Council challenges planning inspector decision affecting strategic planning

Implications for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan? You know, the one being delayed until after the next council elections …. for some reason …

“South Gloucestershire Council is to bring a legal challenge over a planning inspector’s decision to grant planning permission for a 350-home development in Thornbury.

The proposed Cleve Park scheme would also include a 70-unit elderly care facility, associated open space, community and commercial facilities, and infrastructure. The planning application was made by Welbeck Strategic Land LLP.

The local authority said it had “carefully considered” the Inspector’s decision and would be issuing legal proceedings challenging it.

South Gloucestershire added that it had written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government James Brokenshire, “requesting that he exercises his powers to recover the planning appeals relating to developments in Charfield and another in Thornbury from the Planning Inspectors, and make the decisions himself”.

These requests relate to two applications, one for outline planning permission for the erection of 121 homes and a retail outlet on land off Wotton Road in Charfield (Barratt Homes, Bristol), and also the appeal relating to land south of Gloucester Road, Thornbury (Bovis Homes Ltd), which seeks outline consent for the demolition of existing agricultural shed buildings and residential development of up to 370 homes, a flexible use building, public open space, accesses onto Gloucester Road and associated infrastructure.

The council said that it considered that these appeals, if granted, would undermine the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) process and its impact upon the residents and communities of South Gloucestershire.

Cllr Toby Savage, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said: “Enough is enough. I am determined to see the council take a robust approach to challenging unsustainable development across the district. Where we have taken difficult decisions to proactively and positively plan for future housing and jobs growth, we should not have decisions from the Planning Inspectorate which undermines this work as it only stores up economic, social and environmental problems for the future.”

Cllr Colin Hunt, Cabinet Member for Planning at the council, said: “In South Gloucestershire we are trying to be plan led with our decisions on planning applications. While we appreciate that we have a shortfall on our five year land supply, nonetheless we want decisions to reflect that we have a solid plan that was prepared in consultation with the public.”

It’s going to take more than a yew tree branch to ward off evil at EDDC new HQ!

And who at EDDC was responsible for this press release that gives the (totally erroneous) impression that the sale of Knowle is 100% financing the new HQ?

“A yew tree branch has been placed on top of East Devon District Council’s new HQ to “ward off evil spirits”.

The topping out ceremony took place at Blackdown House in Honiton, which will be the council’s new home by January 2019.

As part of the ceremony, a yew tree branch was attached to the highest point of the building.

The ceremony was completed by council chairman Andrew Moulding and leader Ian Thomas. A council spokesman said it was “an age-old tradition”.

The authority plans to move from its current HQ in Sidmouth to Blackdown House in December 2018. The move will be financed by selling the property to Pegasus Life Ltd for £7.5m, which will turn it into a 113-apartment assisted-living community. …”

Sidford Business Park – a grubby history

Tim Ford, once a much-respected plumbing and electrical contactor in Sidmouth, is renewing his controversial application to build a business park in the AONB at Sidford. (18/1094/MOUT)

Incredulous locals wonder how it was possible for a council to allocate an ‘employment site’ in its local development plan that is on a flood plain, is a rich wildlife habitat, and whose main access would be a narrow street where two lorries can’t pass without mounting the pavement!

For the dominant Tory group on East Devon District Council it was easy!

First, they let landowners and developers decide where to build. In 2007 they asked East Devon Business Forum how much employment land the district would need over the next 25 years. EDBF was a lobby group which included the Carters of Greendale, the Stuarts of Hill Barton and Tim Ford of Sidmouth. Their answer was predictable: lots and lots!

Second, they put Chair of EDBF, Cllr Graham (‘I ain’t doin’ it for peanuts!’) Brown:

in charge of quietly asking landowners where they would like to build. Apparently, the proposal for a Sidford business park was first mooted at one of these confidential meetings in July 2010.

Third, in 2011 they elected Paul Diviani, founder member of EDBF, as leader. Under him the District Council became what many saw as a ‘Development Corporation’, the planning system became less about protecting the environment and more about encouraging building.

Fourth, they didn’t listen to the public or community groups whom they ignored or misrepresented. Sidmouth Chamber of commerce said the business park would be catastrophic for local businesses, Council minutes recorded the Chamber as supporting it!

Fifth, they whipped their large political majority to vote through the Sidford allocation. When hostile public reaction worried them just before the 2015 council elections they voted to ‘remove it’ from the Local Plan. Universal Rejoicing! But in 2016 the Inspector kept it in the Plan. Why? Because East Devon’s chief planning officer had not been instructed to give the Inspector reasons for the council’s change of mind!

Former EDDC Leader Diviani is now EDDC’s representative on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. In its confidential meetings he is helping to oversee a gigantic overspill project along the A3052 in the west end of the District where hundreds of acres of land are being earmarked for a massive expansion of business parks and thousands of new houses.

Indeed one such expansion was announced only this weekend near Cranbrook, where the developer is quoted as saying:

“The first, ‘Scenario 1’ is a response to existing market demand with the provision of a single large unit of around one million square feet (92,9000 sq.m.).

‘Scenario 2’ would see the site offer a multi-unit option, providing a range of sizes and configurations informed by ongoing market need.”

Which all makes the wretched Sidford application even less necessary!

Would you choose immediate A-road and motorway access to Exeter and the M5 or access down a country road where two medium-size vehicles cannot pass?

What do council workers administering cuts think of their jobs?

“Nearly 80% of council workers have no confidence in the future of local services because of spending cuts, new research reveals.

The study, carried out by Unison, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, revealed that staff felt councils had been left unable to meet the demands of local communities due to government cuts.

Staff have been left to “pick up the pieces” due to local services “collapsing”, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said, adding that the current situation was “chaos”.

The research, released on Monday, shows that 50% of council workers are thinking of leaving their jobs for less stressful work elsewhere.

The survey of 21,000 local government employees working across all services reveals that 67% said residents do not receive the help and support when they need it and 54% are not confident that vulnerable residents are safe and cared for.

Issues raised by the staff who took part in the survey include stories of families living in mouldy, overcrowded properties, fly-tipping being left for weeks and a rise in rodent populations.

Other concerns raised include vulnerable children, young people and adults not getting the help and support they need. …

Unison’s Prentis said: “This disturbing survey should ring alarm bells in Whitehall and also alert ministers to the crisis happening in councils up and down the country.

“Local authorities have had to cut so many vital services that they have now reached a point where vulnerable children and the elderly struggle to get the help that they need, entire communities are suffering, and the public are being put at risk.”

Unison’s survey shows that 83% of staff felt that reductions in government funding for local authorities in England have had a negative impact on their ability to do the job as well as they can.

A total of 53% of workers believe that their council no longer delivers quality services and 48% said that their employer doesn’t make the right decisions for the public.

Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds are concerned about the financial situation of their council.

The biggest challenges facing local authorities, according to council workers, was a lack of front line staff, adult social care, safeguarding children and young people, a lack of housing options and road repairs.

Prentis added: “With cuts to road and bridge maintenance, potholes in roads are left unfilled, and bridges are at risk of crumbling. Crematoriums are not maintained, streetlights stay broken, and parks are in disrepair as councils don’t have the equipment or the staff to adequately maintain them.

“There are now over one million people with an unmet need for social care because councils don’t have the resources to support them. Now is the time to reverse these cuts and invest in local government once more or the very fabric of our society will come unstuck.” …

Devon Tory GP MP pours cold water on “extra” NHS funding promise

Owl says: surely “extra” money for the NHS means ALL CCG costings have to be revised? And all the arguments about WHY services have to be cut must be revisited.

“Theresa May has come under fire for promising that a Brexit windfall will provide an extra £400m a week for the NHS. May – who will pledge an extra £20bn in annual real terms from 2023-24 in a major speech – has been ridiculed for linking the money to Brexit savings. “At the moment, as a member of the European Union, every year we spend significant amounts of money on our subscription, if you like, to the EU,” she said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show. “When we leave we won’t be doing that.”

Two senior Tory MPs, who are also doctors, took aim at May: “The Brexit dividend tosh was expected but treats the public as fools. Sad to see Govt slide to populist arguments rather than evidence on such an important issues,” tweeted Sarah Wallaston, who chairs the Commons health and social care committee. Dr Philip Lee, MP for Bracknell, tweeted: “There is no evidence yet that there will be a ‘Brexit dividend’ – so it’s tax rises, more borrowing or both.”

The PM’s decision to frame extra spending specifically as a benefit of leaving the EU has been widely seen as a sop to hardline Brexiters in her cabinet, echoing Boris Johnson’s suggestion during the EU referendum that Brexit would free up £350m a week extra for the NHS.”