Express and Echo names EDDC Vice-Chair Helen Parr as councillor under police investigation at Colyton

Councillor Parr is standing for the DCC Seaton and Colyton seat at elections tomorrow.

“The vice-chairman of East Devon District Council is under investigation over an allegation she influenced plans to develop her area while failing to declare an interest.

Councillor Helen Parr will be speaking to police officers on a voluntary basis, the Express & Echo understands.

The investigation into the councillor for Coly Valley regards late changes to the East Devon Villages plan made after she was among those who spoke at the meeting of the East Devon District Council strategic planning committee on February 20.

Cllr Parr is a director of a company which owns land next to the former Ceramtec factory site in Colyton. The factory was due to be slated for housing until Cllr Parr spoke at the planning meeting and it was decided to recommend that it remains for employment.

She told the committee: “The main concern and why people are not at all happy about what is proposed in the document is that the built up area boundary line now has suddenly, after the consultation, gone out round the built section of the Ceramtec site.

“It is a very large site and will accommodate, if it went only to houses, about 80 houses. It would be a large development for Colyton which nobody, until now, had any inkling of, in that the built-up area boundary excluded this site.

“There is concern because the bottom line for Colyton is that we lost 80 jobs when this factory closed and we would like to retained as much as possible for employment land.

“I would ask the committee to agree or to propose that the wording should make it clear that on the preamble to the plan that on page 20 it includes words that show that this is protected as an employment site and it should be retained for employment use.”

The East Devon Alliance – a group of independent district councillors – has raised concerns about Cllr Parr’s conduct with Devon & Cornwall Police.

Members say she should have declared and interest and not spoken on the issue.

Cllr Parr and her husband are directors of J & FJ Baker & Company Limited, which owns land at Turlings Farm, next to the Ceramtec site.

East Devon Alliance Councillor Cathy Gardner, at last week’s East Devon District Council meeting, revealed that there was an ongoing police investigation into the council’s handling of the matter.

A spokesperson for Devon & Cornwall Police said it could not confirm or deny the scope of the police investigation. Cllr Parr was asked for comment, but said that due to purdah – rules brought in before an election – she could not say anything.

Last year J & FJ Baker & Company Limited bought land on the south side of Turlings Farm which connects the Ceramtec site to the farm that the Parrs own. They paid £1 for the strip of property.

Cllr Gardner said at last week’s meeting of East Devon District Council: “It may be proven that undue influence has distorted the content of the plan. If that does turn out to be the case, do you agree that it is the responsibility of this council to rectify the result of this influence – in order to ensure the residents of Colyton are not adversely affected and to do so before the plan goes to the (Planning) Inspector?”

In response, Cllr Paul Diviani, the council’s leader, said: “In terms of the village plan, I can’t see a reason why we should be inclined to second guess what an inspector or other authority or otherwise is going to do and in that respect I will reserve judgement as to when we actually do take action.”

An East Devon Alliance source told the Echo: “She is the vice-chairman of the council and has been the chairman of the planning committee for years, so she knows what she is doing, so we have got to pursue this.”

An East Devon District Council spokesman said: “Only the three statutory officers at the council together with one other officer were aware that there was a police investigation prior to the meeting of council on Wednesday and these officers have kept the matter confidential.

“Given that there is an active police investigation, and the sensitivities around purdah for both the county and General Election, it would be wholly inappropriate for the council to comment on the investigation at this time. The council also cannot comment on how Cllr Gardner became aware of the police investigation, and the chief executive and monitoring officer were surprised that she raised this matter at a public meeting.

“The process that has been followed for the village plan and the representations made/considered by officers and reported to the strategic planning committee, can be found on the East Devon District Council website.”

The East Devon Villages Plan – a blueprint for development in the area – is currently out for consultation”.

REPRODUCEABLE IMAGES:

UNFORTUNATELY SOME IMAGES IN THIS ARTICLE ARE NOT REPRODUCEABLE HERE – SEE LINK TO FULL ARTICLE AT END OF THIS POST WHICH IS REPEATED VERBATIM FROM THE DEVON-LIVE WEBSITE. FOR FULL STORY AND ALL EVIDENTIAL IMAGES SEE:

http://www.devonlive.com/east-devon-council-vice-chairman-to-speak-to-police-over-plan-changes/story-30310460-detail/story.html

Bovis slow down will hit East Devon hard

“… Bovis faces the humiliation of being the only major housebuilder to report falling volumes this year as it attempts to recover from a series of blunders and a major profit warning … a 15% drop in completions … dividend cut … damaged reputation …”

Sunday Telegraph Business section

This will have a major knock on effect for East Devon, where the company is heavily involved in Axminster, Seaton and Cranbrook. Bad news, too, for the Local Plan, which similarly relies on the company to boost its numbers.

Useful case law on sustainability

“A judge has dismissed all seven grounds on which a developer sought to challenge the Community Secretary’s decision to reject a planning inspector’s recommendation.

The case concerned Arun District Council’s refusal to grant permission to developer Keith Langmead to build 100 homes at Yapton, West Sussex.
An inspector recommended that Langmead’s appeal be allowed, but this was overturned by the Secretary of State.

Giving judgment in Keith Langmead Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2017] EWHC 788, Mrs Justice Lang noted the Secretary of State had concluded the appeal did not accord with either the overall local plan or Yapton’s neighbourhood plan.

Arun lacked the five-year supply of housing sites required by the National Planing Policy Framework (NPPF) and so could be liable to the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

But the Secretary of State concluded that the proposed development did not comply with the social element of sustainability, and the “adverse impacts of this proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified benefits”.

Langmead appealed on the grounds that the Secretary of State misunderstood and misinterpreted the NPPF, failed to apply it correctly, failed to take into account the independent examiner’s reservations about the Neighbourhood Plan and made a decision internally inconsistent with regard to the weight given to the local plan.

The company also argued that the decision was irrational and failed to give adequate reasons.

Lang J said the Secretary of State’s decision “did not disclose any misinterpretation or misapplication of the NPPF”, while it was unlikely that any material change came to his notice at the right time.

The inspector’s view had been incorporated and the Secretary of State “disagreed with the inspector’s conclusions, as he was entitled to do”.
Langmead had obtained by disclosure a copy of the internal planning casework division (PCD)’s submission to the Secretary of State to allow the appeal and while the decision letter did not mention this “it seems very unlikely that the Secretary of State failed to consider it, since an internal submission of this kind would usually be a helpful starting point for the minister”, the judge noted.

She said: “Although this appeal was controversial, it was not especially complex, in fact or law. The reasons in the [decision letter] were adequate and intelligible.

“In my view, the claimant knew full well the Secretary of State’s conclusions on the principal important controversial issues. Its real complaint was that the conclusions reached were unreasonable and misguided.”
The judge added: “The Secretary of State was entitled to make up his own mind, and reach a different conclusion to that of the PCD and the inspector.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=30835%3Ajudge-dismisses-challenge-after-minister-rejects-recommendation-of-inspector&catid=63&Itemid=31

EDDC Local Plan not fit for purpose as developer (and Clinton Devon Estates) challenge succeeds at Newton Poppleford

“Cavanna Homes already has outline permission for the site off King Alfred Way, but East Devon District Council (EDDC) refused its reserved matters proposals due to a lack of ‘pepper-potting’.

The Planning Inspectorate has overturned the decision, arguing the authority’s Local Plan policy – intended to encourage integration between market-rate and ‘affordable’ homes – lacks ‘substantive evidence’ on its specific requirements.

In his report, inspector Andrew Dawe said Cavanna Homes, in a joint application with Pencleave 2, had modified the distribution of the 16 ‘affordable’ homes in a way that was materially different from a previous application.

He said two sheltered housing providers were opposed to ‘pepper-potting’ and supported clustering to cut costs.

As a result, Mr Dawe said he was satisfied that an acceptable level of integration could be achieved and moved to approve the reserved matters application.

District councillor Val Ranger previously argued the importance of getting this ‘major development right’.

Responding to the decision, she said: “This just shows the Local Plan is not worth the paper it’s written on. The social housing is not dispersed throughout the site. This will only encourage [landowner] Clinton Devon Estates to continue to lobby the Government that they should be able to build anywhere in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “It is unfortunate that the inspector has overturned the council’s decision on this matter, however, the extent to which affordable homes should be mixed in with market housing within a site is a grey area in planning. While the decision does not lead to the level of integration that we had hoped to achieve on this site, it is good that the inspector accepted the principle of what we were trying to achieve, and it does at least provide some clarity over what inspectors consider acceptable to guide consideration of other schemes in the district.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/official_overrules_decision_on_40_homes_in_newton_poppleford_1_4929184

Government response to petition – “Give communities back the right to decide where houses are built.”.

OWL SAYS: if you believe this, you will believe anything. Have we been consulted about where our Local Enterprise Partnership is going to build extra houses? No. What say do we have about extra houses for Greater Exeter? Almost none. Do (favoured) developers get just about anything and everything they ask for in East Devon? Yes, they do.

Truly we live in a parallel universe to the government!


“Local communities are not forced to accept large housing developments. Communities are consulted throughout the Local Plan process and on individual planning applications.

Read the response in full

The National Planning Policy Framework strongly encourages all local planning authorities to get up-to-date Local Plans in place as soon as possible, in consultation with the local community. Up-to-date Local Plans ensure that communities get the right development, in the right place, at the right time, reflecting the principles of sustainable development. Through the White Paper we are ensuring that every part of the country produces, maintains and implements an up-to-date plan, yet with the flexibility for local areas to decide how to plan in a way that best meets their needs.

A wide section of the community should be proactively engaged so that Local Plans, as far as possible, reflect a collective vision and a set of agreed priorities for the sustainable development of the area, including those contained in any neighbourhood plans that have been made.

The Framework recognises the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. That is why our proposals are focussed on development in built up areas.
We are also absolutely clear that Green Belt must be protected and that there are other areas that local authorities must pursue first, such as brownfield land and taking steps to increase density on urban sites. The Government is committed to maximising the use of brownfield land and has already embarked on an ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use.

We believe that developers should mitigate the impacts of development. This is vital to make it acceptable to the local community and to addresses the cumulative impact of development in an area. Both the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 agreements can be used by local planning authorities to help fund supporting infrastructure and address the cumulative demand that development places on infrastructure. Through the White Paper, the Government announced that it will examine the options for reforming the existing system of developer contributions to see how this can be simplified, with further announcements at Autumn Budget 2017.

The £2.3billion Housing Infrastructure Fund will deliver up to 100,000 new homes by putting in the right infrastructure, in the right place, at the right time. We expect the fund to be able to deliver a variety of types of infrastructure necessary to unlock housing growth in high demand areas.

There is nothing automatic about grants of planning permission where there is not yet an up-to-date Local Plan. It is still up to local decision-makers to interpret and apply national policy to local circumstances, alongside the views of the local community. Applications should not be approved if the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits; or if specific policies in the Framework indicate that development should be restricted.

Communities are also able to make representations on individual planning applications and in response to most appeals by the applicant against a local authority decision. Interested parties can raise all the issues that concern them during the planning process, in the knowledge that the decision maker will take their views into account, along with other material considerations, in reaching a decision.

We therefore do not believe a right of appeal against the grant of planning permission for communities is necessary. It is considered that communities already have plenty of opportunity to have their say on local planning issues, and it would be wrong for them to be able to delay a development at the last minute, through a community right of appeal, when any issues they would raise at that point could have been raised and should have been considered during the earlier planning application process.

Department for Communities and Local Government”

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177333

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan consultation – only one public meeting to discuss implications for East Devon

NOTE THAT, UNLIKE THE EMAIL TO EDDC COUNCILLORS (see earlier post) WE ARE NOT BEING ASKED IF WE WANT TO PUT FORWARD SECRET LAND HOLDINGS – THOUGH NO DOUBT THE TAXMAN WOULD BE VERY INTERESTED IF YOU DID!

THE BIGGEST PLANNING ISSUE TO HIT EAST DEVON SINCE THE LOCAL PLAN AND YOU MUST TREK TO HONITON ON 8 MARCH IF YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR SAY. THAT’S IT – ONE MEETING IN ONE PLACE.

DO YOU RECALL BEING ASKED IF YOU WANTED TO BE PART OF GREATER EXETER? OWL NEITHER!

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan Consultation: Issues

The local authorities of East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge in partnership with Devon County Council are working together to prepare a Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP). This formal statutory document will provide the overall spatial strategy and level of housing and employment land to be provided up to 2040. Please visit http://www.gesp.org.uk for more information.

Engagement with stakeholders and communities will be critical to the success of the Plan. At this first stage, the authorities are consulting on an initial ‘issues document’ which, after setting out some background information, looks to explain the scope and content of the plan as well as describing the key issues facing the Greater Exeter area. This early stage of consultation is designed to stimulate debate and the local planning authorities are seeking your views on the scope and content of the plan as well as the key issues facing your area.

A number of other associated documents are also being consulted on:

Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report:

· The Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report is the first stage of work in undertaking the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) for the plan. This process is used to assess the sustainability of the plan content as it develops.

Statement of Community Involvement:

· The joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) sets out the approach for consultation in the GESP. The SCI sets out the way in which we will be engaging with communities and other interested parties throughout the process.

The consultation will run from 27 February 2017 until 10 April 2017. To view the consultation material and to make your comments please visit http://www.gesp.org.uk/consultations/issues/.

Alternatively, paper copies of the consultation document are available to view at your local library and Council Office.

A series of exhibitions are being held during the consultation period in the following locations:

Honiton: Mackarness Hall, High Street, EX14 1PG – Wednesday 8 March 2017, 2pm-8pm

Tiverton: Mid Devon District Council Office, Phoenix House, Phoenix Lane, EX16 6PP – Wednesday 15 March 2017, 2-8pm
Exeter: The Guildhall, High Street, EX4 3EB – Thursday 16 March 2017, 2-8pm
Newton Abbot: Old Forde House, Brunel Road, TQ12 4XX – Thursday 23 March 2017, 2- 8pm

A ‘call for sites’ has also been arranged to run alongside the consultation. This is a technical exercise which allows interested parties to submit potential sites for development to the Local Authorities. The sites are then assessed to consider whether they are suitable for possible inclusion in the plan. Further information is http://gesp.org.uk/call-for-sites/.

If you need further information please visit the website, email GESP@devon.gov.uk or contact your Local Council using the phone numbers below:

East Devon: 01395 571533
Exeter: 01392 265615
Mid Devon: 01884 234221
Teignbridge: 01626 215735

As there are four Councils contacting their stakeholders for the consultation and call for sites, you may receive duplicate letters/emails. Please accept my apologies if this is the case.”