EDDC now wants Government to pay for a town centre at Cranbrook

Owl is confused. Don’t you include a town centre in initial “new town” plans – and pay for it with developer contributions? Otherwise, it isn’t a “new town”!

“The government is being urged to extend its £675m Future High Streets Fund to also help create and improve town centres in new towns.

East Devon District Council and Cranbrook Town Council have written to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Jake Berry MP, to request eligibility criteria for the Fund be changed to include new towns.

At a meeting of East Devon District Council’s cabinet earlier this month, they selected Axminster as the town to put forward to try and grab a share of a £675m fund. ..,”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/allow-new-towns-like-cranbrook-2672297

“Government housing delivery plan ‘flawed’ “

Well, cover me in tar and call me the M5! Owl has been saying this for YEARS. The only question that needs to be asked is: Is this deliberate or unintentional? Either way, it’s a damning indictment of its mendacity and incestuous relationship with developers or a damning indictment of its totally inept ability to govern. Or, of course (and more likely) BOTH!

“The government’s housing planning system is unable to demonstrate it is meeting housing demand effectively, public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.
The government wants 300,000 new homes a year from the mid-2020s onwards.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has a standard method, developed in 2017, for local authorities to assess the number of new homes needed.
The NAO says this has weaknesses.

It says these weaknesses will result in a cut in the number of planned new homes in five of nine regions, while in London, the method will mean that new builds need to double in order to meet what the department thinks is needed.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the current formula did not take into account the needs of local communities.

‘Free-for-all’

Local authorities – by law – need to have an up-to-date plan for building new homes.

If they are unable to prove that they have a five-year supply of land for housing, developers have greater freedoms to build where they want.

The NAO points out that this risks ill-suited developments, while the LGA says it risks a “free-for-all”.

The NAO says that between 2005-06 and 2017-18, 177,000 new homes per year were built on average, with the number never rising above 224,000.

To meet its ambition for 300,000 homes a year, the department will need to oversee a 69% increase in the average number of new homes built.

The NAO recommends the housing department should regularly monitor the gap between its ambition for 300,000 new homes and what is being planned.

It also says it needs to work with local authorities and other government departments to ensure that infrastructure is delivered more effectively.

Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: “For many years, the supply of new homes has failed to meet demand.

“From the flawed method for assessing the number of homes required, to the failure to ensure developers contribute fairly for infrastructure, it is clear the planning system is not working well.

“The government needs to take this much more seriously and ensure its new planning policies bring about the change that is needed.”

Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “We remain clear that the government’s housing needs formula does not take into account the complexity and unique needs of local housing markets, which vary significantly from place to place.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47157413

Investing in buses is better than building HS2 rail line

” …Improving the bus system would bring about significant productivity gains. If, for example, journey times became as reliable at peak hours as they are off-peak, the effective size of Birmingham would increase from 900,000 to 1.3 million people. Assuming UK cities would enjoy the same agglomeration benefits as those in France, Forth calculates that would mean an increase in output per head of 7%. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/03/economic-benefits-of-local-buses-eclipse-unrealistic-hs2-target

Strategic Planning pitfalls? Certainly for Axminster

A reporter … reports:

“At Tuesday’s Strategic Planning Meeting at Knowle (29 /01/2019), chaired by Paul Diviani, the masterplan for increasing Housing in Axminster by a whopping 30% , was voted through almost unanimously (there was one abstention), despite serious cross-Party criticism of the plan.

As the debate ended, the considerable number of Axminster residents in the public gallery were astonished to hear the Chair’s quip, to Cllr Jill Elson, “ I felt confident that you would come out with something that would stir things up”.

Cllr Elson (shown on right of the photo, beside Cllr Philip Skinner), had argued firmly that “the problem with plans is that they change” , citing her Ward as an example.

“Exmouth ended up with two huge estates with no play space or amenities whatsoever”, she said. Cllr Mike Howe (Con) shared her concerns, saying, (the masterplan) “doesn’t give us much credence or security that we will get the right houses”. But the Deputy Leader of the Council, Philip Skinner (Con ), expressed his view that “Give and take is needed in negotiations with a developer”.

Shortly afterwards, when Cllr Geoff Jung (East Devon Alliance, EDA) observed that the plan might not suit young families, it became apparent that Cllr Skinner was not aware that the proposal to include a primary school had been dropped.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem) had noticed significant typing and other errors in the masterplan document. Cllr Rob Longhurst (Independent) observed there was no mention of the words ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ in the document.. although Cllr Moulding had told the meeting that he had designed one for Axminster… and suggested this Strategic Plan Committee would like to see “if the community wants and needs” the masterplan.

Cllr Susie Bond (Independent) asked for clarity about the legal implications for the Council if the costs for the relief road “went through the roof” (So far, EDDC has agreed to borrow £7m to ensure the road, estimated cost £16.7m, can be delivered.)

Ian Hall (Con) admitted “this masterplan doesn’t sit easily with the residents of Axminster”, which Alistair Ferguson’s speech in Public Question Time, confirms. The text is reproduced below, with Mr Ferguson’s permission):

In support of the objections, other District Councillors, Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson (both EDA), also attended the meeting, though not on the Strategic Planning Committee themselves.

Cllr Gardner pointed out that agreeing to a massive increase in the town’s housing numbers “would not be for the right reasons”, if it was done primarily to fund a relief road. The masterplan “was being done to the people of Axminster, not for them”, she said.

And Cllr Marianne Rixson added that “delivery of affordables does not have a good record” in East Devon.

Having listened to the comments aired, Cllr Geoff Pook (Ind) cautioned the committee not to be “persuaded by the opposition”. “There are just as many people in favour”, he opined.

Finally, the fear that the time-limited government funding for the relief road would be missed, therefore putting in jeopardy the 650 homes allocated in the Local Plan, swayed the committee members to approve the masterplan, albeit with caveats based on their misgivings.

Is this how the wrong sort of housing so often gets built in the wrong place?

In Axminster’s case, how much will the masterplan impact on the historic former deer park? As Cllr Mike Howe, Chair of the Development Management Committee (DMC) told yesterday’s meeting, there’s an urgent need to know….’

Squatters in Persimmon and Redrow homes that buyers can’t move into “because access road not completed”

“SQUATTERS have invaded brand new £300,000 houses after a legal ruling banned residents from moving into their own homes.

The luxury family homes, which have already been bought, are still unoccupied after a bitter row over an access road erupted. …

… Developers Persimmon and Redrow are jointly building 500 properties on the Yew Tree Hill estate, which is on the outskirts of Droitwich, Worcs.

But a dispute broke out last February between the companies and Wychavon District Council.

Planners had initially agreed for 188 finished homes to be occupied before an access road on the A38 leading to the estate was completed.

But the council became concerned the roadworks were not on track to be finished properly so it took the developers to court.

They then secured an injunction banning any more people from moving into the properties until the access road was widened.

Residents say no new homes have been built for months and the completed houses have become a haven for squatters.

‘THEY’VE LIED TO US’

Retired police officer Mark Naylor, 52, who moved into one of the first homes with wife Dawn, 51, in December 2017, said: “There has been crime on the estate with people breaking into unoccupied houses.

“Vans have turned up with people trying to break down fencing and get inside to try and take whatever they can.

“Homeless people are sleeping rough in the houses.

“I do feel sorry for people who have put down deposits but can’t move in.

“Persimmon are happy for the residents to just soldier on. They’ve lied to us.”

‘OVERRUN WITH SQUATTERS’

Another resident living in the finished side of the development added: “It’s a nightmare.

“The estate is being overrun with squatters and gangs targeting the empty houses.

“Sometimes at night you can hear them trying to snap the locks on the fences around the empty houses and sometimes the sound of glass breaking.”

The resident says “squatters and undesirables” have “exploited the window of opportunity created by the legal row”.

They added: “It must be torture knowing you’re dream home is being abused by squatters and rough sleepers while you’re powerless to do anything to stop it.

“It’s not right. The developers aren’t interested and the people who already live here and those waiting to move in have been hung out to dry.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8209327/squatters-take-over-new-homes-droitwich-yew-tree-hill/

“Funding [loan] agreed for Axminster relief road that will end gridlock in the town centre

This loan of £7 million is being taken out based on an expectation that developers will pay it back … good luck there councillors, especially as developers are Crown Estates and … drum roll or scary music … PERSIMMON!

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/funding-agreed-axminster-relief-road-2211212

Exmouth infrastructure will not support 120 new homes says town council

“Exmouth’s infrastructure cannot support new 120 home development, town council claims.

The town council’s planning committee has refused to support a full application made by Taylor Wimpey for land at Pankhurst Close, Littleham.

At the meeting, councillors raised concerns about the impact the development could have on ‘already busy’ roads surrounding the site.

Councillors voted to object to the proposal which includes the associated demolition of a disused industrial building.

They argued there was inadequate infrastructure to support it and that it would represent a loss of employment land.

Councillor Fred Caygill, who is the deputy chairman of the committee, said the developer would be ‘better served’ combining this project with its nearby Plumb Park site where more than 260 homes are currently being built.

He added: “If this development was to go ahead, I feel it would be better served if it joined up with Plumb Park so you had a continuous through-route so at least you’ve got access for emergency vehicles .

“You’ve got a traffic flow system rather than bottle necks.

“A lot of people who buy houses these days are both working with two cars and as we know a lot of employment is into Exeter and surrounding industrial estates.

“We’ve got lots of industry in terms of estates so there is a considerable amount of people moving into the area.

“The traffic system is going to get worse and also the parking within that estate.

“I feel a through-road will be better.”

Cllr Brian Toye said this development would only put more ‘stress’ on the area’s existing infrastructure.

“This does nothing to address the problem with traffic we have in Littleham Road,” he said.

“The problem is people are going to find rat-runs through the estates to get up to the new Dinan Way extension.”

Cllr Maddie Chapman also raised concerns about the impact of removing asbestos from the site.

She said it should be moved especially during the day.

“It should be at a quiet time, late evening, and take it off site,” she said.

A final decision on the application will be made at a later date, yet to be confirmed by the planning authority, East Devon District Council.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/council-opposes-plan-for-120-homes-in-pankhurst-close-1-5766553