Obituary: Ian McKintosh (founder member and President of East Devon Alliance and trustee of Community Voice on Planning(

“East Devon Alliance regrets to announce the death of its Honorary President Ian McKintosh on June 4, 2018 at the age of 80.

After a distinguished legal career during which he worked as a circuit judge in Cornwall and Devon, Ian retired to East Devon where he became deeply involved in local issues. He was particularly concerned by changes in the planning system which, he felt, had moved from protecting the environment and the wildlife, which he cherished, to facilitating large-scale development which was not always necessary.

After joining a mass-march in Sidmouth in November 2012 to protest against planning decisions which threatened public parks and the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in February 2013 he became a founder member and chairman of the EDA, a role he carried out with his usual verve, commitment and good sense.

Ian combined a burning passion for transparency, integrity and justice, with an impish sense of humour and a cheerful sociability towards everyone he met.

His colleagues in EDA benefited enormously from his invaluable legal advice which he gave unstintingly, particularly his contribution to a series of detailed submissions by EDA to Parliamentary committees on such topics as scrutiny and ethics in local government.

At meetings his wise advice was often enlivened by anecdotes and reminiscences so time-keeping was not always scrupulously observed!
As well as his commitment to EDA, Ian also became a founder-member and trustee of Community Voice on Planning, a national grouping bringing together more than 100 organisations all over the country. He travelled widely to meet and share ideas with other campaigners for more democracy in the planning system.

Ian also found the time and energy to throw himself wholeheartedly into the struggle to preserve local hospitals from closure.

He was a tireless fighter, bringing wisdom from a wide life experience. His colleagues in EDA thoroughly enjoyed working with him and will miss him immensely.”

“Griff Rhys Jones supports new report and says we must not lose our precious countryside by building low density sprawling estates”

Press Release:

“Civic Voice president Griff Rhys Jones has today added his voice to campaigns by six community groups fighting “garden communities” being imposed on them by the Government.

He has penned a powerful Foreword to a Smart Growth UK report mostly written by community groups around the country who are opposing garden towns and villages. Griff warns that, far from being utopias, these are disordered schemes that ignore local communities and would be located in unsustainable locations.

“We encounter proposals that are not going to answer local needs for housing at all, but will waste precious countryside by building low density sprawling estates and creating expensive houses. Brownfield land in England can accommodate one million houses, So get on with it and use that.” he says.

Griff warns that terms like “housing crisis” and “emergency” are being used to force through development of the countryside which fails to provide the affordable homes we need as a nation.

The report sets out detailed objections by six groups opposing Government-sponsored garden communities and four opposing large greenfield developments marketed as “garden villages” by their promoters.

““Planning” by definition means looking to the future. That must mean the long-term future as well as the next few years. We need to recognize that people who urge care, caution and attention are not dwelling in the past. They are not NIMBYS, says Griff. “They are protecting the future.”

He says the protests, assessments and legitimate concerns in the report make sober reading.”


Click to access Garden%20Communities%20Report.pdf

National planning campaigners month of action

“A national group representing community groups throughout England launches its “Month of Action” in April with a big rally in Manchester on April 1st.

CoVoP, which represents more than 100 campaigning groups, was formed to protect green spaces perceived to be under threat throughout the country.
Last year CoVoP members held a “Day of Action” but this year April has been designated the “Month of Action”.

Affiliated groups throughout England will be participating in various activities and the launch event on April 1st will be in Manchester. It is expected that thousands will attend a rally organised by the Save Greater Manchester Greenbelt alliance.

Cheryl Tyler, Chairman of Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP), attacked the long-awaited white paper, “Fixing Our Broken Housing Market” as short on detail and soft on developers.

“It is very disappointing that having waited so long for a sensible document this falls far short of our hoped-for expectations. It does not address the fundamental issues people up and down the country are experiencing, leaving them vulnerable to unscrupulous developers”. She added that “members are extremely frustrated” by the lack of understanding of the concerns of communities”.

These issues include:

• Local Plans failing to take into account empty properties sometimes abandoned for years that could be put back into use.
• Permissions being granted on appeal for greenfield sites outside of local plans
• Not doing enough for urban regeneration but allowing green fields and the greenbelt to be developed preferentially.

Cheryl Tyler says “The government must listen to the voice of the people and realise that the National Planning Policy Framework requires urgent reform to rebalance the needs of communities and the interests of developers”.

For more information about CoVoP:”

“NIMBY – reality or slur?”

“Communities across the South West have been suffering for some time from a planning system that all too often works against their interests while not serving the needs of the country.

Community Voice on Planning’s National Conference took place in Leeds recently and attracted delegates from as far away as Devon, over 20 groups across the South West being affiliated to CoVoP.

The South West has seen much recent inappropriate development: from building on the green belt around Bristol to unaffordable housing in St Ives and Salcombe. Building on Areas of Natural Beauty, on flood plains, prime farmland and public parks and swamping of green spaces around villages are further all-too-common examples.

Housing Targets are typically inflated and based on questionable methodology. And the current planning system encourages developers to land-bank, slow build-out rates allowing them to increase prices and exploit the 5-year land supply requirement to get even more planning permissions. Developers challenge planning restrictions through viability studies so that infrastructure or affordable housing needs are not met. And developers prefer to build expensive housing rather than the lower-cost houses that people actually need.

We, the undersigned, call upon the public as a matter of urgency to contact their MPs to change planning laws and halt the desecration of our green and pleasant land which is being sacrificed to the economic gain of a few developers and landowners, with public opinion ignored by councils and government.

Georgina Allen (Devon United) Jackie Green (Save Our Sidmouth) Stephen Henry (St Austell, Save Our Unspoilt Land (S.O.U.L.) Paul Adams, MBE (DefeND North Devon) Julie Fox (Your Kids’ Future Cornwall) Dr Louise MacAllister (Save Exmouth Seafront) Peter Burton (Our Cornwall) Mike Temple (East Devon Alliance) David Hurford (Pilton Residents Group) Ron Morton (Save Our Green Spaces)”

Community Voice on Planning first national conference

“Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP) held its first National Conference “NIMBY, reality or slur?” recently at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds. Formed just over 2 years ago, CoVoP has more than 85 affiliated local community groups across England, including over 20 in the South West. Members are banding together to form a strong cohesive force to fight for changes in the planning system.

Delegates from all over England attended, from as far afield as Devon, Oxfordshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire. Speakers included representatives from the Campaign for Protection of Rural England (CPRE), the Town and Country Planning Association, Beckett University Leeds and CoVoP. Land banking, loss of greenbelt and the flawed methodology for predicting housing requirements were among the topics covered.

Three local MPs, Paula Sheriff, Jason McCartney and Greg Mulholland attended and as a panel, they answered questions from the floor. They were subjected to some fairly stringent questioning as members of CoVoP have felt very frustrated by the lack of community involvement in the planning process and by the perception that Parliament tends to ignore their views until an election is pending. Delegates agreed that with an appeal-led planning system for the largest housing sites now in place, the National Planning Policy Framework has totally failed to deliver the housing that is needed, of the right type and in the right places.

Cheryl Tyler of SAVE MIRFIELD said “ It is well understood that the larger developers prefer to build on virgin green belt land. Some of this will be prime agricultural land that the country can ill afford to lose. In the National Planning Policy Framework, building on green belt should only be under “special circumstances”. When this type of land is used the costs of new infrastructure needed largely falls on the public purse. It would be interesting to see how much more this costs us than building on brownfield first.

Over the whole country there is a real problem with land-banking. This puts up land prices and reduces the number of homes actually built. What happens then is more land is required and so the cycle continues.”

Community Voice on Planning Conference report

“Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP) held its first conference in Leeds on Saturday 15th October – with the conference title being “NIMBY – reality or slur”. I attended – not to find out if I am one, but to explore the background as to why e.g. media, so immediately, and regularly, calls on those concerned with current planning matters to defend themselves against being NIMBYs.

The conference had a diverse content, which explored fully the mess that is the current planning system, and the very poor outcomes generated by planning law that is simply not fit for purpose.

An opening letter was read from Clive Betts MP, chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee. This committee has nothing to do with government, but acts as scrutineer of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) re policies, administration and spending. One of their recent calls has been for Gavin Barwell MP (new Housing and Planning Minister) to respond the the DCLG-commissioned Local Planning Expert Group’s recommendations on planning. This includes a statement that Leeds’ and Bradford’s Core Strategy housing targets are more than 500 houses per year over-provisioned.

Andrew Wood from CPRE presented some complex ideas about greenbelt use for housing and seemed to be suggesting a deal-based planning arrangement where housing needs were met by very selective use of greenbelt sites where fully assessed and sustainable use and requirement had been carried out. He developed the idea that greenbelt is one of the last planning policy tools that local authorities have to control patterns of development, but stated the obvious threats to existing greenbelt boundaries.

Jenny Unsworth from Congleton asked the question “Does the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (NPPF) work?” Through a well presented summary of planning milestones, leading towards the position in her own area, Jenny demonstrated that planning reality in Congleton is the same in Leeds and Bradford – and very much anywhere else in England. Her key point was that the workings of the NPPF and Localism were at opposite ends of the planning spectrum. She also reminded us that excessive and undelivered housing numbers were resulting in 5-year land supply failure, leading to local authority plans being automatically out of date. It therefore followed that planning had become an ad hoc system defined by appeals, rather than a plan-led one, as sought by the NPPF. No surprises to find her answer to the question to be “No”.

Julie Mabberly, Chair of CoVoP, and planning activist in Oxforshire, ridiculed the extraordinary basis for setting housing numbers that is the Objectively Assessed Housing Needs system. She described the system as from the pages of “Alice in Wonderland” and demonstrated through various slides that a finger-in-the-air figure for housing need became inflated (and totally un-achievable) through a series of speculative additions to housing need, that also included double-counting. Her summary was that OBJECTIVE housing needs assessment was anything but that.

Dr Quentin Bradley, from Leeds Beckett University set out the controlling influence of developers, and in particular the significance of land price and hoarding of land, in respect of affordable housing provision. Dr Bradley suggested that the current structure of both the land and housing markets contribute to a shortage of housing being built, and the affordable housing build ratio that comes out of that. He argued that with the present structure in place, building more homes alone will not solve the crisis.

Dr Hugh Ellis from the Town and Country Planning Association set out the significant role planning has played in the formation of the nation’s built housing since the Association’s formation some 120 years ago. In particular Dr Ellis considered the outcomes of the planning of garden cities in comparison to the broken system that is currently in place.

A pleniary session concluded the conference, introduced by WARD chair, Dr. David Ingham. He referred to the stimulation given to the WARD group in respect of the old order, from DCLG, based on the adoption by Bradford of its flawed Core Strategy, some of the policies of which have been written by the very Inspector who declared it sound. Dr Ingham also called for more MP input at Westminster to change planning law, and thanked in particular, Greg Mulholland MP, for his long support to WARD over the last 7 years of campaigning and for his work in Parliament to change planning law.

The panel of 3 MPs, which also included Paul Sherriff MP and Jason McCartney MP, showed their understanding of a broken planning system and their attendance at this conference, with Greg Mulholland, is proof of that.

My view from this remains unchanged, and that is before I went into the conference I was sure the current planning system is not fit for purpose. I came out with more evidence that that is exactly the case. With an appeal-led planning system for the largest housing sites now in place, the NPPF has totally failed to deliver the housing that is needed, or of the right type and in the right places. The result of this is the great threat to the precious greenbelt. If protecting that makes me a NIMBY then I am proud to stand up and be labelled as that.

Martin Hughes, Treasurer of WARD, Chair of Yorkshire Greenspace Alliance”

“Community Voice on Planning National Conference NIMBY – reality or slur?”

The Queen’s Hotel Leeds, Saturday October 15th 2016

Welcome and Introduction 10.45-10.55 Cheryl Tyler

Statement from Clive Betts, Chairman CLG committee 10.55-11.00 Cheryl Tyler, CoVoP

Saving the Green Belt 11.00-11.40 (speaker TBA)

The Best Laid Plans? Does the NPPF work? 11.40-12.10 Jenny Unsworth, CoVoP.

Housing targets- fact or fiction? 12.10- 12.45 Julie Mabberley, Chairman, CoVoP

LUNCH 12.45- 1.30 (included)

Communities and the House Builders
1.30- 2.10 Dr Quintin Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Housing and Planning, Leeds Beckett University

Providing sustainable affordable housing
2.10-2.50, Dr Hugh Ellis, Head of Policy, Town and Country Planning Association.

Plenary Session and “manifesto”.
Facilitator Geoff Rice. 2.50 – 3.45
Jason McCartney MP (Con), Greg Mulholland MP (Libdem) and Paula Sherriff MP
(Lab) will be present.

Closing remarks and close of meeting 3.50

Cost: £5
For details on how to book by 22 September 2016 contact:
07866 496 469

NIMBY – reality or slur? COVOP conference debates

“Community Voice on Planning National Conference

NIMBY – reality or slur?

Th first National Conference of CoVoP. It will take place at the Queen’s Hotel Leeds, Saturday October 15th 2016 (10.45 -3.45).

We are fortunate that we have a number of guest speakers as well as presentations from some of our trustees. We have confirmation that a cross party group of MPs will be attending and there will be a plenary session where we can address issues surrounding the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The theme of the conference is that the NPPF is not working – either for communities or the country. We will be producing a report from the meeting to present to the planning Minister to make sure that the Government gets the messages that arise from the discussions. We are determined to use this opportunity to state the case further for significant changes to the planning system.”

Still time to comment on NPPF failings

“Last week, the Local Plans Expert Group (LPEG) established by the Communities Secretary, Greg Clark MP and the Minister of Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, in September 2015, to consider how local plan making can be made more efficient and effective, published their report which is available here

The Department for Communities and Local Government is inviting comments on the recommendations by 27 April 2016. We are concerned that this is yet another manifesto written by developers and property investors and does not reflect the needs and desires of the residents of our green and pleasant land. If you have any comments which we should include in our response please send them to us as soon as possible. Please also consider sending a response of your own.

Responses can be sent via and representations can also be sent to

Thank you

Community Voice on Planning
A National Alliance to provide communities with an effective voice on planning”

The new west-country dissenters

First in East Devon we had Communities Before Developers

Then we had East Devon Alliance

then there was East Devon Watch

Followed by Facebook Group South Devon Watch

NOW we see a new Cornwall group:

which recently took out a full-page advert in their regional newspaper to protest over-development, lack of infrastructure and decimation of public services

and we have national group Community Voice on Planning

In these groups, we are members of all political parties and none, all classes, all ethnic groups – and we are gaining strength in numbers all the time.