Another reason to have a breakaway eastern East Devon?

Very, very few people in the eastern part of East Devon will benefit from this, yet it is in the EDDC area.

“The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed funding for two major projects in Devon …

[One is £9 m at Sherford new town near Plymouth]

… east of Exeter, the continuing growth and development will receive a £4 million boost, which with £3 million developer contributions will deliver improvements to Moor Lane junction to provide more capacity for traffic using the A30 and from Sowton Industrial estate; extension of the higher quality cycle routes into the city; an additional multi-use car park at the Science Park; plus extension of the electric bike scheme.

The news has been welcomed by Devon County Council, which put in the bids for the DfT funding.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said:

“This is great news for Devon. Great for Devon residents, and great for Devon businesses. The £9 million will bring with it improvements in Exeter, and much needed access, and High Street, to the new town of Sherford. Both schemes will be a boost for new housing, jobs and connectivity in Devon.”

Cranbrook favoured over rural areas for bus services

Yet another blow for rural towns and villages where bus servicex have been cut so people can’t get into Exeter or the Science Park or the Lidl depot if they don’t have cars.

Bus operator Stagecoach has announced additional journeys on one of its popular routes.

The changes, which will be implemented on its 4 route on October 16, include a new 5.36am journey from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook running seven days a week.

The return journey to the bus station from Cranbrook will leave at 6.09am.

The route will also provide a later bus to and from Cranbrook on Sundays.

Under the revised changes, the last service from Exeter Bus Station to Cranbrook will be at 9.36pm and the last service from Cranbrook to Exeter Bus Station will be at 10.09pm.

The full 4 route runs from Exeter to Axminster, stopping at Cranbrook, Ottery St Mary and Honiton along the way.”

More MASSIVE speculative industrial development at Clyst Honiton with benefits to LEP

Owl says: watch the claims of “new” jobs – most companies are relocating from premises just outside the “Growth Point” to take advantage of subsidies such as business rate holidays and are NOT creating “new”jobs at all.

“It appears major development at Clyst Honiton on the edge of Exeter will not cease any time soon, with outline plans in for an 110,000sqm industrial park next to the Lidl depot. The massive development would create between 1,530 and 1,817 new jobs and contribute an extra £90 to £105m to the regional economy. [Owl says: pinch of salt needed here – Skypark made similar claims but has attracted few NEW jobs – mostly only locally relocated ones, see above].

It’s second phase of development at land at Hayes Farm on behalf of Church Commissioners For England. The huge chunk of land is earmarked for more storage and distribution warehouses, offices and business space as part of the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point.

It would also need associated parking, servicing, yard areas, landscaping and engineering works including demolition of existing building within the site. The development also sits near the Skypark, a similar development of a similar size [Owl:which is currently still mostly empty after several years of marketing and an abortive attempt to relocate the EDDC HQ from Sidmouth].

At the moment the future occupiers are unknown, but it’s possible a major company could take the entire site. Options for the land include space for 540 car parking spaces on a two unit scheme, and 530 for a multi-unit scheme. [Translation: speculative building].

Alongside news of the latest planning application, buildings at the nearby Skypark development are already taking shape. Built over 20 years, the 110-acre Skypark site will provide 1.4 million sq ft of warehouse, industrial and office space and deliver up to 6,500 new jobs.

When it completes this autumn, this new office building will create 17,142 sq ft of employment space.

The new offices will join the Ambulance Special Operations Centre (ASOC West) and DPD UK’s new 60,000 sq ft distribution centre on site [relocated from nearby Sowton]. They will benefit from the £3.5 million worth of investment in road and services infrastructure at Skypark and the five-acre public realm area, complete with trim trail exercise stations.

Ian Guy, Senior Development Manager for St. Modwen and Devon County Council’s development partner for the £210m Skypark development, said: “These speculative [Owl’s BOLD] offices are going up alongside the new headquarters for Devon and Cornwall Housing [relocating from central Exeter], which is also under construction on site. They represent the first major office development in Exeter for many years and are a strong sign of the improving occupier market in the local area.”

How can you say the market is improving when buildings are speculative, they have no confirmed interest and those which ARE occupied are taken by locally relocated businesses taking advantage of incentives such as no business rates for 5 years to move. And, of course, the Local Enterprise Partnership benefits!

“The current iteration of Enterprise Zones was established by the Government in 2012, as part of their long-term economic plan. They are geographically defined areas, which aim to support growth by encouraging businesses to locate within them, providing a number of incentives including:

Up to 100% business rate discount worth up to £275,000 over 5 years
Simplified local authority planning
Roll out of super-fast Broadband where necessary
For zones in Assisted Areas, 100% enhanced capital allowances (tax relief) to businesses making large investments in plant and machinery.

Any business rates growth generated by the Enterprise Zone (over the next 25 years) is retained by the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to reinvest in local economic growth.”

Click to access CS1622%20Enterprise%20Zones.pdf

Some questions about the Heart of the South West LEP

If the Heart of the South West LEP is “dead in the water” and “there is no money left”

Where is the £25,000-plus coming from to pay someone to encourage a new threesome of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, Devon and Dorset?

What’s happening about the divorce from Somerset and are we paying that county’s expenses still?

HOTSW LEP is the vehicle for taking business rates from Enterprise Zones such as the East Devon Growth Point – if it’s defunct what happens to that money?

Who pays Mr Garcia’s salary and those of the 3 or 4 other employees who presumably now have no jobs? Somerset or Devon?

What’s happening about the “Golden Triangle LEP”?

Where does “Greater Exeter” fit in and with whom?

East Devon – where do we fit in? Our Leader is a HOTSW board member and is responsible for HOTSW housing. Is he still responsible for housing in Somerset, Greater Exeter and/or the “Golden Triangle”?

What is DCC’s/EDDC’s role in this – where was it discussed, when and by whom?

Where are the minutes of the meeting where the current deal was dropped and a new deal thought up?

What does Somerset think about all this?

Do YOU recall being consulted on any of this?

Growth? Not in retail

Local Plans, Local Enterprise Partnership – constantly push growth, growth, growth. But REAL figures tell a different story – with possible big job losses in retail fairly soon across the country, but particularly in retail in our area, where is this ” growth” in jobs and housing construction coming from and going to? There will be no growth if new jobs in one sector are offset by losses in other areas.

“The UK high street suffered its quietest Christmas in almost two decades new figures have shown, just hours after clothing giant Next announced a sharp slump in festive sales.

Retail footfall was at its lowest December level since 1998 – the year consultancy Ipsos Retail Performance first started its Retail Traffic Index.
Depressing updates emerging from retailers suggest that the decline in store footfall wasn’t converted into a lift in online sales and consumers cut back on spending all round. …

The South West of England and Wales suffered the biggest footfall drop of all the regions, with a year-on-year decline of 14.4per cent.”

“South West Growth Summit”

This Friday … Exeter University … usual suspects … best place to do business … opportunities … vision … spin … more spin … puff … more puff … and:

After the summit, the aim is to develop a South West Growth Charter, backing Local Enterprise Partnerships with a strong business voice to complement the work being done by local government leaders. This will be presented to government ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement next month, where he will set out the government’s economic plans.”

Ah, yes … now Owl gets the idea! A re-brand for our LEP to make it look more democratic … good luck with that one.

“Greater Exeter” and its impact on housing and infrastructure in East Devon

We learned recently that the current Stagecoach depot opposite the bus station in Exeter is going to be turned into a massive block of student housing – 557 units.

Now we hear that there are plans for the site of the Honiton Inn, on the roundabout opposite the bus station to be another student block of 101 flats with their own private gym and cinema – opposite a public gym and cinema!

What effect will this have on East Devon?

Well, “Greater Exeter” – whose “Visioning Board” like all such development and regeneration boards in “Greater Exeter” meets in secret – is making arrangements to do the next revision to its 3 Local Plans (Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge) together.

It will be totally evident (in fact it is already) that Exeter’s main growth in housing will remain student housing. So, where will housing for other people go? Obviously East Devon and Teignbridge.

Cranbrook has natural boundaries beyond which it will soon make its further expansion much more difficult than heretofore. Therefore, it will be towns such as Exmouth, Honiton and Sidmouth – and the green fields in-between – that must be expanded to take in the commuters into Exeter, with a possible massive impact.

None of this is being put before the general public in any of the three areas nor is adequate infrastructure being planned for this big change (or at least we cannot be allowed know of any). And, of course, our Local Enterprise Partnership will “own” the business rates of the Exeter “Growth Area” and will have its fingers in the many development pies.

Time to start talking about the NEXT revision of the Local Plan which may well see even more massive development in East Devon on a much bigger scale than we could ever have imagined and could dwarf the extra numbers already agreed..

“Counties and districts demand funding top up when business rates fall short”

East Devon will, of course be losing ALL the business rates raised by the East Devon Growth Point which will go directly to our Local Enterprise Partnership. We haven’t heard our council complaining- quite the opposite.

“County and district councils have called on the government to commit to providing additional funding for local services where demand outstrips business rate growth following the forthcoming localisation of the levy.

In a joint statement of shared principles on the government’s business rate retention proposals, the County Councils Network, District Councils’ Network and Rural Services Network warned services could be hit without funding guarantees.

The government plans to devolve business rates to authorities by 2019-20. A funding baseline is likely to be set for town halls using local business rates as well as either a top up or tariff payment to reflect a new assessment of local need. Authorities will then retain all local growth – up from the 50% share currently allotted to the sector – and will be financially self-sufficient. Together with other locally raised revenue, mainly council tax, business rates growth will be used to provide council services.

However, the groups said today that the system would need to be monitored to ensure funding matches local demand over time.

“If core statutory demand-led service pressures, such as social care, are set to outstrip resources over time, central government should work with local government to agree additional funding sources,” the document stated.

“Local and central government should consider and agree a way of managing additional risks to local authorities of full retention and find a way of compensating against sharp changes in income or need.”

The groups also called for all areas to have the ability to both lower and raise the rates multiplier. Under the current proposals, authorities will only be able to cut the levy, although city region combined authorities will be able to increase the rate to pay for specific infrastructure projects.

A consultation on the basis for the devolved system is open until 26 September. Views are also being sought on areas where local authorities could take on the funding of services in order to make the plan initially fiscally neutral. Areas suggested by government include public health, early years, youth justice and the attendance allowance paid to help meet care costs.”

Google ” most-searched-for words locally pre-Referendum

Exeter, Cornwall, Plymouth and North Devon – immigration (unsurprising)

Torridge and the South Hams – expats (obviously second-homers on both sides of the channel!)

Mid Devon, West Devon and Teignbridge – NHS (they are about to lose several local hospitals)

And East Devon? The economy. The only area that searched first on the economy.

Owl thinks it’s because lots of East Devon developers (particularly those at the Growth Point and Cranbrook) farmers who might become developers ( you know who you are) and councillors worried about paying for their new HQ hogged the search engine!

Wonder what our LEP members searched for? Still waiting for that upbeat press release, guys.

Update: the nearest other county that searched for the economy near us was North Somerset – so close to Hinkley C!

Devon and our Local Enterprise Partnership’s dependence on EU funding

“The 2007-13 round of the European Regional Development Fund delivered 65,000 jobs and more than 15,000 new businesses.

The main priorities in the Heart of the South West for this round of the programme are:

• research and innovation;
• supporting and promoting small to medium-sized enterprises;
• low carbon;
• Information and communications technology …

… A total of £116,315,073 of ESIF has been provisionally allocated to the Heart of the South West LEP, made up of: £57,596,574 European Regional Development Fund; £43,178,166 European Social Fund and £15,540,333 European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. (Exact figures will vary slightly reflecting changes to exchange rates.)

A European Strategic Investment Fund Committee for the Heart of the South West has been established. This committee, which was set up following an open advertisement, is made up of leading figures in the HotSW private and public sector and is on hand to assist and inform potential applicants about the process and advise on criteria that is most likely to achieve success. …

… The European Growth Programme is worth just over €7.3billion (almost £5.8billion). It is made up of the following three Funds:

• European Regional Development Fund (€3.6billion)
• European Social Fund (€3.5billion)
• Part of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development* (€221million)

The Rural Development Programme 2014 to 2020 has a total value of over £3.5 billion, of which €221 million will be invested through the European Growth programme to help promote rural economic growth.

We have agreed the major points of principle about the ERDF operational programme with the European Commission. Therefore, although the programme document has not formally been agreed, we feel able to invite applicants to apply for funding. The references in the call documents are based on the latest text of the ERDF Operational Programme. This text may be subject to further amendment during final agreement with the Commission. We will take the possibility of relevant changes to the text into account when assessing outline and full applications, and where such changes occur, will notify applicants of any issues that arise, and propose a method of dealing with them. We expect the operational programme to be formally agreed before the need to enter into funding contracts with applicants.

Between 23 March and 27 March, calls for projects are going live across all three of the above programmes. These can be accessed at

European Structural and Investment Funds
The Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions are the managing authorities for ERDF and ESF funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. For more information visit”