Swire to attend CPRE seminar on Devon Housing – tickets available

Date And Time

Thu, 21 March 2019
11:00 – 15:00 GMT


The Estuary Suite
Sandy Park
Sandy Park Way

Tickets £5 each available via Eventbrite

“Have you noticed how many houses are being built in Devon? Do we need so many? What is the genuine underlying need? How many are genuinely affordable? Who are the planned new houses actually for? How many new homes are planned for your community and where?

To address these questions and more, we are delighted to have organised this important seminar where we will be joined by Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Housing & Planning, Sir Hugo Swire MP East Devon and Stephen Walford, Chief Executive Officer Mid Devon District Council. CPRE Devon’s Dr Phillip Bratby will also be summarising the key findings of our recently commissioned independent Devon Housing Need Report.

What do you think of all the new house building in Devon? Please join us for this important and exclusive opportunity to hear from our guest speakers and to put your questions to them. All welcome. Admission by ticket only. £5, to include refreshments.

CPRE Devon – The Voice for Devon’s Countryside

“Tory MP complains that Government isn’t giving Brexit bribes to South West MPs – because the region voted Conservative!”

From the blog of Independent DCC Councillor Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance:

“The Government has announced its bribes to towns in order to persuade MPs, mainly Labour, to vote for its miserable Brexit deal.

Although it claims to have used a “need-based formula,” the South West is to receive the second-lowest allocation of cash (£33 million) despite being among England’s most deprived regions.

Coincidentally, it also has very few Labour MPs — and Sheryll Murray, the Tory MP for South East Cornwall, appears to have spotted the discrepancy.

“The fact this money appears to be directly routed to Labour-voting areas smacks of pork-barrel politics, and the public will know that,” Murray complains to The Times.

“It would be a crying shame if Conservative-voting communities were being disadvantaged because of the way they voted.”

Tory MP complains that Government isn’t giving Brexit bribes to South West MPs – because the region voted Conservative!

How many Retrospective Applications can one company do at once? Answer 9! Where? Greendale Business Park!

In 2017 FWS Carter and Sons, the owners of Greendale Business Park, appealed against an “Enforcement Notice” against the removal of various industrial compounds and buildings at their Business Park, which they had built prior to obtaining planning permission.

They lost their appeal with the Planning Inspector, who stated in his report that FWS Carter and Sons had misinterpreted the East Devon Local Plan and that their interpretation was “patently wrong”.

But undaunted the company challenged the Inspectors decision in the High Court. Early last year the company lost the appeal in the High Court. The Judge’s decision also restricted the owners any further opportunity to appeal and them to pay all costs arising from the case.

The Company was required to return the area back to agricultural use, but it transpires that they imported soil and laid this over the concrete yards and simply reseeded it.

It remains to be seen if the covering the concrete is enough to satisfy the Planning Inspectors requirement that the land must return to agricultural use.

Lessons learnt?

So once bitten, twice shy you would have thought with substantial losses, large court fees and professional fees involved!!

Unfortunately, it would seem not, for this family run business. Now there are 9 applications which are known to have been or are in the process of building work before the Planning Applications were submitted.

18/2866/FUL. A retrospective planning application for a rear roller shutter door and concrete pad on the rear of an industrial building onto agricultural land at Unit 11 Hogsbrook Farm. This application is before East Devon’s Planning Committee on Tuesday 4 March.

19/0034/COU. A Retrospective Application at Hogsbrook East 6. A retrospective change of use from agricultural use to industrial. An interesting history to this one! Originally built for a gas pipeline contractors’ compound that had to be returned to agricultural use when the pipeline was completed. However, FWS Carter and Sons applied for planning permission to retain the secure compound for fruit farming. Instead of fruit-growing, Woodbury Carbreakers as tenants stored scrapped vehicles there instead! After 3 years and a court case they were eventually evicted by the Environment Agency, but the owners then used it for commercial storage. Their application for industrial use failed 3 years ago, but just before an Enforcement Notice was served in late 2018 they submitted a further application. But they withdraw it and submitted this latest application.

19/0035/COU. A Retrospective Application next to Hogsbrook East 6. Very similar to the previous application which was used for the gas pipeline company. FWS Carter and Sons submitted, what is called a “Certificate of Lawfulness” which in planning terms means that after 10 years of illegal use they would not require planning permission, to allow to continue operations. However, their own documents clearly stated that gas pipeline contractors had been tenants until July 2009. As this was classified at permitted lawful use the submission was refused. Just as the previous application prior to an “Enforcement Notice” was served as the previous site in late 2018 they submitted a further planning application. They again withdraw it, a submitted this further application.

19/0332/CPE. This was a submission of a “Certificate of Lawfulness” at Greendale unit 33A. Following the publication of the East Devon Villages Plan it was realised that this unit was outside the permitted “Employment Zone” for Greendale Business Park. This was because in its 15 years of operations, planning permission had never been applied for! Therefore, the Local Authority asked the company to summit the paperwork to legalise the operation.

19/043/FUL. A Retrospective Application for 3 Freezer storage pods at Compound 31. The compound is used by DHL Logistics for parcel distribution, but early last year after winning a distribution contract with Kentucky Fried Chicken they started frozen food distribution as well. Several residents living close by the noisy freezer units and hearing the loading and unloading during the night reported the problem to Environmental Health at East Devon. They suggested to the Planning Department that a retrospective application should be submitted.

19/0288/FUL. A Retrospective Application for an extension to Unit 10 at Hogsbrook Farm to extend an Industrial Building which sits on the Employment Boundary of Greendale Business Park. This would mean that the extended building would straddle the boundary between Industrial/Agricultural use.

18/2867/FUL. A Retrospective Application to extend Compound 62 beyond the Employment Boundary into agricultural and landscaping area. The area has been built up over recent years with inert waste material under an Environment Agency permit but it would seem the Company has gone beyond the permitted landfill area.

There are 2 further Retrospective Planning Applications due for extensions to Agricultural units that have been reported to the Enforcement Officer at East Devon District Council.

That’s nine Retrospective Applications in a row. Is that a record!!

And the Government still insist that Planning Authorities treat Retrospective Applications the same as any other Application!

“Councils using cash from property sales to fund redundancies”

“Councils in England have spent £115m of money raised from property sales on funding redundancies, analysis has revealed.

Since former chancellor George Osborne relaxed rules on councils spending receipts from public assets in 2016, 64 councils in England have spent £381m generated by property sales – a third of which (£115m) was used to make staff redundant, according to the research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Huffpost UK.

Previously, when a local authority sold off an asset, it could only use the money to fund the cost of replacing that asset. However, changes introduced by Osborne allowed councils to spend those receipts on cost-cutting measures.

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Bureau revealed that councils that made the most of this law change had a redundancy rate 75% higher than councils that did not.

In Bristol, the number of council workers made redundant has jumped ten times since the change, from 39 in 2015-16 to 401 in 2016-17.

Simon Edwards, director of the County Councils Network, said: “In rural England, county authorities face a £3.2bn funding gap by 2020, largely due to costs outside of their control.

“It is therefore inevitable that councils have had to reduce highly-valued services to a minimum, with discretionary services disappearing and new charges introduced for services ranging from black sacks to parts of social care.

Urban councils also used asset receipts to fund redundancies, with five London boroughs doing so. Haringey spent £8m this way and job losses increased 70%, according to the data.

Northamptonshire County Council agreed the sale of its brand new council headquarters in April last year for a sum of £64m. This was the single most valuable asset sold since 2016, the research found.

Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow communities and local government secretary, said: “Austerity has hollowed out the heart of our communities. This report reveals the shocking disposal of our community assets under the Tories.

“Cuts have forced many councils to sell off their parks, community centres and libraries; cut back on staff and the neighbourhood and care services that all of us rely on; and push up council tax – just to keep the lights on.”


“New homes in Devon are built so badly ‘children can remove cement with their fingernails’ “

Owl is confused. Isn’t EDDC’s Building Control department supposed to be passing or failing these new properties?

“The East Devon District Council meeting heard from Cllr Douglas Hull, who proposed the motion and said: “There are so many badly new built houses in East Devon and it is getting even worse”

The Government has been urged to prioritise a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders as there are ‘so many badly new built houses in East Devon’.

Councillors on Wednesday unanimously voted to call on the government to fulfil its February 2018 pledge to provide the much needed remedy for homeowners as a matter of the highest priority.

The East Devon District Council meeting heard from Cllr Douglas Hull, who proposed the motion and said: “There are so many badly new built houses in East Devon and it is getting even worse.”

Cllr Hull added: “We have to have houses we can be proud of the region, and we have to say that enough is enough. We need to think about the people who end up buying second rate houses.”

He added that in some of the new houses, they are built so badly that small children with can rip out the cement with their fingernails, adding: “If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.”

Cllr Eleanor Rylance added: “We have a quality control issue with a lot of the houses, and then we have a problem with people are renting from a housing association who don’t feel that they can be complain as they will lose their house.

“Cranbrook is developer led but some developers are prone to get people to buy the property before everything is done.”

No developers were named during the meeting, but it has recently been confirmed that Persimmon Homes are carrying out fire safety barrier inspections in Cranbrook after it was found that some new build homes were missing them.

Cllr Ian Hall added: “Some of the building companies in this area just don’t care, and they have no shame.”

Cllr Geoff Pook, who has been involved in the building trade in East Devon, pledged his support for the motion.

The council unanimously agreed to urge the government to fulfil its pledge to introduce a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders as soon as possible.”


Government pulls bill which would have uncovered money launderers

“Ministers have pulled a financial services bill from the House of Commons, fearing the government was almost certain to be defeated on an amendment requiring Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to clamp down on money laundering.

The Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and Labour’s Margaret Hodge want the crown dependencies to introduce public share ownership records by December 2020, which the three territories are resisting.

Mitchell said the government had pulled the bill “in face of certain defeat” because it was backed by a group of rebel Tories as well as Labour and the other opposition parties. But the former cabinet minister added that the amendment would be put to the vote whenever the bill was resubmitted.

Hodge said the government had taken an “outrageous step” to pull the bill because “they knew we commanded a majority. I hope the government will accept our proposals but if not we will continue to campaign for public registers.”

Anti-corruption campaigners believe public records of share ownership would restrict the use of anonymous offshore companies by terrorists, dictators, corrupt politicians and criminals. …”


EDDC HQ move cost neutral? Don’t make Owl laugh!

“… The new headquarters cost the council £8.7m, while an additional £1.5m was spent on upgrading Exmouth Town Hall – where one third of the council staff are to be based.

The Knowle has been sold to developers Pegasus Life for £7.5m, which has been granted planning permission to convert the building into a 113-apartment [top-end luxury] assisted-living community for older people. …”


It has been estimated by a local property developer that the new HQ has a market value of no more than £3.5 million.

Largest store in Axminster town centre to close

“Axminster’s biggest town centre shop is to close – with the loss of 19 jobs.

Trinity House department store is expected to cease trading towards the end of the year – probably in September.

Its owners – Goulds of Dorchester – say it is the victim of the nation’s changing shopping habits which have seen many people switch to on-line buying.

In statement they told The Herald: “As a result of an ongoing review the directors of Goulds (Dorchester) Ltd have announced their decision to cease trading at Trinity House.

“It is expected that the store will close at the end of September 2019, but the actual closing date is yet to be confirmed.

“The store was acquired on leasehold terms in November 2015 along with the premises known as TH2, which housed linens and housewares, until its replacement in 2017 by Costa Coffee.

“Despite having made a considerable investment in the business in an effort to make the Axminster store viable, current trading conditions, coupled with the continuing economic pressures on the department store sector, dictate that the business can no longer sustain an unprofitable branch store in Axminster.

“The company realise that this closure will be a major blow to the town. But even with sympathetic support from the local landlords it has been impossible to stem losses. In common with so many other retailers we are suffering the effects of on-line competition and a change in shopping habits.

“We are deeply sorry at having to take this action not least because our colleagues have done their utmost to help make the store successful and our regular customers will feel the disappointment of losing the only department store in town.”

Axminster county and district councillor Ian Hall said the closure would be a blow to the local economy.”


The great public asset sell-off

Public open spaces

Land and buildings:

No-one goes into public service to do this:

Beware politicians bearing gifts – just in time for local elections!

Owl was taken by this BBC news headline:

“Struggling towns to get £1.6bn post-Brexit boost”

which reveals that mostly-Labour constituencies in the North are being offered (small) handouts post-Brexit.

Just remember people of East Devon that local elections take place on 2 May 2019 and promises are not always what they seem – and sometimes just nothing more than hot air blown at us by fake unicorns!

AND HERE WE ARE not 5 minutes later and the unicorn has made its appearance. The “Communities” Minister announces that the money will be spent over SEVEN years!