EDA Councillor calls out Highways Department for inconsistency in Sidford

“‘Inconsistent’ highways bosses have been slammed for supporting a plan to build 40 homes when they refused to support one house being built just down the road.

District Councillor Marianne Rixson raised concerns about two cases where she claims the county council’s highways department’s decision making had been ‘inconsistent’.

Highways objected to an application to build one home in Sidford Road because the proposed development was next to the A375 Sidford Road, which connects to Sidmouth and Honiton, as well as to the A3052 Exeter to Lyme Regis at Sidford Cross at a staggered traffic light junction. At peak times, the signalled junction can cause long tailbacks past the new home.

However, Highways supported an application to build 40 retirement flats at Green Close in Sidford, just 0.2 miles away..

In its report Highways said the development at Green Close would ‘potentially’ generate a slight increase in traffic compared to the site’s former use as a care home.

Cllr Rixson said the South Lawn access to the development ‘in effect is single track because of parked cars’.

“There will be 40 apartments with 24 car parking spaces. These additional vehicles will be entering and exiting via South Lawn and this could cause tailbacks at the junction of South Lawn with the A375, yet Highways raised no objections,” she said.

“I really cannot understand why Highways raise no objections to major developments yet for a single dwelling produce arguments which would be applicable to all three of the applications listed below.

“The Herald attended the meeting on December 4 and heard East Devon District Council members being sympathetic toward my objections to the change of access but stated that, as highways had not objected, it would not succeed at appeal.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “Despite the close proximity of the two developments the implications of the two schemes on the highways network were very different, site specific and not comparable. When as the highways authority we give our observations regarding developments we follow the National Planning Policy Framework, the National Planning Policy Guidance and the Manual for Streets to ensure that our recommendations are consistent as possible.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/highway-bosses-slammed-for-decisions-at-sidmouth-1-5839296

East Devon average house price more than £50,000 higher than average

“A first-time buyer in East Devon is expected to pay an average of £220,486 to make their first step on the property ladder as part of an overall price increase of 1.6 per cent.

East Devon has seen property values increase by 3.6 per cent over the last 12 months and data from the Office of National Statistics shows the average property price in the area was £286,528. This price is over £50,000 higher than the UK average.

According to data from Rightmove, the average house price in Sidmouth was £358,370 which is a nine per cent increase since 2015.

The area has a similar average price to Ottery St Mary at £351,814 but is more expensive than Branscombe.

In the UK, house prices have increased by 3.5 per cent in 2018 and the average property owner in East Devon has seen their house value jump by £53,000 in the last five years.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/east-devon-house-price-rise-1-5837746

EDDC “to start charging developers who build new homes to pay for waste containers”

“Developers will be charged for supplying new build properties with recycling and waste containers in East Devon.

Currently the council provides all new properties with the containers free of charge, but the cost of supplying them to between 750 and 900 new East Devon homes every year is escalating.

John Golding, Strategic Lead for Housing, Health & Environment, told councillors on Wednesday night that around £112,000 a year is spent by the council on supplying containers each year. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/council-start-charging-developers-who-2384645

“Say NO to Sidford Business Park” campaign newsletter and fundraising event

“We hope that you had a good Christmas and wish you a very Happy New Year!

In this newsletter –
v Approaching any potential planning appeal
v A fundraising event on 23 February
v Opening a Campaign bank account

Approaching any potential planning appeal
We still don’t know whether the applicants who submitted the planning application to build the Business Park in Sidford intend to appeal against the District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for this site, the second application in as many years. Should the applicants want to appeal they have up to 6 months from when the District Council made its decision to do so.

The applicants therefore have until 18 April to lodge any appeal. Should the applicants decide not to appeal it would be nice to think that they would announce this so that local residents can be put out of their misery as otherwise this matter sits uneasily over us all.

We have had to assume that without any evidence to the contrary, the applicants will at some point submit an appeal. We are therefore preparing ourselves should an appeal happen.

At an appeal the District Council will have to defend its decision to refuse the planning application. As its grounds for refusing planning permission were restricted to the narrow issue of the highway not being suitable for the anticipated size and volume of traffic that the Business Park could be expected to generate, we have decided that we would want the Campaign to be a party to the appeal process.

The Campaign, and many of you who have supported it, have cited broader reasons, than those put forward by the District Council, for opposing the proposed Business Park. Therefore, the Campaign would want to become a formally registered party which could fully participate at an appeal. We believe that the District Council was wrong to only rely upon highways arguments for its refusal, hence the reason why we feel the need to be a party to any appeal hearing.

However, if the Campaign is going to do all of this effectively, we believe that we are going to have to employ a planning professional to make the arguments and to cross examine the applicants’ representatives and witnesses for us. As you can imagine to do this won’t come cheaply. Potentially, we would need to raise several tens of thousands of pounds to be professionally represented. We are in the process of contacting various people with the intention of identifying such a professional and a likely cost.

It is also our hope that other organisations who submitted objections to the planning application would also want to be a party to any appeal process. In particular, we would encourage the Town Council, which submitted a broad set of objections, would make its arguments at any appeal hearing. Indeed, there is no reason why other organisations such as the County Council couldn’t do likewise.

As we say, we are having to assume that we will need to be professionally represented at an appeal if one is held. That means that we have to think about how we might raise many thousands of pounds. One way will be to seek pledges of funds from our supporters. This is something that we will return to in a future newsletter.

A fundraising event on 23 February
In the meantime we are holding a fundraising ceilidh on the evening of Saturday 23 February in Sidford Hall. Tickets will be £5.00 and you will be able to bring your own drink. We will be holding a raffle and inviting donations of prizes for it. Further information about this event will be circulated soon and, in the meantime, we are approaching several businesses in Sidford and Sidbury to see whether they would agree to sell tickets.

If you are willing to donate a prize for the raffle please let us know! Please put this date in your diary!

Opening a Campaign bank account
So far, we have managed to run this Campaign on the basis of raising cash from you, our supporters. At our last public meeting we explained how much we had raised and what we had spent it on. On several occasions we have been asked whether we have a bank account to allow supporters to give donations by cheque. We have resisted opening a bank account as frankly it’s a time-consuming process.

But as we may now have to possibly raise a significant amount of money to pay for professional representation at an appeal, we have started the process of opening a Lloyds Bank account. Once this process has been finalised, we will circulate its details.

As we said at the beginning of this newsletter, we wish you a Happy New Year. Let’s hope that our wishes for this matter to come to a quick conclusion come to fruition.

Best wishes

Campaign Team”

“Grenfell warning over creation of ‘a new generation of slums’ “

“The lessons of the Grenfell Tower fire risk being ignored because developers can convert office blocks into homes without full local authority checks, a former housing minister has warned.

Nick Raynsford said that “a new generation of slums” was being created in Britain because developers did not have to submit a planning application when converting old commercial properties into flats. The policy leaves councils with limited power to ensure that the buildings adhere to national standards.

Mr Raynsford said that “permitted development” rules were designed to minimise bureaucracy when making “modest adaptations” to existing properties, but developers were using them to create thousands of new homes in old commercial buildings.

“The council doesn’t have the power [to force developers] to comply with minimum standards on space, lighting, children’s play facilities, or fire safety,” said Mr Raynsford, who was a housing minister under Tony Blair.

A studio in Newbury House, a former office block in Ilford, east London, was planned with 13 sq m of space. The minimum standard is 37 sq m. Windowless flats have been marketed in a former office block in Brixton, south London, illuminated only by light wells that channel light from flats above.

More than 100,000 homes have been built under permitted development since 2013, accounting for up to 40 per cent of new homes in some areas. The Local Government Association found that 92 per cent of councils were “moderately or very concerned” about the quality of these homes, with 59 per cent worried about safety.

Many standards, including on space, are not compulsory and only apply to plans that go via the planning system.

Julia Park, of Levitt Bernstein architects, said such developments “tend to be occupied by vulnerable people” and were often used as temporary housing.

Mr Raynsford said: “There should be early engagement by planning authorities with the fire and rescue authority when an application for a high-rise residential development is submitted. That runs counter to the whole ‘permitted development’ approach, where obligations on developers are minimal and the council does not have the resources to explore the implications, to ensure fire engines can access the site, for example.”

The government is consulting on whether to extend the rules.

Mr Raynsford referred to evidence emerging from the Grenfell inquiry, after the fire in June last year in which 72 people died. “It seems to be extraordinary that one arm of government is pushing in a direction that’s very different to the conclusions emerging from the public inquiry in which failings, in terms of preparations for coping with serious problems, have been highlighted,” he said.

Hugh Ellis of the Town and Country Planning Association said the conditions in some developments were “Dickensian”, and added: “It is some of the most appalling slum housing this country has seen in the post-war era.”

Kit Malthouse, the housing minister, said: “All developments, including offices converted into homes, remain subject to strict fire safety rules.”

It is understood the government will look at permitted development when considering recommendations made by Dame Judith Hackitt’s Grenfell report. …”

Source: Times, pay wall

Brexit worries hit housing market and developers

Owl says: you can see why penalising local authorities for not getting enough new houses built just doesn’t work.

“… Simon Rubinsohn, Rics’ chief economist, said: “It is evident … that the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market. I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.

“Caution is visible among both buyers and vendors and where deals are being done they are taking longer to get over the line. The forward-looking indicators reflect the suspicion that the political machinations are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.”

He said a weakening property market could prompt a slowdown in housebuilding: “The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans, making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis.” …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/dec/13/uk-property-market-at-weakest-since-2012-as-brexit-takes-toll-rics

“Caviar care” retirement homes renting for up to £10,000 per month in Grenfell Tower borough

“The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has approved plans for a half-billion pound luxury retirement complex that includes just five affordable homes at a time when 11 families who survived the Grenfell Tower fire are still living in hotels 18 months on.

The Conservative controlled council granted consent for the scheme on a prime site in the south of the borough that includes 142 homes, some of which will be let for up to £10,000 a month.

Dubbed “caviar care”, the scheme is designed to appeal to multi-millionaire downsizers and includes three town houses expected to sell for about £12m apiece.

The council and the developer argue that it is allowable under planning rules because the properties are classed as “extra care” homes, regardless of how expensive they are. The sale value of the mostly one-bedroom and two-bedroom flats averages £3.6m each. The developer is also marketing another luxury retirement complex nearby featuring a restaurant serving £250 pots of caviar.

The consent comes amid a growing argument over affordable housing in the capital between the Labour mayor, Sadiq Khan, and the Conservatives. Khan said he was “extremely disappointed” at the amount of affordable housing as part of the retirement development, a factor he said was “unacceptable”.

Khan also attacked the housing secretary, James Brokenshire, for threatening to block a planning application for a separate development in the borough that would have 35% affordable homes. Brokenshire countered by accusing Khan of failing to tackle the housing crisis, saying he “simply doesn’t understand how the housing market works”. ”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/12/luxury-kensington-complex-grenfell-will-have-just-five-affordable-homes