Local “Experts” win the day in the battle of Woodbury Power Plant (but the war is not yet over)

From a correspondent – as positive as it is, Plutus Energy will almost certainly appeal so we must await a final outcome.

“East Devon District Council has rejected plans for the construction of 20 gas-fired electricity generators on grounds including that the scheme would be “inappropriate development in the open countryside”.

Acting against the recommendation of Planning officer EDDC`s Development Management committee, refused permission for the construction of “20 self-contained natural gas engine driven electricity generators”.

The scheme, proposed by applicant Plutus Energy, would have been built on land close to Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury.

The Key to the decision was Strategy 39 of the council’s local plan, which states the authority’s commitment to promoting the use of renewables and low carbon energy, as grounds for refusing the plans.

The planning report said that the proposed development “would be powered by natural gas and therefore it is important to recognise that this technology is a “facilitator of renewable energy” rather than a renewable technology or low carbon energy project itself and therefore there is little direct policy support within Strategy 39 for this proposal.”

However, it added that “whilst Strategy 39 of the local plan promotes renewable and low carbon energy, it does not in itself provide an “in principle” reason to refuse proposals for fossil fuel energy development.

Therefore, on balance, the Planning Officer considered that the adverse impacts from the scheme would “not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits that would be derived from the scheme which would support the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy by providing back-up generation to help achieve the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future.”

However a team of local residents including an expert from commercial finance, a Professor who is recognised as a world expert of climate change, a solicitor, local councillors, planning experts spoke at the planning meeting with a very detailed forensic exposé of the proposed development that exposed that the far from “facilitating renewable energy it was would block any renewable energy being added to the National Grid, and rather than running at “only a few hours a day in winter time it would actually run over 3000 Hours a year, having a devastating effect on the area.

After a short debate, where the Legal Officer of the council recommended a referral because of the further information the committee voted against the proposal and the Legal Officers recommendation.

A statement from the council said the application had “proved controversial with the local community who raised a number of concerns regarding noise and pollution from the facility, as well as fears that a low carbon energy generation and storage facility was not being proposed, which would be consistent with addressing the climate change emergency declared by the council only a few weeks earlier.”

It added that the committee resolved to refuse the application on the basis that “it would be inappropriate development in the open countryside, with local plan policies only supporting renewable and low carbon energy projects in the open countryside” and a further reason for “related to concerns about the impact of the proposal on air quality in the locality.”

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.

A couple of interesting Development Management Committee decisions

Greendale – two applications:

Applicant:
Mr Terence Adams.
Location:
Greendale Farm, Greendale Lane, Clyst St Mary, EX5 1AW.

Development Management Committee 6 August 2019

Proposal:
Demolition of existing farmhouse and replacement with 3 cottages and associated car parking, landscaping, bin store and ancillary works.
RESOLVED:
Approved as per officer recommendation.

WOODBURY AND LYMPSTONE Applicant:
FWS Carter and Sons Ltd.
Location:
10 Hogsbrook Units, Woodbury Salterton, EX5 1PY.
Proposal:
Retention of extension to industrial unit (including change of use from agricultural to Class B8 (storage)).
RESOLVED:
Approved as per officer recommendation.

And this one, where the applicant appears to be a senior member of Stags Estate Agency (Head of Residential Lettings and Property Management)
https://www.stags.co.uk/staff/andrew-luxton-mrics-farla
and the application was approved contrary to officer recommendation:

DUNKESWELL AND OTTERHEAD Applicant:
Mr A Luxton.
Location:
Emmetts Farm, Beacon, Yarcombe, Honiton, EX14 9LU.
Proposal:
General purpose agricultural building.
RESOLVED:
Approved contrary to officer recommendation with delegated authority to officers to impose appropriate conditions.
Members considered that the proposal was of an appropriate scale and materials such that it would conserve and enhance the AONB. In addition, it was considered that the proposed building was a sufficient distance from the nearby listed building to not cause any harm to its setting.

https://democracy.eastdevon.gov.uk/documents/g273/Printed%20minutes%2006th-Aug-2019%2010.00%20Development%20Management%20Committee.pdf?T=1

https://www.stags.co.uk/staff/andrew-luxton-mrics-farla

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

EDDC “Independent” Leader firmly nails his colours (blue?) to his CEOs mast

 

Owl sees no “misunderstanding”.

Another “TiggerTory” policy?

And what does Mr Marchant, the person accused of being “misunderstood” – and Ford’s QC who perpetuated the “misunderstanding” several times at the public inquiry – think about this?

And where’s Councillor Hughes’s explanation for not sharing information about the meeting with other councillors, particularly those on the Development Management Committee – or did he share it with only a select few of his colleagues?

Remember, the Development Management Committee is a STATUTORY committee with rules and regulations … and it must NOT be subjected to party whipping or interference, nor must they “avoid undue contact with interested parties”.

https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/planning-committee-manage-1cd.pdf

EDDC Tories appear in Private Eye’s “Rotten Boroughs” column

From the blog of DCC EDA Independent Councillor Martin Shaw:

Private Eye goes to town on EDDC Tories’ handout to developers of the Knowle

Oh dear – and now “The Independent Group” led by EDDC Leader Ben Ingham has chosen to cosy up to Tories, rather than East Devon Alliance independents, whom he has frozen out.

With current Councillor Ingham having the been a member of all 3 groups and Leader of 2 of them (former Tory, former Leader of East Devon Alliance and current leader of ‘The Independent Group’) he really has to decide which side of the fence and his cohort are on!

Or maybe he has already decided – given that he appointed a Tory as Chairman of the Development Management Committee, who then used his casting vote to push through a controversial planning applucation in Axminster, opposed by Axminster EDA councillors on safety and pollution grounds:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/07/19/eddc-tory-dmc-chairman-uses-his-casting-vote-in-controversial-planning-application/

Reality check needed for some of his colleagues, perhaps?

EDDC Tory DMC Chairman uses his casting vote in controversial planning application

“Plans for 10 new homes in Axminster have been approved, despite fears children could be flattened by lorry drivers who wouldn’t notice them until ‘they heard the screams’.

East Devon District Council’s development management committee via the chairman’s casting vote gave the go-ahead last week for outline plans for 10 homes to be built on land adjacent to the co-op supermarket in Axminster.

Serious concerns about highways safety had been raised by councillors as the front doors of the houses would open almost onto the road delivery drivers heading to the Co-op use.

But the committee heard that Devon County Council’s highways department had no concerns over the plans and hadn’t objected, and committee chairman Cllr Mike Howe used his casting vote to approve the application, saying: “I have to vote in favour as I cannot see a reason for refusal that would stand up and would not cost this council money at an appeal.”

Cllr Paul Hayward had said that he was very concerned about the safety aspects of the plan. He said: “This is building family houses next to a car park and the front doors will open directly onto the path of a reversing HGV from the Co-op. The lorry driver would only be focused on reversing into his spot and he wouldn’t even notice if a child run out of the doors after a ball or a dog or if they saw a friend across the road.

“A child wouldn’t even be on the radar until he heard the screams. Safety is paramount and I cannot conceive a worse place to build family houses.”

Cllr Sarah Jackson added: “The development is situated opposite a car park and alongside the car park access road. Family properties are likely to be occupied by young children who lack road sense and can easily run out unexpectedly, particularly as they may not perceive this as a road in the traditional sense.

“Equally, articulated lorries have incredibly limited visibility and when turning may not see a child in time. The nearest playing field/recreation areas are at Foxhill and Jubilee field. Both would require children to cross several roads.

“It’s worth noting that the play park at Jubilee Field is currently out of action due to a legal dispute and it is unknown as to when this will be returned to proper use, so it is therefore likely that children will end up playing in the car park.

“I just question the logic of putting family homes right next to somewhere where lorries will be reversing in and out to make their deliveries.”

Cllr Tom Wright added his concerns about kids running out and being run over, and added: “I also have environmental concerns. Encouraging people to live in an area which is being heavily polluted and there will be lorries running with their diesel engines is unbelievable and an absolute nonsense.”

And Cllr Paul Arnott said the development was the kind of thing you may see in inner-city London, but that ‘even there it would be turned down on environmental grounds.”

Planning officers though had recommended that the scheme, which would consist of three blocks, be approved.

Six homes would be on a terrace row which fronts on to the car park, with two semi-detached properties situated adjacent to the supermarket building and two further properties fronting onto the proposed car park for the new three bedroom homes.

Development manager Chris Rose said: “The application seeks to address the two reasons for refusal on a previous application which related to the unsuitable access and conflict with the loading area to Co-op and the lack of affordable housing contribution.

“The development can be accommodated without harm in terms of amenity, highway safety, visual impact or loss of character. Although these types of development would usually result in an offsite contributions toward affordable housing, in this instance viability information has been submitted which has demonstrated that such a contribution would render the development unviable.

“The proposal adequately addresses the two previous reasons for refusal on the previous application and as such is considered to meet the social, economic and environmental and thus achieves sustainable development.

Cllr Helen Parr proposed that the application be approved in line with the recommendation, saying: “It is going to be difficult to refuse this on highways safety grounds as Devon County Council’s highways team are satisfied that there is appropriate separation. I don’t see how we can object on highways grounds if they won’t support us. The other reason why development was refused was on affordable housing but there is now evidence that it would be unviable.”

Cllr Eileen Wragg seconded the proposal to approve the plans, saying: “If we don’t, I think that this is one that we would fail to defend on appeal.”

The vote to approve the application saw seven councillors vote in favour and seven against, before Cllr Howe broke the deadlock with his casting vote in favour of approval.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/homes-approved-despite-fears-reversing-3111980