Sidford Business Park already being touted for relocated Lidl

Or Alexandra Business Park – where its inadequate size and location for businesses was given as a reason for development of Sidford Business Park!

Shafted.

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidmouth-lidl-relocation-possibility-raises-concerns-1-6335164

Sidford Business Park – campain group meeting 15 October 6.30 pm

“Despite the Planning Inspector having given the go ahead for the Business Park there still is work that we can all do as the detailed plans have yet to be decided upon.

That is why there will be a

Campaign Public Meeting
on
Tuesday 15 October,
starting at 6.30 pm
at the
Stowford Rise Community Centre

Please come along and help us decide what we ought now to be doing.

We will also be updating you on what took place at the Planning Inquiry, what we have been doing subsequently and what we have spent our funds on.

Don’t forget to also bring your purses and wallets with you as we need to pay for the hire of the hall.”

Sidford Fields Business Park – Campaign update

“Forgive our silence over recent weeks but please don’t take this to mean that we haven’t been doing anything!
Having received the disappointing news that the Planning Inspector has upheld the appeal for the proposed Business Park a solicitor was engaged and a barrister instructed to obtain a legal opinion on the likelihood of a successful legal challenge to the Inspector’s decision.

We have only very recently received the barrister’s written opinion. Regretfully, the barrister’s opinion whilst incredibly sympathetic to the circumstances that local residents will find themselves in when the Business Park is up and running, concludes his opinion by stating “ … while I can see much to disagree with in the Inspector’s assessment, I do not consider there to be an arguable ground of challenge raising an error of law, and therefore the prospects of success in a section 288 claim – in my view – are low.”

This means that we have no legal avenue to challenge the Inspector’s decision. That said at least one Sidford resident has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government asking that the decision be “called in”. In other words, they have asked the Secretary of State to review the decision.

If anyone else would like to do the same then you can email the Secretary of State, Robert Jenner, at Robert.Jenrick.MP@parliament.uk.

There remain concerns of evidence that arose out the Inquiry and the outcome of the inquiry itself. We have been asked what residents can do should they wish to raise their concerns. Should you wish to do so your concerns can be addressed to –

(i) Concerns regarding the Planning Inquiry, its process and/or its outcome are best addressed to the Secretary of State Robert Jenner;

(ii) Concerns regarding the way in which the District Council, its Members and/or its Officers have dealt with the planning applications thus far can be addressed to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ben Ingham, at BIngham@eastdevon.gov.uk. And/or residents are able to make comments at the start of Full Council meetings, with the next one being held in the evening of 23 October.

District Councillor John Loudoun has raised the matters associated with the meeting held between the Chief Executive and the applicants back in 2016 after the Council had refused the 2016 planning application. He has updated his blog which sets out the issues associated with the meeting based upon information provided by the Council. His blog is at http://johnloudoun4sidmouthruralhome.wordpress.com/.

The applicants, having now obtained outline planning approval as a result of the Inspector’s decision, will need to start to obtain detailed planning approval from the District Council.

This obviously will lead to scrutiny by the Town Council and the district Council and will afford residents opportunities to comment on the details within those applications. As of yet, no applications have been submitted.

It has been suggested that it might be appropriate for residents who are annoyed at the Inspector’s decision to lobby the District Council. We cannot see what this would achieve as it has no ability to alter the Inspector’s decision. Rather, we think that any further lobbies would probably be best considered when future planning applications are under discussion at Town and/or District Council meeetings.

We recognise that many of you are concerned to appreciate all that has happened over recent months and what can/should be done as things move forward. We are therefore trying to organise a public meeting for the evening of either 14 or 15 October. Once we have been able to book a venue, we will let you know the details of the meeting.
Best wishes

Campaign Team”

John Loudon (EDDC Sidmouth Rural councillor on Sidford Business Park planning application

From the blog of John Loudon, East Devon Alliance councillor for Sidmouth Rural.

The Sidford Business Park, Chief Executive, Council Leader & Private Eye
The planning applications to build the Business Park in Sidford have received a great deal of local attention and significant opposition, and I was pleased to be able to recently give evidence at the Inquiry in opposition to the proposed development. I believe that it is the wrong thing in the wrong place. Unfortunately, the Planning Inspector who adjudicated at the Inquiry disagreed and has now given the go ahead for the Business Park.

We are where we are because there have been two planning applications submitted by Tim and Mike Ford, in the name of OG Holdings Retirement Benefits Scheme, to build this Business Park. The first of these applications was submitted in 2016 and rejected by East Devon District Council. The second was then submitted in 2018 and was again rejected by the District Council.

In listening to the evidence at the Inquiry I, and many others, were taken aback to learn a claim arising from the evidence given by a key witness for the Fords, their agent Joseph Marchant, which was repeated by their QC and which wasn’t challenged by the Council.

The claim was set out at paragraph 6.0.1 in Mr Marchant’s written evidence “Subsequent to the refusal of the 2016 application, an approach was made to Members (Councillors) including Councillor Hughes and the CEO (Chief Executive) of EDDC, Mark Williams”.

This is continued in paragraph 6.0.2 of Mr Marchant’s written evidence “We were advised by Mark Williams…. that in his opinion, the applicant (the Fords) may make more advance in progress towards delivery through appealing (the Council’s decision to refuse the 2016 planning application) rather than resubmission”.

This claim was also clearly set out in paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Fords’ QC’s final closing arguments at the Inquiry “After the 2016 application was refused, there was a meeting with Councillor Hughes and the CEO of the Council”. “The CEO advised that the way to progress was to appeal. That is an extraordinary state of affairs”.

In my opinion all of this raised serious questions, not for the first time, about the links between the District Council and developers. It could be construed that the Chief Executive’s actions and advice undermined the authority and responsibilities of not only the Council’s planning officers, but also that of the elected Members, particularly those with responsibility for oversight and decision making on planning applications.

I therefore took this matter up with the Leader of the Council and in doing so I asked him a number of questions about how this meeting, involving the District Council’s Chief Executive and the developers, came about, what was discussed at it and who was present. After a bit of toing and froing I received answers to some of my questions, and as a result I believe that this is what happened –

After the 2016 planning application to build the Business Park was turned down by the District Council Tim Ford contacted the Chief Executive’s PA on Thursday 3 November 2016 seeking a meeting with the Chief Executive. This request appears to have been acted up very quickly as the meeting took place on Tuesday 8 November at 8.30 am in the Chief Executive’s office.

Present at the meeting were the Chief Executive, Mark Williams, Paul Diviani, the then Conservative Leader of the District Council, Councillor Stuart Hughes plus the developers Tim and Mike Ford and their agent Joseph Marchant, the one and the same person who’s witness statement led to this meeting being made public. The reason for the meeting is recorded as “To discuss the Sidford Business Park”.

The District Council is unable to confirm how long this meeting took. In addition, the District Council appears to have no formal, or informal, record of what was discussed or any decisions that were reached.

I find this situation concerning. It is amazing that within 4 working days of requesting a meeting that a developer can hold a meeting involving the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council, the two most senior people within the Council, to discuss a planning application that their Council had refused. I wonder how many members of the public can get that sort of high-level access so quickly?

I am concerned that at this meeting there was no planning officer, legal adviser nor the Council’s Monitoring Officer present. Surely, any discussion about a matter relating to a planning application should have the input of a planning officer. Wouldn’t the Council be best protected by having a legal adviser present? Surely, the Monitoring Officer, who is responsible for the probity of the Council, ought to be in attendance?

There was no record of the meeting’s discussions made on behalf of the Council. I cannot understand why this was so. Surely, it’s important that a record of such a meeting is made and then shared with the planning officers? Surely, a record of the meeting should have been placed with all the other related documents in the planning application file? It’s almost as if no one wanted the meeting to have been known about by anyone else, or otherwise why not keep a record of its discussions?

My role as a campaigner against the Business Park and as a District Councillor pursing this matter has been challenged by the District Council. The Business Park is within my Ward. Local residents within my Ward and within a neighbouring Ward at Sidford have expressed concern at the proposed Business Park and the involvement of the Chief Executive in this matter. It is therefore only right and proper that I have pursued this on their behalf.

Afterall, the Local Government Association’s Guidance for new Councillors 2019/20, which the District Council provided to me upon taking office in May, states at page 7, in the section headed “The Councillor’s role” that –

“A councillor’s primary role is to represent their ward or division and the people who live in it. Councillors provide a bridge between the community and the council. As well as being an advocate for your local residents and signposting them to the right people at the council, you will need to keep them informed about the issues that affect them”.

It goes on to explain that –

“As a local councillor, your residents will expect you to: … know your patch and be aware of any problems … represent their views at council meetings … lead local campaigns on their behalf”.

This guidance was reinforced to Councillors through the training that it provided in May 2019.

I don’t feel comfortable with some aspects of how the District Council has handled this planning application. I don’t feel comfortable about –

how quickly a developer was able to gain swift access to the most senior people in the Council.
that other key Officers weren’t present at the meeting.
that no record of the meeting was made by the Council.
I know for sure that many local residents remain uncomfortable too. As does Private Eye which has picked up on this story on 20 September.”

The Sidford Business Park, Chief Executive, Council Leader & Private Eye

Too late for Sidford: “Air pollution particles found on foetal side of placentas – study”

“Air pollution particles have been found on the foetal side of placentas, indicating that unborn babies are directly exposed to the black carbon produced by motor traffic and fuel burning.

The research is the first study to show the placental barrier can be penetrated by particles breathed in by the mother. It found thousands of the tiny particles per cubic millimetre of tissue in every placenta analysed.

The link between exposure to dirty air and increased miscarriages, premature births and low birth weights is well established. The research suggests the particles themselves may be the cause, not solely the inflammatory response the pollution produces in mothers.

Damage to foetuses has lifelong consequences and Prof Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said: “This is the most vulnerable period of life. All the organ systems are in development. For the protection of future generations, we have to reduce exposure.” He said governments had the responsibility of cutting air pollution but that people should avoid busy roads when possible.

A comprehensive global review concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. Nanoparticles have also been found to cross the blood-brain barrier and billions have been found in the hearts of young city dwellers. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/17/air-pollution-particles-found-on-foetal-side-of-placentas-study?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other