Clinton Devon Estates and Budleigh Hospital Garden – a PR nightmare for today and tomorrow!

In May 2017 Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) ran an online survey which was covered by Owl. Questions were heavily weighted towards suitably glowing answers, such as:

“How credible do you think “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” is as a statement from Clinton Devon Estates?”

In July 2017 Owl then ran the story of how CDE had made a last minute land grab by submitting an outline planning permission to develop half of the Budleigh Hospital Garden for two small houses. The Neighbourhood Planning team had nominated the garden as an historic open green space and the new health hub hoped to use it as an outdoor therapeutic area. As stakeholders in the Neighbourhood Plan CDE had been consulted at all stages but had not divulged their plans for the space.

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/07/29/budleigh-neighbourhood-plan-group-apologises-for-being-unable-to-save-hospital-garden-after-being-outmaneuvered-by-clinton-devon-estates/

CDE followed this by launching an appeal on the grounds that EDDC had not determined the application within the prescribed time. This appeal has now been roundly rejected.

A planning inspector has ruled against CDE on the appeal, and it seems CDE might now have to think of other ways to wheedle their way our hearts and minds.

Here is the text of a Budleigh Journal article on the appeal:

“A controversial planning application which sought to build houses on a section of Budleigh Salterton green space has been rejected at appeal.

The outline application, for means of access, proposed two houses to be built on half of the former hospital gardens, in Boucher Road.

Applicant Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) appealed to the planning inspectorate against the length of time it had taken East Devon District Council to reach a decision on the plan.

But planning inspector Andy Harwood ruled that the appeal should be dismissed and that the proposal was rejected.

In his report he said: “The retention of the remaining garden would continue to meet some needs for local people. It would continue to be a pleasant landscaped area. “However, it is not demonstrated how the space would be enhanced by the proposal.”

Mr Harwood also pointed out that under the East Devon Local Plan, development should not involve the loss of land of recreational value.

The whole garden had been earmarked for activities relating to the health and wellbeing hub, due to open at the former hospital later this year.

In response to the ruling, a CDE spokesman said: “We have noted the inspector’s report and will be considering our options in due course.”

Town council planning committee chairman Courtney Richards said: “That land was designated an open space in our Neighbourhood Plan. I am glad to see that will be retained for open space in the town.

“Having that open space available for people at the hub will be of tremendous benefit.”

See the full Inspector’s decision here:
http://planningapps.eastdevon.gov.uk/Planning/StreamDocPage/obj.pdf?DocNo=2797808&PDF=true&content=obj.pdf

The somewhat chilling phrase that CDE are now “considering their options” should no doubt include taking the views of the local community into account when making decisions and pledging to do today what is right for tomorrow.

Owl recollects the First Law of Holes that states that: “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”!

Clinton Devon Estates to take over work of Jurassic Coast Trust

Oh dear sweet Lord – clifftop holiday homes and Disneyland here we come – and definitely no National Park!

An East Devon landowner is set to play a significant part in the future of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Clinton Devon Estates, which owns and manages 25,000 acres of land across Devon, has pledged its support to the Jurassic Coast Trust which is taking over the management of the 95-mile stretch of world heritage coastline, from Devon and Dorset county councils this July.

The landowner is joining the Trust as one of four Lead Business Partners, currently the only partner in Devon alongside three based in Dorset, and will pledge £3,000 per year to the charity, helping to safeguard its future.

The Trust’s link with businesses and landowners is essential in ensuring it can carry out its work looking after the world class coastline, which stretches between Exmouth in Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset, on behalf of UNESCO for the “benefit of the whole of mankind”.

A large part of the Estate’s East Devon acreage is made up of the Pebblebed Heaths, which are named after the Budleigh Salterton pebblebeds and are a designated conservation area.

The Trust is poised to support the landowner’s existing educational outreach, which focuses on the ecology and management of the heaths by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust.

Kate Ponting, countryside learning officer at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “We have had an informal, mutually supportive relationship for a long time as our paths have crossed over the years.

“The Estate owns land very close to, or on the Jurassic Coast, and the Trust is keen to extend its work in East Devon, so the partnership should afford more opportunities for collaborative working.

“We have a lot in common with the Trust whose work is based on geology; the geological story of the Pebblebed Heaths is part of our shared heritage which we’re passionate about.

“We hope to celebrate this heritage further, through extended community engagement and we’re hoping the Trust’s expertise will enhance what we already do.”

The Trust also plans to provide downloadable audio guides about East Devon’s geology for the Clinton Devon Estates’ website.

Guy Kerr, Programme Manager for the Jurassic Coast Trust, said: “We are delighted to have Clinton Devon Estates on board as one of our Lead Business Partners. The East Devon pebblebeds are a crucial part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and we look forward to working closely with Clinton Devon Estates to preserve this landscape and enthuse people with its incredible stories.”

http://www.devonlive.com/clinton-devon-estates-take-over-management-of-jurassic-coast-world-heritage-site/story-30478379-detail/story.html

Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan group apologises for being unable to save hospital garden after being outmaneuvered by Clinton Devon Estates

“A neighbourhood plan focus group has apologised to the Budleigh Salterton community after a bid to save the entire hospital garden from development failed.

The former hospital garden, in Boucher Road, had been listed in the draft neighbourhood plan as one of the key green spaces to be protected from future development.

It had also previously been earmarked for health and wellbeing activities for a new hub being built on the site of the former hospital.

In February this year, landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) put in a planning application to build two houses on half of the site, keeping the other half as a public-access garden.

An independent examiner assessing the town’s draft neighbourhood plan requested more information clarifying the importance of the hospital garden.
Chartered town planners Bell Cornwell, on behalf of CDE, wrote a letter to the examiner confirming that the planned public access garden would be “more than adequate” for hub activities.

One of the examiner’s alterations to the plan, ratified by the district council, was that the area of protected green space in the garden be reduced by half.

Nicola Daniel, on behalf of the Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan Built and Natural Environment Focus Group, has apologised for not being able to secure the whole garden for the town.

In a letter to the Journal (see page 20), she said: “By the time we saw this letter it was too late to challenge it. We were outmanoeuvred.
“Bell Cornwell was given more weight than the expert knowledge of the medical practitioners involved in setting up the hub, who know the full benefits of having the entire garden as a facility for the health and wellbeing hub and its success.”

In response, a CDE spokesman said: “CDE has for many years supported the NHS in Budleigh Salterton and, more recently, the Budleigh Salterton Hospital League of Friends, by making available the garden area off Boucher Road.
“We submitted proposals to East Devon District Council which include keeping half the garden, nearest the site of the new health hub, as a garden which would be open to the public for the first time.

“Our position has not changed since the application was submitted.”

River Otter restoration ‘could cost £40 million’

Four options of which:

“Dr Sam Bridgewater, Clinton Devon Estates’ Head of Wildlife and Conservation, said: “In coming up with the four options, we have ruled out a number of alternatives which are either impossible to fund, or the partners feel do not meet our requirement to safeguard the future of the estuary for the benefit of local people, wildlife and the environment. …

“At present, the long-term future of the cricket club, part of the South West Coast Path and access to homes and businesses in the South Farm Road area are under threat from the impacts of flooding and poor drainage. We hope that this project will be able to address these issues, improve the natural environment and ensure that the area remains accessible in the future to the many thousands of people who visit and enjoy the estuary each year.

“We have been gathering feedback at the exhibition to find out what people think of the options. We’re also putting all of the exhibition material on the project website, so people who couldn’t get to the event on the day can go online to learn more, and also download a feedback form to send back to us.

The exhibition material is available at:
http://www.lowerotterrestorationproject.co.uk/events.

Dr Bridgewater added: “Feedback from the public will help inform our decision about which option will be the best one to take forwards. Once we’ve analysed the feedback, we’ll share our findings with the Lower Otter Restoration Project Stakeholder Group and the public.

“At the same time, we are seeking financial support from a number of bodies which would enable us to move forward with the project.”

TIMELINE

Identify a preferred option Summer 2017
Develop an outline design Sept – Oct 2017
Second public exhibition October 2017
Develop business case End of 2017
Submit planning application 2018 – 2019
Construction 2019 – 2021

http://www.devonlive.com/restoring-east-devon-river-to-stop-catastrophic-failure-and-significant-flooding-could-cost-40m/story-30430145-detail/story.html

Clinton Devon Estates and Budleigh Salterton “health hub” have an unhealthy relationship

Readers will recall an earlier Owl story of landowners Clinton Devon Estates grabbing a large part of the garden to Budleigh Hospital for development, considering the garden surplus to the requirements of the new “health hub” and much more suitable for their plans for two houses:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/03/20/clinton-devon-estates-pitched-against-budleigh-health-hub-in-garden-olanning-battle/

The Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan designated the Hospital garden as open green space. Neighbourhood plans can do this and this space ticks all the NPPF criteria boxes. The garden was considered an essential part of the psychological and therapeutic welfare of patients at the “health hub”.

Bell Cornwell for CDE only commented at the very last minute of the very last stage. They made a number of general comments to EDDC on 16 February 2017 suggesting a loosening of a number of policy phrases and a general comment that too many green spaces were being designated. No mention of Hospital Hubs or development of that site at all.

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2114156/bell-cornwell-for-clinton-devon-estates.pdf

An application to build two houses on the hospital garden was then submitted and validated on 27 February 2017 It takes about two-thirds of the garden, rather than the half suggested.

The Plan Inspector asked the steering group for clarification of criteria used in each green space case on 18 April 2017. The steering group responded, and its response was published on the internet.

The Inspector in her report sided with CDE.

The Neighbourhood Plan steering group unanimously agreed to accept all the Inspector’s recommendations except the one where she agreed with Bell Cornwell who, of course, had no medical evidence to draw on!

The decision to accept or reject Inspector’s recommendations now lies with EDDC.

The question now is – how brave will EDDC councillors they be? There is a track record of rolling over for tummy tickles when CDE engages with them. CDE has fingers in many East Devon pies and held restrictive covenants on the seafront at Exmouth that it relinquished to allow EDDC to approve the Grenadier development and has everything from large landholdings to small ransom strips all over the district.

Strong administrative pressure will be to do the easy thing and to get the plan to Cabinet in July with no controversy and no action against CDE.

Local opinion is running strongly against “droit de seigneur” ( medeival feudal rights) in this case.

If it looks like everyone is rolling over without a fight, the plan may well be rejected at referendum.

Time running out to tell Clinton Devon Estates what you think about them

The survey is here:
https://www.research.net/r/CDECommunity

And, for information, here are the questions the survey asks – perhaps you have questions you would like them to answer that don’t appear on this rather arbitrary list:

Clinton Devon Estates Survey, time is running out to take this survey. They’d love your views.

“We look to listen carefully to our staff, customers and those in our community. How we engage with you and what you think about our approach to sustainability is important to us and we want to get it right. Your feedback to this survey will play an important part in helping us develop our future communications.”

“Please click on the button below to start the survey. It will take around 3 minutes to complete.”

https://www.research.net/r/CDECommunity

“Everyone who takes part in the survey will be entered into a prize draw with a chance of winning one of three £100 high street gift vouchers. The prize draw will take place on the 7th of June and the winners will be notified on the 9th of June 2017.”

1. Which of the following do you associate with Clinton Devon Estates?
Residential properties;
Venison;
Forestry and timber;
Equestrian events;
Wildlife conservation and management projects;
Commercial properties;
Farms and land;
Other (please specify)

2. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates puts responsible stewardship and sustainable development at the heart of everything they do?
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

3. Clinton Devon Estates understands and conserves the wildlife it manages
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

4. Clinton Devon Estates contributes to the local economy
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

5. Clinton Devon Estates supports the local community
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

6. If you disagree strongly or slightly with any of these statements, please tell us why………………………

7. To what extent do you agree with the following?
Clinton Devon Estates takes the views of its staff and the local community into account when making decisions.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

8. Clinton Devon Estates communicates the reasons for its decisions and actions to its staff and the local community.
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

9. Clinton Devon Estates is transparent and open about the decisions it makes as a business
Disagree strongly; Disagree slightly; Neither agree/nor disagree; Agree slightly; Agree strongly

10. If you disagree slightly or strongly with any of these statements, please explain why…………………

11. Clinton Devon Estates is considering using the sentence: “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” to help communicate their commitment to sustainability and making decisions that will have a positive impact on future generations.
In this context – How would you describe the word “pledge”?
Traditional; Meaningful; Irrelevant; Old-fashioned; Powerful; Meaningless; Don’t know what it means
Other (please specify)

12. What does the word “pledge” mean to you?……………………………………………..

13. Again thinking about the meaning of the words : “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” in relation to Clinton Devon Estates commitment to sustainability – Do you prefer the word “promise” to the word “pledge” ?
Yes; No; Don’t know

14. Why do you say that? ………………………………………………

15. How credible do you think “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” is as a statement from Clinton Devon Estates?
Not at all credible; Not very credible; Neither; Quite credible; Very credible

16. Why do you say that?………………………………………………….

17. If you’d like to be entered into the prize draw to win one of three £100 high street gift vouchers, please complete your contact details below: Thank you and good luck with the prize draw.”

Clinton Devon Estates wants to know what you think of them!

Owl says: perhaps someone could ask why they want to pinch part of the Budleigh Hospital Hub garden to build 2 houses. And how sustainable their AONB developments really are.

“Clinton Devon Estates

Let us know your thoughts.

How we engage with you and what you think about our approach to sustainability is important to us and we want to get it right.

Your feedback to this survey will play an important part in helping us develop our future communications. Take part and be in with a chance of winning one of three £100 high street gift vouchers.

Click here to complete our short survey

https://www.research.net/r/CDECommunity