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

EDDC Development Management Committee makes another controversial planning decision

The planning application for the conversion of the South West Coast Path WW2 observation post into a holiday dwelling, covered by Owl here:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/07/07/a-poignant-planning-application-on-the-75th-anniversary-of-d-day-and-enthusiastically-supported-by-clinton-devon-estates/

has been agreed. The roof will be “reconstructed and roof lights, doors, windows and solar panels will be added, thus destroying its original function as a historical building.

The owners of the land are, of course, Clinton Devon Estates.

Clinton Devon Estates: “‘Deceit and lies’ – Councillors speak out Newton Poppleford GP campaign looks to be over”

Wonder if EDDC’s CEO had any private advice for CDE?

This has gone into the most spectacular orbit of deceit and betrayal in the planning system.”

Those are the words of one councillor as the district authority agreed at a meeting on Tuesday (August 6) not to fight a developer’s appeal over a Newton Poppleford site.

Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) lodged an appeal after East Devon District Council (EDDC) delayed a decision on an application to build two homes on land originally earmarked for a GP surgery.

A wider plan for a 40-home development at King Alfred Way, including a doctors’ surgery, was approved in 2013. CDE was unable to find a tenant, so instead applied to build two more homes.

At that stage the parish council expressed an interest in running the surgery.

EDDC twice delayed a decision – the second to allow the parish council to meet with the developer to find a solution.

The developer lodged an appeal with the planning inspector, who will now also decide whether the council should pay costs.

Planning officers recommended the authority should not fight the appeal arguing the surgery was not ‘legally justifiable’. Councillors voted by seven votes to five not to fight it.

Councillor Mike Howe, chairman of the development management committee, told the meeting CDE had acted ‘atrociously’ and could not be considered an ‘ethical or nice developer’.

Cllr Olly Davey said, unless ‘legally enforceable’, ‘any promise that a developer makes is not worth the paper it is written on’.

Councillor Paul Arnott put forward a motion to reject the application, on the grounds the developer had failed in its ‘commitment’ to deliver the surgery – but it was thrown out by seven votes to four.

Councillor Paul Arnott said the application was the most ‘spectacular orbit of deceit and betrayal’ and the council should mount a challenge despite the costs. He said: “It’s so mired in lies and deceit going back years, betrayal, treachery, accusations of wording.

“We cannot afford, as a rule, to be spending council taxpayers’ money on appeals we may not win, but on this occasion we have to. It is a notorious case and we have to draw a line.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg said the committee needed a ‘damn good reason’ not to agree with the officers’ report.

Council officer Henry Gordon-Lennox, strategic lead, said nothing in planning law could stop the developer applying for a different use of them land, despite the original plan for a surgery.

He said: “I do absolutely understand the frustration and the annoyance and the disappointment, but from our point of view as officers there is nothing to defend precluding them from doing this, unpalatable as that may be.”

CDE was represented at the meeting Amy Roberts, who said there has never been a planning justification for the surgery, within the original plan. She said CDE did not want to appeal, but that the developer’s ‘hands were somewhat forced’ by the non-determination, despite planners’ recommendations.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/clinton-devon-estates-slammed-for-newton-poppleford-homes-plan-1-6203178

Officers advise councillors not to fight Clinton Devon Estates over withdrawal of Newton Poppleford doctors’ surgery in planning application

EDDC fight CDE – not on your life say officers …unless, of course, councillors instruct them to do so …

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/newton-poppleford-home-appeal-meeting-1-6194658

Clinton Devon Estates and Newton Poppleford – a lesson from Budleigh Salterton

The people of Budleigh Salterton would advise the people of Newton Poppleford not to hold out much hope in acquiring a surgery or anything of benefit to the village. (see East Devon Watch 11 July) They have been down a very similar route with Clinton Devon Estates.

The failure of the BS Neighbourhood Plan to include all the hospital garden as open space, leaving only under a half leased to the new hospital hub left Clinton Devon Estates controlling the other half. A planning application was submitted for the construction of 2 open market dwellings and associated access in its plot. Like Newton Poppleford the estate lodged an appeal against the delay in making a decision by EDDC. However, the Inspector turned down this on appeal concluding that the benefit to the town of building two houses in the garden was outweighed by the negative effect upon the recreational space within this part of Budleigh Salterton.

“In the absence of evidence to indicate that the remaining garden would adequately meet the needs of visitors to the health and well-being hub, in relation to this main issue, the proposal would have a negative effect upon availability of recreational space within this part of Budleigh Salterton, contrary to LP Strategy 6. The proposal would not result in an enhancement of the retained garden and so would not comply with LP Policy RC1.”

So what did CDE do? Did this estate whose motto is

DOING TODAY WHAT IS RIGHT FOR TOMORROW

allow the continued access to this land which cottage hospital patients had enjoyed since 1887?

No, the estate chose to ignore the spirit of the Planning Inspectorate’s decision.

They erected a fence. I am sure many of Owl’s readers have seen the “abomination” (BS Journal Feb. 15 2018) and may have seen children confined to playing in just under a half of the garden.

So those patients living in Newton Poppleford and seeking to consult their GP will have to continue to travel to Ottery St Mary. (Remember that Newton Poppleford is within the Ottery St. Mary practise boundary, not the nearer Sidmouth!) If they rely on public transport there is no direct bus route, patients have to travel into Exeter and out again, a distance of around 23 miles with a round trip time of at least 2hrs 30 mins. (and don’t ask about the cost)!

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