Update on Business Park on Land East of Two Bridges Road, Sidford 

Correspondence received from Cllr. John Loudoun, Ward Member,Sidmouth Rural 

Planning Application: 21/1723/MRES subsequent to 18/1094/MOUT

Following the appeal hearing in front of a planning inspector in July 2019, the planning application 18/1094/MOUT to build a business park on the land east of Two Bridges Road at Sidford was upheld. This provided the applicants with outline planning permission to progress with building there. The inspector’s decision left only the scale of the site’s infrastructure and its appearance to be determined at a later date by the District Council.

The scale of the buildings is now covered by this latest planning application, 21/1723/MRES. I understand that the appearance of the buildings, their architecture, will still remain to be decided upon at a later date, probably in early 2022.

The applicants have over recent months, as will be evident from looking at the site, been undertaking some significant preliminary landscaping and flood alleviation work, not least straightening the course of the brook that flows through the site.

As the District Councillor for Sidmouth Rural Ward within which this site is located, I attended a site meeting on 1 October with fellow Sidford Ward District Councillor, Marianne Rixson, to meet with the applicants’ agent, Joseph Marchant. We wanted to look at what works have been undertaken so far and to understand where the proposed buildings would be located.

The site has clearly had significant works undertaken so far and to my mind the works look as if the applicants are doing what has been required of them. Indeed, we were told that in the southern third of the site where the flood improvement works have taken place there will soon be about 2,200 native trees planted there. I understand that across the remainder of the site considerably more trees and planting will eventually take place. We were assured that as a result of all of the planting the site will become more ecologically rich than when it was a field.

I believe that the applicants’ intentions are that building work would not commence for probably another 24 months allowing the initial planting to mature.

I understand that the flood improvement work will make the site less liable to future flooding allowing a greater flow of water through the site, reducing potential flooding in local lower lying areas.

I noted that all the current ground levels of the flood improvement area would be its future ground levels. The plans submitted with the latest application show the cut and fill across the site to create the base levels.

When trying to understand where the buildings would be located and their scale, we were able to use the “Proposed Block Plan” site plan that is part of the latest application’s document submissions to the District Council.

The key information about the buildings that I took from our discussions was –

  • The site layout, as set out in the Block Plan, is the same as included in the previous 2018 application, and there will be fewer buildings than originally proposed when the site was reviewed as part of the 2012 Local Plan process.
  • Many of the buildings will now be a storey lower than had been proposed in 2012 and are as proposed in the 2018 application. The planning inspector included this detail in Condition 4 of his decision.
  • The ridge heights of the buildings will be roughly no higher than those of the bungalows facing the site on Two Bridges Road, with the exception of the two larger buildings at the front of the site (coloured red and light blue on the Block Plan) that would be about the same height as the former police house facing them on Two Bridges Road;
  • All the buildings, with the exception of two larger ones (coloured red and light blue on the Block Plan) closest to the Two Bridges Road, will be single storey at heights of about 5 metres to their eaves and 6 to 6.5 metres at their ridges.
  • The two larger buildings will be two storey office buildings at a height of about 6 metres to their eves and about 7.5 metres to their ridges.
  • The buildings’ height detail was covered at the planning inspector’s hearing.

In the run up to the site meeting Mr Marchant provided me with an informal letter in which he set out the applicants’ intentions and approach to the final phases of developing the site. Mr Marchant’s intention was to try to ease any remaining local resident concerns about what is, and will, be happening at the site, and he has allowed me to reproduce the content of his letter. His letter is below –

“As you know, in late 2019, we sought to vary the Conditions on the Appeal Decision in order to allow the landscape works to be brought forward early. The original Inspector’s Conditions meant that no implementation could occur until all designs for the buildings and other built elements were in place. The adjustment to the wording meant that we were able to bring forward the archaeological dig and the earthworks to secure the flood benefits, along with the landscape provision for new trees, hedges, new Devon banks and the meadow as early as possible, such that the landscape has a chance to mature as soon as it can. The applicants and I could see the benefit of landscaping maturing as soon as possible.

As I explained to you, having worked in this industry for over 25 years, I do know that in most cases where development is proposed, local residents are naturally concerned with impact. Where planting or the level of landscape to be provided is a significant element, this is not always fully appreciated or understood by local people, and, in some cases, averting this misunderstanding can reduce concern. I am conscious that understanding plans of the site remains a difficulty for some. With the benefit of the earthworks related to the landscape area, the new Devon banks, the flood basin and the enclosure to the tree zones of the site, it is now possible to depict where the planting will occur and therefore to more easily interpret the plans. I am pleased that you have agreed to view these works with me.

It may be that the turfing and tree and hedge planting will have started when we visit the site. The seeding has already occurred. This is the meadow rich seed mix for the main flood improvement area. Turfing is due to start at the end of this week and into next. In respect of the Devon banks along Laundry Lane, until recently, it has not been possible to lay this turf due to the dry weather, such that it would survive. With recent heavy rain, we can now proceed with this. The tree planting will also start in coming days. My understanding is that over 2200 trees and hedge whips have been ordered and will be planted across the site as planned. The ambition is that by the early spring of next year, these planted elements will be well established and will have a full growing season ahead of them next year. Some of the trees that will go onto the site will be quite significant in size and hopefully within a year or two, will have a significant impact.

I would hope that on the site visit, we can look at this element of the investment, such that you can advise any local people that may come to you with queries. I think it will also be of significant interest to see just how much open space is allotted to the development, which I think will be of comfort to many local people. Again, this is an element that I think may have been under appreciated from the technical documents. A site visit should bring this to life.

The second issue which I think has been of concern to many local people, has been the worry that the development may be overbearing in its height. As you know, the recent appeal scheme detailed the layout, which is fully approved. The height of the ridges and eaves was supplied as an indicative figure. This indicative figure enabled the modelling of the Landscape Impact Assessment. As you are aware, the greater majority of the development is single storey. A few buildings are two storeys.

The concern of many local people was that the scale of the buildings may expand to more closely represent the scheme that was supported by the Inspector in the 2012 Local Plan Inquiry. This was a much denser scheme. To put to bed that concern, I can confirm that the scale, as now submitted, will be as detailed in the LVIA of the appeal scheme, to exactly the heights that were identified at that stage.

The current Reserved Matter application will hopefully avoid a worry from local residents that somehow the Reserved Matter would be submitted showing two and three storey buildings across the site. The scale that is shown in the Reserved Matters application which is currently submitted is as low as possible, particularly given that the greater majority of buildings are single storey.

My hope is that a combination of a large part of the landscape being in the ground, and a confirmed position from the applicant on the scale of buildings, will mean that those most affected by the development will hopefully obtain some peace of mind, knowing that the single storey scale of the majority of buildings, to match exactly with L002 Rev A and SK001, and the positioning and extent of landscape works will mean that the development is much less impacting than they had anticipated, giving regard to residents’ outlook and relationship with the development site.

I look forward to being able to explore these things with you so that when you are approached by local people, you are able to put them at ease”.

I have been asked by some residents about what they might usefully say as part of the consultation on the latest application, for which the closing date is 14 October. The application and its supporting documents are accessible at –

https://planning.eastdevon.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=documents&keyVal=QV41TVGHFQE0 0

Given that the latest application is in effect about scale, I hope that the information that I have obtained will assist residents as they consider whether they are reassured by the scale of the buildings. Whatever residents’ opinions on the latest application, these can be made directly to the District Council as part of its current consultation process.

Further, I hope that Mr Marchant’s letter is helpful to residents and that the wider information I have set out here is also useful.

Since this note was drafted the Sidmouth Town Council’s Planning Committee has met and considered this application. It was unable to support the application giving its reasons as –


UNABLE TO SUPPORT

The Council continues to oppose the establishment of employment land in this location but subsequent to the approval on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate, viewed the application regarding scale without prejudice.

Members were unable to support the application regarding scale as they felt that the location of larger and taller buildings (Blocks N & K) closer and more prominently next to the road was detrimental to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They suggested that those buildings could be relocated further back into the site so that the height and size of buildings increased as the distance increased from the main roadway.

As a member of this Committee, I participated in the discussions and I and share its concerns about the scale of the two higher buildings at the front of the site and would welcome anything that could be done to reduce their scale.

[Formal closing date for public comments on 21/1723/MRES is 14 October]

Donnez-Lui Un Break

The Times argues in its leader that Boris Johnson derives a break: “it will have escaped no one’s notice that having expended so much energy on jokes in his speech, he had nothing left in the tank for policies.”

[Who is funding the tank refuel, they are getting very expensive these days? – Owl]

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 27 September

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

Making things up as we go along!

According to the Telegraph, Boris Johnson is reportedly now staying at a luxurious estate in southern Spain owned through a company by Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park, a government minister and close friend of the Johnsons. The house, according to reports, sleeps 13 and costs as much as £25,000 a week to rent, although it is unclear on what terms the Johnsons are staying there.

So, again according to the Telegraph, the Treasury on Sunday night accused Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, of making misleading claims about government plans to offer an energy bailout to struggling factories.

In a series of television interviews on Sunday, Mr Kwarteng admitted that factories facing closure because of soaring energy costs was a “critical situation”.

Questioned about whether he had asked for extra money from the Treasury to support them, he said: “I have not asked for billions. We’ve got existing schemes. I’m working very closely with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, to get us through this situation.

“I think he showed a great deal of flexibility when he allowed £500 million to be dispersed by local authorities for vulnerable consumers, and we’re working to see what we can do in terms of protecting industry.”

However, Treasury sources issued a swift rebuke to Sky News, with one saying: “This is not the first time the BEIS [Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy] Secretary has made things up in interviews. To be crystal clear, the Treasury is not involved in any talks.”

Where is “Deputy Dawg” Dominic Raab, surely not on holiday as well? – Owl?

Sajid Javid working on radical plan to merge social care with health in England

Radical plans for a new national care service under which health and social care would be delivered by the same organisation are being actively considered by the government for inclusion in a white paper next month, according to senior Conservatives and Whitehall sources.

Toby Helm www.theguardian.com 

The idea of local authorities and the NHS taking joint responsibility for social care, perhaps working from a single combined budget for the first time, would amount to one of the most far-reaching reforms since the NHS was founded in 1948.

At present, local authorities have responsibility for running social care services in their own areas. Critics say there is, as a result, insufficient incentive for cash-strapped councils to develop better care for people in their homes or in the community, as it is cheaper for them if those in need go into hospital where the cost is met from the separate NHS budget.

The result is that many people who could be cared for at home or in the community end up occupying much-needed hospital beds.

Similar systems operate in Wales and Northern Ireland, although there are variations in how much care is paid for by the state. The Scottish government is holding a consultation, due to end next month, on proposals for a National Care Service.

It is believed that health secretary Sajid Javid is examining how a new integrated service that would deliver better care and free up NHS beds across England could be delivered. It is understood there would be national standards for care, and conditions for carers.

The Observer has been told that prime minister Boris Johnson was keen to announce plans to integrate health and social care services last month when he revealed that National Insurance contributions would rise by 1.25 percentage points from next April, to raise £12bn a year for the NHS and social care. But at that time Downing Street remained unclear about how an integrated system could best work, so an announcement was put back.

Under the most radical option of all, local authorities would be stripped of any involvement for social care, which would come entirely under the NHS. Sources say, however, that this would involve too great an upheaval and prove hugely unpopular with councils, many of which are Tory controlled. Councils have already lost much of their responsibility over education.

Last night Tory MP and former health under-secretary Dr Dan Poulter, who works part time as an NHS psychiatrist, said: “There is a growing expectation that a substantive health and social care white paper will emerge in the next few weeks aiming to establish a national care service.

“If integration is to be a success, it is essential that reform does not just deliver parallel commissioning of health and care services but also services commissioned through a single pooled budget. Unified health and social care budgets are the only way to deliver both a more efficient health and social care system as well as properly joining up for the benefit of patients what is currently a badly fragmented system.”

Former Tory Cabinet Minister Damian Green, who has written extensively about social care added: “Running social care jointly between local authorities and the NHS would be an interesting idea but would of course still leave big questions about how you attract a bigger and better paid workforce, how you ensure appropriate housing so that people do not go prematurely into residential care.”

In his party conference speech last week, Johnson hinted at integration. He said: “In 1948, this country created the National Health Service but kept social care local. And though that made sense, in many ways generations of older people have found themselves lost in the gap.” He added it was not just about providing more money but reforming the system. “This government that got Brexit done, that is getting the vaccine rollout done is going to get social care done.”

The Covid-19 pandemic brought the social care crisis even more sharply into focus. Currently a shortage of about 120,000 care workers means 300,000 people are waiting for local authorities to assess their needs or provide care. In addition, many elderly people who end up in hospital because of poor local provision of care cannot free up beds once they are better because there are no places in residential care homes.

There are about 17,000 homes in England, most run as independent small businesses funded by local authorities or paying residents, making coordination with the large hospital trusts difficult.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “Social care is in desperate need of wholesale reform but the cap Boris Johnson announced fails to provide the fix he promised. It’s vital care and health services are brought closer together to provide personalised care so people can stay at home and not be forced into a home.

“That’s why I’ve long advocated national care services, locally delivered within national standards, to provide the quality care people deserve.”

Sally Warren, director of policy at the King’s Fund, said: “In reality, people mean different things when they talk about bringing social care into the NHS. For some it means having social care services delivered by the NHS. For others, it means some shared accountability for how health and care services work together. Rather than spending energy shuffling responsibilities from local government to the NHS or vice versa, the important thing is to focus on improving the coordination of services so they work together to improve health and wellbeing.”

NHS in Devon is under ‘significant strain’ due to heavy demand

Devon’s health and care system is under “extreme pressure” and the public is being asked to find ways not to overburden it.

Carl Eve www.devonlive.com 

A statement released by the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has highlighted the medical groups serious concerns about the current situation.

The Devon CCG – which acts as the headquarters for the NHS in the county and has a budget of more than £1.9 billion – has said that the county’s “health and social care system is under extreme pressure due to high demand for services, sustained demand for Covid beds, pressure on staffing and the need for social care exceeding the available capacity.”

The group said the pressures are being seen across the system, in mental health care, primary care (GPs) and adult social care as well as the acute hospital trusts.

Dr Paul Johnson, Chair of NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The NHS throughout Devon is under a significant strain at the moment because there’s a large number of people who are needing emergency care, there’s a large number of people who are in hospital who are waiting to get home, but they need carers in order to support them to get home and we haven’t got those carers available.

NHS Devon issue advice to help them cope with "extreme pressure"

NHS Devon issue advice to help them cope with “extreme pressure” (Image: NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG))

“This means that the amount of beds and the amount of staff that we’ve got available to look after them in hospital is really limited and that means those people coming into hospital in need of care are struggling to be seen in a timely way and then we’re struggling to get them if they need to stay in hospital into a ward and onto a bed, where we can get them the care and the investigations that they need.

“So, our ask to you is really two-fold. Firstly, if you need emergency care, then just go to the right place for that care.

“Now, sometimes it would be the emergency department and you’ve absolutely got to go there.

“But other times it could be your pharmacist, your GP, or to go 111, either by dialling that or going online and getting help in a different way.

“Secondly, if you are in hospital, or you’ve got a relative in hospital who is looking to get home, just think about how quickly can you on the day they’re due to get home, get in and pick them up because the sooner they’re home, the sooner we can make a bed available for someone who’s been waiting – potentially – for several hours in the emergency department.

“Also, if they are waiting for carers to be available for them to get home, is there any way that either friends or family or relatives can support them at home, even if there’s something that we need to do to help make that possible?

“If that’s the case, then talk to your teams on the ward and we will do everything we can to get people out of hospital so that those who need those beds and that medical care can then get through the emergency department and get the treatment they need.”

Dr Johnson said the NHS in Devon “really need you (the public) to support us.”

He said: “Please ask yourself whether you have a genuine life-threatening emergency before attending an emergency department (ED).

“If you are not in the right place, you may be redirected to a more appropriate service. This is because we need to safely prioritise those with the most urgent need.

“Finally, we are seeing high numbers of children coming to hospital. There is a really useful HANDi paediatric app for advice on common childhood illnesses and when to seek help.”

The group have highlighted a number of ways the public can assist in supporting the hard-pressed services, including:

* Using your local pharmacist for minor conditions such as insect bites, ear ache and skin rashes.

* Using NHS 111 – online or by phone if you need advice or medical treatment quickly and can’t wait to see your GP. If you need to be seen by a Minor Injuries or Emergency Department they can book you in.

* Getting vaccinated against Covid-19. Have both jabs and your booster if you are eligible

* Staying away from hospitals if you have Covid symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting

The Devon CCG said other causes of pressure include some people using the emergency departments “inappropriately”, high numbers of staff off-work due to Covid or other reasons and a high number of vacancies in the current competitive jobs market.

The group added: “The enhanced infection prevention and control measures that were implemented during the height of the pandemic has been reduced to some extent, but are still higher than before the pandemic and mean we can treat fewer people in the same time period than in normal times.

“The NHS is working hard to address pressures across the system by promoting the most appropriate places to seek medical help, vaccinating people against Covid-19 and through staff working long hours and extra shifts.

“Longer term measures include recruiting more staff and creating extra capacity with new theatres and diagnostic facilities in Plymouth and at the former NHS Nightingale hospital in Exeter.”

Fed-up fishermen take on Boris Johnson

Two local interest aspects in this article: the Carters involvement and the story of skipper Dominic Welsh of Newton Poppleford. Should Simon Jupp have joined the party? – Owl

Edward Oldfield www.devonlive.com  [Extract]

Fishing has been the lifeblood of the port of Brixham on the south Devon coast for hundreds of years. And the current generation working in the industry have a message for prime minister Boris Johnson – don’t let us down again.

The fish market at Brixham is the biggest in England by the value of catch sold and around 600 fishermen are based at the port, which has seen fishing boats in its naturally sheltered waters at the southern end of Tor Bay since the Middle Ages.

Some in the industry say fishing is thriving locally, despite Brexit. The merchants, who report extra costs and delays due to new rules on exports, have a different view. And for producers of molluscs like mussels it has been a disaster, with live exports to the EU effectively blocked. The deal is still a sore point with French fishermen, who are threatening to disrupt cross-Channel trade in protest at the refusal of some licences to fish in UK waters.

The government has set aside a £100million investment fund for the industry, and has promised to replace funding that came via the EU. Now the local fishermen, who number around 600, and the workers who depend on the industry, want to see Brixham land the money to safeguard the future of their historic industry.

The picturesque harbour, with its pirate ship and backdrop of rows multi-coloured houses, has become a hotspot for tourists, and locals say its popularity is closely linked to the town’s character as a fishing port, illustrated by the branch of the restaurant Rockfish next to the entrance to the fish market.

Fishermen were some of the strongest supporters of breaking away from the European Union, convinced by the potential to take back control of the UK’s waters, and harvest more of the fish in them. But many now see the government’s trade deal and fishing agreement with the EU as falling far short of what was promised.

The town is in the constituency of Totnes MP Anthony Mangnall, who is planning to join a trawler crew overnight this weekend to find out for himself what the job involves. He has been invited aboard the Georgina of Ladram, a beam trawler that is one of the fleet’s newest, built in 2019 and operated by Waterdance, a family owned company that is part of the Exeter-based Greendale Group.

Mr Mangnall has spoken out in support of the industry in Parliament, and wants to see a fishing school set up to educate the next generation. The MP’s press release about his fishing trip says more news is expected soon about the £100 million fisheries fund “which will be beneficial to the fishing communities in Brixham, Salcombe and Dartmouth.” He says the first part of the fund has recently been announced, with £24 million of investment available to fishing businesses across the UK to develop technology, trial new gear and support world-class research.

Fishing boat skipper Dominic Welsh at Brixham Harbour

Fishing boat skipper Dominic Welsh at Brixham Harbour (Image: Ed Oldfield/Devon Live)

The lack of an easy route into the industry was highlighted by young skipper and owner Dominic Welsh. The 31-year-old was working on the quayside at Brixham on his new boat the Southern Spirit, which represents a total investment of £1.7million.

The father-of-two, from Newton Poppleford, near Exmouth, said he left school at the age of 13, unable to read or write. He taught himself at sea, and bought his first licensed fishing boat at the age of 16. Mr Welsh has worked his way up through the industry, and is now close to the end of a £400,000 refit of his new vessel, employing 17 local workers. He is aiming to put to sea with his crew of four in around a month’s time. The Brixham-registered boat will fish in the seas around the UK, mainly for scallops, dover sole, plaice, turbot, brill and cuttlefish, mostly for export.

Mr Welsh said the industry has recovered from the setback of the pandemic, despite rules that are ‘strangling’ operators, with the area for fishing getting smaller and only a small increase in quotas in recent years, despite growing fish stocks and the promise of Brexit.

He regrets the government’s failure to secure sole fishing rights up to the 12-mile limit in British waters. But looking forward, he says the industry is thriving, and he wants to see it grow, with investment in education and training like the French are doing already. Mr Welsh said: “The industry is huge, and it would keep getting bigger, but there is not the manpower to run it.”……………….

Keep calm – wear a jumper

Faced with queues at the petrol pumps; empty shelves; rising fuel prices; welfare cuts; imminent tax rises and a Prime Minister who is on holiday [or has he fled the chaos?], this seems practical advice – Owl 

Extract from Trevor Phillips interview with Kwasi Kwarteng. See more here www.radioexe.co.uk 

Asked if he would advise people to wear another woolly jumper to keep warm this winter, Mr Kwarteng said: “It’s up to people – it’s amazing how different people’s cold thresholds can be very different.

“Some people feel comfortable wrapped up in lots of different clothes, others wear relatively little – I think people should be sensible. I think people should do what they feel comfortable with.”

Pressed on whether this meant he was telling people to turn down their thermostat and put on more clothing, he said: “My job as an energy minister is not to tell people how many layers of clothing they should wear, that’s not really my job.”