“Independent” Councillor to Tory Councillor to Advocate for “Build,build,build”

Owl has been struck by the strength of Cllr. Helen Parr’s advocacy for “build, build, build” in the three major planning applications Owl has featured this week. (Extracts from the posts below)

This is a cautionary tale for those in the rump of Ben Ingham’s group who are genuinely Independent. They should urgently consider the need to differentiate themselves from any closet Conservative Independents in the group.

Helen Parr was first elected in 2003 as an “Independent” Councillor for Coly Valley and topped the poll, but by the next election in 2007 she had morphed into a Conservative. In retrospect we can all see why.

She is obviously seen as “sound” on local Conservative development policy (which is the very opposite of conservative with a small “c”) as her preferments include Chairman of the Development Management Committee (DMC).

She is, ironically, “Lead Member for Planning Design and Heritage” in what was Ben Ingham’s “Independent” led Council until he resigned himself and his cabinet last Monday.

Three examples of blind advocacy

Daisymount McDonald’s drive-thru and service station – rejected

(A previous application on the site had been approved many years ago but never implemented)

Agreeing with the applicant, Cllr Helen Parr said: “While the extant scheme may not be implemented, it could be, and therefore this application is preferable as there is much less landscape impact.

“This is preferable, there will be social and economic benefits, and the harm won’t be there to the wider landscape.”

The committee, however, rejected the scheme on the grounds it would cause ‘significant harm in the open countryside in terms of landscape impact’ and that it was ‘unsustainable’.

They added that only very limited weight should be given to the fallback and previously consented scheme.

Go-ahead for 33 new homes on East Devon and Exeter border

The bid is part of an eight-phase development at Redhayes and Tithebarn Green, close to Exeter Science Park.

Members had previously deferred making a decision on the proposals as they were unhappy that eight ‘affordable’ homes would be ‘stuck in the corner’

Council policy says that such properties should be ‘pepper-potted’ across a development.

The DMC were told that the applicant was not prepared to amend the layout as it considered it reflected the size of other affordable housing clusters approved on other Redhayes and Mosshayne developments, though the applicant was willing to provide integral bat and bird facilities and hedgehog ‘highways’.

Proposing the scheme be approved, Cllr Helen Parr said that, as other neighbouring developments have similar levels of pepper-potting, it would be unreasonable to make the applicant do it any differently.

The Coly Valley has two district councillors and in the 2019 election Paul Arnott, Independent East Devon Alliance (EDA), beat Helen Parr into second place. Regrettably, Paul was the only independent candidate.

EDA Indys are opposed to inappropriate development and it will not, therefore, come as a surprise that what he said is a contrast.

Councillor Paul Arnott said that, while he was delighted for the bats, birds and hedgehogs, these were ‘tiny wins’.

He added: “This is a game of semantics and a legacy of the terrible deal that was done for the area. This isn’t pepper-potting at all but clustering, so I cannot vote for this.”

Green light for East Devon business park expansion plans

Cllr Helen Parr threw her support behind the scheme and recommended it be approved. She said: “There is extremely strong comments from the economic development officer about this and we must have more small units for people to work. This is a very good application and I have no hesitation in supporting this.”

In contrast Cllr Paul Arnott said: “While I am sympathetic to the need of the economic argument for units in the area, the fact is it is trumped by this not being part of the Local Plan or the Neighbourhood Plan. I am sympathetic to what they want to do but it may have to come back when we have revisited our Local Plan. With regret, I cannot support this.”

One thought on ““Independent” Councillor to Tory Councillor to Advocate for “Build,build,build”

  1. You can add to these, the planning applications for a 7MW power station at Liverton and the expansion of Woodbury Business Park where the Conservatives on the Development Management Committee (including Helen Parr) voted en masse for approval rather than considering the facts provided to them. It makes a mockery of the planning system which is supposed to be evidence based rather than politically biased.

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