‘Bomb site’ Woodbury car parks to get makeover

Owl was under the impression that these car parks were “owned” by the Pebblebed Heaths Trust. In 2018 the Trust published a pebblebed Heaths car park strategy.

The car parks are now being described as “four council-owned car parks”. When did that happen?

The design and access statement (para 2.1) indicates that this is in response  to the plans of East Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge to build over 40,000 new homes by 2030.

Looks like the change happened soon after Jan 2020. Old Guard decision?

So the costs fall on the Council Tax Payer – Owl

Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk 

Joney’s Cross – and you can see why (courtesy South East Devon Habitat Regulations)

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has approved its own planning application to redevelop four of its car parks at Pebblebed Heath near East Budleigh,  which one councillor said were currently “little better than a bomb site.”

The heath is a 1,400sq hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest and a special area of conservation for southern damselflies, nightjars and Dartford warblers.

Now four council-owned car parks surrounding the heath are to be resurfaced and will undergo drainage works and have improved signage following a decision by EDDC’s planning committee. The council hopes to improve safety and reduce parking pressure elsewhere around the beauty spot.

The works will be at Joney’s Criss, Hawkerland; Stowfood Woods, Colaton Raleigh; Four Furs, Woodbury and the Frying Pans,  Woodbury Common. Though the car parks will be improved, no new spaces will be added.

Councillor Geoff Jung (Democratic Alliance Group, Woodbury and Lympstone), portfolio holder for coast, countryside and environment, told the planning committee: “I think everyone would agree that the car parks on the common look little better than a bomb site: muddy puddles, ruts and no logic on where to park.”

Cllr Jung said there had been some misinformation on social media on the purpose of the improvements. He said the works would improve safety and movement around the car parks, increase their visibility from the road and “reduce the opportunity for theft and anti-social behaviour which is fairly common on the heath.”

The council says there has been increased use of Pebblebed Heath because of new housing developments in East Devon.

In a report on the application, officers argued:  “Increasing the capacity at the larger car parks means there would be an increased focus on these areas with less harm likely to arise in other satellite parking areas, thereby reducing the harm to the wider Pebblebed Heaths.”

There were worries that a footpath to the car park at Joney’s Cross would be removed, but the council said it will be keeping it open.

Councillor Olly Davey (Democratic Alliance Group, Exmouth Town) welcomed the improvements but wants cycle parking to be considered in future developments.

Councillor Paul Hayward (Democratic Alliance Group, Yarty) read a statement on behalf of Newton Poppleford & Harpford Parish Council which expressed “slight frustration” that it was not consulted on the application when it was first validated in the summer.

A planning officer apologised and said the EDDC would make sure it consults them in the future.

2 thoughts on “‘Bomb site’ Woodbury car parks to get makeover

  1. I am a frequent walker on the Pebblebed Heaths and as a Friend of the Common I receive e-mails from Kate Ponting on updates and activities. I knew there was a consultation taking place on car parking. I cannot remember when EDDC took over the responsibilities for the upkeep of the car parks. The signs around the car parks also indicate the Trust’s ownership. Have I missed an e-mail? Have I missed publicity concerning this event? I have also yet to find an audit trail to the decision on the EDDC website.
    Can anyone help me?


  2. I first visited these commons 20 years ago. I then visited almost every day to run my dog. Early on, there was easy parking both at admittedly minimally surfaced clearings and at very many widely scattered roadside places which did no harm whatsoever. The cleared places gradually dwindled in number as they were physically obstructed, for example when it was claimed that travellers were on their way and when the RSPB took over East Withycombe Common for their own conservationist purposes.

    Then, from 2012, the Pebblebed Commons were in stages fenced off from the roadways. This deterred easy roadside parking and stopped easy access to large areas of the commons away from the designated parking areas and the gates into the enclosed land. People were made to negotiate muddy quagmires that soon surrounded such limited points of access. The parking areas suffered from much greater use. Clinton Devon Estates who wanted the fencing said that they were not actually obliged to maintain the carparks. Dog-walkers, by far the most frequent visitors, were suddenly restricted to funnelling through those points and so dog-fouling became concentrated around them. Nearby paths eroded much more quickly through frequency of use.

    The whole structure of interest in these commons from their private owners /tenants (mainly Clinton Devon but also the RSPB and a few others) through to the various bodies supposed provide some protection for the interests of the public (mainly Natural England but also some other publicly funded bodies and the Open Spaces Society) to the body responsible for officially permitting fencing and other works but claiming to have no powers to enforce the CORRECT works being installed once any permission is given (the Planning Inspectorate) to the EDDC (who gave a large chunk of common land in it’s ownership over to an entirely private Archery Club which then excluded the public from it) ALL have long behaved abysmally when it comes to the public interest.

    Now, increasing numbers of people living locally are putting somewhat increased pressure on these commons. Instead of responding cleverly and imaginatively, all of the above, while proclaiming their concern for the public to continue enjoying our designated common land, are actually, for their own reasons and under the flag of ensuring sustainable maintenance, protection against erosion, protection of species etc. on a course to control and restrict access and reduce all of us to carefully regimented and approved by them access to our countryside. One of our last ways of renewing our spirits and retaining any sense of freedom is going.


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