural England (submission to the Local Plan examination dated 11 June 2015):

“We are becoming increasingly concerned regarding the lack of progress on the delivery of mitigation measures which have not yet been implemented. We are aware that the Authority has been collecting funds for mitigation but delivery of such measures has not kept pace with its collection….. We are also concerned that recent planning applications and permissions may inhibit the delivery of proposed mitigation and that that mitigation may require modification to be delivered.”

Furthermore this letter from Natural England makes it clear that EDDC failed, prior to submitting the revised local plan for inspection, to update or consult further on the Habitat Regulation assessment section which Natural England, the statutory consultee, had stated in 2013: “does not meet the legal requirements as set out in Section 102 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) nor National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 166.”

The Talaton appeal gives us an up to date view of Planning Inspectorate thinking on this which looks unequivocal to me:

“60. No clear mechanism has been put forward that would ensure the delivery of the SANGs that form an essential element in the Council’s Mitigation Strategy. In the absence of appropriate mitigation, in line with the Mitigation Strategy, the effect of the proposed residential development, in combination with other planned development, is likely to give rise to adverse effects on the integrity of the SAC/SPA as a result of additional recreational pressure.
61. Regulation 61(5) of the Habitats Regulations identifies that the competent authority may only agree to a plan or project after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of a European site, subject to regulation 62, regarding considerations of over-riding public interest. That approach is reflected in paragraph 118 of the Framework which advises that planning permission should be refused where significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided (through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated, or compensated for.
62. In this case, there is little information before me to determine whether the proposed level of residential accommodation could be provided in another location, outside of the 10km zone surrounding the SPA. However, even if no alternative solution exists, the proposals are not put forward on the basis of any imperative reasons of over-riding public interest, of a social or economic nature, that would outweigh the harm to the SAC/SPA, having regard to Regulation 62 of the Habitat Regulations. As such, to grant planning permission for the proposed developments would be contrary to the aims of The Habitats Regulations and paragraph 118 of the Framework, both of which dictate that planning permission should be refused.”

Without resolution this matter looks like a showstopper for the Local Plan. But how easy is it going to be to agree a mitigation plan with a local authority that sets aside “Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace” one day then grants planning permission on it the next?

EU growth targets cut

But don’t worry – East Devon is going to be a little spot of very high growth, according to our draft Local Plan put together by our Tory councillors and their officers, who are much better informed than the European Central Bank … aren’t they?

We must hope so.

Will the Planning Inspector agree, we wonder?

Retired and redundant civil servants could be offered zero-hours contracts to mask under-staffing

“Paul Flynn, the MP and member of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, said the plans are a “cheap, mean ploy” for the government to disguise under-staffing in permanent jobs.

“It’s an odd, surreal document offering zero-hours contracts plus an exploitative one-sided deal to individual pensioners devoid of trade union protection.” he said. ”

Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP) announces regional meeting – 10 October 2015

Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP), a nationwide network of groups concerned with planning issues, we should like to invite you to a workshop in the South West (Cornwall to Avon) to be held at

The Cat & Fiddle

just a mile from Junction 30 of the M5 (near Exeter), towards Sidmouth on the A3052
(Lunches/snacks available from 12pm).

The meeting will take place from
1.30pm till 4.30pm on
Saturday 10 October 2015.

The theme of the workshop will be:

How to Make the Planning System Work for Local Communities, Environment and Sustainability,

and they are keen to focus on practical solutions.

Details here:

CoVoP SW Workshop Invite

£300,000 new phone mast for David Cameron’s Cornish hideaway

The rural business people attempting to get better broadband coverage might well be advised to buy David Cameron a Devon hideaway – broadband might follow VERY quickly!

“DAVID Cameron is splashing £300,000 of taxpayers’ cash on a mast so that he can get better mobile coverage at his favourite holiday resort. The Prime Minister is reportedly annoyed at the lack of signal at the remote Polzeath in Cornwall where he and his wife Sam regularly go surfing.

… Outraged locals have slammed the “appalling” proposals, that will benefit just 74 homes. The mast can provide reception for up to five miles around. Local resident Mark Crowdy branded the replacement an “eyesore” and said it “is a terrible idea”.

Shadow Culture Secretary Chris Bryan blasted the Conservatives over the proposals, accusing them of double standards because they are falling short of their £150million pledge to get nationwide coverage.

He said: “Every day thousands of people have to live and work without phone signal because this Government can’t get its act together to sort it. Instead they’re spending taxpayers’ money so the PM can get phone signal on holiday.”

Ottery fights up to 30% increase in housing

Pretty soon, the Exeter suburbs will stretch in one long ribbon development from Pinhoe and Cranbrook to Ottery and Honiton and fron Clyst St Mary to Newton Poppleford – without the infrastructure to support it. And, if there is another major economic turndown or an increase in interest rates, without the jobs to support the mortgages. And little or no truly affordable housing, of course.

A new outline planning application, submitted to East Devon District Council (EDDC) for the construction of up to 53 homes on a greenfield site next to Sidmouth Road, has been met with anger and dismay from many.

If accepted, the development – which includes open market homes and provision for 40 per cent ‘affordable housing’ – could push the total number of new houses in the pipeline to more than 600.

Concerned householders say this represents a 30 per cent population growth that Ottery’s infrastructure cannot cope with.

Councillor Roger Giles called the application from Gerway Landowners Consortium ‘unnecessary, unwanted and damaging’.

He said: “The East Devon Local Plan, reflecting the views of local people, said that Ottery should have an additional 300 homes. Already, more than 500 have been approved.”

Katie Corbin, who lives near Sidmouth Road, is one of the residents joining forces to fight the proposed development. She said: “Five hundred homes have been agreed, but only around 100 have been built. What’s going to happen when the rest are built? They have no idea of the repercussions of the affect of 500 houses. Why risk more?”

Gerway Lane resident Rachel Kirk said: “This is the third proposed development within sight of Gerway Lane and it is soul-destroying for all existing residents.”

In a letter of objection submitted to EDDC’s planning department, Martin Kirby said: “The local facilities are way behind this general house building frenzy.”

Dr Margaret Hall confirmed she will be objecting on behalf of the East Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

She told the Herald: “It is more houses than we need and it is outside of the built-up area boundary. The infrastructure in Ottery cannot cope with it.”

Nigel Machin, of Knightstone Lane, is putting the onus on EDDC to ‘see through the spin, understand the strain the town is already going through and protect Ottery from this continuing onslaught’.

Agents of the application, Ian Jewson Planning Ltd, said: “The proposals will provide much-needed market and affordable housing in a sustainable location adjacent to existing development and close to local facilities.”