A lesson from pre-application planning advice on how to by-pass local objections, Historic England and the EDDC Development Management Committee

There is a very contentious planning application, an amended version of a second application, on a site in the heart of one of our historic villages.  It is in a conservation area, surrounded by listed buildings where the village has an adopted neighbourhood plan. The Grade 1 listed church overlooks the site.

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The Parish Council oppose this application because the application does not conform to the aspirations and policies within the Neighbourhood Plan. The main priority of parishioners is the preservation of the overall character of the built heritage. The Neighbourhood Plan requires new buildings should “…..respect the local character” and preferably natural traditional building materials and methods should be used. (The proposed two dwellings are contemporary with flat sedum roofs).

Historic England (watchdog of our historic environment) said, in Feb 2018, of the first application:

“… the site in question, sits to the west and is made up of two linear fields that run parallel to the road behind the dwellings. Due to their size and close association to the built environment, it is believed these may have been paddocks for livestock and were potentially connected to the pub.

In recent years, development has occurred to the east in the form of modern bungalows and housing estates. However, these fields act as an indicator of the former rural landscape that characterised the setting of [the village].

A pre-application enquiry has been undertaken with the council, who consider that some form of development may be acceptable on the site. We would highlight the importance of the site as an extant aspect of the former rural setting of the conservation area as well as the contribution it makes in terms of appreciating the former uses of the land and how the development interacted with its rural setting. Therefore, its development would result in some erosion of that quality, which contributes to the significance of the conservation area.”

In spite of this cautionary advice it appears from pre-application correspondence published on EDDC web site that EDDC planners want to facilitate development by ignoring all this, squaring the Councillors and by-passing the DMC.

Applicant’s agent to planning officer e-mail (March 2018):

“We talked about how the application would proceed from this point on, and [X- planning officer] advised that he felt that the team would be supportive of the application, though [sic] that the town council would object as they did before. This would mean that the application would need to go the Chairman’s briefing for delegated approval.

“The process works that when a parish or town council differ in opinion to that of a planning team (planning recommendation report for approval) then the chairman of the planning committee (who meets once a week) would make the decision if the planning report should be followed, and delegated approval is granted, or if it should go to committee [sic].

“The district councillor (Cllr [Y] plus 2 others) will also have a say, though they did not object last time to the two houses, and I [architectural agent for applicant] will be meeting with the Cllr this time to ensure that he understands the application, and the reason for the second application as the district Cllr is allowed to sit in and vote on the delegated chairman’s briefing.”

Historic England continue their concern (May 2018):

“We maintain reservations in respect of the proposal. The orientation of the buildings within the site, their scale and associated ground works to address this issue of height, results in a significant intervention that does not respond to the character and appearance of the conservation area, through the scale and massing of the proposal and its orientation within the plot……..”

And Historic England’s final comment is:

ou could add at the end the final Historic England recommendation:


Your authority should take these representations into account and seek amendments, safeguards or further information as set out in our advice.

Chances of that happening? Owl isn’t taking any bets!

Ottery Health Matters! Meeting 29 June 2018, afternoon and evening

Ottery St Mary & District Health & Care Forum, in partnership with:
RD&E, Coleridge GP’s, NEWCCG, Devon County Council, East Devon District Council & Ottery St Mary Town Council

Ottery Health Matters!

Health and Wellbeing Community Information Event

Date: Friday 29th June 2018

Time: Two drop-in sessions
2pm – 5pm
6pm – 8pm

Venue: The Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1HD.

Come along to this informal drop-in event to find out about the care and support available in Ottery and the surrounding areas. It will be a great opportunity to talk to health and care experts plus volunteers about the local services and activities to help people live well.

We need to hear from you about what’s important to you, what you think the challenges and priorities are to improve health and care for people in our community now and in the future.

Refreshments will be provided. Transport to and from may also be available. For any queries or feedback please contact:

Elli Pang via e-mail: ellipang@btinternet.com or Tel: 01404 812268 or Leigh Edwards via e-mail: leighp3@sourcemode.com or Tel: 01404 814889

Teignbridge Council CEO given £264,000 to push off – now working for West Sussex on £138,000 plus perks

“A council chief executive was given a golden handshake of more than £250,000 in a deal that bosses tried to keep secret to avoid causing her “unnecessary or unjustified distress”.

Nicola Bulbeck, 60, left Teignbridge district council in Devon last summer after 11 years’ service. The council had repeatedly refused to reveal how much she received but its draft annual accounts disclosed yesterday that the former barrister left with a £264,000 “exit package”.

It was also revealed that she was allowed to stay on until the day after the general election last year so that she could earn a further £30,000 for being the returning officer.

After leaving the local authority she was appointed an executive director at West Sussex county council last January on an annual salary of £138,000.
There has been concern about a “revolving door” of senior local authority staff receiving significant payoffs before moving to similar jobs.
Several Teignbridge district councillors have alleged that Ms Bulbeck kept her company car as part of the leaving package. The council has declined to comment on the claim.

Phil Shears, who replaced Ms Bulbeck, had defended the decision not to release details of her payout when she departed. He claimed that the disclosure would “cause unnecessary or unjustified distress or damage” to his predecessor. Mr Shears was appointed the council’s managing director on a salary of £94,656, considerably less than Ms Bulbeck earned. Ms Bulbeck had been criticised for accepting a 12 per cent pay rise that took her annual pay packet from £126,000 to almost £142,000.

The district council and the Information Commissioner’s Office rejected several attempts by the Mid-Devon Advertiser to unearth Ms Bulbeck’s settlement. The accounts show that she received £173,091 “compensation for loss of employment” as part of her exit package”.

Jeremy Christophers, the council’s Conservative leader, said: “We have followed strict council policy and abided by the legal advice given.”

Gordon Hook, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “The leaving packages for some senior officers at local authorities are nothing short of obscene in the eyes of many. My view is that the general public have every right to know how their council tax is spent.”

Ms Bulbeck was not available for comment yesterday.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

Devon and Somerset – a new Klondike gold rush?

The LEP housing numbers, anticipating 50,000 new households in Devon, are almost certainly driven in part by the heroic assumptions about the local economy, as Owl has pointed out many times.

As we know, the LEP assumption is 4% growth per annum for the next 18 years. Such a sustained economic boom would invoke a ‘Klondike’ style immigration rush into Devon and Somerset, as the economies of all of the rest of the western world failed to compete with us at that level.

East Devon’s current Local Plan is based upon an anticipated annual UK economic growth rate of 3% from 2007, which has turned out to be just over 1%.

This, of course, is why many of our employment sites are dormant (and one of the many reasons why we do not need a new site in Sidford), and all our town centres are struggling – there simply isn’t demand.

Even if economic growth was to average 3% growth from now until the end of the Plan period, which looks incredibly optimistic, we would still have 33% more employment land than we need, according to East Devon’s own numbers.

The LEP’s projections have been laughed at by everyone – especially, Owl gathers, in Whitehall.

But they feed into a whole raft of housing and economic projections, that will ultimately emerge as policy around the region.

What assumption will be used for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) projections, Owl wonders? Now delayed until after the next local council elections in 2019?

Will the GESP team dare to condemn the LEP numbers, or will they adopt them, even when they must know they are nonsense?

What might happen if those without vested interests in the growth of expensive housing in the area were for once denied a say due to conflict of interest?

And where are the signs of the revisions of our Local Plan, based on current realities, that are required every 5 years?