“The East Devon electorate were, indeed, hoping for a significant change by voting for an Independent Council and, therefore, it is frustrating to read such controlling comments from the Tory Councillor Philip Skinner (he who was responsible for the extending mahogany table fiasco and who lives in the rural village of Talaton which is not one of the proposed GESP Clyst Villages) stating that ‘this is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm, that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in’!
Category Archives: Infrastructure
Hinkley C: Beware the consequences of large infrastructure projects
“Hinkley Point C brings London-level traffic to small Somerset town.
Air and noise pollution, traffic chaos and rising rents are blighting the Somerset town that has found itself the gateway for the marathon construction of the new Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station, locals say.
Limits for air pollution have been exceeded on main roads on multiple occasions this year, while Highways England data shows truck numbers have increased by more than 20% since building work started in 2016.
On some roads, two heavy goods vehicles pass through every minute. Not all are delivering to Hinkley but, with no bypass built for the nuclear site, locals say it has made the town unnavigable at times.
Buses transporting 4,000 construction workers to the site add to the traffic – and the influx of workers is pushing up rents. Rat runs are in gridlock and a town that is home to just under 40,000 people is experiencing London-level traffic on some roads.
Friends of the Earth, which looked at the air quality data for 2018 and 2019 provided by the local Sedgemoor district council, said it was concerned about the high incidences of particle matter on some roads.
Data shows that particle matter measuring 10 micrometers (PM10) has exceeded safe limits on Quantock Road 16 times already this year, while on nearby Bristol Road those limits were exceeded 15 times.
The latest data for traffic shows the number of HGVs has increased from 470 a day in 2014 to 900 in 2018 on Quantock Road, the principal artery out of the town to Hinkley.
For nearby Horsey Level, the number of trucks a day is registered at almost 1,500, while on Taunton Road, the main road coming from the M5’s junction 24, residents have to endure 1,050 a day, making it difficult to cross the road and forcing many cyclists on to the paths for their own safety.
HPC says the number of HGVs travelling every day to and from the site is capped at 750.
… Hinkley agreed a fund to fit double-glazed windows on some of the busiest roads in Bridgwater. It says this is a goodwill gesture and not an admission of responsibility for the noise of HGVs.
“EDF have paid to replace all my windows, and it’s made no difference. On a summer’s night, I’m not able to sleep with the windows open at all,” said Balcombe. “I am woken up every morning at 5am from the noise of lorries. And when these lorries are empty the clatter they make is unbelievable with the metal bouncing round.”
HPC points out that the HGV movements will ease in the autumn when it switches supplies to the sea. The jetty is now complete and the permission it got for an extra 250 HGVs a day will expire.
For Bridgwater locals a bypass would have been the answer and helped relieve the town of its perennial traffic problem.
The former Labour councillor Mick Lerry, who was involved in the fight for a bypass, said the attempt was stymied because it was never part of the development consent order submitted by EDF. “As it was not part of the application, it could not be considered,” he said.
The government said it had considered the impact of HGVs on Bridgwater and was satisfied. …”
Is our Local Enterprise Partnership attempting to hi-jack housing and infrastructure funding and control?
Yet another attempt by this unelected bunch of conflicted business people to suck up funding meant for local councils:
That the Joint Committee pursue an area-based package to accelerate housing delivery which, at headline level, should include:
a. Resourcing of a strategic delivery team (capacity funding)
b. A major infrastructure delivery fund to unlock growth
c. A small schemes liquidity fund to bring forward stalled sites
2. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is agreed as an
appropriate package to accelerate housing delivery across the HotSW
3. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is used by officers as
the basis for future engagement with central government and its agencies in seeking to secure a bespoke deal for the HotSW area to structurally embed collaboration with central government on housing delivery.
4. That the Task Force seeks to now engage with senior figures within both Homes England and the MHCLG Growth and Delivery Unit to understand their appetite for driving growth and willingness to work with the Joint Committee on some kind of housing deal.
5. That the Task Force brings back any updates or progress to the Joint Committee to consider in due course.”
Click to access HotSW%20JC%20-%20Housing%20Task%20Force%20report.pdf
The appendix on pages 5 and 6 is particularly worrying.
And where does this leave the (stalled due to political changes) Greater Exeter Strategic Plan?
“£1.25m of taxpayers’ money spent guarding an EMPTY prison”
“TAXPAYERS have footed a whopping £1.25million bill on the running of a prison which has no prisoners.
HM Prison Reading was closed in 2013 and the huge complex has stood empty ever since.
And in the six years since the site was shut, the Ministry of Justice still hasn’t managed to find a new purpose for it, racking up costs to the public purse.
The upkeep on the giant jail has cost Brits an eye-watering average of £24,000 a month since it closed its doors in November 2013.
Between April 2017 and March 2018 alone, a staggering £303,727 was spent on “security” for the empty cells.
And another £177,236 has been splurged on gas and electricity to keep the complex lit and warm since its closure, despite the lack of inmates.
The figures come after a report found the UK has the highest prison population in western Europe with some 90,000 citizens behind bars.
The vast Grade II listed building was opened in 1844 and has housed several famous inmates over the years, including Oscar Wilde and current heavyweight world champion, Anthony Joshua.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Decommissioning work and upkeep is necessary to make sure the site is suitable to be sold.
“Parts of the former prison are listed and need to be protected, so preparing for sale is complex. These costs include ongoing security and maintenance.
“Money raised from the sale of the building will be reinvested into the prison system.”
It is not clear when the prison will be sold on but Richard Carling from the Prison Estate Transformation Programme said it was hoped that an announcement would be made later this year.
A recent report from the justice select committee slammed the “enduring crisis” with the UK prison system’s failure to cope with prisoner numbers.
It said: “Whilst progress made on the Prison Estates Transformation Programme is welcome, the new-for-old strategy is not working as intended.
“Sites for new prisons have proven difficult to obtain, older and decrepit prisons have been forced to remain open owing to population pressures and receipts from the sale of existing sites do not cover the cost of building new prisons.”
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. ..,”
“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.
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.”
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%. …”
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.”
“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!
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.”
Otterton residents worried about holiday park expansion take note
“Plans to expand a holiday park near Ashford have been refused by North Devon councillors.
Park Holidays UK’s plan to accommodate as many as 116 caravans and build a clubhouse complete with a swimming pool, amusement arcade, shop and entertainment room at Tarka Holiday Park was discussed by North Devon Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.
Councillors unanimously refused the application, which would have included a new roundabout to serve the entrance at Braunton Road, and the decision was met by a round of applause from a group of around 30 Ashford residents who attended the meeting at Barnstaple Rugby Club.
They cited an adverse impact on the landscape and countryside, the scale of development and the impact on the village of Ashford and other amenities as reasons for refusal.
Councillor Joe Tucker said: “I’ve had quite big concerns about this site in many ways, and we have got grave concerns as a planning committee with the site.
“We are driven so much by national planning policy guidelines made by people sitting in London, it’s a different kettle of fish for people in North Devon.
There are so many fundamental issues with this site. I think it’s dangerous for us as a planning committee to pass through an application with so many issues.”
The committee heard from six village residents, who expressed concerns about the level of noise, the generation of traffic and the impact on a nearby supported living accommodation.
Parish Councillor John Bleech said it was ‘hard to overstate’ the level opposition to the application, noting 138 letters of objection sent to the council.
Ashford resident Dale Hall said: “Ashford strongly objects to the application and all residents fear for their life in the village. The development is too large, too commercial and too close.
“The change from a quiet caravan site into a large entertainment complex should bring noise.
“Tarka say this is a tranquil site but they threaten that tranquility with that application. Ashford will feel betrayed by the local authority if the application is approved.”
The Gazette has approached Park Holidays UK for a response.
A statement from Park Holidays UK said: “Park Holidays UK will be studying the reasons for the council’s decision with a view to determining the best course of action which will enable us to take the matter forward.”
Clyst St Mary and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – the EDDC position
This was the addendum to the post below – the East Devon District Council case for the extra 57,000 homes it has been agreed must be built around Exeter. Do note that government funding is NOT guaranteed by any current budgetary measures nor are there any major job creation schemes in the pipeline.
ALSO NOTE: these are paragraphs from the report, not the full report, chosen to reflect the particular issues for Clyst St Mary:
“The purpose of this report to Strategic Planning Committee is not intended to pre-judge any Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) detailed assessment and evidence gathering but simply to start the debate to establish broad principles and locations for growth.
The continued growth of the district and the future incentives form a vital element in the mitigation of the future financial pressures anticipated in East Devon from 2020/21.
GESP gives an opportunity for councils to negotiate deals with the government to fund additional infrastructure in association with growth.
Much infrastructure funding comes from development, central government grants and the Councils themselves. Other Councils have worked with the Government to agree ‘infrastructure deals’ to provide more and higher quality homes in return for infrastructure investment e.g. Oxfordshire have agreed a deal where the Government provides up to £215 million towards infrastructure and housing in return for a commitment to a specific number of homes being built. We realise that new development, transport and infrastructure need to be thought about together and more detail on those issues will be identified and consulted on in the draft GESP in the summer of 2019.
Up to 2040, extra large-scale infrastructure is likely to cost more than £1 Billion. This will be determined to a large extent by future development sites in the plan but these sites are not yet determined. The infrastructure we may need to provide up to 2040 in the GESP area are:
New primary and secondary schools; Relief to major junctions on the M5; Improvements to the A30/A303; A number of new Park and Ride sites on the main roads into Exeter; Walking and cycling routes in and between towns and Exeter; Improvements to rail and bus routes and buses; Low carbon energy generation and a smart grid; New, accessible green space; Healthcare facilities; Community facilities; Internet connectivity and mobile communications and this is likely to cost around £700m.
Projects are funded in part but there is still a large ‘funding gap’.
Providing more, better and a wider variety of new homes is the main way to improve the present unbalanced housing situation. New NPPF policies require a baseline of a minimum of 844 homes per year to be accommodated in East Devon although this is less than the 950 new homes per year already agreed in the East Devon Local Plan to 2031. However, the baseline of 844 homes does not account for any additional need that the Council may agree to accommodate with neighbouring authorities in GESP which may lead to an increase in the overall number.
Therefore, if Councils deliver more than the minimum total provision of 2,600 housing per year for the combined GESP areas, then the Government will provide more funding for infrastructure. Prompt housing delivery could also be Government funded for affordable housing lost through right to buy sales in our high value housing Districts which continues to be problematic. Additionally, East Devon’s aspiration of one job per home will also need to deliver enough employment space to accommodate a minimum of 844 jobs per year with Councils in the South West agreeing that they will also try to double the size of the local economy by 2036 to increase local prosperity. Evidence suggests that the area has a high number of entrepreneurs and small businesses and encouraging these businesses and providing suitable accommodation for them to expand and grow will be an important factor for accommodating growth.
The NPPF recommends the effective use of previously developed or ‘brownfield’ land for meeting development needs but avoiding low density to make optimal use of sites with allocated sites and those with outline permissions being commenced within five years.
The government intend that viability assessment work is primarily undertaken at the plan making stage. The onus is on local authorities to undertake robust viability assessments which are open and transparent and publically available. The revised NPPF addresses the importance of good design (“Paragraph 124. The creation of high quality buildings and places is fundamental to what the planning and development process should achieve. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, creates better places in which to live and work and helps make development acceptable to communities”).
However, decision making in relation to flood risk and heritage assets remains unchanged in the revised NPPF with one of the Key Issues in the Report to Committee stating
· Flood zones – Clearly we should not be planning for new homes in areas at high risk of flooding and so areas within flood zones 2 and 3 should be excluded from any search for locations to accommodate growth.
Two of the main principles for growth are to
· Accommodate growth outside of areas within flood zones 2 and 3 and ensure that sustainable drainage systems are incorporated to ensure that surface water is wherever possible dealt with on site.
· Locate growth in locations well served by jobs and services to minimise the need to travel and encourage the use of walking, cycling and public transport to promote sustainable travel.
Suitable locations for accommodating growth recommend the west end of the district as it is less constrained. There may be some scope for further growth at Cranbrook but it is not likely to be close to the scale of growth accommodated in the last two local plans in this area.
9. Options for growth in the North West quadrant of the district
The western most quadrant of the district to the north of Exmouth and west of Ottery St Mary is the least constrained part of the district for accommodating growth. The land is relatively flat with no landscape designations. It is well served by main roads with good vehicle access via the M5, A30, A3052 and A376 and has good existing public transport links with the railway line and existing bus routes. The main constraints in this area of the district are the airport safeguarding and noise zones but these cover a relatively small part of the area and development could readily be accommodated outside of these zones.
9.1 Centre growth around one or more existing villages
This scenario would identify a number of key villages with scope for significant expansion based on factors such as access to public transport, road infrastructure and the services and facilities available within the village. This option has the benefits of helping to support existing businesses and services potentially helping to secure the future of existing village shops, schools, pubs, churches etc. It could also encourage new services and facilities to be provided which are then beneficial to existing residents as well as new residents. This is something that the new NPPF encourages, however these issues would require further consideration on a village by village basis as in most cases growth would have to be quite substantial (in the region of 400 – 500 homes) to make it viable to deliver the required services and facilities to make the settlement suitably sustainable for growth and in the process could harm the character of the village and the existing community.
9.3 Establish a further new town – This scenario would involve the creation of a new community similar to Cranbrook within the western part of the district. Cranbrook has been successful in delivering a high number of new homes in a relatively short space of time and has delivered some significant infrastructure alongside such as schools, a community centre and the railway station. There is however still much to be delivered at Cranbrook and the creation of a similar new town in the district could harm delivery at Cranbrook. Cranbrook benefited from substantial government investment to get development started and there is no guarantee that such resources would be made available again. It has also been a private sector led development and there is some uncertainty whether the private sector would commit to a further new town delivered on a similar basis in the district. Cranbrook has also been criticised for delivering one type of housing which has successfully met the needs of young families but it has not to date provided a wide range of choice to meet the broad range of housing needs that exist in the district. The delivery of a town centre and some other key facilities at Cranbrook is still pending with the town needing to reach a critical mass to support these things. This in itself illustrates the scale a new community needs to achieve before such facilities can economically be provided.
9.5 Establish a number of new villages – This scenario would involve the creation of a series of modern Devon villages that could reflect to some degree the form of existing villages within the district. This option would potentially be the most sensitive option in landscape terms. If the villages were designed so that they had different characters and form then there would be the greatest potential to broaden the choice of housing in the district and maximise delivery rates by having several developers delivering different types of housing simultaneously across the area and is favoured in terms of delivery as there would be scope to have several builders delivering simultaneously with each village providing opportunities to develop their own form and character. A significant concern with this option is the ability of new villages to deliver the required service and facilities as well as jobs alongside the housing. Existing villages are struggling to maintain such facilities and providing new within a new village is likely to be even more difficult unless the villages are quite large and facilities are somehow shared with neighbouring settlements and good transport links provided between them.
Exmouth – Options for growth at Exmouth include sites that are locally sensitive and would potentially involve incursions into the Maer Valley or expansion of the town out into the Lympstone ward.
9.7 Each of these options raises issues but the new NPPF acknowledges that “The supply of large numbers of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development, such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns, provided they are well located and designed, and supported by the necessary infrastructure and facilities. By working with the support of their communities, and with other authorities if appropriate, strategic policymaking authorities should identify suitable locations for such development where this can help to meet identified needs in a sustainable way.”
9.8 The assessment of each of the options is at an early stage but Members views are sought on these options and any clear preferences that Members may have.
· A significant proportion of growth to be accommodated within the western part of the district.
· Accommodate growth in the existing towns focusing strategic growth around Axminster, Exmouth, Honiton and Ottery St Mary with the remaining towns taking more modest growth to meet the needs of those settlements.
· Villages to bring forward modest levels of growth to meet their own needs through neighbourhood plans.
· Focus development around main transport corridors where possible.
It is early days in terms of understanding how growth could be accommodated in the district and this report is not intended to pre-empt this work which will establish an evidence base to inform detailed consultation and discussion in the future. The principles included in this report are proposed as a baseline position to inform strategy development and work only but hopefully help to aid understanding of the issues and start the debate.
Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – Update and Vision
Since the previous consultation the GESP team has been busy analysing the consultation responses, the sites suggested and exploring issues for preparing the Draft Plan. A consultation will be held between 5 October and 30 November 2018 on a new vision for the plan, separated into three sections covering ‘the plan, ‘the place’ and ‘the priorities’ and includes the key areas of housing, a potential transport strategy and required infrastructure but no details about specific proposals will be published until the summer of 2019 (after the Local Elections in May 2019).”
Is YOUR village on the EDDC list for expansion? And another east/west divide
East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee are going to discuss:
“Principles for accommodating the future growth needs of East Devon”
on 4 September 2018.
The Committee are being asked to endorse
“The proposed principles for growth” as the basis for future discussion and consultation on accommodating extra growth in the district.”
The document is described as the “start of the debate” for future East Devon growth points for both the GESP (The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan) and the East Devon Local Plan review, which is required to be updated within the next two years.
For the last few years East Devon District Council have achieved their own Local Plan agreed target of 950 dwellings per year. (EDDC Target is 17,100 dwellings between the years of 2013 to 2031).
Recently Central Government decided to calculate each District`s housing requirement targets on a set matrix. East Devon’s build out figure has been set to be 844 homes per year. However, the report suggests that rather than achieve the Government target of 844 new houses per year there is a proposal to build out much higher levels of growth.
The report explains that the objective of higher growth could be achieved by what is called a “Growth Deal” with Central Government where a group of Councils agree to build more housing in return for infrastructure investment from central funds.
This proposed “Growth Deal” is being prepared by the Councils of East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon through the “GESP” Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.
It is recognised that Exeter is unable to provide the housing land required to sustain the expected growth of the city, and the rural areas and towns in the rest of the combined area will be required to increase their housing requirements in exchange for the infrastructure improvements for access to and from the city of Exeter.
Improvements to the motorway junctions, new roads, extra park and rides, rail improvements, new stations and an integrated transport system are all identified as priority improvements to overcome the already chronic delays on Exeter`s transport network. There are also aspirations for a “sports hub and concert venue” for Greater Exeter to be included in the GESP infrastructure needs.
The report gives a brief synopsis of the towns in East Devon and concludes that other than the new town of Cranbrook there is limited scope for growth due to the various towns’ proximity to the AONB designated areas, or they are bordering on the coast or close to flood plains.
The conclusion from the report is that the existing towns will only accommodate minimal growth, and with two-thirds of East Devon being included in the AONB of the Pebblebed Heaths or the Blackdown Hills the only area that can accommodate substantial growth is within the North West part of the district.
The report describes this area as the Western most quadrant of this district to the North of Exmouth and West of Ottery St Mary. The land is described to benefit from being relatively flat with no landscape designations. It is also well served by main roads with good vehicle access via the M5, A30, A3052 and A376 and has good existing public transport links with the railway line and existing bus routes.
There are 3 possible ways described as to how development could be achieved in this area.
1. Establish a further new town. Basically, create another Cranbrook. However, the report considers that the creation of another new town in the area could harm the delivery of Cranbrook.
2. Establish a number of new villages. Create a series of modern Devon villages but the report considers that this option would be most damaging in landscape terms.
3. Centre Growth around Existing Villages.
Growth would be required to be substantial with around 400 to 500 extra homes to be added to a number of existing villages (The report does not state how many villages will be required within this area). However, this could harm the character of the village and the existing community.
The new NPPF acknowledges that:
“The supply of a large number of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns, provided they are well located and designed, and supported by necessary infrastructure and facilities.”
A list of the Parishes within the expansion area for extra housing area
By referring to a map of the area these are the Parishes(villages) which are within the West of the district which could have development of between 400 to 500 extra dwellings, parishes identified could be:
All these Villages are North of Exeter and access is by way of the A377 – which is not listed as one of the featured roads, so it is unlikely these will be included.
These Villages are close to Cranbrook and therefore unlikely to be selected to avoid the villages and town merging.
Clyst St Lawrence
These Parishes are remote from a main road or railway station which probably eliminates them because of their unsustainable location.
This Village is already designated in the report to provide growth for Exmouth.
This leaves the following Parishes most likely to be included for further expansion in the proposals:
Clyst St Mary
Clyst St George (includes the village of Ebford)
Woodbury (includes the village of Woodbury Salterton and Exton)
The “Principles for Growth” which the committee are being asked to agree to:
• A significant proportion of growth to be in the Western part of the district by either a new town or extending a number of villages or building new villages.
• Plus, modest growth in existing towns with strategic growth around Axminster, Exmouth (including Lympstone), Honiton and Ottery St Mary.
• All other Villages to be encouraged to provide modest growth through their Neighbourhood Plans.
• Focus development on main transport corridors if possible.
For the last few years, East Devon has successfully complied with the government`s Housing Strategy, with their current Local Plan and at present build out rates, this will over subscribe the Government Building Target until the year 2031.
The Government is not forcing East Devon to co-operate with Exeter to provide some of their housing needs. This decision is totally at the discretion of the District Council and their leaders.
Yes, Exeter is a thriving growth city, and it is recognised that the road and rail connections are dire, but why destroy the character of a part of East Devon for these improvements?
The very reason people choose to relocate to Exeter, its surrounding towns and villages is the beautiful Devon countryside; the building of a mass of new housing will simply make the area a mirror image of the existing areas the people are wanting to move away from!
So, to satisfy the aspirations and needs of the City of Exeter, the rural west area of East Devon will be required to build many more houses with either another new town or new villages or building an extra 500 houses to a number of existing village communities.
Will the Strategic Planning Committee endorse this proposal or not?
Cranbrook: plans to vastly extend town to be published soon
Just a coincidence that this is announced just after Exeter City Council refuses the first of four large retail development applications close by …..
“Expansion plans for Cranbrook are set to be revealed by the end of the year, revealing proposals to increase the number of households to nearly 8,000 over the next 15 years.
The first houses in the new town were built in 2012 and there are currently 1,700 households living there.
Alongside the residential part of the development, further details are expected for the town centre, to be built on land next to the Cranberry Farm pub.
The proposals include 13 retail units, a town hall with a library and auditorium, a health and well-being centre and a leisure centre.
The Local Plan anticipates Cranbrook will have 7,850 new homes by 2031, equating to a population of about 20,000 people.”
“Thousands of UK bridges are ‘sub-standard’, at risk of collapse and will cost almost £1billion to repair, experts warn after the tragedy in Genoa”
“The number of ‘sub-standard’ bridges in the UK has soared in recent years and would cost almost £1 billion to repair, according to alarming new findings.
A survey by the RAC Foundation revealed that almost 3,500 British bridges maintained by councils are not considered strong enough to bear 44-ton lorries – the heaviest vehicles permitted on our roads – placing them at risk of collapse if warning signs are ignored.
The figure – an increase of almost 45 per cent from the 2,375 recorded in 2015 – was correlated after the motoring research charity sent out Freedom of Information requests to all local authorities.”
“Former Carillion boss takes reins of UK’s HS2 project”
Owl says: The breath-taking brazenness of it is so shocking.
“Former Carillion boss Mark Davies has been appointed as the managing director for the HS2 joint venture between Balfour Beatty and VINCI.
The project is one of the world’s largest construction projects with billions of pounds-worth of contracts put up for the first phase between West Midlands and London.
Davies joined Carillion in 2008 and rose to managing director of its UK Infrastructure business until the firm went bust in January 2018.
The liquidation cost hundreds of jobs and was the most drastic procedure in UK insolvency law, with liabilities of almost £7 billion.
MPs claimed the demise was down to “recklessness, hubris & greed”, with directors focusing on bonus pay-outs to senior executives even as the firm teetered on the brink of collapse.
But that hasn’t stopped Davies heading up contracts for Lot N1 and N2 of the HS2 project, between the Long Itchington Wood Green tunnel to Delta Junction / Birmingham Spur and from the Delta Junction to the West Coast Main Line tie-in.
Combined, these two contracts are worth approximately £2.5 billion.
The joint venture is also currently bidding for further railways systems packages and Old Oak Common station, together valued at £3.8 billion.”
Cranbrook – just another suburb of Exeter and now unlikely to get its long-promised town centre?
Exeter City Council is working in partnership with surrounding District Council Partners, isn’t it? Or is it?
The Councils of East Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and Exeter have been working for some time now towards a combined Strategic Plan – “Greater Exeter” – though we are not allowed to know EXACTLY what that means until after the next local elections in May 2019. Public consultation, which had been timetabled for this year was postponed until then but no reason given. It seems unlikely to offer good news.
But perhaps recent developments in the Exeter/Cranbrook area might shed just a little light on forward plans.
Firstly, it does makes sense to share ideas and come up with a plan to benefit the whole area rather than cram everything into the bulging-growth City of Exeter. Indeed, Plymouth is doing the same thing with its surrounding councils.
In theory, it allows the spread the housing evenly throughout the wider area, enables the building of strategic new roads and other infrastructure and improves bus and rail services to help manage the ongoing problems of congestion in the City. Basically, spread the costs, the developments, and share in the joint benefits this will bring. We see an example of this here:
East Devon has been working hard with Exeter for some years now with developments in their contiguous areas, creating the new town of Cranbrook, the Exeter Science Park and Sky Park (all on East Devon land) to provide workspace and office accommodation close to the City of Exeter.
However, EDDC has found it impossible to persuade retailers (and their partner developers) to take space in their planned “Cranbrook Town Centre”, which currently consists of only half a dozen small shops and a pub. A second “town centre” was mooted for the next phase of housing development but has never been firmed up.
Cranbrook and other massive housing developments close to the Exeter city boundary (Monkerton, Pinhoe) are now simply dormitory estates to Exeter, relying on the retail offer provided by the City and Sowton to supply the ever-increasing housing in these locations.
The reluctance of retailers and developers to come forward to provide the shops in the heart to the new town of Cranbrook is not difficult to understand. Most retailers are going through a massive change with most companies reporting closures, downturn in profits and many high street names pulling away from the traditional high street.
However, in the greater Exeter area, there is yet another reason for the reluctance of investment into the Cranbrook retail offer. Despite the abandonment of the Bus and Coach Station site last year for retail redevelopment, Exeter’s planners are recommending approval for a massive new “Out of Town Retail Park” close to the MET office and only a short journey from Cranbrook:
The Exeter planners state the application is contrary to their own council policy as the proposed development will not be a ‘local centre’. But the scheme does provide, as part of a wider package, a “local function” – and so it is extremely unlikely that a more ‘traditional’ local centre will be delivered within the newly built housing estates at Monkerton and Hill Barton area of the City. The City planners conclude this is the only realistic opportunity to secure local retail facilities in the area – including Cranbrook.
The applicants claim the scheme will offer a mix of use classes including food retail, non-food retail, restaurants and cafes with ancillary drive thru’ offerings too.
If this application is approved by Exeter City Council next week (13th August 2018) and goes ahead this will be another massive hurdle that East Devon will need to overcome to persuade retailers to locate in their own town centre. As a result, if Exeter planners have their way the likelihood of any retail local centre at Cranbrook coming forward look to be close to zero.
Exeter councillors are being told the City will benefit from a massive economic injection associated with the scheme – with a £15 million construction investment, 260 average construction jobs during the build, 520 FTE permanent jobs, £12 million estimated total annual wage bill across the development, £9 million estimated total annual expenditure in the UK economy by employees of the development, 160 FTE jobs supported in the wider economy by the development, £1.1 million annual business rate contribution and finally up to £2.2 million in Community Infrastructure Levy.
And if this bid fails, there are three more massive retail offerings in the pipeline within half a mile of the same area and all within the Exeter City Council boundary:
So where does that leave “partnership”? And Cranbrook?
Exeter Council coffers will benefit substantially, and East Devon District Council get a large “Out of Town Retail Park” on the edge of their almost shop-less Cranbrook new town.
What a great partner Exeter City Council is proving to be by cherry-picking the juicy benefits and income streams provided by their partners’ hard work in providing the dwellings that will provide the customers to flood into Exeter’s new retail park.
Cranbrook is basically becoming an eastern version of Alphington (Marsh Barton, Matford) – just another suburb of congested, polluted, not-that-great Exeter.
“PARK AND THRIVE Councils urged to slash parking fees to £1 in a bid to rescue failing town centres”
“GREEDY councils were last night urged to slash high street parking rates to a token £1 to stop town centres turning into “ghost towns”.
A retail veteran said town halls should introduce the nominal charge for the first two hours of parking in a radical 25-point plan to revive the retail sector.
The charging regime could be backed by Government legislation.
Bill Grimsey – ex boss of Wickes and Iceland – also demanded the “broken” business rate regime be scrapped altogether as he blamed the eye-watering tax for the biggest wave of shop job losses since the credit crisis.
He called for business rates to be replaced by a 2 per cent sales tax that would cover “bricks and mortar” chains such as Tesco as well as online giants such as Amazon.
And he called for Theresa May to create a new Town Centre Commission to develop a 20-year strategy.
He said: “The first six months of 2018 have seen the highest rate of retail closures, administrations for more than a decade and there is no sign of a slowdown.
“Our cities, towns and communities are facing their greatest challenge in history, which is how to remain relevant, and economically and socially viable in the 21st century.”
Speaking at the Local Government Association today, the retail veteran will say the days of shops ‘anchoring’ high streets were now gone as shopping habits change.
And he called on Government to change planning laws to bring in more housing and offices.
Libraries and public spaces should be at the heart of each community, Mr Grimsey said. He added that the vacancy rate – or proportion of empty shops – in towns such as Morecambe was now 30 per cent.
Councils trousered a whopping £820 million-worth of profit from parking and fines in 2016-2017.
The Local Government Association claims the so-called parking charge surplus is spent on “essential transport projects”. But a report in April ranked Britain’s roads 27th worst in the world – below Chile, Cyprus and Oman.
Under Mr Grimsey’s plans, councils would charge a nominal £1 for the first two hours of parking in town centres – while introducing 30 minutes free parking in high streets.”
Letwin’s report on “build out” (aka developers dribbling properties on to market to keep prices up)
Letwin interestingly does NOT blame planners. After this interinpm report he will further investigate and issue a fuller report at some point in the future x no doubt guided by whether what else he finds is vote-losing due to problems caused by his own government. He will further focus on:
lack of transport infrastructure,
difficulties of land remediation,
delayed installations by utility companies, constrained site logistics,
limited availability of capital,
limited supplies of building materials, and limited availability of skilled labour
alleged intentional “land banking” on the part of major house builders
Click to access Build_Out_Review_Draft_Analysis.pdf