Has Ingham broken purdah rules on Exmouth Queens Drive?

“Plans for a new Premier Inn for Kingsbridge and an Aldi for Ivybridge have been put on hold.

South Hams District Council were set to hold consultations with the public over the two schemes at the end of 2019, but they have now been delayed until the new year.

The delay has been blamed on the General Election being called and the pre-election Purdah period that means councils have to be careful not to do anything in public that could sway a member of the public to vote for one person or political party. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/general-election-puts-premier-inn-3554630

Ingham digs a deeper hole for himself on Queen’s Drive Exmouth

“Speaking at an exhibition event outlining consultation feedback on a vision for phase three of the seafront regeneration, Councillor Ben Ingham initially claimed residents in Exmouth had a choice between the two.

The suggestion of a four-storey hotel was among those pitched for the final phase during the two-day exhibition at Ocean.

He later corrected himself, adding that if a hotel or a council tax increase were not acceptable, another alternative would have to be found to plug a £3 million gap.

The district council needs to find the money in order to pay for the realignment of the Queen’s Drive road and car park which formed the first phase of development.

Speaking after the event, Cllr Ingham said: “At the moment, the best and most credible option is the hotel but not to build it and sell it, but to build it and lease it.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-seafront-hotel-is-best-option-1-6382010

“New hotel or extra council tax must pay for Exmouth seafront revamp”

It appears someone may have been recording the meeting, so detailed are the comments. Does this rule Ingham and Blakey out of being involved in any planning application due to predetermination?

Apparently, Mr Hemmingway said Exmouth has to move from Facebook to TikTok and Ebay to Depop …

“‘Blackmail’ anger as district leader tells Exmouth to back new seafront hotel or pay more council tax for regeneration costs.

Failure to back a new seafront hotel to fund Exmouth’s regeneration could end in higher council tax, the district leader has warned.

Ben Ingham, East Devon District Council (EDDC) leader, sparked anger and accusations of ‘blackmail’ when he told Thursday’s seafront regeneration public meeting it was ‘dangerous’ to dismiss a concept to build boutique accommodation on the final phase site.

Cllr Ingham was accused of ‘foisting’ a new hotel on Exmouth and blackmailing the town to accept – using threats of higher council tax if residents failed to support a new build.

The EDDC leader’s comments were made during a presentation led by seafront designer Wayne Hemingway.

Cllr Ingham said: “We have done phase one and two, which has cost quite a lot of money. We have to cover our backs, having done that, and there are two ways.

“We can build a hotel and sell it and pay off all those debts. That would be a quick way of doing it. Personally, I am dead against that because then you no longer own that.

“If you have to do something like that perhaps you want to do it as a lease over a number of years, then you get that back. Then you have made money and all of us can take advantage of that in future projects.

“Or the money that’s already spent, we can all chip into. We have only got so many options. It’s up to you to help us to decide and as to whether we would ignore you, if you say you really don’t want a hotel that would be really dangerous.

“If that’s what you want, and you want higher council tax, we can do that.”

He added: “I am just saying, somehow or other, we have to complete this. It’s taken a long time we have made some commitments.

“Personally I wouldn’t have started the journey from where we did and we wouldn’t be where we are now, but the fact of the matter is this is where we are, and I’m saying if you don’t want a hotel we have got to come up a really good idea to replace it and when you listen to what Wayne has told us, I have gone from thinking from the beginning of this year ‘there’s no way we should have a hotel’.

“I met Wayne and listened to what he said and I thought ‘Ben you have got to think again because what he’s saying makes a lot of sense’.

“And I much prefer that from burying my head in the sand and thinking we can do something else where a lot of people, one way of the other, are going to have to pay that bill.”

Mr Hemingway said attracting the under-25s and under-35s, and their disposable income, was the way forward for Exmouth seafront’s survival, and building boutique accommodation on an area within the final redevelopment site would encourage Millennials and Gen Z to spend and stay.

He said overnight beach stays will fit in with the aesthetics of the ‘meanwhile space’, (Queen’s Drive space) which has become ‘embedded in the community’ benefiting the town.

“Don’t assume the accommodation will be a block,” said Mr Hemingway. “The whole point of the hotel is open space and the fluidity.

He added: “The opportunity is that you haven’t got a hotel that is fit for purpose in this town – and that’s the opportunity. And you have got space to put it there.
“Even with that hotel there, you have still got two-thirds of that bit of the site still for open space for kids to play. The worst-case scenario is, it will leave you with two-thirds of the space.”

Mr Hemingway said the decision to build boutique hotel accommodation lay with the community, not him as designer, adding ‘nothing that’s being proposed here is weird or dangerous – it’s just life.”

He said: “We are totally open to your responses. I can absolutely guarantee there’s no closed shop here. It’s a robust discussion between where the money comes from and what everybody wants. But do think about what people have been saying, and thinking, about the future. The taste of the world has never changed as much as it has at the moment and it’s changing for the better.

“You are not investing £18million and that fantastic – then you change it in three years and change is good. Change should be good in places like this. Young people want change.”

Mr Hemingway added: “It was Facebook and now that’s for the old people. Then it’s Snapchat and that’s gone. Then Instagram, now its Tik Tok and once it was eBay and now its Depop and that’s fantastic.

“And if you don’t know what Depop is and you don’t know what Tik Tok is, then great because young people do and life’s got to move like that, and it will continue to move like that – forever – so do something interesting.”

He said: “Using that space for a little bit of commercial and a lot of social is really where we are trying to go with it.”

Kevin Blakey, EDDC portfolio holder for economy, said: “The whole point to that hotel is this open space and the facilities that are going to go on there, whatever they maybe post-consultation, they have got to be paid for somehow.

“The district council owns the land, the district council wants to see very good quality facilities for a great many people in this space but we don’t have a magic money tree.

“We have to do something commercial to pay for it rather than borrowing, or higher taxation.

“The point is to make this place sustainable commercially and physically in the long term.”

‘Blackmail’ anger as district leader tells Exmouth to back new seafront hotel or pay more council tax for regeneration costs

Mental health benefit of national parks – nearly £5 TRILLION

That doesn’t seem to matter to our TiggerTory councillors who prefer to keep their tight personal hold over their planners and their cordial relationship with developers rather than thinking about the benefits of a Jurassic Nationsl Park on residents and visitors. Curious that.

“You can’t put a price on nature. You can’t quantify the uplifting effects of a walk in the Peak District or the way your soul soars at the sight of a stormy Cornish cliff.

Except, it turns out you can: it’s worth almost £5 trillion a year. Economists have calculated the mental health benefits of the world’s national parks, and concluded that on this measure alone they provide services amounting to a significant proportion of global GDP. And that is before you consider all the other environmental services they offer.

From the smooth cliffs of Yosemite to the jagged glaciers of Chamonix to the wild fenland of East Anglia, protected spaces improve our mood, reduce our work absences and keep us well. By quantifying the magnitude of this effect in Australia then using the tools of health economics to place a monetary value on it, researchers were able to extrapolate what they called a “conservative” global estimate of £4.67 trillion.

“Nature exposure improves human mental health and wellbeing,” the team from Griffith University, Australia, wrote. “Poor mental health imposes major costs on human economies. Therefore, parks have an additional economic value through the mental health of visitors.”

As unromantic as it sounds, economists believe that until nature has a value on a balance sheet it can be depleted and exploited without penalty. In recent years researchers have looked to calculate the value of the natural world in, for instance, flood protection, pollination and climate control.

The analysis, published in the journal Nature Communications, extended this further to consider mental health. The researchers looked at the improvement in wellbeing in 20,000 Australians that was attributable to visiting national parks, then translated this into quality adjusted life years, which is a measure of how easily people can live their lives. Finally, they extended the calculation to the world.

Dieter Helm, a University of Oxford economist who was appointed by the government to value Britain’s “natural capital”, has said in the past that figures such as these are by necessity imprecise, but not considering them in natural accounts is “precisely wrong”. He welcomed the new research.

“This is another bit in the mounting pile of evidence highlighting the huge health benefits, both mental and physical, from nature,” he said. There are great economic gains from investing in natural capital . . . It should be a major priority for the Treasury. It is not just concrete infrastructure that matters: green infrastructure has some of the highest returns.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

A mysterious planning application … from Greendale and the Carters yet again?

From a correspondent – all photograps are at the end of the document.

Planning Application for Consultation by 4th Dec

A planning application has been submitted to EDDC 19/2393/FUL for the construction of an agricultural building at Cooks Farm Castle Lane Woodbury.

The application is from Planning Consultation Company “Bell Cornwell LLP” but there are no details of the applicant or landowner.

The only suggestion of who is the owner is provided in the documents relating to the Location Map which shows that the Cooks Farm is in the same ownership as Castle Brake Caravan Park.

Therefore, it can be assumed that this 25-acre field now described as “Cooks Farm” is owned by the same company as the Caravan Park.

Castle Brake Caravan Park and Ladram Bay Caravan Park are both owned by Mrs. Zoe House together with her brother Mr. Robin Carter, who is also a director of FWS Carter and Sons who own Greendale Business Park.

The Documents also state:

The application site is bounded to the north and north east by agricultural land forming part of the same holding with the unnamed lane beyond, to the east/south east by agricultural land forming part of the same holding with a wooded area beyond and to the south/southwest and west by agricultural land part of the same holding

The location and description is, somewhat confusing as the unnamed lane is Dog Lane in Woodbury Salterton, and a better description would be north of Castle Brake Caravan Park.

The Application documents also state

The applicant acquired the holding (10.432 Hectare field) in 2019 in April 2019 and a new barn is very important as the field is in a stand-alone farming enterprise that will be used for grazing and handling of cattle, ewes and lambs, silage and crops in rotation.

” There are no existing buildings on the site and a secure building is essential for livestock element of the agricultural business in order to store animal feed, provide space to handle livestock and accommodate and care for sick animals.”

The drawings of the proposed building show a building with 5 roller shutter doors.

The East Devon Local Plan states regarding new agricultural buildings.

D7 – Agricultural Buildings and Development:

New agricultural buildings and/or buildings intended for intensive agricultural activities that could give rise to adverse amenity, landscape, environmental or other impacts will be permitted where there is a genuine agricultural need for the development and the following criteria are met:

1. It is well integrated with its surroundings and closely related to existing buildings, being of appropriate location, scale, design and materials so as not to harm the character, biodiversity and landscape of the rural area particularly within the AONB.

2. It will not be detrimental to the amenity of nearby residents on grounds of smell, noise or fly nuisance.

4. It has been established that there are no other suitable buildings on the holding or in the vicinity which could meet the reasonable need.

5. It will not lead to an unacceptable increase in traffic on the local highway network

6. All clean roof and surface waters will be drained separately from foul drainage and foul drainage will not discharge to any watercourse in order to prevent pollution of the water environment.

Proposals for the development of new large-scale buildings for livestock or for other use that could have polluting impacts should be accompanied by a Waste Management Plan.

The documents provided by the Agent does not confirm that it has been established that no suitable building in the vicinity could meet this need.

The nearest farm complex owned by FWS Carter and Sons to whom Robin Carter is a director is at Hogsbrook Farm only 1.2 miles away.

If this application was related to the Caravan Park the East Devon Local Plan states under E19

E19 – Holiday Accommodation Parks: Outside of designated landscape areas, proposals for new sites and extensions of existing sites will be permitted where they meet the following six criteria:

1. The proposal relates sensitively in scale and siting to the surroundings and includes extensive landscaping and visual screening to mitigate against adverse impacts. They do not affect habitats or protected species.

2. They are within, or in close proximity, to an existing settlement but would not have an adverse impact on the character or setting of that settlement or the amenities of adjoining residents.

3. They would not use the best and most versatile agricultural land.

4. They will be provided with adequate services and utilities

5. Traffic generated by the proposal can be accommodated safely on the local highway network and safe highway access to the site can be achieved.

6. The development will be subject to the provisions of plan policy in terms of sustainable construction and on-site renewable energy production.

Proposals for the extension of existing caravan and camping sites or the addition of related and ancillary facilities on existing sites, within designated landscapes, will only be permitted where they meet the above criteria in full and provide no new permanent structures or are replacement structures designed to blend into their surroundings.

Because the location of this new proposed building is within the “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” further expansion of the Caravan Park cannot take place. (The field is dissected by the AONB boundary).

 

The Planning can be viewed on the EDDC planning website under the reference 19/2393/FUL comments need to be sent by the 4th of Dec

Indie councillor Martin Shaw makes plea to East Devon Lib Dems in Guardian letters page

“It is ironic that Unite to Remain, founded by Heidi Allen when she was an Independent MP, has become a three-way deal between the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Plaid Cymru, excluding the only grassroots pro-remain independent with a chance of winning: Claire Wright in East Devon.

Claire won more than 21,000 votes (35%) in 2017 to the Tories’ 29,000, while the Lib Dems gained less than 1,500. Independents also won by far the largest share of votes and seats in this year’s council elections.

Can I appeal to the Liberal Democrats, who are admirably standing down for other independents like Dominic Grieve, to consider withdrawing their candidate so as to help East Devon get a pro-European MP?

Martin Shaw
Independent county councillor, Devon’

Owl says: Vote Lib Dem or Labour in East Devon – get Tory.

Urban sprawl – Greater Exeter, Lesser East Devon

From a correspondent:

This correspondent had a beautiful sunny autumn drive through the villages of West Hill and Woodbury yesterday morning. Then the enthusiasm of conservative Cllr Philip Skinner for a “network of linked villages being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon” came to mind.

Has not East Devon sacrificed enough Grade 1 agricultural land to build Cranbrook? Were we not told that this sacrifice would be EDDC’s contribution to housing need?

Then we found that Ottery St. Mary was sacrificed.

Feniton was sacrificed.

Exmouth was sacrificed. I could go on.

And now we are told the villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon would be most likely to be sacrificed.

Has the ward councillors of the above villages consulted their constituents? Are the constituents of Ben Ingham and Geoff Jung happy that Woodbury will join Cllr. Skinner’s “bigger vision”?

Why aren’t our independent councillors telling Exeter that East Devon has done their bit, they do not wish urban sprawl and it is now the other surrounding councils turn?

Conservation against Profit? It’s Greendale again …

From a correspondent:

A development proposal adjacent to Woodbury Common for 14 “holiday lodges” could be built on a section of the golf course created by the owners of Greendale Business Park.

The Hotel and Golf course was sold some years ago to Nigel Mansell and two years ago, sold again to a c company known as the “Club Company” which operates 13 Country Clubs in the UK, who are owned by a London Based private equity group “Epiris”

The planning application documents outlines how falling numbers of golfers across England is forcing clubs to diversify and that it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through ventures like the proposed holiday accommodation.

The developers view:

It also says that with the golfing sector under pressure with declining membership and participation forcing many clubs out of business, they must look at new ways to attract golf societies and other groups looking for golfing holidays.

One way to do this is through investing in new accommodation and the lodges would add to the existing hotel on the site.

The statement explains how the number of registered golfers has dropped eight per cent in the last four years. Adults playing golf has fallen 27 per cent between 2007 and 2016, and juniors playing golf weekly have dropped five per cent since 2014.
It adds:

“In clubs where membership is growing, clubs have taken positive steps to address the issues and are catering for a range of different needs and are developing facilities to broaden income streams and become part of the community.”

“The proposed changes at Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club aim to follow a similar pattern, providing further golf accommodation in order to attract more golfers from a wider national market.”

“Given the declining popularity of playing golf in England and in order to maintain the business, it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through the proposed holiday accommodation. This will allow the club to attract more golfers and more visitors to the bars, restaurant, health club and spa, to generate a vital additional income stream.”

However, the location chosen to build these lodges is next to a very important historic and environmentally important ancient “Green lane” known as Walkidons Way.

The Conservation view.

A local conservation group describes the location:

“Walkidons Way is a rare example in our locality of a green lane – most of the rest having been tarmaced. It is a public access route and runs between Hogsbrook Farm at its north-western end and Woodbury Common at Woodbury Park to the south-east. Along the way it passes beside Rockham Wood – a (private) ancient wood that is a designated County Wildlife Site.

A green lane can be defined as an un-metalled track with field boundaries on either side. These boundaries may be banks, hedges or woodland edges, often with features such as ditches – all of which can be seen along the length of Walkidons Way. The hedges and woodland edges here are particularly rich in examples of hedge-laying and coppicing of great age, and possibly also an ancient boundary trees.

In terms of bio-diversity, green lanes are mini-landscapes with their own micro-climate and ecology, due to the combination of the track and its boundary features. They may be more botanically species-rich than a single hedge, act as wildlife corridors, and their sheltered conditions are of great importance, for example, to butterfly populations.
Historically, Walkidons Way linked Greendale Barton – formerly an important farm on the site of the present Greendale Business Park – to the Common. This route adopted from at least Saxon times, as a drover road, for moving stock between Greendale and the Common.

The former agricultural land here has been much altered for leisure use, and the lane now passes between golf courses at the higher end, and fishing lakes lower down, which were both created during the 1990s. The Woodbury Park complex, which opened in 1995, was a highly controversial development at the time, but has become a generally accepted element of the modern landscape.

The track and its verges are unfortunately suffering degradation from modern vehicular traffic, but Walkidons Way offers a beautiful walk of very different character to that of most of our local lanes, to the open spaces of the Common.”
It will be interesting to see if the need of “big business” will win over the concern to preserve an ancient way.

The Planning can be viewed on the EDDC planning website under the reference 19/2145/FUL

EDDC a “casino council”?

“East Devon’s attempts to ‘actively assess commercial investment opportunities’ could make them look like a ‘Casino Council’, it has been claimed.

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the East Devon Alliance, questioned the way the council’s careful choices consultation made it look like they were ‘punting an idea about the council being a development corporation’.

The survey, due to be sent out at random to 3,000 residents, asks for their views on services that East Devon District Council run and what is important to them as the council has to tackle a £2.7m funding gap over the next four years. …

Cllr Arnott though raised concerned about the wording in the document. Speaking at Wednesday night’s cabinet meeting, he said: “I worry that this will make us look like a casino council. We need to be informed and hear what services people want, but this looks like us punting an idea about us being a development corporation.

“I am not sure it is what people voted for or what they want, but in the survey, we have to be clear it is borrowed money that is being invested and have to detail it.”

Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, replied and said that he wouldn’t use the same words to describe what the council is doing.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/casino-council-claims-made-over-3498678