A Correspondent’s 2023 New Year Message

From a Correspondent:

The word ‘democracy’ is derived from the Greek word ‘demokratia’, meaning ‘rule by the people.’ It’s made up of the two roots ‘demos’, meaning ‘the people,’ andkratos’, meaning ‘power’ – but in the 2020s do the people have significant, appreciable power and (although the people’s voices are definitely heardare their views actually listened to by both national and local politicians?

Recently, the Clyst St Mary Facebook page has included insistent reminders to the local people to share their views on a second East Devon new town planned nearby and to broadly get involved and make their voices heard to East Devon District Council (EDDC), who are requesting the people’s perspectives on planning development for the new Draft East Devon Local Development Plan, now being prepared by EDDC Planners.

. . . . But why is it necessary to chivvy and badger the local community to make their representations . . . . are many people apathetic and indifferent? (Yes – there is definitely ‘a couldn’t-care-less-attitude from some!). . . Do some really find the whole planning process so incomprehensible that they don’t wish to look moronic in public, when their views are published online? (Again, yes – the planning process is similar to ‘wading through treacle’, being difficult to comprehend and negotiate)!

However, perhaps there is another reason why the local public do not wish to participate in this round of public consultations on the East Devon Local Development Plan? Perhaps the masses in this particular village community feel that, having previously contributed to the current Local Development Plan 2013-2031, by meticulously detailing their wishes for the future of their neighbourhood (Clyst St Mary), agreeing Built-Up Area Boundaries, preparing and detailing design statements for what and where they would prefer development to occur – they now find themselves at the beginning of a New Year in 2023 with

(1) non-enforcement by EDDC of planning/environmental conditions imposed on the Oil Mill Lane Enfield Anaerobic Biodigester for the protection of the community, together with two further planning applications now pending to substantially increase the input and output threefold, with the increased odour, noise, pollution and traffic issues (which will certainly follow if planning approvals are granted, even if there are ‘conditions’ imposed!), when this community have had to tolerate these detrimental issues for over 8 years (and when a Planning Inspector has already dismissed an Appeal for the identical increases in tonnages at Enfield AD!);

(2) approval of plans for 38 homes on a valued green space (protected against development and specifically removed from the current EDDC Local Plan to 2031), but then endorsed by EDDC planners (for economic reasons) with no safe pedestrian links provided to date, (neither pavements nor lighting) to the nearby village amenities of the school, nursery, post office, shop, village hall, children’s play-park, and pub;

(3) approval of 40 sky-high, towering, four-storey flats overlooking existing homes and gardens (again with unsafe pedestrian access to village services);

(4) significant tree/hedgerow loss/extensive pruning of a treasured TPO protected mature woodland to accommodate 40 flats (with a recommendation by the Green Party planning representative that residents can purchase and plant trees themselves to compensate for the already significant loss of screening (when the Developers felled trees in the nesting season in March/April 2022) – but, oddly, there are inadequate planning conditions imposed on the Developers themselves to provide sufficient, increased tree planting (to mitigate the lack of screening caused by their previous felling) and also insufficient new tree replacement for sizeable tree loss in future from the development;

(5) a Reserved Matters planning application approved (by 6 votes to 5!) for 40 four-storey flats but with obvious, inadequate in-depth knowledge of the specifics contained in the original, outline approval, together with a lack of realisation and awareness that, as decision-makers, they could have opted to reduce the height and number of the 40 flats because the outline planning approval had not accepted either – although decision-makers should ideally remember the previous advice from their Development Manager at the time of the outline approval!

It appears that both East Devon’s professional planners and the elected representative decision-makers have ‘turned a deaf ear’ to those who live in this village, with a disregard for their views under the Localism Act, with multiple faux pas detrimentally affecting these people – who were consulted and had vigorously made their views known – but now find themselves being ‘gagged’ by local authority protocol, whereby professional planners and some politicians (who appear to display egoistic tendencies of ‘we know better than you – so your views don’t count

!’) have consistently ignored local people’s perspectives and communications to such an extent that documenting it fully in this arena is unfeasible!

So Happy New Year 2023 from an East Devon community who has been there, done that and got the T-shirt regarding planning development throughout the past eight years – our New Year message is to advise other communities to prepare for the worst but hope for the best – you are wished all the luck in the world (you will need it)!

PS – We are guessing that East Devon landowners and developers will be toasting their developmental successes this New Year and there is, no doubt, that their supernumerary views and perspectives on development will be arriving in droves to be added to this new East Devon Development Plan consultation process!

Whether the limited, public representation numbers expected will be deemed proportionately adequate to secure a legitimate planning consultation is, perhaps, questionable? Does a public consultation fail without a reasonable percentage of representations from the public if it only contains predominantly exponentially growing numbers from land owners and developers? . . . DOUBTFUL – it’s far more likely that our representatives will continue to do whatever they wish, with the public having no voice or recourse!

Hardly democratic – but hopefully not a shift towards totalitarianism – because for most of us – that would be a step too far in 2023!

One thought on “A Correspondent’s 2023 New Year Message

  1. Completely agree, the question needs to be asked,
    Where was our ward councillor when all this was going on?


Comments are closed.