Carters latest attempt to legitimise yet another unauthorised development – Ladram Bay on the World Heritage Site

Following Owl’s post reviewing the 207 planning applications, determined by EDDC in April, whilst all committee meetings have been cancelled, a correspondent has been in touch.

This correspondent has drawn Owl’s attention to the latest retrospective application the Carters have made in a catalogue of retrospective applications going back for years.

In Owl’s view it is also one of the most significant in terms of its adverse impact on the environment. Worse even than the Clinton application to extend the Blackhill Engineering site on the disused quarry on Woodbury Common.

This is retrospective application 20/0297/FUL for the partial retention at Ladram Bay of a raised viewing platform including balustrade and storage areas, validated 17 February. It appears to have been made in response to an enforcement notice issued in 2018. Owl has found it difficult to conduct a full audit trail of this application.

The case concerns the construction of a viewing platform and deck projecting through the narrow natural access chine from the camp site to the beach. The platform extends in front of the World Heritage Site (WHS) cliffs towards the east at Ladram Bay. It is supported by piles driven into the beach which will undoubtedly influence the natural erosion process. Owl’s correspondent isn’t sure when this platform first appeared but it was certainly seen in the summer of 2018.

Ladram Bay showing extent of the deck

Owl will start with the planning application form.

On page 4, the answers given in box 12, concerning the reasonable likelihood of the proposal having an adverse effect on designated sites and/or on features of geological significance, are boldly marked “no” in both cases. (Designated sites include SSSI and AONB. The Jurassic WHS is defined by a series of SSSI designations. The sea frontages of the larger towns in East Devon are excluded from the WHS. But for the smaller towns or coves such as Ladram Bay the WHS coverage is continuous across the sea frontage. The definitive DEFRA “Magic” map showing this for Ladram can be found here. The “Magic” map is an invaluable tool providing authoritative geographic information about the natural environment from across government. The information covers rural, urban, coastal and marine environments across Great Britain.)

The applicant cites three main reasons why permission should be granted: to support economic growth and productivity; to provide disabled access and to provide a platform to monitor the safety of swimmers. But it acknowledges that there would be a harmful visual effect from the development. This would be minimised in the summer months by the presence of boats hiding the development but when the beach is not used in the winter months would be very visible. (Judge for yourself from the photo and think how it must look from the coastal cliff path)

Now to comments, and Owl can find no better to make the case than those of Natural England:

The development is set within the boundary of the Ladram Bay to Sidmouth SSSI, the Dorset and East Devon WHS and has significant landscape and visual impacts on these and the East Devon AONB.

Dorset and East Devon WHS: The Dorset and East Devon Coast has an outstanding combination of globally significant geological and geomorphological features. The cliff exposures along the Dorset and East Devon coast provide an almost continuous sequence of rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era, or some 185 million years of the earth’s history. The area’s important fossil sites and classic coastal geomorphologic features have contributed to the study of earth sciences for over 300 years.

Through a search of the site’s planning history, it is not apparent that the original viewing deck, which this application seeks to secure an extension to, ever received planning permission. Please confirm what date this was granted and any conditions relating to that initial permission. [Does Owl detect a rat hole here?]

We strongly suggest that the Planning Authority enforces the removal of this structure.

Other elements of the planning application excluding the extension to the viewing platform. [Owl emphasis] 

There are a number of developments within the site including various retrospective, permitted and unconsented developments which cumulatively result in a significant impact upon the purposes of designation of the AONB. [More rat holes – Owl?] We consider that without appropriate mitigation this application would:

• have a significant impact on the purposes of designation of the East Devon AONB through landscape changes and visual impacts in this location.

In order to address these cumulative impacts and to mitigate these adverse effects and make the development acceptable, the following mitigation measures are required:

• any permission for the remainder of the elements should be granted for a temporary period in line with NPPF paragraph 167 or development in areas subject to coastal erosion, e.g. for 20 years and with a condition requiring restoration of the site at the end of that period or sooner should it become unsafe due to cliff stability/coastal erosion.

• a comprehensive landscape masterplan for the whole of the Ladram Bay Holiday Park site, incorporating mitigation for this development and also previous unmitigated development impacts, to ensure an overall improvement in the appearance of the site and mitigation of its impact on the landscape of the AONB.

Natural England has also said:

Natural England is likely to oppose any attempts to interfere with natural processes through cliff protection or coastal defences in this location, which could directly impact on the Ladram Bay to Sidmouth SSSI/WHS.

(As might be expected the WHS site have also formally objected)

None of the District Councillors: Alan Dent, Paul Jarvis, Paul Jarvis or the environment supremo Geoff Jung have yet commented. The Parish Council unaccountably have raised “no objection”.

Is there no one who can take the lead to save the environment and, not just ours, but the world’s heritage?

Ladram c.1910