Greendale, Hill Barton: councillors meet hurridly to try to ensure they can expand and discuss possible loopholes to enable it

EDDC Tory councillors recently very, very hurriedly organised a meeting of their Strategic Planning Committee when they suddenly realised that the Villages Built Up Area Boundary Plan might severely restrict extension of the massive Greendale Business Park and the smaller but ever-growing Hill Barton Business Park.

The ensuing discussion as to how expansion of Greendale and Hill Barton might be inserted into the plan at this very, very late stage, and the loopholes that might be exploited to enable this was very interesting.

Owl says: This is SO SO reminiscent of the attempts to move the goalposts for the proposed business park in Sidford (so ably fought against by Independent EDA councillor Marianne Rixson)
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/06/10/how-did-business-park-on-a-sidford-floodplain-come-to-be-in-the-local-plan/

and the time when councillors attempted to add no less than FIVE business parks to the eastern side of East Devon in the Local Plan in March 2015 when CEO Mark Williams said it was not possible to take the Sidbury site out of the Draft Local Plan when it went to the Inspector but it WOULD be possible to ADD five sites! These were: Woodbury Park (Greendale), Addlepool in Clyst St George, Lodge Trading Estate at Broadclyst, Hungry Fox also at Broadclyst and McBains, presumably the site at Exeter Airport.
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/30/employment-sites-5-new-sites-sneak-into-the-local-plan/

We are in the consultation period for the EDDC villages plan (consultation closes on 2 February 2018 (see final paragraphs of this post on how to submit a comment)

THE MEETING OF 12 DECEMBER 2017

The East Devon Strategic Planning Committee proposed to change the wording of Policy VP04 and VP05 for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks.

The meeting was somewhat controversial as it was held at short notice (8 days) to consider the EDDC Village Plan Consultation. It was agreed that this meeting was to be held urgently but due to the short notice and councillors previous engagements not all councillors where able to attend, with only 7 members of the committee able to attend.

Notes taken from the meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee held at Knowle, Sidmouth on 14 December 2017

For minutes see:
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2315171/141217-strategic-planning-committee-minutes.pdf

Attendance list Committee Members:

Cllr Phil Twiss – Chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer – Vice Chairman, Cllr Mike Allen, Cllr Colin Brown, Cllr Jill Elson, Cllr Ian Hall, Cllr Mike Howe,
Cllr Philip Skinner

Note that the members present were all Conservative Councillors.

Also present (present for all or part of the meeting):
Councillors: Brian Bailey, David Barratt, Paul Carter(related to the Carters of Greendale) Paul Diviani, Peter Faithfull, Steve Hall

Councillors who could not attend:
Cllr Susie Bond (Independent)
Cllr Geoff Jung (Independent)
Cllr Rob Longhurst (Independent)
Cllr Geoff Pook (Independent)
Cllr Brenda Taylor (Liberal)
Cllr Mark Williamson (Conservative)

Apologies sent: Councillors Susie Bond, Geoff Jung, Rob Longhurst, Geoff Pook, Brenda Taylor and Mark Williamson

Officers present for all or part of the meeting:

Matt Dickins, Planning Policy Manager
Ed Freeman, Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager EDDC
Rob Murray, Economic Development Manager EDDC
Shirley Shaw, Planning Barrister EDDC
Hannah Whitfield, Democratic Services Officer EDDC
Mark Williams, Chief Executive EDDC

Notes from the meeting relating to the Business Parks.

Cllr Phillip Skinner, declared an interest as a “personal reason” as he knows the owners of Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park. A “personal interest” rather than a “pecuniary interest” does not automatically exclude a councillor from contributing to a meeting.

The East Devon Villages Plan, which was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate earlier in the year (June 2017) for examination, had been subject to Planning Inspectors hearing sessions in November 2017 for two days at the Council Offices.

Following on from the hearings, a schedule of “main modifications” has been produced by the Inspector for a further public consultation period.

The Inspector will consider representations received during the consultation before finalising her report on the Plan – she had set out a timetable for the consultation on the main modifications to run from 18 December 2017 to 2 February 2018. (7 weeks)

Mr Ed Freeman (Planning Strategy and Development Manager) summarised the modifications and advising of the next steps to the Plan adoption. The modifications did not seek to alter the broad approach taken by the Plan as they have strengthened and clarified the approach, ensuring stronger policy links between the Villages Plan and the adopted Local Plan. The modifications included:

• A policy for Built-up Area Boundaries for villages;
• A policy for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks;
• Amendment to Beer and Colyton village/town centre vitality policies;

Councillors questioned the inclusion of inset maps and policies for both Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks and were discussed at length:

Some Councillors questioned the inclusion of “BUABs” for the two strategic employment sites which they believed were not in accordance with the Local Plan and the wording used within the polices would prevent the two sites from any expansion. The Maps the Councillors were referring to are the areas already approved for Employment/Industrial use and not a Built-up Area Boundary.

Mr Freeman advised that the boundaries shown for both sites in the Villages Plan were for information purposes only and were not policy designations. Both sites were in the open countryside and the Inspector was suggesting that the relevant polices within the Local Plan would be used to determine planning applications for both sites.

A couple of the Committee Members took issue with the reference in the proposed policy of ‘in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)’ in the new proposed polices relating to the Business Parks of VP04 and VP05, as it was felt to be unnecessary.

Mr Freeman advised that the legislation would not permit the Council at this late stage of the examination process to challenge or amend the modifications put forward by the Inspector; however, a submission could be sent from the Committee in response to the consultation advising of Members preferred wording to the policy.

Councillors suggested that the sites should be treated as “Brownfield employment sites” and not Greenfield sites and that there should be flexibility to allow for appropriate development within and expansion of the sites.

Mr Freeman advised that both sites were clearly Brownfield but this did not change the fact that they were in the open countryside and that developments would be considered as development in the open countryside under the policies of the Local Plan.

Some Councillors believed they had not been given all the appropriate information regarding the economic importance of the sites as detailed in Rob Murray’s (Economic Development Manager) comments when they had made their decision for the sites to be included in the Villages Plan.

Some Councillors attending were under the misapprehension that Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks are required for delivering the current District and Village Plan Employment Strategies. However, Mr Freeman explained that other strategic Employment sites are being delivered for employment within the district.

Mr Freeman explained that there were many key strategic employment sites within the district and that the employment allocations within the Local Plan would more than deliver the required employment figures for the district. It was recognised that some of the sites were constrained, but work was being undertaken to unlock and deliver those sites. The Villages Plan reinforced what was already in the adopted Local Plan.

He acknowledged that the two sites were important to the district’s economy, however they were both constrained by the road infrastructure and their impacts on neighbouring properties/settlements and the wider landscape. Any expansion needed to be appropriate and delivered in accordance with the Local Plan policies. Previous applications had been approved as departures from the Local Plan where they were considered appropriate and the benefits of the development outweighed the previous Local Plan polices.

Rob Murray (Economic Development Manager) advised that he believed that Greendale and Hill Barton were strategic employment sites for the district and constraining them would exacerbate the current under supply of employment delivery and therefore his recommendation, through the internal officer consultation process, had been that the two sites should be removed from the Villages Plan.

The Meeting decided by 5 votes to 2

1. That the main modifications to the East Devon Villages Plan, as set out in the committee report, and updated sustainability appraisal, be consulted upon from 18 December 2017 to 2 February 2018 (consultation responses received would be submitted straight to the Inspector for consideration in her final report)

2. That the Inspector be sent a submission from the Strategic Planning Committee during the consultation period on the main modifications to the Villages Plan asking her to consider excluding the words ‘in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)’ from the new polices VP04 and VP05, as the Committee did not consider this to be necessary as all relevant policies within the Local Plan would apply to the two employment sites concerned.

Councillor Philip Skinner proposed and seconded by Councillor Mike Allan. (Mike Allan who is lead councillor for employment and business at EDDC is also the District Councillor, who will be attending the re-established Greendale Liaison Group meetings,)

So why is now necessary to suggest to the Planning Inspector to remove the reference to Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan?

It is hoped that that the Local Parish Councils, Residents Associations, and many local people who are affected by these Business Parks will submit responses to the Inspector during this final consultation period (final day 2 Feb 2018) requesting that:

All the text regarding these Business Parks is included especially the sentence the 5 councillors supported at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting on the 14th Dec requests removing.

“in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)”

This sentence must remain in Policies VP04 and VP05 of the Villages Plan to ensure a substantial link to the East Devon Local Plan.

Details of how to respond to the Village Plan

The schedule of main modification, the updated SA/SEA, an amended version of the Villages Plan that incorporates the proposed changes and further information about the consultation may be viewed on the Council web site at: Villages plan examination – East Devon
If you wish to comment on the proposed schedule of main modifications or the updated SA/SEA, please email planningpolicy@eastdevon.gov.uk by no later than 2nd February 2018. All responses received will be forwarded to the Inspector for her consideration prior to issuing her report, which will be in the Spring of 2018.
If you want further information please contact the planning policy team on 01395 571533.
The Officer to contact is Linda Renshaw (Mrs) Senior Planning Officer East Devon District Council Tel. 01395 571683 Working days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

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