What can we believe about Clinton Devon Estates and bats?

The blog of August 24th – THE FIGHT TO PROTECT EAST BUDLEIGH BATS explains the determination of CDE to develop a barn in East Budleigh, home to 14 species of bats, some very rare including the Greater Horseshoe Bat.

On the other hand we see an employee of CDE receiving the Beer Bat Friendly Community Award in the Midweek Herald:

Why? Easy!

Beer Quarry Caves: no hope of using for housing development.
East Budleigh: every hope of using for housing development.

The fight to protect East Budleigh bats – but no need to fight in Beer

Owl says: And, of course, our old friends, Clinton Devon Estates is involved …

“Quiet, quaint and colourful, East Budleigh is a picture-perfect Devon village.

But behind the beautiful, flower-lined streets and cottages with thatched roofs and statue of world-famous explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, there is a simmering row which has enveloped much of the community.

It is a classic David-versus-Goliath story of concerned local residents against a major land developer, and revolves around bats, a barn and a new building.

Hidden behind some trees just off Middle Street sits The Pound – an old, dilapidated barn which apparently acquired its name as a shelter for stray animals in the area.

Ironically, it is the presence of animals there today which is causing the problem: it is believed to house at least 14 different species of bat.
Among their number are grey long-eared bats, which are known to be exceptionally rare in the UK. One estimate puts their number at just 1000 in the UK, while the Bat Conservation Trust claims they are ‘extremely rare’.
The barn is also believed to be home to at least one live badger sett, as well as hazel dormice.

Sitting on a pretty, grassy patch of land and shaded by horse chestnut trees, The Pound is a popular spot where East Budleigh residents can enjoy the wildlife. There is a bench were locals can sit and chat, while next to it is a trailer said to have been left by American airmen after World War Two which is now full of bright flowers in full bloom.

But The Pound’s prime spot also makes it ripe for developement.

East Budleigh – Raleigh’s birthplace – is an affluent town – according to Rightmove.com, the average value of each house sold this year was just under £480,000. It is little wonder then that landowners Clinton Devon Homes have ear-marked the area for major work. They applied for planning permission which would see The Pound’s barn knocked down and a large, modern house built in its place.

Local residents were furious, mounting stiff opposition to the move and appealing to keep the barn in order to protect the bats.

An initial East Devon District Council development management committee meeting saw councillors defer a decision pending additional information from Natural England about wildlife mitigation on the site. Various concessions were made – including a separate ‘bat barn’ for the barn’s current inhabitants – and, at a subsequent meeting in April, the green light was given by eight votes to five.

A ‘licence to kill’ was how one councillor described the decision.

Upon hearing the result, one member of the public shouted: “The bats will all be dead within six months.”

Many East Budleigh residents, though, are not giving up that easily. “It’s heart-breaking,” said Kathy Moyle. “We have so few natural areas around here. As well as the rare bats, there is also a badger set here, as well as hazel dormice. “We are battling with our hands tied behind our backs. “We have certainly put a thorn in their flesh but I am not sure it is enough. We all just want it to be left alone.”

In a remarkable act of defiance, when the plans were first announced Kathy set up the the East Budleigh Parish Nature and Wildlife Conservation Group to try and find out just what – and how many – animals call The Pound their home.

Now, every Friday night, a dedicated group go out to monitor the comings and goings.

Their findings included three grey long-eared bats, with evidence to suggest a maternity roost. In theory, this would strengthen their claim that the barn should not be knocked down, although Kathy is sceptical.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/village-being-sent-bat-shed-3242036

MEANWHILE, IN BEER:

“... Beer has been officially named a ‘Bat Friendly Community’ – only the second place in Devon to achieve the accolade.

The award is for the community’s work to conserve the endangered greater horseshoe bat. …

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/beer-commended-for-helping-safeguard-greater-horseshoe-bats-1-6227766

Seaton and Beer risk being cut off from Exeter by proposed bus service reduction

Press release:

“At Devon County Council yesterday, Seaton & Colyton’s Independent East Devon Alliance councillor, Martin Shaw, asked Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Transportation, if the Council would support peak services on the X52 bus service from Seaton and Beer to Exeter, which are threatened with closure by First Wessex.

First Wessex proposes to run only two off-peak buses a day in each direction from September. While better than nothing, these are inadequate for people in Seaton and Beer who want to work or study in Exeter or get to appointments at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Relying just on these services, people would barely be able to spend an hour in Exeter before having to get the bus back.

This is the only service direct from Seaton and Beer to the RD&E and this narrow window will not enable people to get to appointments. Using other services, people in Beer who want to get to the hospital will have to change twice in Seaton and Exeter Bus Station and the journey which currently takes an hour will take more than two hours each way, making it arduous and impractical for many people.

Councillor Croad initially replied to suggest that people could use these alternative routes. In a supplementary question, Councillor Shaw suggested that since hospital services are increasingly being centralised in the RD&E, the withdrawal of direct bus services discriminates against people without cars in communities like Seaton and Beer which are on the periphery of Devon. ‘Seaton is further from the RD&E than any other town in Devon and has the oldest population profile of any town in Devon’, he said. ‘We need direct public transport links to the acute hospital in Exeter.’

Councillor Croad then said that if Councillor Shaw would meet him afterwards, he would discuss the issue. When they talked, Councillor Croad agreed to look further at the question. The supplementary question and the reply can be seen from 1:47:50 to 1:49:15 on https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/283676.”

Green Wedges reinforced by planning decisions in eastern and western Seaton

EDDC’s refusal to allow ‘sprawling development in the countryside’, in refusing of the latest planning application for houses on the Seaton-Colyford Green Wedge, has been reinforced by an Inspector’s rejection of an appeal by a developer wanting to build on the western edge of Seaton.

In dismissing the appeal, over plans to build 3 houses in the garden of Pembroke House, Beer Road, the Inspector says:

The effect of the proposal would also be to consolidate built development along Beer Road and extend the sporadic line of dwellings into the countryside. The proposal would harmfully erode the positive contribution it currently makes to greening the settlement edge. Therefore … the development would result in harmful encroachment of urban sprawl from the settlement into the open countryside.’

The appeal decision is also good news for residents concerned to protect the field adjacent to the site from development. The inspector notes:

‘a large paddock between this property and the appeal site reveals views to the coast and surrounding landscape. This paddock represents a definite visual break, marking the point where the character of the lane changes from urban into open countryside.’

Chalk cliffs disappearing at high speed compared to past

East Devon’s chalk cliffs are between Seaton and Beer – perhaps time to look at a different kind of beach management plan.

Study reveals huge acceleration in erosion of England’s white cliffs

“Researchers analysed rocks from Beachy Head and Seaford Head in East Sussex and discovered that the cliff erosion rate over most of the past 7,000 years was just two-six centimetres a year. But the erosion rate over the past 150 years has been much higher at 22-32cm a year. …

Hurst and his colleagues now aim to apply the technique to other parts of the UK coastline, including the stretch at Hinkley Point, the site of a large new nuclear power station.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/07/study-reveals-huge-acceleration-in-erosion-of-englands-white-cliffs

“The changing image of seaside towns”

A 2011 publication, but many relevant points:

“… Older resorts have suffered a lack of investment and political will, with a steadily decaying and inadequate infrastructure, whilst new arrivals are vulnerable to poor quality development.We see too many examples where design quality is sacrificed in a desperate bid to secure investment, reducing the chance of long-term success. …”

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20110118095356/http:/www.cabe.org.uk/files/shifting-sands.pdff

Beer: officers recommend refusal of Clinton Devon estates development in AONB

So, Councillor Pook and Clinton Devon Estates v. a very persuasive argument from Officers then … which way will the DMC fall?

The proposals will go before East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee on Tuesday. Planning officers have told members that the development could be ‘harmful’ to the village’s landscape, due to its location in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). They also say the proposal does not meet EDDC’s criteria for ‘exception’ sites outside the built-up area boundaries of villages, as it is too large. In a report to the committee, an officer said: “Given the harm to the character of Beer and harm to the AONB from further development, and given the difficulty in finding suitable development sites to meet the housing need, consideration has to be given to whether the affordable housing needs for Beer need to be met elsewhere, for example within Seaton, that is in close proximity.”

The application has received backing from the parish council and Beer’s district council ward member to help secure ‘affordable’ housing for people with a connection to Beer. Councillor Geoff Pook, ward member for Beer and Branscombe, said: “The one common issue has been the need to secure affordable housing for people with connections to Beer. More local children going to the school, less than 100 metres from the houses, will eliminate the ‘school drop-off’ car use required for children outside the local area. Beer has a good community spirit and the increase in full-time residents contributing to the shops, clubs, and general village life can only be positive.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/proposals_for_30_homes_recommended_for_refusal_1_4525183

Test of new Local Plan: Clinton Devon Estates planning application for unallocated building on green field outside built-up boundary on AONB in Beer

And the original application mentions protected species on the la nd!

Owl commented on the original planning application from Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) for “up to 30” houses at Short Furlong in Beer, querying (amongst other things) why it needed 70 parking spaces. It was described in the planning documents as:

“Planning Application 14/2621/MOUT – Clinton Devon Estates – land at Short Furlong, Beer for development of “up to” 30 houses with “up to” 40% affordable homes. The current application seeks to get planning permission for access only.”

It can be accessed online at:
eastdevon.gov.uk/planning and searching on the planning application number.

CDE asked for an extension before a Development Management Committee meeting in December 2015 and in February 2016 asked for a further extension until April 2016. This has since been extended – again – to the end of May 2016. New documents have been added, particularly a report on drainage of the site:

The latest email is:

“Iestyn
Thanks for confirmation, I shall instruct the DV [District Valuer?] accordingly. Given the earliest committee date is 10th May and that were members to approve the application that there would inevitably be a further period of time involved in the negotiation of a s.106 agreement would it be sensible at this stage to agree a further Extension of Time for the determination of the application until say 31st May 2016 in the first instance?
Regards
Charlie McCullough
Senior Planning Officer”

As above, this suggestion by the Senior Planning Officer was taken up by Iestyn … it’s good to see our developers being helped by our planners. Letters between CDE and EDDC are very cheerful and informal – Charlie this and Amy that, Iestyn the other ….

It seems that attenuation tanks may be needed as there are properties downhill of the site that have to be accommodated with the run off situation (shades of Feniton here?) and this has required detailed information about run off and general drainage though, of course, the report is optimistic about solutions.

Also, it appears that, following advice from EDDC, it has been revised down to 18 homes so that it comes beneath the threshold for strategy 35 of the new Local Plan so that, by building only 18 houses (at this current time) they can be constructed outside the built-up area boundary, if there is need. Mention is made of “affordable houses” but, in the correspondence there is also mention of sorting out exactly what “affordable” will mean in terms of these houses at some later stage (24 February from Nigel Barratt, though for some reason the email starts off about Frogmore Road, Budleigh, rather than Beer, though it has the Beer planning application reference number).

As stated above, and confirmed by EDDC’s Landscape Architect’s consultee report, this is currently a green field site totally within the AONB and not allocated for housing (Consultee, March 2016 document 2215165 online).

She notes that some roads are not shown in plans, and asks why this is. She has concerns that visual relationships of the site are not adequately clear and that the visual “influence” of the site from other significant vantage points in Beer has been underestimated. She is worried about sustainable urban drainage and notes that many of the AONBs requirements are unfulfilled. She believes that EDDC’s own Policy D1 (Design and Local Distinctiveness) and D4 (Landscape requirements) have not been met nor D5 (Trees on site).

It is obvious from the drawings that there could be extensions to this site in coming years, should ways be found in future for such an extension.

Roll on the Development Management Committee meeting.

There appears to be little interest in the application from Beer residents on the EDDC planning application site, with, so far, not one letter of support or objection on file.

has been reactivated

Beer to take over beach management, tourist area. open spaces and car park announces Councillor Pook

“Councillor Geoff Pook (pictured) unveiled proposals to take over the management of the beach, Charlie’s Yard, Jubilee Gardens, the cliff-top car park and a number of open spaces around the village at a parish council meeting on Tuesday.

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/if_we_own_it_we_can_shape_our_future_1_4406343

No doubt the news that Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Branscombe and Seaton will be taking over beach management, tourist spots, car parks and open spaces will soon follow, as Beer seems to have no unique or special qualifications to take over such lucrative assets.

“Independent” Councillor Pook is Chairman of EDDC’s Asset Management Forum – a currently secretive EDDC group which has only recently been forced to publish its agendas and minutes but does not allow public scrutiny by open meeting.

It was responsible for the initial idea to sell short-term leases on beach huts (which got thrown out after massive public outcry) and for the recommendation on new huge price increases that followed.

In his capacity as a member of Beer Parish Council, Councillor Pook stated that Beer was uniquely placed to take over management of EDDC-owned sites.

Watch this space.

AND another consultation: Villages, small towns and their built-up boundaries – yep, another cart that went before horse!

Recall that, with no consultation whatsoever, built-up boundaries for Dunkeswell and Chardstock were changed and inserted into the latest draft of the Local Plan.

Dear Sir/Madam

East Devon Villages Plan – consultation on proposed criteria for defining built-up area boundaries for villages and small towns

The council is reviewing its approach to defining its ‘Built-up Area Boundaries’ and wants your input.

We have prepared a brief paper, which is attached, that sets out what we would like to do and how you can get involved. We have also included an update paper on the Villages Plan for information.

If you have any comments on the approach set out, please write to us on or before Monday 21 September 2015 so that we can consider them before we prepare the next stage of our ‘Villages Plan’.

You can submit your views by either writing to us at Planning Policy, East Devon District Council, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL or sending an email to us at localplan@eastdevon.gov.uk. Please put ‘Villages Built-up Area Boundary Consultation’ in the subject box of the email or at the top of your letter. It would be helpful if you could respond to the 5 questions set out in the consultation paper.

Please contact the planning policy team on 01395 516551 if you have any queries.

Yours faithfully

Linda Renshaw (Mrs)
Senior Planning Officer

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays
East Devon District Council

( 01395 571683
8 lrenshaw@eastdevon.gov.uk
http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk
* Planning Policy Section, East Devon District Council, Knowle, Station Road, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

Coastal Communities Fund extended for further 5 years

The Coastal Communities Fund, which was launched in 2012, will make £90m in funding available until 2020/2021.
Seaside towns across the UK will be able to bid for a share of the funding.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-33467461

Happy Clappy Midweek Herald!

Just to throw you off the scent, there is a “controversial” story on the front page but thereafter we continue to luve in Utopian East Devon!

A mildly critical story about EDDC ignoring the protected species of bat in their relocation plans is relegated to a small article on page 15 which gives more prominence to EDDC’s views than anyone else’s.

And Neil Parish is lauded for his efforts to publicise heart disease but NOTHING about him saying that the public (ie us) should be encouraged to “get behind” fracking.

We do at least still have the “View from” titles to give us a more balanced set of new stories each week.

Oh, and a quickie mentioned by someone from Sidmouth last week: why does the Sidmouth Herald carry a Beer news page when the Midweek Herald doesn’t? Beer is about 10 miles from Sidmouth and about 2 miles from Seaton. It couldn’t be snobbery, surely!

Seaton Beach Huts meeting: not a happy place for EDDC Councillor Pook

Councillor Pook, Chairman of EDDC’s Asset Management group was given a rough ride in Seaton this afternoon, according to this report from a correspondent:

Cllr Pook Needs Longer Spoon

Cllr Geoff Pook, the only “Independent” on East Devon District Council to refuse to work with the recently strengthened Independent group has been rewarded for this with a seat on the Cabinet by Paul Diviani and his non-whipping bulldog, Councillir Phil Twiss.

But almost immediately Cllr Pook has realised that the temperature under his own cabinet seat has been turned up to boiling point. For reasons best known to himself, Beer councillor Pook has it in his head to lead the charge to offer the district’s beach huts to the highest bidders, a policy his East Devon Tory playmates did not dare put in their manifesto this May.

At Seaton this afternoon, more than a hundred and fifty worried locals gathered to hear him explain himself, with Seaton’s own district councillor, Jim Knight, looking on in silence.

Pook initially made an attempt to defend the ridiculously loaded “survey” on beach huts to the gathering, switching as fast as he then could to a George Osborne-style line that East Devon District Council need to save more than two million pounds in the next four years. Beach huts would not be the only casualty to the Tory cutbacks, he said, but if an auction was not agreed his new chums would find another way to get “best value” from them.

Seaton folk are no fools and asked for some hard financial data on all this. This, said Pook “was being prepared”. The usual EDDC cart-before-horse strategic style.

It was obvious to anyone who has seen EDDC in action that Pook & Co will try to drive this through various committees before bringing it before his Cabinet in early Autumn. By then, without his being defeated by public action, it will be too late, and non-whipmeister Cllr Twiss will be growling from his enforcer’s seat to make sure at Full Council that any waverers on the Tory side put their hands up at the right time.

Meanwhile, back in Seaton, Pook finally realised that his uncosted, ill-considered scheme was being roundly booed by the usually very polite people in the room.. So he waffled that he had only just taken over as chair of EDDC’s Asset Management Committee, but nobody was buying his “I am only obeying orders” defence. The Asset Management committee is one of the most notoriously secretive of all the many hole-in-the-wall arms of the dismal district council. Still, at least none of his Beer constituents can say he is going against his election manifesto. Nobody voted for him; he was unopposed.

What next? Many in the room felt that one answer would be to provide even more beach huts if there is such a waiting list. Another idea is that the town councils take on the beach huts themselves – but be very, very careful with this one. How long before a town council, in Beer perhaps, “struggles” and sells the whole operation off to the private sector ….

Meetings about sale of beach huts to rich people tomorrow

Tuesday 7 July

In Seaton at 2 pm at Town Hall
https://www.facebook.com/groups/498639013619794/

In Sidmouth at Kennaway House
https://www.visionforsidmouth.org/calendar/2015/july/the-future-of-east-devons-beach-huts.aspx

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/06/28/selling-beach-hut-leases-to-highest-bidders-meetings-in-sidmouth-and-seaton/

Basically, EDCC wants to give notice to all current beach hut tenants and sell 5 year leases of sites only to highest bidders – local, not local, individual or business or investors.

They have 300 beach huts and a waiting list of 300. No attempt to create more sites – just flogging off current sites (some used by families for decades) to the highest bidder.

Brave New World!

Roger Giles (Ind) polls highest vote in District Council elections

We’ve had further feedback from today’s election of East Devon District Councillors, when Independents gained considerable ground. Here are some highlights:

– The voters’ favourite was Roger Giles, the seasoned Independent Councillor for Ottery St Mary Town Ward, with 2087 votes.
– Paul Diviani, Leader of the Council) retained his seat at Yarty. He received 776 votes. But votes against him totalled 795.
– Cabinet member, Ray Bloxham (525 votes) lost in Raleigh Ward to IEDA candidate, Geoff Jung (950 votes).
– IEDA Leader, Ben Ingham successfully held Woodbury & Lympstone, where he and IEDA colleague, Rob Longhurst, defeated David Atkins (Con).
– The most significant cull of Tory Councillors was in Sidmouth, with Independents now in control:
There was a surprise defeat for Graham Troman, who ironically has often stood up alone for Sidmouth, without the backing of the other local councillors.
Stuart Hughes is the sole remaining Conservative, sharing Sidmouth-Sidford with Dawn Manley and Marianne Rixson, both IEDA.
Sidmouth Town Ward is in the hands of Cathy Gardner (IEDA), Matt Booth(IEDA) and John Dyson (Independent).

The Sidmouth Herald reporters were quick to pick this up: http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/election/eddc_independents_oust_tories_in_sidmouth_town_1_4066681

For complete election result information, go to http://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/elections-2015/2015-district-council-elections-results/