Expansion of Cranbrook not going down well with – Cranbrook

“A total of 138 consultation responses were received from town and parish councils, councillors, specialist bodies, developers and the public. A wide range of issues were raised, including technical concerns about transport issues, such as problems providing vehicle access to some parts of the proposed expansion areas and how rail services can be improved to deliver a half hourly service into Exeter.

It was also noted that some additional land had been put forward by landowners for development through the consultation and this now had to be considered for inclusion in the plan.

… People were mainly concerned about the location and extent of development to the south of the London Road, particularly where this intrudes into Rockbeare parish and the Green wedge that was designated to prevent settlement coalescence (joining up) between Cranbrook and the village.

The community at Rockbeare raised strong concerns with these proposals, which also conflict with the emerging Rockbeare Neighbourhood Plan that has recently been out to consultation. Members were advised that this development was important for bringing the London Road into the town, as well as for creating a sense of place along the road as an entrance to Cranbrook….”

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/news/2018/03/councillors-review-report-on-cranbrook-plan-development-plan-document-dpd/

Risk of green wedge between Cranbrook and Rockbeare being swallowed up despite Local Plan rules

“Cllr Rob Longhurst said: “The main thing I would be concerned with is the idea that a green wedge could be disposed of if it doesn’t fit. It was put there for a reason after long debate and I think it is wrong to suddenly discard it as being inconvenient.”

Cllr Mark Williamson said: “It is so clear in the strategy of the Local Plan that it only takes up a single sentence, saying within green wedges, development will not be permitted. There are six green wedges in the Local Plan so if this was allowed then there will be sleepless nights around the district, where the other green wedges are, particularly around Seaton and Colyton.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/concerns-raised-building-green-wedges-1400152

Blackill Engineering Extension – is this an excuse to drive a new industrial site into the heart of the Pebblebed Heaths?

These days most large developers pay for pre-application advice before submitting a planning application. A recent Freedom of Information request has uncovered the advice that was offered to someone (name redacted) seeking such advice on proposed business units at Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury in early October 2017.

Specifically this proposal was for the erection of AN ADDITIONAL industrial building to support the existing business, Blackhill Engineering, being operated form the site together with the erection of FIVE ADDITIONAL industrial buildings for use by other businesses.

In summary the advice given was that this would not comply with the protective policies that cover this sensitive site. A much stronger employment benefit case regarding the expansion of the existing business to justify a departure from these policies would be needed. The five speculative industrial buildings would not justify a policy departure.

On 20 December 2017, within three months of this advice, planning application 17/3022/MOUT was submitted for outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure.

The accompanying justification reads:

“There is considerable and clearly identified need for the existing business at Blackhill Engineering to expand as a result of that business having grown considerably over recent years and with its existing premises now at full capacity. The provision of additional facilities on the application site would allow the company to continue its expansion and so deliver additional economic and employment benefits to the local area…. With the winding down of the existing quarry use of the site, there is a short and fortuitous window of opportunity in which to address BESL’s growth requirements with the reuse of an area of former minerals processing site….It is a crucial part of both local and national employment strategy to protect existing businesses and to encourage their expansion. If approved, the scheme would allow the existing business not to only remain at the site but also to expand. The resulting investment will enable a substantial increase in the provision of highly skilled jobs in the area, increased training opportunities for apprentices and added value to the local economy. Furthermore, the expansion of the Blackhill Engineering will help reinforce the vitality of its parent organisation…”

So, is this application all about the needs of Blackhill Engineering to expand, having already designed flood defence gates for New York City Hospital, worked for the European Space Agency and the pier at Hinkley Point, which in October seemed to require only one building; or more about Clinton Devon Estates trying to generate rent from a new industrial park? Restoration provides no income.

For those interested here is the detailed pre-application advice, given on an informal basis and without prejudice, in about half the words:

The extant planning permission on the site requires a restoration and aftercare scheme to be implemented following cessation of the quarrying operations. As part of this condition, alternative schemes (subject to planning permission) can be considered but two policies are of particular relevance:

East Devon Local Plan- Strategy 7 – Development in the Countryside.

This strategy states that development in the countryside “will only be permitted where it is in accordance with a specific Local or Neighbourhood Plan policy that explicitly permits such development”. In this instance, there is no local or neighbourhood plan which would permit the proposal and, therefore, it is considered that it would not comply with Strategy 7.

East Devon Local Plan- Policy E5 – Small scale Economic Development in Rural Areas.

This policy states that the expansion of existing businesses designed to provide jobs for local people will be permitted where

1. it involves the conversion of existing buildings. Or

2. if new buildings are involved, it is on previously developed land. Or

3. if on a greenfield site, shall be well related in scale and form and in sustainability terms to the village and surrounding areas.

In this instance, the Local Planning Authority recognise the previously developed nature of the site, however, in the ‘Glossary of Terms’ section of the Local Plan (which echoes those contained in the National Planning Policy Framework) previously developed land specifically excludes land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures.

Accordingly, the land would be considered as greenfield.
In terms of Policy E5, as the site would not be well related in sustainability terms to Woodbury or surrounding areas, the proposal would be contrary to policy.

However, if sufficient justification can be made in terms of the needs of the existing business being operated from the site to expand into an additional building, then the economic benefits may outweigh the environmental harm, of the unsustainable location as a departure from the Local Plan.

For this purpose, an economic benefits statement would need to be submitted as part of an application.

The five speculative units being located in an unsustainable location would not be acceptable.”

EDDC to help unauthorised Greendale businesses to relocate

Owl says: Here is EDDC’s version of the Greendale High Court decision.

With hindsight, EDDC might have been better served by not allowing the unauthorised businesses on to the site in the first place. And if the owners allowed businesses on an unauthorised site, maybe the owners and the businesses should be paying for specialists when those businesses have to move this time, not availing themselves of a free service from EDDC – especially as the rest of us are paying more and more for OUR EDDC services.

EDDC PRESS RELEASE

21 February 2018
Enforcement action taken to remove unauthorised development at Greendale Business Park
Council will work with park owners to find alternative locations for businesses

East Devon District Council has successfully fought a planning appeal by Greendale Business Park against an enforcement notice requiring the park owners to remove an unauthorised extension.

The business park has been extended into the countryside after four fenced compounds were created, concreted over and were used variously for the storage of mobile homes, shipping containers, portakabins and, in the case of one of the compounds, had two permanent buildings on it.

Following the latest High Court hearing, it now means that the owners of Greendale Business Park, FWS Carter and Sons, must comply with the enforcement notice, remove the extension and return the land to countryside within six months of the court’s decision.

Councillor Mike Howe, chairman of the district council’s development management committee, said that the council will work with the park owners to find alternative locations for businesses on the unauthorised site affected by the enforcement notice.

“This case demonstrates that we take unauthorised development very seriously and as a local authority are charged with using our enforcement powers to ensure that development carried out without planning permission is removed.

“We will work hard with the site owners to find alternative locations for the businesses currently operating from this unauthorised area.

“We’re pleased that the courts have now stopped this appeal from proceeding any further and the enforcement notice to get these works removed has now taken effect.”

The works were all carried out without planning permission and a subsequent planning application was refused due to the harm that the extension caused to the countryside and the visual amenity of the area.

Following the refusal of planning permission, the council served an enforcement notice on the owners requiring the uses to cease and the land returned to its former condition including the removal of temporary and permanent buildings, fencing and hard surfacing.

Although the owners appealed against the enforcement notice, a planning inspector ruled in favour of the council and directed the owners to stop using the land in the way it was and return it to its former condition within six months.

The owners subsequently appealed against the decision in the High Court arguing that the planning inspector had made an error in law by concluding that the East Devon Local Plan specifically covered the issue of development at Greendale Business Park.

In responding, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government argued that FWS Carter and Sons had misinterpreted the Local Plan and that their interpretation was “patently wrong”. Ultimately, the court did not grant the owners a further opportunity to proceed with an appeal and they will have to pay all costs arising from the case.”

Greendale Business Centre: FWS Carter and Sons application fails at the High Court

PRESS RELEASE:

“After 3 years challenging the planning system, Greendale Business Park owners are required to return an area back to Agricultural use.

It may have taken 3 years but finally the Planning Department at East Devon District Council (EDDC) has succeeded in winning a long running planning and legal challenge.

It was the 8th Feb 2015 when earth moving and general building works were first reported to EDDC Enforcement Officers by neighbours of Greendale Business Park. This was on a 3.5Ha site, east of the existing permitted development area at the Business Park near the village of Woodbury Salterton.

Following investigation, the Local Planning Authority (EDDC) served an Enforcement Notice to the owners FWS Carter and Sons, but they chose to ignore the notice and carried on developing the site at “their own risk”.

A planning application was submitted nine months later (06/11/2015 15/2592/MOUT) but the development was considered to lie outside the agreed development area for Greendale Business Park and it was refused by EDDC. A second attempt was made with a similar proposal split into 2 separate planning applications the following December but this was also refused (06/12/2016 16/2597/FUL and 16/2598/MFUL).

The Local Planning Authority then issued the owners with an Enforcement Notice, requesting the removal of the industrial concrete hardstanding, fences, buildings and the return of the land to agricultural use. The company then appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in March 2017 for the decision to be revoked.

on Dec 7th, 2017 the Inspector found in favour of the Local Authority and upheld their enforcement decision, but within days the Company lodged an appeal with the High Court. Last week 08/02/2018 the Judge ruled that there was no case to answer and therefore the decision by the Local Authority was upheld and costs of £3998 was set against the applicants, FWS Carter and Sons.

The Company now has 6 months to remove all industrial activity and return the land to agricultural use. This work will be monitored very closely

Another section of the Business Park (an area approximately 1Ha) south of the Greendale Business Park and just off Hogsbrook Lane, has also been developed without planning consent. The owners FWS Carter and Sons claimed in Oct 2017 that this land has been in “unlawful” industrial use for more than 10 years and they applied for a little-known planning regulation loophole known as a “Certificate of Lawfulness ” (17/2441/CPE) to enable the area to continue to be used without requiring further planning approval.

However, the Local Planning Authority followed Legal Advice and concluded that the land had not been used “unlawfully” for 10 years because there was lawful permitted development with a gas pipeline contractor occupying the site for 3 years. Because of this, the Certificate of Lawfulness was refused and it is expected that an Enforcement Notice will be served on the Company for this breach of planning shortly.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC Ward Councillor for Raleigh Ward which includes Greendale Business Park says, “It is a great shame that the Company started to develop this area prior to any planning permission being in place. The efforts and costs incurred by the company in developing the site, including the cost of architects, planning consultants, barristers, solicitors, court costs, contractors’ costs and everyone’s time has all been wasted.”

“Add to that the considerable costs to the local authorities` planning, enforcement and legal teams in endeavouring to provide a sound and fair case.”

“It’s quite clear the Planning System has moved on enormously in the last 15 years, with much more openness and clarity, mainly down to modern technology. Planning applications and official documents are now open to scrutiny at the touch of a button and can be viewed without leaving your house.”

“Previously documents were available only at District and Town Halls, for interested parties to view but now the internet and Local Authority Planning Portals provide everyone with a better understanding of the planning regulations and legal issues involved.”

“I look forward to the day when all developers will follow the normal planning procedures and not proceed in such a cavalier way. This may have been the way it was done in the past but its proving much more difficult now.”

“I would like to thank the many local people who have frequently written to the Planning Authority to comment whenever it was required, as well as the Planning and Legal Team at East Devon District Council who ensured that the Planning Regulations were correctly upheld”

Infrastructure: Shortfall of £270m over period of Local Plan says external auditor

“Appendix A page 39

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/papers/auditgovernance/180118bpauditgovernaceoperationalrisk.pdf

“Current estimates show that there will be a £270 million shortfall in infrastructure over the period of the Local Plan. Changes in legislation are needed to address this albeit a CIL charging schedule review is underway and may improve the situation. Fundamentally the current system relies on funding from other sources and infrastructure providers and so pressure needs to be put in bodies such as DCC, NHS etc to help fund infrastructure projects in the district.”

Greendale, Hill Barton: councillors meet hurridly to try to ensure they can expand and discuss possible loopholes to enable it

EDDC Tory councillors recently very, very hurriedly organised a meeting of their Strategic Planning Committee when they suddenly realised that the Villages Built Up Area Boundary Plan might severely restrict extension of the massive Greendale Business Park and the smaller but ever-growing Hill Barton Business Park.

The ensuing discussion as to how expansion of Greendale and Hill Barton might be inserted into the plan at this very, very late stage, and the loopholes that might be exploited to enable this was very interesting.

Owl says: This is SO SO reminiscent of the attempts to move the goalposts for the proposed business park in Sidford (so ably fought against by Independent EDA councillor Marianne Rixson)
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2016/06/10/how-did-business-park-on-a-sidford-floodplain-come-to-be-in-the-local-plan/

and the time when councillors attempted to add no less than FIVE business parks to the eastern side of East Devon in the Local Plan in March 2015 when CEO Mark Williams said it was not possible to take the Sidbury site out of the Draft Local Plan when it went to the Inspector but it WOULD be possible to ADD five sites! These were: Woodbury Park (Greendale), Addlepool in Clyst St George, Lodge Trading Estate at Broadclyst, Hungry Fox also at Broadclyst and McBains, presumably the site at Exeter Airport.
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/30/employment-sites-5-new-sites-sneak-into-the-local-plan/

We are in the consultation period for the EDDC villages plan (consultation closes on 2 February 2018 (see final paragraphs of this post on how to submit a comment)

THE MEETING OF 12 DECEMBER 2017

The East Devon Strategic Planning Committee proposed to change the wording of Policy VP04 and VP05 for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks.

The meeting was somewhat controversial as it was held at short notice (8 days) to consider the EDDC Village Plan Consultation. It was agreed that this meeting was to be held urgently but due to the short notice and councillors previous engagements not all councillors where able to attend, with only 7 members of the committee able to attend.

Notes taken from the meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee held at Knowle, Sidmouth on 14 December 2017

For minutes see:
http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2315171/141217-strategic-planning-committee-minutes.pdf

Attendance list Committee Members:

Cllr Phil Twiss – Chairman, Cllr Graham Godbeer – Vice Chairman, Cllr Mike Allen, Cllr Colin Brown, Cllr Jill Elson, Cllr Ian Hall, Cllr Mike Howe,
Cllr Philip Skinner

Note that the members present were all Conservative Councillors.

Also present (present for all or part of the meeting):
Councillors: Brian Bailey, David Barratt, Paul Carter(related to the Carters of Greendale) Paul Diviani, Peter Faithfull, Steve Hall

Councillors who could not attend:
Cllr Susie Bond (Independent)
Cllr Geoff Jung (Independent)
Cllr Rob Longhurst (Independent)
Cllr Geoff Pook (Independent)
Cllr Brenda Taylor (Liberal)
Cllr Mark Williamson (Conservative)

Apologies sent: Councillors Susie Bond, Geoff Jung, Rob Longhurst, Geoff Pook, Brenda Taylor and Mark Williamson

Officers present for all or part of the meeting:

Matt Dickins, Planning Policy Manager
Ed Freeman, Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Manager EDDC
Rob Murray, Economic Development Manager EDDC
Shirley Shaw, Planning Barrister EDDC
Hannah Whitfield, Democratic Services Officer EDDC
Mark Williams, Chief Executive EDDC

Notes from the meeting relating to the Business Parks.

Cllr Phillip Skinner, declared an interest as a “personal reason” as he knows the owners of Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park. A “personal interest” rather than a “pecuniary interest” does not automatically exclude a councillor from contributing to a meeting.

The East Devon Villages Plan, which was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate earlier in the year (June 2017) for examination, had been subject to Planning Inspectors hearing sessions in November 2017 for two days at the Council Offices.

Following on from the hearings, a schedule of “main modifications” has been produced by the Inspector for a further public consultation period.

The Inspector will consider representations received during the consultation before finalising her report on the Plan – she had set out a timetable for the consultation on the main modifications to run from 18 December 2017 to 2 February 2018. (7 weeks)

Mr Ed Freeman (Planning Strategy and Development Manager) summarised the modifications and advising of the next steps to the Plan adoption. The modifications did not seek to alter the broad approach taken by the Plan as they have strengthened and clarified the approach, ensuring stronger policy links between the Villages Plan and the adopted Local Plan. The modifications included:

• A policy for Built-up Area Boundaries for villages;
• A policy for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks;
• Amendment to Beer and Colyton village/town centre vitality policies;

Councillors questioned the inclusion of inset maps and policies for both Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks and were discussed at length:

Some Councillors questioned the inclusion of “BUABs” for the two strategic employment sites which they believed were not in accordance with the Local Plan and the wording used within the polices would prevent the two sites from any expansion. The Maps the Councillors were referring to are the areas already approved for Employment/Industrial use and not a Built-up Area Boundary.

Mr Freeman advised that the boundaries shown for both sites in the Villages Plan were for information purposes only and were not policy designations. Both sites were in the open countryside and the Inspector was suggesting that the relevant polices within the Local Plan would be used to determine planning applications for both sites.

A couple of the Committee Members took issue with the reference in the proposed policy of ‘in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)’ in the new proposed polices relating to the Business Parks of VP04 and VP05, as it was felt to be unnecessary.

Mr Freeman advised that the legislation would not permit the Council at this late stage of the examination process to challenge or amend the modifications put forward by the Inspector; however, a submission could be sent from the Committee in response to the consultation advising of Members preferred wording to the policy.

Councillors suggested that the sites should be treated as “Brownfield employment sites” and not Greenfield sites and that there should be flexibility to allow for appropriate development within and expansion of the sites.

Mr Freeman advised that both sites were clearly Brownfield but this did not change the fact that they were in the open countryside and that developments would be considered as development in the open countryside under the policies of the Local Plan.

Some Councillors believed they had not been given all the appropriate information regarding the economic importance of the sites as detailed in Rob Murray’s (Economic Development Manager) comments when they had made their decision for the sites to be included in the Villages Plan.

Some Councillors attending were under the misapprehension that Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks are required for delivering the current District and Village Plan Employment Strategies. However, Mr Freeman explained that other strategic Employment sites are being delivered for employment within the district.

Mr Freeman explained that there were many key strategic employment sites within the district and that the employment allocations within the Local Plan would more than deliver the required employment figures for the district. It was recognised that some of the sites were constrained, but work was being undertaken to unlock and deliver those sites. The Villages Plan reinforced what was already in the adopted Local Plan.

He acknowledged that the two sites were important to the district’s economy, however they were both constrained by the road infrastructure and their impacts on neighbouring properties/settlements and the wider landscape. Any expansion needed to be appropriate and delivered in accordance with the Local Plan policies. Previous applications had been approved as departures from the Local Plan where they were considered appropriate and the benefits of the development outweighed the previous Local Plan polices.

Rob Murray (Economic Development Manager) advised that he believed that Greendale and Hill Barton were strategic employment sites for the district and constraining them would exacerbate the current under supply of employment delivery and therefore his recommendation, through the internal officer consultation process, had been that the two sites should be removed from the Villages Plan.

The Meeting decided by 5 votes to 2

1. That the main modifications to the East Devon Villages Plan, as set out in the committee report, and updated sustainability appraisal, be consulted upon from 18 December 2017 to 2 February 2018 (consultation responses received would be submitted straight to the Inspector for consideration in her final report)

2. That the Inspector be sent a submission from the Strategic Planning Committee during the consultation period on the main modifications to the Villages Plan asking her to consider excluding the words ‘in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)’ from the new polices VP04 and VP05, as the Committee did not consider this to be necessary as all relevant policies within the Local Plan would apply to the two employment sites concerned.

Councillor Philip Skinner proposed and seconded by Councillor Mike Allan. (Mike Allan who is lead councillor for employment and business at EDDC is also the District Councillor, who will be attending the re-established Greendale Liaison Group meetings,)

So why is now necessary to suggest to the Planning Inspector to remove the reference to Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan?

It is hoped that that the Local Parish Councils, Residents Associations, and many local people who are affected by these Business Parks will submit responses to the Inspector during this final consultation period (final day 2 Feb 2018) requesting that:

All the text regarding these Business Parks is included especially the sentence the 5 councillors supported at the Strategic Planning Committee meeting on the 14th Dec requests removing.

“in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)”

This sentence must remain in Policies VP04 and VP05 of the Villages Plan to ensure a substantial link to the East Devon Local Plan.

Details of how to respond to the Village Plan

The schedule of main modification, the updated SA/SEA, an amended version of the Villages Plan that incorporates the proposed changes and further information about the consultation may be viewed on the Council web site at: Villages plan examination – East Devon
If you wish to comment on the proposed schedule of main modifications or the updated SA/SEA, please email planningpolicy@eastdevon.gov.uk by no later than 2nd February 2018. All responses received will be forwarded to the Inspector for her consideration prior to issuing her report, which will be in the Spring of 2018.
If you want further information please contact the planning policy team on 01395 571533.
The Officer to contact is Linda Renshaw (Mrs) Senior Planning Officer East Devon District Council Tel. 01395 571683 Working days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.