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.

Final Consultation for the East Devon Villages Plan – your input urgently needed, particularly on business park expansion

The revised policies will provide further controls on Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks.

On a recent Planning Enforcement Appeal, the Planning Inspector`s conclusion was he disagreed with the appellant’s (FWS Carter and Sons owners of Greendale Business Park) contention that the Local Plan is silent on the matter of employment provision/future development at the major existing employment sites of both Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks. He stated that ‘although there may be no specific policies for the business parks Strategy 7 and Policy E7, it is perfectly clear that the Plan seeks to apply a “restrictive policy approach” to accommodating further development’.

At a Strategic Planning Meeting last week it was agreed to submit the “Villages Plan” to a further 7 week consultation period which has been through the various consultations and Planning Inspectorates hearings.
East Devon District Council have yesterday(Monday 18th December) submitted the Villages Plan for consultation on the Local Plan Inspectors “Main Modifications” that she had included following her hearings held at Sidmouth in November.

The Village Plan is an extension to the already approved East Devon Local Plan which gives further detail on the 15 larger Villages in the district with new BUAB (Built up Area Boundaries) proposals which will provide some extra development for the next 15 years.

Also included are the two Industrial areas at Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park which will have an “Employment Area” drawn around them as they are both contrary to the East Devon Local Plan as they are considered to be in the open countryside where development should not be allowed.

The Planning Inspector has proposed two new Policies VP04 and VP05 covering the Business Parks. Reading the other Inspector’s report for the Enforcement Appeal who stated that there were no specific policies for the business parks, these new proposed policies will provide the clarity and guidance required to prevent these Business Parks expanding further into the countryside or closer to local communities.

History of the Village Plan

Following the hearings in 2015 with the Planning Inspectorate it was agreed to remove all villages’ growth targets from the Local Plan and create a subsidiary plan for the Villages. It was also agreed to include further clarity for Hill Barton and Greendale Business Park with this new Village Plan.

The original Village Plan was drawn up by planning officers from the District Council, agreed by the EDDC Strategic Planning Committee and at a meeting of the Full Council to go out for a 6-week public consultation from 22 March to 10 May 2017.

Following the consultations, changes were made to the Plan by the EDDC Planning Officers and the Strategic Planning Committee and then agreed by Full Council and submitted it to the Government Planning Inspectorate. This required another Public Consultation of 6 weeks when all interested parties were invited again to submit comments direct to the inspector followed by an Inspectors Hearing for 2 days in Nov 2017.

This procedure follows the agreed guidance of Democratic Principles, giving the Local Electorate plus the relevant Parish Councils, the ability to scrutinise and to submit comments to enable the District Council and finally the Inspector to ensure the Village Plan Document is both legally compliant and has followed fully the democratic principles.

Policy VP04 relating to Greendale Business Park.

Policy VP04 – Greendale Business Park Inset maps are included in this plan that show the extent of authorised uses at the Greendale Business Park for information purposes only. Development of Greendale Business Park as indicated on the inset map will be considered in accordance with the relevant policies of the development plan, in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)

Policy VP05 relating to Hill Barton Business Park.

Policy VP05 – Hill Barton Business Park Inset maps are included in this plan that show the extent of authorised uses at the Hill Barton Business Park for information purposes only. Development of Hill Barton Business Park as indicated on the inset map will be considered in accordance with the relevant policies of the development plan, in particular Strategy 7 of the East Devon Local Plan (Development in the Countryside)

These new Policies which the Inspector specifically required to be added to the proposed plan are to make it legally complaint and to link in to the already approved East Devon Local Plan.

It is a key principle to the Local Plan that these Business Parks are not to be extended from their present boundaries as they are in the open countryside.

District Councillor Geoff Jung (Raleigh Ward)

“This is another significant step forward by the Local Planning Authority to provide further support to the local plan strategy for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks.”

“The Business Parks provide employment for many local people, but the sites are in the open countryside located some distance from where people live. The Government and Local Authority strategy is to provide employment in locations close to where people live.”

“Further development will be provided within these business parks but expansion beyond their present approved boundaries will be against local planning strategies and policies.”

“If the Village Plan is adopted as proposed this will provide the clarity that local people have been asking for, for years”

“As well as being inappropriate development within the countryside, there are significant highway issues relating to these Business Parks with the HGV traffic on the A3052 Sidmouth Road from the M5 to the Halfway Inn being heavily used and the Sandy Gate roundabout and the Clyst St Mary Roundabout at already at full capacity.”

“It is thanks to local residents, various associations and action groups, and concerned Parish Councils, within the wider area who have worked with tenacity and persistence to get to this final hurdle”

An Urgent Request for Residents to Respond

What is required now is for local people to write or email to the Local Authority in support of 17.3 changes and additions, plus the new Policy VP04 for Greendale Business Park and 18.1-18.2 changes and additions, plus the new Policy VP05 for Hill Barton.

To agree with the Inspectors proposals in full recognising the current employment boundary of Greendale and Hill Barton, this would protect the “open countryside”

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

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/villages-plan/villages-plan-2017/villages-plan-examination/

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.

  

The disgraced ex-EDDC Tory Councillor Graham Brown “If I can’t get planning, nobody will” scandal refuses to die

Remember the disgraced ex-Councilor Graham Brown scandal?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9920971/If-I-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-says-Devon-councillor-and-planning-consultant.html

Well, it refuses to die.

The Sunday Times today (page 29, main paper) mentions it in passing in an article entitled “Bricks, Bribery and Planning – the flaw built into our planning rules” (full text to follow shortly).

“But the depressing truth is that corruption is endemic in Britain’s bureaucratic planning system. In every corner of the country, you can fund stories of bribery, with local councillors and officials rigging the planning system for their own gain.

Doncaster, Enfield, Greater Manchester, EAST DEVON – these are just a handful of local authorities where corrupt practices have been discovered in planning departments. In other words, the corruption is systemic and it’s caused by the inadequacy of Britain’s property rights”. …”

Brown, at various times, headed up the East Devon Business Forum, was also highly influential in the early stages of the Local Development Plan (which wasted two years or more mostly visiting big development sites owned by prominent businessmen and which had to be abandoned and re-started under the later chairmanship of Councillor Philip Skinner).

Brown held many other posts throughout his long career as an EDDC councillor, mostly related to planning, while running his local planning consultancy business – a fact of which other Tory majority party councillors and officers were very well aware, but did not perceive as not being a conflict of interest – until the Daily Telegraph sting.

His only censure was to be kicked out of his local Tory party – local police refused to be involved with an inquiry due to insufficient evidence. Were local planners and councillors – or even the Daily Telegraph or Anna Minton – asked for evidence? We have no idea.

Brown features (as does East Devon generally – a whole chapter) in the Anna Minton expose “ Scaring the Living Daylights Out of People: The Local Lobby and the Failure of Democracy” (Section 3: The Local Mafia: Conflicts of Interest in East Devon”) :

https://sidmouthindependentnews.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/scaring-the-living-daylights-final.pdf

As a final insult to injury, after his departure from EDDC he attempted to get the agricultural tie lifted from the farmhouse in which he lived (which would have greatly increased its value by up to 40%) until a local investigation (led by East Devon Alliance) uncovered the fact that he had been receiving EU farming subsidies to the tune of at least £850,000 throughout the period he said he was no longer farming:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2014/09/22/ex-councillor-browns-facts-disputed-2/

How to stop developers using the “viability assessment” loophole to avoid building affordable housing

Excellent report on the current disgraceful situation and what needs to be done about it. Part of the conclusion of the 38 page report of November 2017 which should be required reading for all council planning officers:

“… On its own, Section 106 will never meet the country’s need for new affordable housing supply. But the current use and abuse of viability assessments means that we are getting less affordable housing out of private developments than we were before and during the crash, and certainly less than we could.

Flexibility in the viability system has driven down affordable housing provision at the expense of land price inflation, essentially making development more expensive.

By amending the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance to close the viability loophole, we can maximise developer contributions to affordable housing, with knock-on positive effects for overall housing supply, build out rates and community support for new housing.

The government is already consulting on the changes needed to turn affordable housing policies into cast iron pledges. It is now vital that they follow through on these plans.”

https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/1434439/2017.11.01_Slipping_through_the_loophole.pdf

Cranbrook (Preferred Approach) consultation opens

PRESS RELEASE

“Cranbrook Plan – Preferred Approach

We are delighted to advise that East Devon District Council are consulting on the above plan and we would welcome your comments that need to be received by us by

9:00 am on Monday 8 January 2018.

The Cranbrook Plan Preferred Approach documents set out proposals for the future development of the town and they include a masterplan that shows the proposed location of differing types of buildings and land uses including homes, shops, community facilities and open spaces. In the consultation documents we provide details of evidence and background reports that support the Cranbrook work and we also have a schedule of potential future policies for Cranbrook development and a sustainability appraisal.

The feedback we receive from this consultation will help inform production of a formal development plan document (or DPD) for the town that we hope to produce and consult on in 2018 and then to formally submit for independent examination. You can find out more about the Cranbrook Plan – Preferred Approach, look at supporting documents and find out how to make comments by visiting our web site at:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/cranbrook-plan/cranbrook-plan-preferred-approach-consultation

and

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/cranbrook-plan/get-involved-share-your-views

Do please contact us if you have any queries or would like further information. We would advise that we are contacting you because your details are logged on our planning policy database or you have previously responded to Cranbrook consultation events. If, however, you no longer wish to be contacted by this Council in respect of planning policy documents do please advise us and we will remove your details from our database.”

Yours faithfully
The Cranbrook Team
East Devon District Council