Readers will recall an earlier Owl story of landowners Clinton Devon Estates grabbing a large part of the garden to Budleigh Hospital for development, considering the garden surplus to the requirements of the new “health hub” and much more suitable for their plans for two houses:
The Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan designated the Hospital garden as open green space. Neighbourhood plans can do this and this space ticks all the NPPF criteria boxes. The garden was considered an essential part of the psychological and therapeutic welfare of patients at the “health hub”.
Bell Cornwell for CDE only commented at the very last minute of the very last stage. They made a number of general comments to EDDC on 16 February 2017 suggesting a loosening of a number of policy phrases and a general comment that too many green spaces were being designated. No mention of Hospital Hubs or development of that site at all.
An application to build two houses on the hospital garden was then submitted and validated on 27 February 2017 It takes about two-thirds of the garden, rather than the half suggested.
The Plan Inspector asked the steering group for clarification of criteria used in each green space case on 18 April 2017. The steering group responded, and its response was published on the internet.
The Inspector in her report sided with CDE.
The Neighbourhood Plan steering group unanimously agreed to accept all the Inspector’s recommendations except the one where she agreed with Bell Cornwell who, of course, had no medical evidence to draw on!
The decision to accept or reject Inspector’s recommendations now lies with EDDC.
The question now is – how brave will EDDC councillors they be? There is a track record of rolling over for tummy tickles when CDE engages with them. CDE has fingers in many East Devon pies and held restrictive covenants on the seafront at Exmouth that it relinquished to allow EDDC to approve the Grenadier development and has everything from large landholdings to small ransom strips all over the district.
Strong administrative pressure will be to do the easy thing and to get the plan to Cabinet in July with no controversy and no action against CDE.
Local opinion is running strongly against “droit de seigneur” ( medeival feudal rights) in this case.
If it looks like everyone is rolling over without a fight, the plan may well be rejected at referendum.