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”

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.

“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. …”

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.”

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: 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:

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?
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.

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.