“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.

Roads:

“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-reasons-why-sidford-business-park-land-should-not-be-in-eddc-local-plan-1-5772366

Government “Landscapes Review” call for evidence on AONBs and National Parks

“Overview

The Government has asked for an independent review of England’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). You can find more about the work of the review and our Terms of Reference. Already the review team, led by Julian Glover and a panel with a range of experiences and interests, has carried out visits and meetings in many parts of England.

We will do more in the months ahead – but we want everyone to have a chance to contribute, whether you live in a National Park or AONB, run a business in them, enjoy visiting, care about landscapes and biodiversity, or represent an organisation with views that might shape and improve our findings. The questions (available as a list in the related documents section below) are a guide: please do not feel you must answer them all – or have to write at great length. We have not set a word length on answers, as we know some people and organisations will want to reply in detail on specific points. However, we ask that where possible you keep each individual answer to no more than 500 words. It is not necessary to reply to every question so please ignore those which you do not think relevant to you. You may find it easier to write your answers elsewhere before pasting them into the text boxes in the link below: …”

https://consult.defra.gov.uk/land-use/landscapes-review-call-for-evidence/

“We need ‘a steady supply’ of new homes in our National Parks, says Michael Gove adviser”

First they came for the green field sites, then they came for the green belt, then they came for the national parks … and by renaming AONBS they came for them too ….. The developer lobby has now come for everything.

Sit back and watch those developers get even richer … while those who need affordable (TRULY AFFORDABLE) housing get shafted again.

“People living in the countryside have to accept a “steady supply” of new homes need to be built in National Parks, the Government adviser in charge of a major review has said.

Julian Glover, who is running a review of whether to add to England’s 10 National Parks, said more homes had to be built in these protected areas.

Mr Glover also raised the prospect that new national parks will be created on the edge of major cities like Birmingham so people who live in urban areas can easily access them.

Another idea is to find new names for England’s 30 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/10/19/need-steady-supply-new-homes-national-parks-says-michael-gove/

Sidford Business Park: a begged question

If the Sidford Business Park was turned down because of

“the potentially lethal combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage” …

why was it hurriedly and grubbily added to the Local Plan at the last minute?

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/06/18/sidford-business-park-a-grubby-history/

“Planners have said NO to Sidford Business Park and turned down the controversial plans over a potentially lethal combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage.

East Devon District Council planners rejected plans to build industrial, storage and non-residential institutions on agricultural land to the east of Two Bridges Road in Sidford.

They were refused on the grounds of harm to highway safety, relating to increased heavy goods vehicle usage of the area’s narrow roads and the decision was made by officers with the Chairman of Development Management Committee, Cllr Mike Howe, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/planners-refuse-controversial-sidford-business-2120014

EDDC objects to Sidford Business Park ONLY on Highways grounds

Owl says: Well, in Christine Keeler’s famous words [corrected by slap on talons to Mandy Rice Davies!] “Well, they would do, wouldn’t they”!

“East Devon District Council Website – 16 October 2018
News
Sidford employment site outline planning application refused on highway safety grounds

When this content has been created
16 October 2018

Local planning authority’s concerns over a potentially lethal combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage has resulted in refusal of Sidford business park planning application

East Devon District Council has today (16 October 2018), refused an application for outline planning permission for the Sidford employment site ( – Land East of Two Bridges, Sidford – on the grounds of harm to highway safety, relating to increased heavy goods vehicle (HGVs) usage of the area’s narrow roads. The decision was made by officers with the Chairman of Development Management Committee in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. The meeting was attended by ward members, Cllr David Barrett and Cllr Stuart Hughes.

Details of the application can be viewed on the online applications page of the East Devon website – insert application reference 18/1094/MOUT.

The site is allocated in the adopted East Devon Local Plan and is acceptable in principle, but the allocation is primarily for light industrial uses. The applicants included a significant amount of warehouse space in their application, which would be reliant on HGVs to deliver goods to the site and then distribute them from there. Devon County Council, as Highway Authority, objected to the application based on the number of HGVs likely to be generated by the proposal, which significantly exceeds the figure envisaged when the site was allocated. East Devon District Council has agreed that the numbers of HGVs combined with the narrow roads, both in the vicinity of the site and through Sidbury, would lead to conflict between vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to the detriment of highway safety, and it was on this basis that the application was turned down.

The planning application has generated comments from 369 people and organisations, of which 255 were objecting to the proposal. A petition of 1,398 residents of the Sidford area and over 200 signatures from the wider area was also received. There were a wide range of objections raised to the application, including concerns regarding flood risk, visual impact, impact upon listed buildings, impact on the area of outstanding natural beauty, light and noise pollution and questions over the need for the business park, which the council considered in detail – many of them having also been considered through the Local Plan examination.

However, the council concluded that the application is acceptable in terms of these matters, with only highways safety amounting to a reason for refusal. In order to progress the development, the applicant now has the choice of appealing against the council’s decision or submitting a revised application to address the concerns raised. Any appeal or further application will be publicised in the usual way and there will be a further opportunity for comments to be made and considered by the council or a Planning Inspector in the case of a an appeal.

Councillor Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:

I recognise that there is a lot of local opposition to the provision of a business park on this site, but its inclusion in the Local Plan follows an examination by an independent Planning Inspector and the suitability of the site was confirmed by him. Sidmouth needs space to support local businesses and provide jobs and this site is the best location to do that. There were many varied objections to this application but it is only the high level of HGVs that would be drawn to the site, which justifies its refusal.”

Second judicial review as a Development Management Committee defies first one!

Owl says: another “follow the money” situation?

“Folkestone & Hythe District Council faces its second judicial review in a year over a dispute concerning a proposed holiday park.

Local businessman Tim Steer was granted an application for the latest judicial review by Deputy High Court judge John Howell QC.

The case concerns an application to develop a 5.5 hectares site at Little Densole Farm, which is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and locally designated as a special landscape area.

Planning and licensing committee members rejected officers’ advice and allowed the application last year, leading to Mr Steer successfully taking the council to judicial review.

When the application came before them again in July councillors again went against the officers’ recommendation and gave planing permission.

Judge Howell: “It is at least arguable that [the committee] failed to give any reasons for rejecting their officer’s appraisal that the development and associated landscaping proposed would not conserve the existing character of this part of the AONB…and that it would introduce alien and incongruous features that would permanently change the existing character of the landscape in that area.”

Mr Steer said: “Not for the first time the council will waste taxpayers’ money defending the blatantly questionable decisions of its planning and licensing committee, a committee which in my view is not fit for purpose and is unable to grasp or follow policy and legislation.

“It might appear to some that this particular committee simply follows its own agenda.”

He said the project would cause “permanent destruction” of the AONB.
Clive Goddard, chair of the planning and licensing committee, said: “Leave has been granted by the court to apply for judicial review in respect of Little Densole Farm. The council has nothing further to add and will be seeking legal advice.”

Folkestone & Hythe was known until last April as Shepway District Council.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36987%3Arow-over-holiday-park-sees-permission-granted-for-second-judicial-review&catid=63&Itemid=31

Could we lose World Heritage Site status in the East Devon section of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site through EDDC lack of concern over retrospective planning application at Ladram Bay?

Retrospective planning application EDDC 18/1517

UK National Commission for UNESCO already alerted by members of the general public

Jurassic Coast Trust (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Tue 04 Sep 2018

Firstly, we would like to point out that the Jurassic Coast Trust, as the organisation responsible for the protection of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, should have been formally consulted on this application.
You should also be aware that this application has been raised by the general public with the UK National Commission for UNESCO, with whom we are now liaising.

Response: Object

The core issue for us is the extension of the viewing deck or ‘ice cream deck’ into the World Heritage Site (WHS). The boundary for the WHS is described for this part of the coast in appendix 2 of the Site management plan. Both the full plan and its appendices are available to download freely from http://www.jurassiccoast.org. At Ladram Bay the WHS sits between the break in slope at the top of the cliff and the mean low water mark. The extension of the decking therefore has a direct impact within the Site’s boundaries.

These potential impacts should be considered under the following policies from the WHS management plan:

1.1 Protect the OUV (Outstanding Universal Value) of the site through prevention of developments that might impede natural processes, or obscure the exposed geology, as set out in the GCR / SSSI details, now and in the future.

1.2 Where developments affecting the Site or setting do take place, avoid or at least mitigate negative impact on the natural processes and exposed geology.

1.3 Oppose developments in the Site’s setting that may warrant a future need for coastal defences, particularly in light of potential sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

1.4 Protect the landscape character, natural beauty and cultural heritage of the Site and setting from inappropriate development.

Retrospective planning permission is wholly inadequate to deliver these policies for three key reasons:

1 There is not enough information provided about the nature of the structure and how it is anchored and supported. A proper assessment of its impacts on the WHS is impossible based on this application.

2 Retrospective permission does not allow for the mitigation of impacts within the design process.

3 There is no evidence that alternative approaches that provide similar benefits to the holiday park’s users whilst protecting the natural environment have been considered.

National Planning Policy provides World Heritage Sites with the highest level of protection (see NPPF paragraphs 184 and 194). The long operation and high rating of the holiday park does not excuse the applicant from following proper planning procedures.

If the applicant had followed normal planning procedure, we would have had the chance to comment early on the design, suggest alternatives if necessary or, if deemed to be appropriate development, recommended suitable consent conditions.

Protection of the World Heritage Site relies on the planning system to deliver these opportunities.

We strongly recommend that East Devon District Council refuse this application.”