“Supreme Court to consider legal standard on adequacy of reasons in planning”

A rather technical article but basically the Supreme Court is to rule on how much information and how much detail y must be provided when an applicant wants to build in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php

Clinton Devon Estates to take over work of Jurassic Coast Trust

Oh dear sweet Lord – clifftop holiday homes and Disneyland here we come – and definitely no National Park!

An East Devon landowner is set to play a significant part in the future of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Clinton Devon Estates, which owns and manages 25,000 acres of land across Devon, has pledged its support to the Jurassic Coast Trust which is taking over the management of the 95-mile stretch of world heritage coastline, from Devon and Dorset county councils this July.

The landowner is joining the Trust as one of four Lead Business Partners, currently the only partner in Devon alongside three based in Dorset, and will pledge £3,000 per year to the charity, helping to safeguard its future.

The Trust’s link with businesses and landowners is essential in ensuring it can carry out its work looking after the world class coastline, which stretches between Exmouth in Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset, on behalf of UNESCO for the “benefit of the whole of mankind”.

A large part of the Estate’s East Devon acreage is made up of the Pebblebed Heaths, which are named after the Budleigh Salterton pebblebeds and are a designated conservation area.

The Trust is poised to support the landowner’s existing educational outreach, which focuses on the ecology and management of the heaths by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “We have had an informal, mutually supportive relationship for a long time as our paths have crossed over the years.

“The Estate owns land very close to, or on the Jurassic Coast, and the Trust is keen to extend its work in East Devon, so the partnership should afford more opportunities for collaborative working.

“We have a lot in common with the Trust whose work is based on geology; the geological story of the Pebblebed Heaths is part of our shared heritage which we’re passionate about.

“We hope to celebrate this heritage further, through extended community engagement and we’re hoping the Trust’s expertise will enhance what we already do.”

The Trust also plans to provide downloadable audio guides about East Devon’s geology for the Clinton Devon Estates’ website.

Guy Kerr, Programme Manager for the Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “We are delighted to have Clinton Devon Estates on board as one of our Lead Business Partners. The East Devon pebblebeds are a crucial part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and we look forward to working closely with Clinton Devon Estates to preserve this landscape and enthuse people with its incredible stories.”

http://www.devonlive.com/clinton-devon-estates-take-over-management-of-jurassic-coast-world-heritage-site/story-30478379-detail/story.html

Councils ‘ignore powers to limit building on green belt’

Communities face a postcode lottery over how much of their countryside is blighted by new homes because some councils fail to use powers to protect it, research has found.

Some local authorities choose to protect their green belts but others accept much higher housing targets and allow developers to build on environmentally valuable land.

The different approaches mean some areas are being earmarked to have thousands more homes than necessary, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Councils are planning more than 360,000 homes on England’s 14 green belts, which are rings of protected land designed to prevent urban sprawl.
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), introduced in 2012, requires all councils to determine their “objectively assessed need” (OAN) for housing, which is the number of new homes required to meet market demand and social need.

Councils do not have to accept the targets produced by the assessment if they have large amounts of green belt or other protected land, such as national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty and nature sites.
Brighton and Hove council has set a target of 13,200 homes by 2030, less than half the 30,120 determined by its OAN. In its local plan it said it cut the number “to respect the historic, built and natural environment of the city”.

Watford, Hastings and Crawley have also set housing targets of only half their assessed need.

By contrast, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, which includes the prime minister’s constituency, is planning to meet its full OAN of 14,200 homes by 2033 despite 83 per cent of the borough being green belt.
Simon Dudley, the leader of Windsor and Maidenhead council, is strongly supporting housebuilding in the borough, including 6,000 homes in the green belt. He has been accused of sacking a fellow Conservative councillor who questioned the plans.

Mr Dudley has previously said that his plans would only reduce his borough’s green-belt land by 1.7 per cent.

Christchurch and East Dorset is also planning to meet its full OAN of 8,490 houses over 15 years, despite 84 per cent of the area being green belt, an area of natural beauty or other protected land.

Paul Miner, the CPRE’s planning campaign manager, said that there was a postcode lottery on housing targets.

He said: “Councils have got scope to reduce their housing numbers but some are not doing so. Reasons include pressure from developers and also the political leadership of the council seeing an opportunity to make quick money from the new homes bonus.”

The government has promised to pay councils a new homes bonus, typically worth £9,000, for each home they build.

The planning framework states that there needs to be “exceptional circumstances” to amend green-belt boundaries. Elmbridge borough council, in Surrey, wrote to Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, asking him to define exceptional circumstances.

In his reply, seen by The Times, dated March 20, Mr Javid said that green-belt losses would have to be offset by improvements to remaining green-belt land, but added: “We would be disinclined to go even further into listing what might be considered an exceptional circumstance.”

Source: The Times (paywall)

Election irony

Does anyone else find it ironic that Tory candidates are saying that they will “fight for” local hospitals, fairer funding for schools and our precious environment when it is THEIR party that brought the CCG’s that are already cutting beds by stealth, the unfair school funding and which wants to loosen environmental regulations as soon as possible to enable more building on green fields and who are trying to stop frightening air pollution figures being published?

The Tory battle cry seems to be:

“What do we want?”
“No bed cuts, fairer funding for schools and a healthy environment!”
“When do we want it?”
“Er, whenever Mrs May says we can have it, pretty please?”
“When will it be?
“Brexit means Brexit!”

Have fun with that one – and if you vote for the Tories in Devon just hope you, your children and grandchildren can afford a private education and health care and never need to go to an NHS A and E or GP – or breathe the air in our towns, cities and countryside – tall order!

We need a credible opposition at DCC to fight for us. Claire Wright has done a magnificent job fighting for our schools, our hospitals and our environment at DCC – but could do even more with an army of like-minded councillors alongside her whose battle cry would be:

“What do we want?”
“Our fair share in a clean, green Devon”
“When do we want it?”
“When our voters empower us to get it”
“When will it be”?
“When you vote Independent on 4 May!”

Sidford Fields industrial estate: no appeal by developers … but

… stay on guard! It probably simply mean that they are formulating a new planning application to overcome objections. And they have very, very influential backers and allies.

And DO remember that it has been DCC candidate Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance) that saw off this application – not ex-Monster Raving Loony Party member and current Conservative candidate for DCC Sturat Hughes.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said it is now up to the landowner to consider future options for the site off Two Bridges Road.

However, the wider 12-acre plot has a strategic allocation as employment land in the authority’s Local Plan, so EDDC expects the site will be developed by 2031, according to a spokeswoman.

EDDC refused plans for the major development in September.

Councillors said the proposed development would harm the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, depend on ‘unsuitable’ roads and impact on neighbours without adequate mitigation.

A petition to ‘say no’ to the business park attracted more than 1,100 signatures and 384 objections were lodged with EDDC.

The applicants had until last Monday, March 27, to appeal the refusal.

The Sid Vale Association was among the opponents.

Richard Thurlow, its conservation and planning committee chairman, said: “We were all delighted when the application was refused in September last year, but there was always the chance that the decision might be appealed.

“We can now feel relieved that this ‘Sword of Damocles’ has been lifted.

“However, the site still exists in the Local Plan as an ‘employment site’ and we must still be aware that other proposals might come forward – and we must be prepared to fight them if they do.”

The landowner and applicant were approached for comment.

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/no-appeal-against-refusal-of-9-3-acre-business-park-outside-sidford-1-4975241

Very sour grapes at Clinton Devon Estates towards EDDC!

Owl says: CDE not getting their own way with highly ontroversial AONB development blames officers and councillors at EDDC – CDE not happy bunnies!

[To] Housing Delivery Task and Finish Forum – Observations on Issues affecting Housing Delivery

“[From]Leigh Rix, Head of Property for Clinton Devon Estates Iestyn John, Partner at Bell Cornwell LLP

Background

Clinton Devon Estates are rural landowners with substantial land and property interests in East Devon, notably in the southern part of the district between Exmouth and Beer. The Estate therefore operates within a large number of rural communities and in an area which is subject to a range of landscape and other sensitivities, all of which have with the potential to affect housing delivery. The Estate seeks to act as a responsible landowner with the principles of sustainability at the heart of all its activities. The Estate takes a long term intergenerational view which takes precedence over short term political and economic interests. It is within this context that its observations on the issues affecting housing delivery are provided.

In the Estate’s experience, there are two types of issues which are frustrating housing delivery:

cultural factors and technical factors

Cultural Issues

The absence within the Council of a positive, solution focused mindset necessary to properly resolve the undoubted tensions which exist between business, community and local politics, reflecting an agreed vision of how housing delivery will support wider longer term ambitions for the district in the context of an economically, socially and environmentally vibrant community. This absence appears to ‘set the tone’ for the setting of land use policy and decision making and may act as a barrier to investment in the area;

Greater pragmatism is needed, especially with regard to pursuing opportunities for properly considered housing proposals in rural areas. Such opportunities have the potential to act as a source of considerable amounts of additional housing without harming rural character. It is notable that earlier drafts of the Local Plan proposed to allocate 5% extra housing to each village. In individual villages, this would represent very small scale growth but is an approach, which collectively, would have contributed at least 500 more houses to the District’s identified supply than the approved Local Plan. The current approach of relying on neighbourhood plans to deliver local growth, whilst politically expedient, is inherently problematic especially in those areas in which the Estate operates, given the predominance of NIMBY interests which do not typically act in support of traditional local communities or longer term, future generational thinking;

Stronger, more decisive leadership is needed and at all levels. Amongst other things, this will generate certainty for the development industry and confidence that planning applications once supported, will be approved.

There are clear political tensions within the Council which create considerable uncertainties, delays and costs to bringing forward housing supply. The Estates’ experience with their development at King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford is a clear example. Despite receiving officer support throughout the process, it took five years, four applications and five planning committees to secure a development which is modest in size, provides a high level of affordable housing and a clearly identified community facility in the form of a new doctor’s surgery. It will be understood that such problems do not act as positive signal to those seeking to invest in housing schemes – of any form – in East Devon.

Technical Issues

Some officers within the planning teams seek to apply seemingly needless bureaucracy; for example in the scope of the information they ask for to validate or process applications. It is obviously important that properly relevant information be provided, however unnecessary requests generate delay and cost and add little to consideration of the issue. We note the recent application validation list actually seems to make this issue worse. A more pragmatic and proportionate position is needed.

Feedback from statutory consultees is extremely slow. This is partly an issue of under-resourcing of these agencies which is out of the control of the Council. However, such poor responses have the potential to significantly delay decisions on applications. We would suggest that officers need to feel able to come to their own view on issues where specific advice is not forthcoming in a timely manner unless there are fundamental issues such as highways safety under consideration.

Officers need to support schemes which are common sense and where there is unlikely to be any harm to wider objectives. It is notable that there are various schemes in the Cranbrook area – a central part of the Council’s housing delivery strategy – which are not being determined until the Council’s much delayed SPD for the area is approved. In this core location, the Council appear to be getting locked into a planning rather than delivery cycle which prevents certain sizeable schemes e.g. the non-consortium site at Farlands from coming forward with, in that case, an approval for 200 + dwellings.

From the experience of the Estate it would seem that some members of Development Management and other Committees require training in their responsibilities and the planning process as well as more general Committee Management skills. Poor quality, ill informed decisions made by members disregarding legal and planning advice causes increased skills costs for housing projects and local taxpayers as well as a lack of delivery of schemes which meet agreed local plan criteria.”

Developments outside village built-up boundaries since 2010 – all 17 pages of them

The result of a recent Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/386878/response/933239/attach/html/3/Outside%20BUAB.XLSX.xlsx.html