Mid Devon is second council to recommend pulling out of major homes plan

Welcome news – Mid Devon turkeys unlikely to be voting for Christmas! A full account of the reasons – Owl

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Mid Devon has joined East Devon in recommending withdrawing from what was due to be a major blueprint for development across the Greater Exeter region.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan is set to provide the overall spatial strategy and level of housing and employment land required across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge in the period to 2040.

But while Exeter and Teignbridge councils had recommended going out to consultation on the draft policies and site options document, East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee have proposed instead pulling out of GESP, with their full council to make a decision on August 20.

And going against the recommendations of officers, Mid Devon’s Cabinet last Thursday voted in favour of recommending to a full council meeting on August 26 that Mid Devon withdraws from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

Putting forward his call to withdrawn from the process, Cllr Luke Taylor said: “As we understand what our involvement will actually be, there are grave concerns. There could be a significant number of more houses in Mid Devon than what we are legally required to build and you only have to look at some of the sites in Exeter, many of the sites are largely unachievable – such as Marsh Barton and Sowton – and seem to be plucked out of thin air.

Councillor Luke Taylor (Bradninch, Liberal Democrats)

“What this means for Mid Devon is those sites are unachievable, then many of the sites in Mid Devon will go ahead and we will end up with more housing and I have serious concerns over the number.

“And with the Mid Devon sites, there is not a significant amount of employment and commercial opportunity, but what we are doing is creating more of a suburb of Exeter and it becomes Exeter centric rather than being about all of the districts.”

He said that he ‘could not support GESP as it stands’, and recommended that cabinet believes the GESP presents Mid Devon with an unacceptable risk of housing numbers not supported by any housing needs, and that they recommended to full council for to withdraw from the GESP.

Cllr Alex White added: “Not to have key requirements of jobs and employment development within the centres is a huge concern. In Crediton, there could be 4,000 houses but no mention of how we are going to create jobs. This plan just funnels people as quickly as possible from Crediton to Exeter when we want to see the wealth shared. The plan misses a huge trick.”

Cllr Ashley Wilce said that it was a plan for a ‘Greater Exeter’ and not the ‘Greater Exeter Geographical area’, while Cllr Frank Letch said that the other authorities were being asked to solve Exeter’s problem of not being able to provide enough sites to meet their housing need, and added: “People are worried we are picking up the litter from Exeter’s problems.”

GESP allocation for the North of Exeter

GESP allocation for the North of Exeter

Leader of the council, Cllr Bob Deed, said that the 39 sites included in the site’s option are only indicative at this point, but have obviously generated a considerable amount of interest, with sites to the south of Crediton, around Newton St Cyres, Culm Garden Village, Hartnoll Farm to the east of Tiverton, and south of Sampford Peverell among the options.

He added: “I would hope the Mid Devon will not be seen as a local authority that cannot work with other authorities and any decision generally comes with advantages and disadvantage. As leader of this council I’m extremely keen to ensure that any decision on GESP does not have an exceptionally negative effect on the district.”

The cabinet voted by seven votes to one to recommend to full council that Mid Devon does withdrawn from GESP, brings forward the review of the Local Plan, and starts to discuss with partners a joint framework for planning and infrastructure, but that the allocations and targets for housing remain with the Local Plan.

The GESP document outlines policies for how development should take place, as well as 39 sites where major housing or employment land could be allocated, although not all of the sites would have been taken forward to the final version of the GESP.

More reaction from neighbours on Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – GESP- It’s fraying at the edges!

Yesterday Owl posted the news that Mid Devon cabinet had voted to recommend withdrawal from GESP.

Owl also reported on the secret group, including Simon Jupp MP, planning, in the shadows, how “Exeter will ensure that the desired transformational housing agenda known as Liveable Exeter Garden City is achieved” .

Below Owl reports the latest news from Teignbridge – who look to be having second thoughts.

Below that Owl reports on a section of Daniel Clark’s latest article on  the GESP, widely reported in the local papers, but which omitted a section discussing what the other Councils have said. (Only reported on Devon Live)

www.inyourarea.co.uk 

Councillors in Newton Abbot want more info on housing plans

By Lewis Clarke 9 August

The Teignbridge Local Plan, adopted in 2014 and already in action, demands that 621 new homes are built across the district each year until 2033.

Newton Abbot Town Council has called for further information about proposed additional housing for the town.The Teignbridge Local Plan, adopted in 2014 and already in action, demands that 621 new homes are built across the district each year until 2033.

More than 4,200 of the properties are going up in Newton Abbot, Devon.

But the Government has increased the district’s annual build figure to 760 with the plan likely to be extended to 2040.

Where the extra properties could be accommodated is being considered under a scheme called the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP).

One of the areas earmarked is Houghton Barton West along the A383 Ashburton Road.

The GESP states: ‘The wider Newton Abbot, Kingsteignton and Kingskerswell area is a significant employment and housing location… and there is potential to continue to develop its role with additional homes and employment.”

On July 7 Teignbridge District Council’s Executive agreed to proceed with GESP public consultation starting in September.

Two weeks later, Newton Abbot Town Council voted in favour of creating a task force to consider the draft plan when published.

One Newton Abbot member, Cllr Mike Hocking, told colleagues that he feared Newton Abbot becoming ‘a suburb of Exeter’.

Days afterwards one of the GESP partners, East Devon District Council (EDDC), announced it was withdrawing from the scheme.

Then on July 29 Teignbridge Council declared that its GESP involvement was on ‘pause’ while it considered the implications of EDDC’s action.

But Teignbridge warned that the higher annual build figure of 760 would still have to be met.

The two other GESP partners, Mid Devon District Council and Exeter City Council, have yet to announce their positions.

Now Newton Abbot Town Council has confirmed its intention to scrutinise any further expansion of the town.

Mayor Cllr Richard Jenks said: “We acknowledge Teignbridge’s decision to put GESP on pause but Newton Abbot remains a contender for more homes.

“We will look at the details when available and work to ensure the best outcome for the town.

“Our powers are limited but we will be the voice of Newton Abbot, loud and clear.”

 

Blueprint for future of Greater Exeter and 39 key building sites (extract)

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

WHAT HAVE THE OTHER COUNCILS SAID?

Cllr Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Lead Councillor for the GESP, said: “It is disappointing given the immense work that has been invested in the plan by all the authorities for EDDC to now withdraw from the GESP.

“We are entering into a period of massive uncertainty because of Covid-19, Brexit and probably the worst recession in living memory, and uncertainty in the planning policy framework is not helpful to anyone, especially the development and construction sector.

“We will now need to reflect on what this decision means for the city and our neighbours. ECC will be progressing our new local plan.”

Leader of Teignbridge District Council, Cllr Gordon Hook, said: “We need to take stock of the current situation and pause to consider the implications of East Devon’s full council decision when it is made.

“Depending on this outcome, Members will consider what options are available to them, that best meet the needs of all our residents and meet our statutory obligations. We will review all the options available to understand the benefits and drawbacks so that we can make a sensible, informed and pragmatic decision.

“In the meantime we will continue to work with our neighbouring district council partners to plan and deliver societal and economic benefits for all our residents, such as affordable housing and infrastructure.”

However, Cllr Richard Daws, from the Newton Says No group on Teignbridge District Council, welcomed the move. He said: “Last week we raised exactly the same concerns about GESP to Teignbridge Council, but were lone voices. It is a pre COVID plan no longer fit for purpose for a post COVID world. Alongside that, it ties us more strongly into Teignbridge’s overstated housing numbers. Targets that even the Lib Dems acknowledged are too high, but they seem powerless to even try to challenge (beyond writing a letter to no10).

“We salute the Democratic Alliance in East Devon for showing moral leadership and calling out this reckless plan for what it is. We want to work on a new Local Plan, focusing on sustainable housing in sustainable locations, not large expensive estates on greenfield sites we have been blighted with over the last decade.”

WHAT ABOUT MID DEVON?

Mid Devon District Council has yet to discuss the GESP, with their meeting over whether they take part in the consultation process scheduled for August 6, with the recommendation from officers to take part.

But Liberal Democrat Councillors in Mid Devon will be asking members of the ruling Cabinet to immediately pause involvement in the current Greater Exeter Strategic Plan at the cabinet meeting. August 2020……..[We know the result – Owl]

Honiton mayor responds to claims of ineffectiveness

Parish pump politics – an update on a long running one.

The mayor of Honiton Town Council and a community group have clashed over the council’s effectiveness.

Last week, mayor John Zarczynski published a list of projects the town council was working on in response to criticism from Honiton Forward that they were ‘doing nothing’.

In the publication, Cllr Zarczynski said the council was working on projects such as allotments, improvements to pathways and restoring mill streams among others.

Honiton Forward said they felt the list was created ‘to demonstrate lots of action when actually nothing tangible is being done on any of these things’.

They said: “There is little indication of any project that Honiton Town Council has conceived, consulted about, funded and implemented. The sole exception is the plan for allotments which the council has a duty to provide but which is many years late.

“If the council was serious about progressing projects for the benefit of the community, there would be a list of them on the council website, the minutes of… meetings would be littered with progress reports and council budgets would show what funds had been earmarked towards which projects. These things are almost entirely absent.”

In response to Honiton Forward’s statement, Cllr Zarczynski said: “Unfortunately, projects in progress had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus lockdown. Now government restrictions are slowly being lifted, councillors are looking forward to working towards delivering the projects in progress

“I agree the council website is long overdue for upgrading and I can confirm full council resolved £5,000 over a year ago for the upgrade. I can also confirm the delay in upgrading the council’s website is due to administrative issues and not serving councillors.

“I also point out that full council minutes do not always reflect the full extent of debate on agenda items with councillors being named only when necessary as this would be too time consuming for officers of the council. I fully appreciate not all members of the public are able to attend council meetings. Council fully supports council meetings should be recorded and posted in the best interests of transparency so members of the public are better informed.

 

Second home sales soar as middle classes quit cities

“Sales of second homes are booming as the metropolitan middle classes seek country boltholes in case of a second wave of coronavirus.”

Left unchecked this is potentially an insatiable demand which hollows out permanent communities, pushes up prices and puts pressure to build on green fields.  Second homers can always outbid the locally employed because of huge regional wage differentials.  – Owl

Andrew Ellson Consumer Affairs Correspondent The Times

The stamp duty holiday is also encouraging people who have been considering splashing out on a rural retreat to take the plunge, according to market experts.

Coreco, the mortgage broker, says applications from people buying second homes are up more than 30 per cent since lockdown eased compared with the same time last year.

Andrew Montlake, managing director of the company, said: “Lots of my clients have been thinking about it for a while. Lockdown was a big factor and has given them time to contemplate their future.

“They are also thinking that if we are going to go into lockdown again they might as well be somewhere nice rather than in London or the City. Most believe they will also be working more flexibly ‘in future so are looking for places with an office and garden.” He added that people are buying at locations across the country but Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall were favourites.

Many second-home buyers pay with cash but those who need to borrow can benefit from record low interest rates. Provided they have a significant deposit and secure income, five-year, fixed-rate loans are available at less than 1.5 per cent. Brokers said many buyers had large amounts of eqtiity in their first property so were borrowing against that to provide cash deposits.

Homeowners were also buying second properties to let out as holiday accommodation. Lea Karasavvas, of Prolific Mortgage Finance, said: “Holiday lets are so hot right now. With concerns over travel, coronavirus not going away, people are seeing a new opportunity.”

However, not all property experts believe now is a good time to buy. Henry Pryor, a buying agent, said: “My advice to prospective second-home owners is to wait. There are lots of credible voices, such as the Bank of England and Halifax, who think prices might be 5 to 10 per cent lower in a year.”

Exmouth seafront rejuvenation gets underway with art project

 

Exmouth seafront rejuvenation gets underway with art project

By Lewis Clarke www.inyourarea.co.uk 

Earlier in the month, the Exmouth, Devon, community, including artists and creatives, were asked in a local call out to share how they wanted to shape Exmouth’s creative journey

Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) has selected the 60 local artists, creatives and organisations to complete the final stage of the rejuvenation of a section of the Exmouth seafront, known as the Abode of Love.

Earlier in the month, the Exmouth, Devon, community, including artists and creatives, were asked in a local call out to share how they wanted to shape Exmouth’s creative journey.

A panel including local artist Anna Fitzgerald, designer Gary Cook, Exmouth councillor Joe Whibley, Ruth Gooding (THG) and Harriet Bates (Infusion art café) selected 60 participants from the respondents including artists, performers, musicians, writers and designers.

Volunteers at Abode of Love

Over the past few weeks, Exmouth artist Anna Fitzgerald and a team of volunteers and helpers started work on the commission ‘To be continued..’ transforming the Abode of Love with vibrant, coloured pixels.

The successful applicants will now be invited on August 5 to ‘make their mark’ on one of the pixels of the Abode of Love, pledging their commitment to Exmouth’s creative future.

This commission paves the way towards a dynamic, participatory public art project planned for 2021 when partners and groups will come together to help shape the site. They will include Exmouth Town Council, East Devon District Council, Exmouth Artists and young people from Exmouth schools and communities groups.

Councillor Joe Whibley, the district council’s Lead Member for Culture and a ward member for Exmouth Town where the project is taking place, said: “Exmouth is a dynamic area with a creative spirit. It is great that the community has embraced this project, and I look forward to seeing how it evolves alongside lots of exciting developments happening on the seafront.”

Ruth THG Curator explained: “We have had so much interest in this project. This year we are excited to present a snapshot of the creative community in Exmouth and look forward to seeing how the project develops next year working with local communities and celebrating Exmouth.”

Anna Fitzgerald added: “Exmouth has many brilliant artists and creatives and it is great to have this opportunity to work together building and strengthening our creative networks.”

THG and Anna Fitzgerald are inviting Exmouth residents to visit the Abode of Love on Saturday, August 8, to see the results of the new commission.

‘Bonfire of jobs’ in autumn to undermine V-shaped recovery

One in three companies is preparing to cut jobs by the end of September, undermining hopes of a V-shaped recovery as Britain heads for an official recession.

Louisa Clarence-Smith www.thetimes.co.uk 
A survey of more than 2,000 employers found that the number of businesses planning to cut jobs had risen in three months from 22 per cent to 33 per cent.

The quarterly poll by CIPD, the human resources body, and Adecco Group, a recruiter, comes amid growing concerns of a “jobs bonfire” in the autumn. Businesses have to decide whether or not to retain staff who have been on furlough as the government’s job retention scheme starts to unwind before it is terminated in October.

Gerwyn Davies, of the CIPD, said: “Redundancies have been low — no doubt due to the job retention scheme — but we expect to see more redundancies this autumn, especially in the private sector once the scheme closes. Hiring confidence is rising tentatively but this probably won’t be enough to offset the rise in redundancies and the number of new graduates and school leavers entering the labour market.”

Nearly 1,800 companies told the government of plans to cut a total of more than 139,000 jobs in June, according to a freedom of information request by the BBC. Royal Mail, Centrica and the Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie and Benny’s, are among employers planning thousands of job cuts.

The restaurant and casual dining sector has shed 22,000 jobs this year, according to the Centre for Retail Research, which predicts further pain.

Hospitality, transport and retail businesses are most likely to cut jobs, the CIPD/Adecco survey found. Employment confidence is highest in healthcare and public administration.

The survey found that 38 per cent of private sector employers are planning to make redundancies, twice as many as the public sector. A rise in unemployment is likely to be accompanied by a pay squeeze for workers.

Companies planning to carry out pay reviews expect basic pay to rise by 1 per cent, half the 2 per cent median increase expected this time last year.

The economy is set to officially enter recession this week after falling by a record 20 per cent in the second quarter. The latest GDP figures covering April to June will be released on Wednesday, showing that the economy has met the definition of recession by recording two successive quarters of decline.

GDP fell by 2.2 per cent in the first three months of the year. It collapsed by a record 20.4 per cent in April as the lockdown paralysed the economy, before rising by 1.8 per cent in May.

The level of unemployment will be a key factor in determining how quickly the economy recovers.

Simon French, chief economist at Panmure Gordon, said that a V-shape recovery had already looked remote. “This data simply reinforces that picture that is painted by other sentiment data, recent mobility trends and historical responses of businesses and households to recessions,” he said.

Lucy Powell, the shadow business minister, said the government needed to “urgently rethink its rigid approach” to cutting off the furlough scheme in October and called for targeted assistance to help businesses still shut as a result of the pandemic. “They’ve said they can’t save every job but we’re seeing a jobs bonfire,” she said. “They need to target their support at the hardest-hit sectors or be responsible for another wave of mass redundancies.”

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, said last week that it would not be fair to extend the furlough scheme indefinitely. “We shouldn’t pretend there is in every case a job to go back to,” he told Sky News.

He has set out a “plan for jobs”, including offering a job retention bonus of £1,000 for every furloughed employee retained in January.

Britain doesn’t have a government, it has a permanent campaigning machine 

The government’s frenetic campaign to “save our summer” has suspended the normal rules of the silly season. Amid the many confusing and shifting statements about the lockdown, No 10 has announced: a “strategy” to reduce obesity; “plans” for a “cycling and walking revolution”; a “bonfire” of planning laws; and, more ominously, the establishment of a panel to reassess judicial limits to state power.

Alan Finlayson www.theguardian.com 

You might have even missed the start of an online consultation on flood risk management in Carlisle, the £450,000 spent repairing a flood wall in Hereford, or chancellor Rishi Sunak’s visit to Stokesley, North Yorkshire, to learn about flood alleviation. Meanwhile, 127 employers were given awards for supporting the armed forces, transport secretary Grant Shapps announced £589m to “kickstart rail upgrades across the north”, plans for “congestion-busting” near Swindon were “unveiled” and a monument to the battle at Gallipoli restored.

Twenty years ago, Conservatives accused New Labour of “initiative-itis” and “legislative incontinence”, endlessly moving from one gimmicky announcement to the next. The current government appears to suffer from a similar affliction. Young governments, like young people, are eager to prove themselves and be approved, but short on patience – and ambitious personnel in government departments are keen to demonstrate their “on-message” competence.

This government’s initiative-itis is, of course, also about politicking. (No 10 – not for the first time in its history – is staffed by campaigners in place of policy specialists.) The pandemic and Brexit are both complex policy challenges that our government has proved uniquely ill-equipped to address. Governing by announcement is a way to distract the press and the public from the truth of this incompetence.

Bashing judges, praising veterans and publicising investment in “The North” is red meat to throw at one part of the electorate. Appearing serious about diet, exercise and green transport is the vegan meat substitute for another.

This permanent campaigning mindset is how we do government now. The phenomenon of the “permanent campaign” was named in a 1980 book by the American journalist and political adviser Sidney Blumenthal. His argument was that government decision-making was increasingly based on assessments not of what might be good policy, but of what would look good, keep sponsors on board and appeal to key voters. Government was reduced to “an instrument designed to sustain an elected official’s popularity”. The tail was wagging the dog.

Boris Johnson’s permanent campaign is symptomatic of a deeper change in our politics. Even before the Tories won the 2019 election, Britain was becoming a “post-democracy”. One of the founding propositions of 20th-century mass democracy has been that government should act not for the few, but for everyone. Inherent within this idea is a concept of “the public interest”, or “the common good”. We might not be sure what that is – and we certainly won’t be able to agree on it. But in a democracy, so the argument goes, we can come together politically and our representatives will broker a settlement between the competing interests of various social, economic and political groups.

Such groups are now more complex and less stable. People’s occupational, economic and even geographic locations are more likely to vary over a lifetime. Connections between distinct social interests and their political representatives have been attenuated. In our post-democracy, aggregations of individual tastes and preferences, expressed through opinion polls and surveys, have displaced parties and other civic forums as the means by which government comes to understand “the people”. Instead of public interest, we now find public opinion. Indeed, this government spent more on polling between January and May this year than in the whole of 2019.

In place of elections or collective deliberation, opinion polls serve as an ongoing referendum on the government, providing constantly updated information about people’s attitudes and reactions, vital for the formation of campaign strategies. There is an argument that this has been a good thing. It means that government is continually apprised of and attentive to public opinion, able to incorporate public concerns within policy-making. If people want a war memorial repaired, and if, in search of their support, politicians repair it, then perhaps democracy is working well.

A counter-argument is that governments are no longer experts in governing. Instead, they can think only according to short-term campaign strategies, choosing to do what is most popular rather than what is best for people. As the academic and former government adviser Patrick Diamond puts it, this damaging short-termism becomes endemic. A government focused on “eye-catching” initiatives, as we have seen, is not preparing for or equipped to deal with a pandemic.

In our post-democracy, “public opinion” is not only a source of policy. It’s also an object of policy. Public attitudes, outlooks and behaviour are now a central focus of government policy – the goal of which is not to change the situations people find themselves in, but to change people’s feelings about their situations. Post-democratic government is not unconcerned with what you think or want or need. But it doesn’t require your participation. It just needs to know how you might respond to the various things it might do to you.

What the prime minister’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, understands that most politicians do not is that polling, surveys and focus groups don’t tell you what people think or what public opinion definitively “is”. They provide a rough map of possibilities and probabilities of what people might come to think, depending on various potential scenarios and actions. In the leave campaign, different versions of adverts were tested, refined and retested in what Cummings has called a “constant iterative process” and combined with feedback from polls and focus groups. In government, this approach has turned the Tories’ permanent campaign into a permanent experiment, the endless measuring and testing of means for managing and shaping political attitudes.

We are the subjects of this ongoing experiment, the single data points in a larger firmament. That, in post-democracy, is what constitutes citizenship. And while it won’t save summer, it might – as you enjoy your half-price Sunak-branded meal next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday – change how you feel about its loss.

• Alan Finlayson is professor of political and social theory at the University of East Anglia

£6million for East Devon projects from Government’s Getting Building Fund

“Karl Tucker, chairman of the Heart of the South West, said: “Each of the projects will support growth of the local economy and deliver the LEP’s outcomes.” [Enhance Future Skills (ex Flybe) Academy and three-storey building at Skypark]

Delivering LEP outcomes! – Doesn’t inspire Owl’s confidence this will be money well spent.

 

The Government’s £6million investment in East Devon schemes to help kickstart the economy has been welcomed.

 

The Getting Building Fund will provide support to fast-track a number of schemes in the county to be delivered by January 2022.

Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been allocated £35.4million – with two projects in East Devon given £6million – from the £900million national fund.

A scheme to enhance the Future Skills Academy – formerly the Flybe Training Academy – based at Exeter Airport received £1million.

A project to construct a new three-storey office and laboratory building at Exeter Science Park was given £5million.

East Devon MP Simon Jupp welcomed the central government investment.

He said: “This is a huge boost for East Devon which recognises that we live in a great place to invest in people.

“I’ll continue to work with the government to help ensure we come back stronger.”

County councillor Rufus Gilbert, cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “Devon’s economy is expected to be one of the hardest hit by the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, and this announcement from the Government is extremely welcome and endorses the priorities set out in Team Devon’s recovery plans for the county.

“It demonstrates the value of working closely together and we’re continuing to work closely with the LEP on future programmes of investment.

“We’re united in our efforts to restart, regrow and reset our economy to enable Devon to emerge stronger and the projects highlighted through this funding will play a major part in that.”

Karl Tucker, chairman of the Heart of the South West, said: “Each of the projects will support growth of the local economy and deliver the LEP’s outcomes.

“We welcome the Getting Building Fund to start new projects and accelerate projects across the Heart of the South West.

“We recognise that there are still many other important projects that we identified in our area that currently remain unfunded.

“We will continue to work with Government to secure future funding to further invest in our recovery pipeline.”

Dr Sally Basker, chief executive officer of Exeter Science Park, said they are ‘thrilled’ the ‘grow out’ building has been awarded a Getting Building Fund grant.

Work to start on £550k ‘amphitheatre’ flood prevention scheme in Sidmouth

Work is set to begin on a £550,000 flood prevention scheme in Sidmouth that will double as a public amphitheatre.

East Devon Reporter eastdevonnews.co.uk 
The first phase of the ‘dual-purpose’ project at the Knowle is set to get under way on Monday, August 17.

It is part of a wider Devon County Council (DCC) initiative which aims to reduce flood risk to more than 100 homes and businesses nearby and in the town centre.

New drainage will be installed in Station Road to divert surface water away from the properties.

It will then run down a wildflower-lined swale into a newly-formed amphitheatre in the grounds of the Knowle.

An underground storage system will initially hold the floodwater – with a capacity for one-in-30-year storm event.

The amphitheatre’s tiered sections can also be filled, as needed, in more extreme weather.

Its above-ground section has capacity for up to half-a-metre of water – which would be the result of a once-in–century storm.

Work on the first phase is expected to be finished in November.

The design of the Sidmouth flood alleviation scheme for Knowle. Image: Devon County Council

The design of the Sidmouth flood alleviation scheme for Knowle. Image: Devon County Council

A DCC spokesperson said: “The scheme has been designed with the public open space nature of the Knowle in mind, moving away from a more traditional bund arrangement to one that can enhance the parkland and provide an amenity area for the community when the scheme is not required for floodwater storage.”

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member for highway management and local member for Sidmouth, said: “I’m delighted that the first phase of this well-thought-out scheme is commencing.

“It ticks two very important boxes by reducing the flood risk to so many businesses and properties in the town and, also, with the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid-19, the amphitheatre provides a unique outdoor feature for Sidmouth that I’m certain will be well used including future folk festivals.

“It’s a win-win for the town.”

An artist's impression of the flood prevention scheme at Knowle in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

An artist’s impression of the flood prevention scheme at Knowle in Sidmouth. Image: Devon County Council

Cllr Ian Barlow, chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, added: “It’s great that a functional scheme to help with surface drainage can enhance the area and provide a useful community space for events while protecting it at the same time.

“Thanks have to go to Devon County Council and their engineers on producing this scheme, clearly demonstrating that helping to protect people doesn’t have to be visually intrusive and non-functional.”

The second phase of the scheme will focus on drainage improvements within the town.

It is currently being developed and expected to be delivered ‘next financial year’, says DCC.

UK poised to suffer the biggest Covid blow of any major economy

Economy shrinks by 23pc over the first half of 2020 due to drop in consumer spending during lockdown

By Russell Lynch, Economics Editor and Tom Rees 9 August 2020  www.telegraph.co.uk 

The UK will suffer the heaviest Covid-19 impact of any major country this week as signs of faltering spending raise fears that the recovery is already running out of steam.

City forecasters predict official figures will show a 21.3pc collapse in ­output between April and June, when the economy languished in lockdown.

The slump will wipe 23pc off the UK’s £2.2 trillion economy in the first half of 2020, after a 2.2pc hit in the first quarter.

The damage to the UK is expected to be twice as severe as the 10.6pc blow taken by the US economy.

David Page, senior economist at Axa Investment Managers, said: “It is going to be the worst quarter that anybody has ever seen.

“We entered the lockdown relatively later than the European economies which puts more of the lockdown in the second quarter. But we also kept non-essential retail closed for longer.”

The Bank of England has warned that the UK is more exposed to lockdowns due to its higher share of “social consumption” in the economy. Spending on activities involving interaction with other people – such as cinemas, restaurants or live sports – accounts for around 13pc of the UK economy, compared with around 11pc in the US and 10pc in the Eurozone.

The Bank forecasts an 18pc bounceback in the current quarter as shoppers resume spending, but Mr Page added that “it is difficult to see it maintaining that pace”.

Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec, added: “The test will come in the autumn when there are no further ‘lockdown releases’ to boost the ­economy, some restrictions – perhaps just local – are imposed and programmes such as the furlough scheme are wound up.”

Confidence is being sapped by concerns over another wave of job losses after Barclays economists warned that spending growth was “peaking” in late July. New Bank of America data also suggested that job worries are back at the peaks reached during lockdown, dampening the recovery as households slam the brakes on purchases.

The furlough scheme is being wound down ahead of its end in October. The bank’s consumer confidence indicator has also pulled back to its lowest level since mid-June, driven by unemployment fears.

Robert Wood, economist at Bank of America, said “caution abounds over medium-term spending plans” and consumers that saved during lockdown are now more hesitant about purchases.

Fabrice Montagne, chief UK economist at Barclays, also warned of rising consumer concerns, adding: “The fears of unemployment when policy support is phased out will likely act as a drag.”

However, spending in some of the ­industries hardest hit by Covid-19, including retail, restaurants and hotels, has rebounded back to last year’s levels, revealed Barclays. Britons increasingly switched spending from the likes of food and drink to hospitality as consumers “normalise” their purchases, said Mr Montagne.

It came as OpenTable figures revealed that diners have rushed back to restaurants to take advantage of the Chancellor’s discount scheme. The number of seated diners from online, phone or walk-in reservations was back in positive territory year-on-year for the first time since early March on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

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