Developers could be fined for not developing sites with permission says Govt Minister

“Housing minister Gavin Barwell told MPs that the government is considering publishing league table on the performance of developers showing how many homes they are building.

This would enable councils – and activist investors – to hold the major developers to account and end claims of landbanking.

Barwell discussed the idea during evidence to the Commons communities and local government committee on the recent housing White paper and plans to speed up housebuilding.

The minister revealed the idea of fining developers for not turning sites into homes had been ruled out.

But league tables – including their record of turning sites into developments – “should be a determination” that allows councils assess the record of developer in building out permissions.

“There is a balance to be had. If it was too draconian, the effect would be chilling,” he said.

The minister accepted developers needed to have land in reserve to be able to start sites as a development finishes. But he wants to reduce the time taken from purchase to build by the main private developers which is currently five years.

He also questioned if developers were too risk averse with sites. On a site with the potential of 1,000 homes only around 70 would be built in order protect the company’s financial position.

Barwell said: “The main way that we reduce landbanking is to speed up the planning system. But my real concern is once you start.”

Other plans include a major review of how taxes on developments are decided.

His department and the Treasury are looking at a nationally set charge that would be locally collected locally spent by councils.

Barwell revealed a review of the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 agreements will be included in the autumn Budget.

“It’s something we need to address,” Barwell said. “There is a lot of dissatisfaction with how the current system works. But what we don’t want to lose is the localism element of how money is spent.”

There was good news for local authority planning departments which have been hit by staff cuts caused by austerity cuts.

Barwell said the government was looking at enabling councils to increase planning fees to cover the whole cost of running their teams. Where some councils had major regeneration projects, they would not only be able to raise more money from applicants but his department would look at targeted intervention where some LAs need support.

“I’m clearly on the side of getting more money spent on those planning departments. Local authority planning departments are under-resourced,” he said.

The biggest controversy in the White Paper had been over the future of green belt land. …”

Parish queries flood risk terminology

“TWO South West MPs have called to rid the flooding terminology “one in 100 years” for fears it is misleading.

Rebecca Pow, and Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton and chairman for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Committee, spoke during a House of Commons debate on Defra spending.

MP Neil Parish said that flood prevention work is “fragmented” and warned of the threats posed by very high levels of rainfall in a short period of time.

MP Parish said his committee had examined the term “one in 100 years flood”.

He said: “One of the problems is that if you have been flooded now and you are in a one in a 100 years risk, if you’re not careful people are inclined to think for another 99 years they’ll be safe from floods.

“Of course that is not the case – it’s very much the case if you’re in a high flood risk area you remain in that high flood risk area either until better defences are created or there is resilience measures put in place.

“But you’ll probably always remain in a pretty high risk area.”

Rebecca Pow, said: “Communication is very important in the case of flooding.

“One of the things that came out of that select committee report was perhaps we shouldn’t use this terminology any more – calling things a one in 100 years flooding incident.

“We should have a different way of warning people about how serious floods are without these years attached to them, as it’s misleading.”

Mr Parish said Ms Pow was “absolutely right”.”

Put not your trust in auditors!

“PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountancy firm that has overseen the counting of the Oscars ballots for 83 years, has apologised for the most spectacular blunder in the history of the starry ceremony – when the award for best film was mistakenly presented to La La Land instead of the actual winner Moonlight. …

… PwC, one of the best-known accountancy firms in the world, has supervised counting the ballots, and the announcements, for the majority of Academy Awards. Its employees wait in the wings during the ceremony, passing the results to the presenters. The humiliating failure of a system that was supposed to be foolproof, checked and counterchecked repeatedly, could not have been more public – watched by Hollywood stars and millions of people across the world on television. …”

Exmouth seafront: reserved matters planning application WILL result in full planning permission

“Residents attending a meeting about East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) reserved matters application for the seafront said members did not debate relevant planning points.

They called for the vote to support the plan be declared invalid. Residents also said Councillor Lynne Elson should apologise to district councillor Megan Armstrong for interrupting her.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “EDDC’s monitoring officer has considered this letter of complaint, but, in a case such as this, neither he nor the council are in a position to interfere with the legitimate decision-making of Exmouth Town Council.”

The spokesperson said concern about the decision would be a legal matter for the courts, and added that even if a councillor had been found in breach of the code of conduct, this would not legally affect the decision.

They added that the monitoring officer had heard a recording of the meeting and ruled there was nothing ‘untoward’ in the exchange between Cllr Elson and Cllr Armstrong.

The spokesperson added that although the application would produce a ‘valid and implementable’ planning permission, only the district council could carry out the development if approved.

However, EDDC has confirmed it only intends to realign the road and carry out the car park works. Therefore, any developers would have to apply for permission for the watersports centre and remainder of the site.

In response, Ron Metcalfe, one of the complainants, said: “We thank EDDC for finally confirming that if the reserved matters application is approved it will result in a valid and implementable planning permission to build.

“The basis of our complaint was an EDDC and town councillor repeatedly claimed this was not the case.

“We remain concerned that the town council decision was made based on misleading and inaccurate information and lack of relevant discussion.”

Exmouth: grab your Warren View sports ground before it goes for development

If no suitable tenants are found EDDC could use that as an excuse to sell it. Maybe consider village green status asap too?

Seaton Heights up for auction at £2.5 – £3 million next month

20 March 2017, lot 141

“Arguably the single most important, anticipated and iconic holiday village, hotel & spa development opportunity in the South West of England enjoying a lofty position overlooking Lyme Bay and the Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site) benefitting from planning consent for 38 semi-detached ‘deck homes’, a 12 bedroom hotel and associated facilities.

Mother Nature has been very kind to the site with its near perfect topography, outlook and orientation while on the ‘man-made’ front there could hardly be a better proximity to the local and regional road network. With Lyme Regis, Charmouth and West Bay to the east and Beer, Branscombe and Sidmouth to the west, the property could hardly be more centrally located on the highly prized and popular stretch of coastline that spans West Dorset and East Devon.

Simple development, as per the current approval in the form of a holiday home sales/lettings and hotel operation, may be on the minds of some but the potential for multi-week disposals and future service charge and ground rent opportunities will be not far from the radar of many.

Finally, there may be opportunities to increase the number of holiday homes and hotel rooms by virtue of the relatively generous use of space thus far, subject to all necessary consents being obtainable. Interested applicants are advised to make their own enquiries with the ‘East Team’ at the Local Planning Authority, the East Devon District Council: Tel: 01395 517475. Website:

Site Measurements

The whole site extends to 2.7 hectares (5.13 acres).


Planning Permission has been granted by East Devon District Council, under ref: 14/0677/MFUL dated 5 May 2015, for the construction of two storey 12 bedroom hotel; 38 units of holiday accommodation; central amenities building for restaurant/leisure club and associated parking and access, subject to conditions.

A copy of the Planning Consent and proposed plans are available via the Local Planning Authority’s website.

Freehold with Vacant Possession”

Lincolnshire can’t vote on unitary authority on same day as elections – instead must shell out extra £1 million

“The Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr Martin Hill, has accepted that its proposal for a poll of residents on the creation of a unitary authority for the area cannot go ahead after some districts refused to be involved.

Earlier this month it was revealed that the districts had received legal advice from Timothy Straker QC of 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square suggesting that any attempt by the county council to combine their elections with such a referendum would be unlawful.

According to the City of Lincoln Council, Straker’s opinion said the plans were “contrary to the Election Rules and fraught with danger of litigation.”
Lincoln argued that this meant, in effect, “the referendum would need to be held completely separately or on a different day, incurring costs to Lincolnshire taxpayers of around £1m”.

Cllr Hill, Leader of the county council, had sought to argue that holding a poll on 4 May, when many residents would already be going out to vote in county council elections, would have kept administrative costs to a minimum and encouraged a high turnout.

“Unfortunately, it won’t now be possible to hold a poll on 4 May, which is deeply disappointing,” he said.

“For various reasons, some of the county’s seven district councils – the bodies responsible for conducting the elections – are not prepared to co-operate. Although I don’t personally agree with their legal and other objections, the county council can’t require them to help with the holding of a poll.”

At a meeting of Lincolnshire County Council last week councillors voted to seek the views of residents on the principle of moving to a unitary system of local government.

After receipt of the legal advice earlier this month, Cllr Ric Metcalfe, Leader of City of Lincoln, said (on 17 February): “If the county council had consulted on this proposal [for a poll on local government reorganisation] with any of the district councils prior to their announcement, we could have raised our concerns then. Sadly, they did not.”

He added: “I and my district colleagues are in favour of a collective debate on the future of local government in Lincolnshire, but to hold a referendum at such an early stage in discussions is ludicrous, especially at such massive cost.”

Describing the proposal for a unitary council for the whole of Lincolnshire as “ridiculous”, Cllr Metcalfe said: “We are one of the largest counties in the UK and contain a diverse range of areas with significantly differing challenges and needs….

“A county unitary would be too remote a tier of government – district councils are best placed to deliver services that meet the needs of all their residents and businesses and we want to protect these services. This will not happen under a county unitary.”

Claire Wright to kick off talks at new Ottery Library

“Have you ever wondered how an Independent with just a few friends but lacking a party machine, finance and experienced professionals can win more than 13,000 votes in a General Election?

If so, come to the new Ottery St Mary library on 16th March to hear Claire Wright discuss her campaign. As a member of the team, Philip Algar will offer a few thoughts and discuss the challenge of writing the book about the campaign, West Hill or Westminster?

The meeting starts at 7.00 and tickets are free.

Contact the library on 01404 813838 or