The strange case of Clinton Devon Estates and the hospital garden

Clinton Devon Estate has just submitted outline planning application 17/0495, for 2 bijou residences, an access road and a small residual strip of green space.

The site is vaguely (and perhaps somewhat disingenuously) described as “east of East Budleigh Road, Budleigh Salterton.”

It is, in fact, the Budleigh Salterton Cottage Hospital garden, gifted 120 years ago in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It has been used, ever since, to help patients convalesence and has been planted with an “in-memoriam” garden.

Because of this history and recreational use, the garden has been proposed as an open green space in the emerging Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Plan, approved this week by the EDDC Cabinet.

It ticks all the para. 77 NPPF boxes for the designation of open spaces. CDE are stakeholders in the formulation of this plan and at consultation made no comment.

So this application comes as a bit of a surprise to the people of Budleigh Salterton who have been promised an all-singing and dancing “Health Hub” with recreational facilities on the hospital site.

Exmouth seafront family business to be evicted for “regeneration”

“The owner of an Exmouth café has been left ‘heartbroken’ after being forced to close following plans to build a multi-million pound development on the seafront.

The family-run Harbour View Café and Chip Shop is set to disappear from the seafront after 40 years of trading, following East Devon District Council’s plans to build new development called Queen’s Drive Leisure Area. …

… Dawn said that they first found out about the development plans eight years ago.

She said: “The initial plan was that all of the independent businesses would be involved in the new development.

“I don’t know when that changed because it all went very quiet for a while, and then by 2014 we were given a formal notice and the council said we had to leave by September that year.

“At that point we had to decide whether we wanted to take it further and go to court or to agree to the end of the lease. And because we didn’t have the resources to take the fight all the way we had no other option but to agree to it.”

Since that point Dawn said that the council had given them an extension of their lease, but now that has ended and 2017 will be the last season. “I am grateful that the doors aren’t closed yet, but we did think that we would have at least another year of trading,” she added.

“The council have told us that we need to be out by the end of August, but I just wish we knew why. For the business to close in the peak of summer is the worst time for us as we will be so busy.

“We also have 19 members of staff that we will have to make redundant and we will still have to pay our mortgage somehow after August.

“Obviously we would love to keep Harbour View alive and we are currently looking for a new home. But it just scares me to know what the development is going to look like in three years’ time as I don’t know what I will be looking at.” …

… A spokeswoman for East Devon District Council said: “Change isn’t always easy to accept but Exmouth is a growing town with residents and visitors whose desires and expectations are changing as well. The council is committed to giving townspeople and visitors more and better attractions and facilities and that includes the Queen’s Drive site. Exmouth is the biggest town in Devon and it is starting to up its game.

“The café operators have known for two years that the Council is taking the site back and we have during that time supported them with a further season extension and free rent. We did this so that they have time to prepare to leave and plan for the future of their business.

“Mamhead Slipway, the Strand, the Premier Inn and M&S are all signs that Exmouth is embracing change and benefiting from new assets. A café at Orcombe Point could be next. Meanwhile Queen’s Drive investment is getting back on track.

“When the Council takes the Harbour View Cafe site back at the end of August we will also be preparing to move the road and car park and consultation will be under way on the water sports centre. For the Harbour View site in particular, once the council has it back, then we have the freedom to consider the best way forward and the best timing to bring a new and fresh eating place to what is one of the finest locations in the south west. …

Devolution “off the table” and “the money has all been spent”!

Owl says: where HAS all the money gone, Mr Hindley?

And why are the “same old” people who spent it all but failed to give us a devolution package we could all sign up to now trying to capture a new group to keep future money in the “same old” hands?

“South West business must pull together to unlock regional prosperity, a regional business leader has warned.

Steve Hindley, Chairman of Heart of the South West LEP, said that the only way to unlock government cash is to present a unified front. And he revealed that a devolution deal for Devon and Somerset is effectively off the table for now.

He was speaking about his wishes for the region at the Devon and Cornwall Business Council spring conference held at Flybe Training Centre at Exeter Airport today.

He said: “What I would like to see doesn’t involve government. I would like to see more co-ordination in the South West with the industrial strategy for our aeronautical, marine, food, nuclear, data analytics and creative sectors.

“We have got an enthusiastic bunch of business people that are leading in the agenda and that’s the way the Government begins to take notice of the South West.

“It is my wish that we get our act together before we go to government.”

Mr Hindley was joined by Tim Jones, Chairman of DCBC, Karine Hassan, Chief Executive of Exeter City Council, Mark Duddridge, Chairman of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and Louise Pasterfield, Managing Director of Sponge UK for a panel discussion of the major issues that businesses currently face including productivity, skills, innovation and devolution.

The region is hindered by a lack of investment in skills and infrastructure but it has the power to take responsibility for it own prosperity. Mr Hindley said the way to drive transformation in the region was to meet the aims of the Industrial Growth Strategy, set out by Theresa May in January.

“That is what is on the table at the moment,” he said. Devolution as a way of taking control of cash from Westminster is currently off the agenda. He said: “I am disappointed that in Devon and Somerset we have not moved forward on devolution. That was a missed opportunity that has gone now. The money has all been spent.

“With 19 authorities involved it was always going to be very difficult.”

But Mr Jones insisted that areas like the Northern Powerhouse, that had secured a devolution deal, had been singled out for investment in the spring budget.

And Mr Duddridge said that Cornwall’s own devolution deal had brought great advantages despite being much maligned by the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid. The key is to take to government a well presented business case to attract funding, said Mr Hassan. Exeter is at the forefront of pioneering environmental science and deserves investment in innovation and skills. And in Plymouth, 40% of workers at digital firm Sponge UK are Plymouth University graduates.

Mr Hassan said: “Right across the country, significant investment is going to other areas not to major institutions like our universities. “If we don’t get our act together, all the other institutions are going to leave us behind.

“We have got to work out what we are going to go to government with to unlock funding to make this place sing like the rest of the country.”

The message set out by the conference is echoed by the Western Morning News’ #BackTheSouthWest campaign. It has culminated in the Growth Charter, presented to government, that sets out a series of pledges by the business community to improve the fortunes of the region alongside a series of asks from government to support regional growth.”

Exeter court case with ramifications for EDDC HQ relocation

“Exeter City Council’s appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision that it should publish details of the business case for the controversial St Sidwell’s Point leisure complex on the current bus station site will be heard by an Information Tribunal.

Exeter resident Peter Cleasby used the Freedom of Information Act to ask the Council to release details of the business case for the development so that the assumptions contained in it – particularly about the running costs – could be open to wider scrutiny before contracts were signed.

The Council refused on grounds of commercial confidentiality, and Mr Cleasby complained about its refusal to the Information Commissioner.

The Commissioner ordered key information in the business case to be made public, but the Council appealed against the Commissioner’s decision.

The matter will now be decided by a judge-led Information Tribunal, in a public hearing at Exeter Magistrates Court on Monday 13 March starting at 10am.

Peter Cleasby said:”Exeter City Council is set to spend £26 million of public money – a sum that may well increase – on the leisure complex. It claims that the complex will make a profit, but only a handful of officers and councillors know what assumptions are made in support of these claims. If the Council get this wrong, the city could be saddled with an expensive liability for years to come, so wider scrutiny and challenge of the business case assumptions is vital.”

A City Council spokesman said: “The Council will make its case before the Tribunal. It would be inappropriate to comment further ahead of the hearing.”

The pool project was recently put on hold because the council had not appointed a contractor, despite having already spent a significant proportion of the £32.5million combined pot for St Sidwell’s Point and the bus station.”