“Dorset council faces a legal fight over housing development in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”

“DORSET Council is facing a legal battle over plans to build a large housing estate on countryside immortalised in Thomas Hardy novels, after locals complained of its “devastating” impact on rural communities.

The proposals would result in almost 1,000 homes on Vearse Farm in Bridport, the largest ever development permitted on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England.

But residents now hope to overturn the council’s decision in the courts after raising more than £30,000 through crowdfunding to finance a judicial review.

The challenge is backed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Thomas Hardy Society, whose members described the plans as a “nail in the coffin” of Hardy Country, an area named in honour of the Victorian author.

Outline planning permission was first approved by West Dorset District Council, which has since amalgamated to Dorset Council, in November 2017 but proposals were only finalised in April.

The development, which covers an equivalent of 63 football pitches, would see the population of Bridport increase by an estimated 25 per cent.

But residents objected on the grounds the scale of the housing estate was “inappropriate” and raised fears the surrounding countryside would be spoiled.

A specifically-created campaign group, called ADVEARSE, was created to set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise £34,000 in order to fund a solicitor and barrister to launch a judicial review.

Barry Bates, chairman of the group, said: “If we do not take this action now, nothing further can ever be done to challenge a development of this devastating scale on this site.”

Overlooking the development site is the distinguishable Colmer’s Hill, a beloved landmark in Dorset that is said to be an inspiration for artists and novelists including Hardy, who mentioned it in his 1880 short story Fellow Townsmen.

Dr Tony Fincham, chairman of the Hardy Society, said: “This proposal is just the kind of over-development which irretrievably destroys part of Hardy’s Wessex.

“So often West Dorset (Council) doesn’t realise the value of its very special landscape in both literary and tourism term.

“This plan is just another nail in the coffin of Hardy Country.”

Elizabeth Sims, the widow of eminent violinist Neville Marriner, known as one of world’s greatest conductors, has also put her name to the cause. …

Dorset Council is under pressure to build over 15,000 new homes in west Dorset – one of the worst areas in Britain for affordable housing – by 2036.

The average price of property in the area now stands at £318,000, well beyond the means of most people born and brought up there.

David Walsh, Dorset Council’s head of planning, said: “We are confident in the way the Vearse Farm application was considered.

“As this is a legal process, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this moment in time.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/19/dorset-council-faces-legal-fight-housing-development-inarea/

Glover Review of National Parks and AONBs – interim findings

Some quotes:

“… The message from all this work has been vigorous and clear. We should not be satisfied with what we have at the moment. It falls short of what can be achieved, what the people of our country want and what the government says it expects in the 25-year plan for the environment.

Some of this failure comes from the fact that our protected landscapes have
not been given the tools, the funding and the direction to do the job we should now expect of them. I want to praise the commitment of those who work to protect our landscapes today. Everywhere I’ve been I’ve seen energy,
enthusiasm and examples of success.

Supporting schools, youth ranger schemes, farm clusters, joint working with
all sorts of organisations, tourism, planning and design, backing local
businesses, coping with the complexities of local and central government –
things like this happen every day, not much thanks is given for them and yet
much of it is done well, for relatively small sums.

But all this impressive effort is not achieving anything like as much as it could.

We need to reignite the fire and vision which brought this system into being in 1949. We need our finest landscapes to be places of natural beauty which look up and outwards to the nation they serve.

In essence, our review will ask not ‘what do protected landscapes need?’, but “what does the nation need from them today?’….

We think that AONBs should be strengthened, with increased funding, new purposes and a greater voice on development. We have been impressed by what they often achieve now through partnership working.

We believe there is a very strong case for increasing funding to AONBs. We will make proposals in our final review.

– We have been asked to give our view on the potential for new designations. We will set this out in our final report.”

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/817608/landscapes-review-interim-findings-july2019.pdf

Clinton Devon Estates refuses to meet Newton Poppleford parish council over planning application … rushes to appeal

Clinton Devon Estates … again … not doing its reputation any good.

“Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) says it was unable to find a tenant for the practice which was promised as part of a 40-home development at King Alfred Way. Instead it applied to build two further homes on the land.

On June 11 East Devon District Council (EDDC) deferred its decision for 90 days to allow time for talks between CDE and Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council.

The parish has now shown an interest in renting the surgery and wants to enter into talks.

CDE has instead lodged an appeal against the delay in the decision.

The surgery was part of discussions when a 40-home development was granted permission. At the time district councillor Val Ranger said she felt 40 new homes, next to an area of outstanding natural beauty, was a high price to pay for a new surgery.

Coleridge Medical Centre was originally due to take over the new practice but withdrew its support after NHS funding fell through.

CDE has now refused to meet the parish council and said it was because of the delays already caused, current NHS aims to centralise services and the extra cost involved if the surgery is built after the bulk of the development is finished in 2020.

When asked if it would consider withdrawing its appeal, Clinton Devon Estates said in a statement: “A new GP surgery in Newton Poppleford is no longer viable without a commitment from the NHS to operate it. With the submission of an appeal, the opportunity for formal discussions between CDE and the parish council is now closed until a determination has been made by a planning inspector.”

The developer said Coleridge Medical Centre confirmed in June that its plans to consolidate services within a larger site rather than at branch sites was unchanged. It understood that their plans were to deliver services with the Beacon Surgery, Sidmouth.

When asked if it would be open to talks about the possibility of the parish council taking on the surgery, a Coleridge Medical Centre spokesman said: “We and Devon Clinical Commissioning Group are always open to discussions with our local partners.

“We will continue to provide the existing single-handed doctor service at Newton Poppleford for two mornings a week for the foreseeable future.

“We remain committed to securing high quality and accessible GP services for the people of Newton Poppleford and any proposals about how to best provide this in the long-term must take into account a number of factors including cost, workforce and sustainable modern ways of providing care.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/developer-refuses-talks-to-resolve-issues-over-new-gp-surgery-at-newton-poppleford-1-6154891

EDDC Development Management Committee agrees industrial expansion in Woodbury AONB

Details of industrial business expansion plan for Woodbury Common site agreed.

he first phase of expansion plans for an industrial business at the former Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury Common has been approved.

Last year, East Devon District Council’s development management committee gave the go-ahead for outline plans for 35,000 sq ft of additional industrial floor space at the quarry, operated by Blackhill Engineering, in Woodbury.

Tuesday’s meeting saw the committee approve the details of the first of those buildings, which will become the first part of a four-building development for Blackhill Engineering Services.

The site lies in the open countryside, this part of which is designated as an AONB and lies adjacent to the Pebblebed Heaths SAC, where development should be strictly controlled.

Cllr Tom Wright proposed that the scheme be approved, saying that the buildings would be less intrusive than the cranes and the movements to and from the quarry beforehand.

He added: “We also have to take into account the CDE management of the pebblebed heaths and no other organisation is more committed to retaining the high quality wildlife.” …

Cllr Olly Davey said that the ecological measures go some way to mitigating the effect of this, but said it was such an incongruous place for such a development to actually be taking place and that it was unfortunate it is here.

Cllr Nick Hookway added that he also had a real problem with the application. He said: “I understand the need for jobs but I am at a loss as to how the outline permission was passed by the previous DMC as this doesn’t seem to fit in at all here.

But Cllr Wright said that Blackhill have been there for decades and there are time limits of when they can operate.

Councillors voted by nine votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve the scheme.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/details-industrial-business-expansion-plan-2970387

“Rewild a quarter of UK to fight climate crisis, campaigners urge”

Rewilding would (according to the Environment Secretary) focus on:

Native woodlands
Salt marshes
Peat bogs
Ponds and lakes
Meadows and grasslands

all of which we have in abundance in East Devon.

Perhaps it is now time to revive the idea of a Jurassic Coast National Park (West Dorset would be an already-enthusiastic partner) which was squashed by the previous council because they feared losing their cosy relationship with housing developers …

And, as part of our climate emergency, make rewilding an integral part of all future neighbourhood, district and Greater Exeter development plans.

Nominate ‘Say No to Sidford Fields Industrial Park” campaign for award says lical

Letter in Sidmouth Herald:

“Sir/Madam,

In light of the recent call for recommendations for the welcome, annual Acland Awards (for those conserving/enhancing our local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB) – can I make a recommendation?

Someone please put forward the Say No to the Sidford Fields Industrial Park Campaign since they are doing more than anyone I know to protect East Devon AONB (I put them forward last year).

Their earnest activities to save this crucial part of Sidvale from unnecessary ruination is, in my opinion, exactly what Brigadier Acland had in mind during the process of setting up our precious and it seems, eternally threatened AONB. And they need all the encouragement they can get.

Peter Naysmith, Sidmouth”

Dorset campaigners crowdfund legal challenge to 760 home AONB development near Bridport

“Campaigners against a greenfield development in Dorset have raised £5,000 with a view to taking the planning decision involved to judicial review.

West Dorset District Council last November gave permission for the Vearse Farm project, which includes 760 homes – 35% of them affordable – and space for employment uses.

But campaign group Advearse said the decision to allow development on the site near Bridport contravened regulation on areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and should be given ‘the highest possible protection’ from development.

A judicial review will cost around £34,000 and, thanks to donations and match-funding, Advearse has £19,000 left to raise.

Its chair Barry Bates said: “Bridport has shown that it is clearly united against this development which, despite its gross scale, will not deliver truly-affordable homes for local people and we will do our utmost to represent them.”

Advearse’s fundraising will be doubled due to a match-funding grant from the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Jean Marshall, West Dorset’s head of planning development management and building control, said: “We’re aware of the ongoing objections and campaign from Advearse, but remain confident in the decision given by [the] planning committee to grant permission subject to the necessary planning obligation and planning conditions.”

Ian Gardner, portfolio holder for planning, said when permission was granted: “We’re satisfied that we have been able to work with the applicant and reach agreement on plans for the site.

“Once completed, the scheme will provide significant off-site highway improvements to the Miles Cross junction, a good range of open market and affordable housing as well as community facilities and employment land.”

https://www.localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/planning/401-planning-news/40128-campaigners-crowd-fund-legal-challenge-over-grant-of-planning-permission-for-760-home-scheme