Bats (and Batmen and Batwomen) in East Budleigh – today’s development

Owl hears that, somewhat surprisingly, EDDC’s Development Management Committee voted to defer the bat habitat decision.

It also appears that yesterday’s activity in and around the barn, reported by Owl here:

has been reported to the Police who have allocated a crime number to it.

Here is how it has bedn reported in the local newspaper:

“Campaigners fighting the proposed demolition of a known bat habitat in East Budleigh have been given ‘breathing space’.

Image: Archant, Daniel Wilkins

More than 20 members of a conservation group gathered outside Exmouth Town Hall this morning (Tuesday, February 12) ahead of a crucial meeting to decide the fate of an East Budleigh barn known to be home to rare and protected bats.

East Devon District Council’s development management committee decided to defer their decision pending additional information from Natural England about wildlife mitigation on the site.

Landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) is looking to knock down the barn and build a new dwelling on the site and has offered to build a separate ‘bat barn’ on the plot as mitigation.

Speaking after the meeting, Karen Alexander-Clarke, secretary of the East Budleigh Parish Conservation Group told The Journal this decision gives them ‘breathing space’ in their fight to protect the bats’ home.

The Pound, in East Budleigh, which is subject to a planning application to demolish a barn which is thought to be home to species of rare bats.

She also said they would be writing to Natural England to lobby them and ‘emphasise that there are councillors that feel as strongly as we do’.

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Brian Bailey also raised concerns over whether the bats would take to their new home.
He said: “The bats, I feel, have been served poorly because there is no guarantee what so ever that the bats will survive the demolition or would accept their new home.”

Cllr Geoff Jung said: “This is one house and one family that is going to benefit and how many bats and other wildlife are going to benefit?”

An independent ecology report commissioned by the council recommended that the mitigation being offered by CDE be accepted.

Cllr Mark Williamson said he did not feel confident that, if they refused the application and CDE appealed, the Planning Inspectorate would back their original decision.

He said: “As we do frequently, we would look to our statutory consultees to guide us.

“Natural England is giving quite detailed guidance and they recommend the planning authority follow advice from the ecologist.”

Councillors voted in favour of deferring the application pending information from Natural England on the suitability of the proposed ‘bat barn’.”

One (Tory) councillor nearly sabotaged a highways safety project in Otterton

Honestly, EDDC Tories will stop at nothing to try to stop Claire Wright …. even if they cut off their own noses to spite their faces!

EDDC Councillor Tom Wright thinks he knows better than Otterton residents. Perhaps residents angry at his intervention should ensure they DON’T tick HIS box in local elections on 2 May!

Blog of Claire Wright.

“Otterton Parish Council has agreed to part fund a 20mph limit through the village, at a packed and testy meeting last night.

[This is the road being discussed below]

The agreement was made, despite a Conservative councillor selected to stand for Otterton in the East Devon District Council May election suggesting repeatedly during the meeting that the 20mph limit was a waste of time.

This did not go down with residents who made it clear they disagreed with him.

The vast majority of the village of Otterton wants a 20mph limit. I have carried out a consultation, had a public meeting and made a case based on the policy requirements.

Also backing the proposal is the Otterton Primary School headteacher.

And the parish council wrote to Devon County Council highways officers last year to support the case.

I have worked towards this over the past year or so, but despite meeting virtually all the policy requirements, the scheme fell recently as there has not been a speed related death in the village. A traffic accident resulting in a death, yes. But not a speed related death.

This very silly rule will hopefully be overturned thanks to a new government report which a Devon County Council highways task group is currently working on. This very much emphasises a ‘can do’ approach to 20mph limits as they are beneficial in slowing traffic and

Despite having no jurisdiction over Otterton – neither a resident nor a councillor representing the village, EDDC Conservative, Tom Wright continued to pour cold water all over the plans for the revised speed limit and claimed it was a waste of money.

At one point he even accused me of blogging that I would fund the entire project myself.

I replied that this was never the intention, as the upper limit cost would use up half my entire locality budget!

I also said it was quite wrong for him to be trying to undermine my work and the wishes of the vast majority of residents of Otterton.

Nevertheless Cllr Tom Wright, backed up by two managers attending from Ladram Bay, attacked me several times for this.

The Ladram Bay managers were on the warpath because I had asked them to fund a third of the scheme, given that a significant proportion of traffic travels to Ladram Bay. Local traffic surveys have confirmed this.

Otterton Parish Council Chairman, John Fudge received a statement from Ladram Bay about an hour before last night’s meeting which he read out.

It has taken about six months for the company to produce a response following my initial approaches to them, which they ignored.

The parish council clearly had reservations about the cost and the implications on the precept so I increased my offer to half funding the scheme. This will be decided at a later date, assuming the scheme finally gets approval.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Otterton Parish

Regarding the proposed introduction of an 20mph speed limit and the request of Councillor Claire Wright for Ladram Bay to part fund.

All the present information leads to the ineffectiveness of such an initiative, during a meeting in 2018 that was held in Otterton, with the Parish Council and the Highways Authority, it was communicated by Highways that a 20mph scheme without any relevant traffic calming measures would have absolutely no effect on speed reduction. This is also backed up by the latest government research study (Nov 2018) that confirms “no significant safety outcome in terms of collisions or casualties have come following the implementation of a 20mph zone” Unfortunately no scheme can legislate against the mindless minority who unfortunately drive recklessly.

Should Devon County Council support and approve such a scheme, or come up with a different scheme with proven results, then we will certainly consider funding part of the project in conjunction with other businesses in Otterton, if approached by the Parish Council.

Please can it be noted that we, like many residents, are vexed that Councillor Claire Wright has reneged on her promise at the public meeting January 2018 to fund the scheme in it’s entirety.

Ladram Bay Holiday Park

Thank you to Otterton Parish Council for agreeing to contribute to the costs of the scheme, should it be approved. We now await the results of the Devon County Council taskgroup, which should report its findings back in the next few weeks.”

Should Seaton’s disgraced ex-Mayor still be Chair of the town’s Lib Dems?

Given that Councillor Burrows (Seaton Town and East Devon district) was forced to resign his post as Seaton Mayor and is subject of at least one complaint to EDDC’s Monitoring Officer:

should he still be Chair of the Seaton branch of the Lib Dems?

And he might consider amending his puff-job for himself on his “invitation only” Seaton Views Facebook page (from which he excludes or bans many people who do not share his views) where he says:

“… Peter is currently the Chairman of Seaton & District Liberal Democrats with Lewis Ragbourn secretary and Ron Farlow treasurer. The Liberal Democrats in Seaton are the only party that campaigns and informs residents outside of elections.”

Owl thinks that East Devon Alliance is constantly campaigning and informing residents of the whole of East Devon, AND Seaton in particular, with its high-profile Devon County Councillor Martin Shaw, who is campaigning and working tirelessly for Seaton and Colyton – particularly over issues of the NHS and Highways issues in that area.

Save Clyst St Mary – update

“Following the message that we received asking us to remove our banner from the fence backing onto A3052, I thought that I should write to you to let you know we are still here and continuing the fight for sustainable development in Clyst St Mary. There has been numerous items in the press regarding development in and around Exeter known as the ‘Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (G.E.S.P)’ and I have attached a copy of our latest press release which might help to explain matters a little more.

Over five years ago when we formed the Save Clyst St Mary Campaign we never expected to have received so much overwhelming support, for so many years. It really goes to show how uniting the different areas of the village can lead to a continued great outcome for everyone.

If you know someone who wants to get involved either just as a member or actively helping please let me know.”


“Village Life -v- Future Development

Many people favour living in a picturesque, rural village nestled in surrounding countryside with only the amenities of a village shop, post office, school, pub, hall and church. Clyst St Mary is a village where some historic areas have barely changed since late-medieval times but the settlement has expanded and progressed to incorporate the demands of the 21st century.

It is often described as a rural idyll, offering a different lifestyle than that experienced in the nearby urban City of Exeter. The old village is portrayed as charming and rustic but new contemporary designs show a progressive quality that coexists with the more traditional standards of the settlement. It remains unpretentious but with a modern, caring and vibrant neighbourhood.

This community has recently embraced considerable, sustainable housing development with the building of almost 100 new residences (a substantial quantity for a modest-sized village) to support East Devon Local Plan growth policies to 2031. However, the Local Plan also includes a further 150 dwellings allocated on brownfield land at Winslade Park awaiting planning approval, which totals approximately 250 new homes. Although it is appreciated that people need somewhere to live, such high numbers in one village go beyond growth recommendations in the Local, Villages and Neighbourhood Plans.

Crucially, there are also fears that proposals in the Draft Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) for substantial future development along the A3052 around Westpoint at Clyst St Mary will sound the death knell for this historic Devon village, with the creation of, perhaps, another new town similar to Cranbrook or building a large suburb of Exeter or a sizeable extension to the existing settlement, all of which could result in the destruction of the village identity.

The entire GESP area incorporates Exeter City, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and East Devon with a vision for the provision of new homes, jobs and infrastructure for existing and future generations while protecting and enhancing the environment. Ideally, each area would share growth, avoiding one locality being burdened by substantial, unsustainable over-development.

However, concerns are not alleviated by recent comments made by East Devon planners declaring that some communities will be detrimentally impacted by proposed GESP large scale growth recommendations, e.g. ‘…in most cases growth would have to be quite substantial to make it viable to deliver the required services and facilities to make the settlement suitably sustainable for growth and in the process could harm the character of the village and the existing community.’ – (Strategic Planning Committee report – 4th September 2018, page 24, Item 9.1).

Furthermore, at the full Council meeting in October 2018 in answer to a question as to why East Devon is taking a disproportionate share of development (58% more than Exeter, 53% more than Teignbridge and nearly three times that of Mid Devon according to independent analysis conducted by CPRE), a local politician replied: “Because we have the land and we are good at it.”

Exeter City Council has just unveiled their 20-year vision for the city, which includes 12,000 new homes, cultural centres, ‘a garden bridge’ across the Exe and the creation of a comprehensive cycle and pedestrian network to tackle traffic congestion.

However, with a target of 53,200 homes proposed for the Greater Exeter areas and the propulsion for substantial business growth, surely the communities within East Devon should equally have sight of the development proposals for their localities? For example, the present Exeter Sowton Park and Ride site appears to show future development – so where will the new replacement Park and Ride facilities be located to serve Exeter?

To date, representatives from East Devon local authority, business communities and growth partnerships have maintained exclusivity regarding the proposals for the GESP large allocation sites offered by landowners for future major development. Will there be a general release to the public of this restricted information before the Local Elections in May 2019? The electorate may be reluctant to vote for expansive commercial and housing proposals that would destroy or detrimentally alter their community.

Consequently, it might be thought unwise to acquaint the populace at this time with extensive GESP growth recommendations for fear that they would be judged undesirable. Although, there will, of course, be statutory public consultation on such vast development proposals under GESP but not until after the Local Elections!

In reality, Clyst St Mary’s portrayal as an idealised village is not entirely accurate and the images below bear testimony to the daily traffic congestion which reaches unacceptable levels, where the A376 and A3052 converge at the bottleneck that is the Clyst St Mary roundabout.

At present, large volumes of HGVs serving the extensive business expansions at Hill Barton and Greendale Industrial Estates, together with huge tractors and trailers importing and exporting to an ever-increasing sized anaerobic digester, thunder through the village! Coupled with significant large levels of commuter and tourist traffic they create safety issues for residents (especially young children) accessing the village primary school, shop, village hall and play park via the toucan crossing on the A3052. Regrettably, the pedestrian footbridge is unsuitable for many users and is generally in a state of disrepair!

Only last year a resident sustained serious injuries crossing the A3052 in the village after being knocked down by a speeding car during daylight hours! Fortunately, there appears to be current medium-sized road improvements planned around the Clyst St Mary roundabout and Junction 30 of the M5 in the near future.

However, it is considered that the crucial, major road network advancement necessary in this area at present and for any future development expansion may not be forthcoming in the current uncertain and fragile financial climate. It is unacceptable for developers to build sizeable residential and business developments that access a substandard, mediocre road network. There is gridlock with the present peak time traffic let alone any future requirements. Planning cycle tracks and park and ride facilities are positive approaches but may be inadequate ‘band-aid solutions’ that will not sufficiently tackle the root causes.”

[Pictures with press release not shown here]

Research shows Swire could lose his seat to Claire Wright!

“The Conservatives would win a working majority if a general election was held now, according to YouGov modelling.

Theresa May’s party was forecast to win 321 seats – up from 317 at the last election – while Labour would lose 12 seats, the research for The Times suggested.

The SNP and the Liberal Democrats were each predicted to gain four seats, while Ukip would again win nothing.

But the market research company, which correctly forecast the 2017 result, predicted the Tories would see a fall in their estimated vote share, from 43.4% in 2017 to 39.4%, if an election was called this month.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party would also see a drop, from 41% to 34.2%, while the Liberal Democrats and Ukip were forecast to see a rise in vote share.

YouGov polled 40,119 people between February 2 and 7.

The pollsters found Labour was most likely to lose Sheffield Hallam – Nick Clegg’s old seat which was won by Jared O’Mara in the last election – as well as disgraced ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya’s Peterborough seat.

The Conservatives would lose Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park seat and Sir Hugo Swire’s East Devon, according to the research.”