More on the Bishops Clyst Parish Council Zoom Crash

Following the abrupt closure of the Bishops Clyst Parish Council Extraordinary meeting called to discuss the Winslade Manor planning application, Owl has been given a copy of a letter sent to the Chairman of the Council and Planning Chairman, written by committee members of Save Clyst St Mary Residents’ Association. 

Public confidence in democracy depends on full transparency  – Owl

Letter reads:

Dear Chairman,

Last night we were watching the online zoom meeting of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Bishops Clyst Parish Council (PC), when it was sadly hijacked by some ‘trolls’, which necessitated closing the meeting promptly for security purposes before any decisions could be made.

As members of the public, it was very apparent that there are conflicting views being voiced by parish councillors on whether to support or object to this application. The public perception is that some parish councillors have been unable to vote on this critical application because they own adjoining properties with Zone A, whilst others appear to be able to persuade, influence and vote without such impunity, when it is considered that they have equal conflicts of interests.

Although democracy is supported and everyone has the right to their own opinion – last night, one parish councillor denigrated and opposed the views of Charlie Hopkins who was specifically instructed (at a considerable cost to the Parish) to advise the PC on the planning considerations that are applicable to this complicated, vast application. He seemed ‘hell bent’ on supporting the entire application (warts and all) ignoring the views of the people of the parish that he, as a parish councillor, should represent.

Not having seen the report from this planning and environmental consultant, we can only speculate what Charlie would have advised – but feel sure he would have pointed out to the PC all the numerous conflicts with planning policies within National, Local and our own Neighbourhood Plans. It would be expected that this planning expert would have urged caution at this indicative outline stage and obviously as members of the Save Clyst St Mary Residents’ Association we continue to hold the view that there are too many inappropriate areas of this application to recommend anything but an objection at this stage.

Burringtons opted to include the green field and all new development within one hybrid application alongside the renovation and refurbishment of the redundant office block, knowing that the regeneration was supported by the majority of residents. However, there are over 200 objections (with a negligible amount of support) now published on EDDC’s planning website attached to 20/1001/MOUT, therefore we feel the PC must take into consideration the views of so many residents in this village who have taken the time to object to the current hybrid application.

Unfortunately, last night’s interrupted meeting made little reference to the incongruous, three-storey shipping-container residential design in Zone D, which could reach a height of between 13 and 15 metres, which will overlook our own property and also many other residents’ properties in Clyst Valley Road, throughout six months of the year when the deciduous cover of the woodland is lost and which the PC objected to at the previous meetings.

Our District Councillor commented that the perspective illustrations for Zones B & D in the recent amendments, may now be considered acceptable to Historic England (HE) but any comments from HE are still awaited and may equally not accept the Zone D inappropriate design model opposite the Manor House!! However, it must be stressed that HE are only concernd about the effects on the historic assets and not any detrimental effects on neighbouring properties in Clyst Valley Road, which is the responsibility of representations from the PC.

We would like to strongly reiterate that the Zone D design conflicts with planning policies in national, local and our own neighbourhood plan and is inappopriate and unacceptable and cannot be supported within this application, irrespective of whether the Developers are stating that the entire financial viability rests on the residential elements of this application. Hopefully, Malcolm McMillen (or someone equally qualified) can explore and evaluate JLL’s viability statements to ensure the best possible development in this village – this is a fantastic site and it deserves a quality re-development and that is what everyone in this village should be looking to achieve.

We support sustainable development and at present this application fails to meet this criteria in many areas and we consider that the new political administration at EDDC will refuse this application in its current form because it is outside of their own District Local Plan, the policies of the NPPF and indeed our own Neighbourhood Plan. We would wish the PC to ensure that any future meetings with Burringtons represent the residents’ views on Zone D as well as Zones A, C and K that were highlighted last night.

May we end, Rob and Ray, with our personal appreciation to you both for your fair-minded and even-handed representation and this is in no way a criticism of your much valued work for this Parish.