Macavity’s comment and how Sidford’s Greenfields became Brownfields 

Yesterday, Macavity reminded us of the escapades of ‘we plan anywhere’ Cllr. Hughes (Council Chair 2015) during EDDC’s “build, build, build” era.

Owl thinks this provides an opportunity to review the “goings on” that led to Sidbury Fields being slipped into the Local Plan at the last moment, (and Cllr. Hughes hypocritical attempt to “save them”).

First Macavity’s comment on:

Controversial “Build, build, build” Exeter council boss to step down after ‘golden decade’

…not forgetting Cllr Hughes YouTube video – ‘we plan anywhere’, which was released when Karim was at East Devon District Council

Now to the grubby history of Sidford business park (extract from this post)

“Incredulous locals wonder how it was possible for a council to allocate an ‘employment site’ in its local development plan that is on a flood plain, is a rich wildlife habitat, and whose main access would be a narrow street where two lorries can’t pass without mounting the pavement!

For the dominant Tory group on East Devon District Council it was easy!

First, they let landowners and developers decide where to build. In 2007 they asked East Devon Business Forum how much employment land the district would need over the next 25 years. EDBF was a lobby group which included the Carters of Greendale, the Stuarts of Hill Barton and Tim Ford of Sidmouth. Their answer was predictable: lots and lots!

Second, they put Chair of EDBF, Cllr Graham (‘I ain’t doin’ it for peanuts!’) Brown:  Disgraced ex-EDDC Tory Councillor scandal refuses to die.

in charge of quietly asking landowners where they would like to build. Apparently, the proposal for a Sidford business park was first mooted at one of these confidential meetings in July 2010.

Third, in 2011 they elected Paul Diviani, founder member of EDBF, as leader. Under him the District Council became what many saw as a ‘Development Corporation’, the planning system became less about protecting the environment and more about encouraging building.

Fourth, they didn’t listen to the public or community groups whom they ignored or misrepresented. Sidmouth Chamber of commerce said the business park would be catastrophic for local businesses, Council minutes recorded the Chamber as supporting it!

Fifth, they whipped their large political majority to vote through the Sidford allocation. When hostile public reaction worried them just before the 2015 council elections they voted to ‘remove it’ from the Local Plan. Universal Rejoicing! But in 2016 the Inspector kept it in the Plan. Why? Because East Devon’s chief planning officer had not been instructed to give the Inspector reasons for the council’s change of mind!”

As for Cllr. Hughes:

2019 EDDC’s Hypocrite of the Year Award should go to Tory councillor Stuart Hughes, whose Tory group when it was in power sneaked in permission for Sidford Business Park to be included in the Local Plan at the last minute. Now he is “trying” to get a vehicle weight restriction in the village! (In 2018 he said it was pointless trying to stop the development on Highways grounds).  Extract from this post

2012 to 2016

Whilst it’s true that Councillor Hughes consistently criticised the business park proposal some major questions remain about his record in this whole sorry scandal. These are reviewed here.