“Land values funding row set to throw Axminster masterplan and relief road plans into chaos”

As reported by Owl a week ago:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/11/29/axminster-master-plan-back-to-the-drawing-board-but-dont-upset-the-developers/

“A row over land values is set to scupper a masterplan that would see more than 800 new homes and the long-awaited relief road for Axminster built.

The Axminster North East Urban Extension masterplan for 850 homes was adopted in January, and also includes employment land, open spaces and community facilities.

It also included the £16.7m north-south relief road that aims to end the severe congestion, pollution and HGVs having to travel on the existing road that runs through the centre of the town.

East Devon District Council had successfully bid for a £10m Homes England Housing Infrastructure Funding (HIF) grant that would be used to help fund the delivery of the crucial new relief road, only for the government agency to change their mind and turn the grant into a loan. …

Outlining the situation in his report, Mr Freeman says that the land owners have been contacted but are unwilling to reduce their expectations.

The Crown Estate who own their land outright advised that the value attributed to their land is fixed by what they actually paid and cannot therefore be renegotiated, he said, adding the land owners whose land is optioned to Persimmon Homes were not willing to entertain this option, stating that if they could not realise their expected values they would simply continue to farm the land and await a more attractive offer in the future. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/land-values-funding-row-set-3608294

Axminster ‘Master Plan’ – back to the drawing board but don’t upset the developers!

See pages 12-18 here:

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/documents/g1348/Public%20reports%20pack%2009th-Dec-2019%2010.00%20Strategic%20Planning%20Committee.pdf?T=10

What a mess! Houses but no road?

Recommendations:

“That Members:

1. Accept that it is not going to be possible to progress with the Housing Infrastructure Fund bid as things stand and that the offer is likely to be withdrawn unless Homes England change their position on land values

2. Re-engage the consultants for the Axminster Urban Extension Masterplan to:

a) review options to enable as much of the development in the masterplan to proceed accepting that this would be ahead of delivery of the relief road in its entirety
b) update the viability of the project to reflect the latest cost estimates and funding position
c) consider the re-phasing of the development in light of the failure of the HIF bid

3. Agree that a Housing Delivery Action Plan be produced to consider how to bolster the housing land supply position in the district and that this be considered by Strategic Planning Committee alongside a revised Axminster Masterplan.”

Why did Axminster fail to get Town Fund grant? Because it’s in a safe Tory seat

“The Conservatives have been accused of short-changing the poorest communities in favour of comparatively affluent towns to boost their election prospects.

The government promised that the multibillion-pound towns fund would “unleash the full economic potential of more than 100 places and level up communities throughout the country”.

However, 32 towns on the list fall outside the 300 worst-off in England according to rankings from the Office for National Statistics.

Analysis by The Times reveals the extent to which money has been directed towards wealthier areas that are marginal Conservative-held or target seats.

Among the least deprived locations given priority are Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire, where Angela Smith, who won the seat for Labour in 2017, is standing aside after 14 years, and Loughborough, where the Conservatives are defending a majority of 4,000.

Others include Brighouse, Kidsgrove, Cheadle, Worcester and Crawley, which all sit in constituencies that returned Tory MPs with majorities of less than 5,000 at the 2017 election.

Newark, which is ranked 298th in terms of deprivation, is in the constituency being contested by Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary. The list also features Darwen, the Lancashire constituency that Jake Berry, the northern powerhouse minister, is defending.

Andrew Gwynne, the shadow communities secretary, said: “This raises serious questions about the role that ministers and advisers played in robbing some of the poorest towns in the country to funnel cash into Tory target seats in a scramble for votes.

“The towns fund is an insult to communities across the country that have been forced to bear the greatest burden of austerity.”

Will Jennings, professor of public policy and researcher for the Centre of Towns think tank, said more transparency was urgently needed to justify why some of these towns had been included while places such as Tipton, Bootle and Sheerness had not.

The towns fund has also been criticised for failing to fulfil promises made in the Conservatives’ 2017 manifesto, which pledged to replace £30 billion of structural fund money from the EU with a “United Kingdom shared prosperity fund, specifically designed to reduce inequalities between communities”.

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s candidate in Wigan, said: “We were promised real investment, including billions through a shared prosperity fund. Instead we’ve seen money pushed towards marginal towns during an election campaign.”

Analysis of the towns fund was carried out using Office for National Statistics data on income deprivation, one of the key measures ministers were asked to consider when finalising the recipients. This showed that more than half the 100 towns (55) voted Tory in 2017, yet more than three quarters (85) of the 10 per cent of most deprived towns backed Labour at the last election.

The data revealed that the 100 areas chosen to receive funds had an average parliamentary majority of just over 6,000. This compares with an average majority of almost 11,000 in England’s 10 per cent most deprived towns.

Towns Fund money is going to 23 towns with populations below 25,000, the most widely used classification of a small town. One, Tory-voting Millom, in Cumbria, has just 5,887 people.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Abbeyfield care homes in Budleigh and Axminster under threat of closure

Owl says: The tip of a very big iceberg … with the Titanic speeding towards it.

“Devastated residents and families of those living at a care home which is under threat of closure fear it could result in the deaths of those who are very old and vulnerable.

Long-established Abbeyfield Shandford in Budleigh Salterton provides nursing and personal care for 28 people, and of those five are aged 100 or over. It employs 35 staff.

In January it first announced it was reviewing the service and then stated it would continue to be provided.

However, in September it began a consultation into the future of the home which will run until November.

Abbeyfield Society, who own the home, have said it will carefully consider all submissions from residents, relatives and staff before a final decision is made.

It has confirmed if a decision is made to close the home in Station Road, no residents will be expected to leave until January 2020 at the earliest.

The consultation has resulted in a petition being launched which has already been signed by hundreds of local residents. …

… “Abbeyfield have made out it’s a failing care home and needs huge upgrading and expenditure, but it doesn’t. The last inspection by the Care Quality Commission was this year and it was rated good.” …

[Abbeyfield spokesperson said] “In the case of Shandford, we carefully considered a number of factors, including whether the increasingly complex needs of residents can continue to be well served in a building which requires significant renovations to bring in it line with best-practice standards. …

“”This situation is further compounded by the long-term recruitment challenges we have faced, meaning that we have often relied on agency staff – despite the best efforts of the local management team. This not only places significant further financial pressures on the home at a time when the wider funding of social care is under strain, but also means we cannot always provide the continuity of care that residents deserve. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/deaths-feared-care-home-closed-3438701

The Seaton cycle path – a DCC officer responds

Owl has received information from an interested organisation that:

“Devon County Council is proceeding with compulsory purchase of land for the Seaton to Axminster cycle project.”

Ok – but there is still no National Cycle Path AND discussing compulsory purchase of the land between Seaton and Axminster has been going on (at length) since AT LEAST 2011:

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/Data/Development%20Management%20Committee/20110907/Agenda/pdf-PTE-11-20.pdf

with, so far, no progress whatsoever.