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.”


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.


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


“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

Click to access 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)

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.

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 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:

Click to access 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


If you wish to comment on the proposed schedule of main modifications or the updated SA/SEA, please email


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?


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”) :

Click to access 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:


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.”

Click to access 2017.11.01_Slipping_through_the_loophole.pdf

Cranbrook (Preferred Approach) consultation opens


“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:




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

Should the East Devon district be split? The People’s Republic of Eastern East Devon?

A recent commentator on this blog wants to see Sidmouth leave EDDC.

This raises an interesting possibility.

There is a case for EDDC being broken up as it is already the largest District Council in Devon, and the fastest growing. Increasingly, our district council concentrates on its western side – the Science Park, Cranbrook – the LEP Growth Area – and aligns itself more and more with “Greater Exeter” with other communities feeling increasingly out on an ignored limb.

It would seem from anecdotal evidence that he vast majority of Sidmouth residents would vote to leave EDDC, especially when EDDC is cutting all its ties with the town and moving physically and increasingly representationally to Honiton/Exeter.

The interesting bit is whether other communities would wish to join with Sidmouth in a ‘breakaway’. Would Newton Poppleford, Otterton, Branscombe and Beer, Ottery, Budleigh, Colyton and Seaton be up for creating a new largely rural and coastal authority? And what to call it? Eastern East Devon? Jurassic Devon?

There would be no problem over viability. Some functions might still be shared. Others, such as street cleaning, could be devolved to town council level where it belongs.

There would be an obvious improvement in democratisation, and representation, and, crucially, a big improvement in the quality of councillors. There is also an interesting opportunity to create from the outset a non-party-political district responsible for its own planning. Far more people would stand for an authority when they had a much greater say in decisions affecting their own community; when they and they alone decided on such things as health care, education and environment without having to kowtow to “Greater Exeter”.

Jurassic Devon would have a population of about 50,000, which many would say would be close to the ideal.

Time to consider the break away?

Devon planners told to go home by developer – s/he has the county sewn up?

Not sure which district council this is (Teignbridge, Torridge?) but one developer appears to believe s/he runs the district and possibly even the county. As the blogger (Andrew Lainton – Decisions, Decisions blog) says, the alleged author may well regret his or her early morning post!

The wild (south) west of planning!


“Cat and Fiddle” pub site to have new hotel

Though why Exmouth Journal thinks the A3052 site is “near Exmouth”, when at 8.3 miles away it’s actually closer to Woodbury (4.1 miles), Cranbrook (6.4 miles) and even Topsham (4.1 miles) is puzzling. It is, however, only 1 mile from Crealy Adventure Park …

Does the Local Plan allow for a hotel there?

“A new 33-bed hotel could be built in Clyst St Mary if a major planning application gets the go-ahead.

St Austell Brewery has entered a proposal to redesign the Cat and Fiddle Pub, in Clyst St Mary, and build a new two-storey hotel in the existing car park.

If given the go-ahead the pub and hotel would operate together with the pub being managed by the brewery to ‘maintain control’ of the whole site. …”


Air pollution – citizen fights back

“An environmental campaigner is to bring a legal challenge over a city council’s adoption of its Local Plan, claiming that it is in breach of procedural requirements with regard to compliance with air pollution law.
The Canterbury District Local Plan proposes 16,000 new houses, mostly near Canterbury, on farmland outside the city boundary, with new slip roads, relief roads and further infrastructure.

The claimant, Emily Shirley, argues that this will result in additional car journeys of up to 112,000 daily, adding significantly to Canterbury’s roads.

Represented by law firm Leigh Day, she claims that the impact on air pollution was not properly considered by Canterbury City Council when adopting the plan and that the local authority failed to assess the cumulative effects of the proposed developments on the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) as required by the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004.

Shirley is crowd funding the case through the CrowdJustice website. She said: “Air pollution is the invisible killer. Everyone knows how congested Canterbury’s roads are but few are aware of the dangers of air pollution. For many years, individuals, amenity groups and parish councils have tried to get air pollution reduction measures implemented in Canterbury without success. Challenging the Adopted Canterbury Local Plan in the High Court will hopefully lead to a Plan that will reduce the unlawful air pollution levels as soon as possible.”

Rowan Smith, solicitor at Leigh Day, said: “With the dangers of air pollution so much of a zeitgeist issue, it is unfathomable that the City Council is prepared to risk making things worse in its area. You only have to look at the UK’s recent commitment to ban the sale of all diesel and petrol vehicles from 2040 to realise how out of step these plans are with current low carbon trends in policy-making. The legal errors we say it has made in formulating its plans only further demonstrate how imperative it is that the City Council goes back to the drawing board.”

Canterbury City Council has been approached for comment.

Judgment is meanwhile awaited in an earlier legal challenge on air pollution grounds in Canterbury this year. This challenge, also involving Shirley – Shirley & Rundell vs Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government – was heard in the High Court in July 2017. This case concerned the failure of the Secretary of State to call in a large planning application of 4,000 houses on air pollution grounds.”


Is EDDC gearing up for even greater development for 5-year Local Plan review?

All Local Plans have to be reviewed every five years. Though it is likely that the next Local Plan won’t be very local as “Greater Exeter” will almost certainly be what is put forward, East Devon being only one part of it.

Now it seems the current Local Plan didn’t go to plan!

The number of new homes being built in East Devon has dramatically dropped, government data has revealed.

In total, 620 new properties were completed by private developers and housing associations in 2016/17.

But this is more than 250 homes fewer than were built in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 – where an average of 836 new properties were finished each year.

In the last decade, a total of 4,690 properties have been built and completed in the district and more than 12,600 new homes were finished across Devon. …


In fact 2013/14 and 2014/15 and 2015/16 were the result of the years during which the developer free-for-all took place when EDDC had no Local Plan and no 5 year land supply so we had a situation where, under government rules, developers could build any amount of houses practically anywhere. So it’s hardly surprising there was a boom.

So, it now appears that, in fact, the number of houses EDDC had expected to see built this year haven’t materialised.

That could mean that more will be front-loaded to a revised (probably Greater Exeter) plan. And/or the whole area might be back to not having a 5-year land supply so it will be a developer free-for-all – again.

What is VERY interesting is that around 37% of all new homes in the whole of Devon have been built in East Devon in the last decade.

Perhaps time for other parts of Greater Exeter to take the strain in the coming decade?

Why “growth” is almost impossible in East Devon

Our Local Enterprise Partnership trumpets “growth, growth, we must have growth to prosper” and EDDC chose the highest growth figures to ensure its Local Plan got LOTS of housing. But they both seem to have forgotten something that their bible, the Daily Telegraph, now points out:

Britain’s productivity crisis risks getting worse because the population is ageing steadily, leaving relatively fewer younger, more dynamic workers who typically innovate more.

Unless drastic action is taken to boost skills and creativity, or to increase the number of young workers, then growth will struggle to pick up, according to new economic research published in the journal of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

“The share of young workers impacts the innovation process positively and, as a result, a change in the demographic profile that skews the distribution of the population to the right [older], leads to a decline in innovation activity,” said the paper, written by Yunus Aksoy, Henrique Basso and Ron Smith. …

To avert a sustained slowdown they recommend that governments should look at ways to make the dwindling proportion of young people more productive.

“Unless there are drastic changes most OECD countries will need to devise new policies to foster medium-run economic growth in an environment with ageing population, perhaps by increasing investment in human capital,” the researchers believe.

Alternative options are also available, but some may be less politically palatable – for instance, encouraging greater flows of migrants of working age into the country.

“Demographics are not destiny and our conclusions assume that there will not be major changes in rates of immigration, labour force participation, fertility or longevity,” the economists said.”


“Cranbrook expansion plans for 1,200 new homes opposed by Cranbrook town council”

“Cranbrook town council voted on Monday night to object to plans for the southern expansion of the new town. Two new applications for the southern expansion of Cranbrook have been submitted to East Devon District Council for the outline planning permission for 27.2 hectares of residential development, 9.2 hectares of employment development, a new primary school, a local community centre, and sport pitches and tennis courts as part of a sports hub.

The plans includes 1,200 new homes, a new primary school, a sports hub, a petrol station, and a site for travellers and were a revision of plans that had been outlined in 2015 but had been deferred while the Cranbrook Development Plan Document was being finalised.

The revised plans would see a reduction of 350 homes, a reduction in employment space by 5,000 square meters to 35,000 square meters, enhanced sports and play areas with all-weather facilities, floodlighting, changing facilities and children’s play, community uses as well as the possibility of gypsy and traveller pitches as an alternative to employment land.

But concerns by the council’s planning committee were raised about the fact that the proposals added land for housing on the eastern edge of the original proposals between Parsons Lane and the Country Park boundary immediately opposite the existing homes in Post Coach Way which front the B3174, and they requested further clarification on the gypsy and/or traveller allocation being provided.

The committee said: “Broadly the planning proposals being considered are in line with East Devon District Council’s Local Plan 2013-2031, which precludes development within the Neighbourhood Plan areas of the surrounding villages. By reducing the application to 1,200 homes, the proposals maintain an acceptable density per hectare and respect the Neighbourhood Plan areas of the two immediate parish neighbours.

“The Committee considered that density of 45 dwellings per hectare as acceptable and reiterated that parking issues associated with that level of density were well recorded.

“The Committee felt that the applications ignored previous pledges about the green wedge contained within East Devon District Council’s Local Plan 2013-2031. Councillors were anxious to preserve the green wedge between Cranbrook and Rockbeare and considered the proposed wedge too narrow.

The proposal added land for housing on the eastern edge of the original proposals between Parsons Lane and the Country Park boundary immediately opposite the existing homes in Post Coach Way which front the B3174 which may raise concerns about visual impact from the village of Rockbeare.

“The inclusion of the “gypsy and traveller pitches” required clarification.The Town Council always maintained a position that it is acceptable for Cranbrook to accommodate a proportionate and reasonable number of pitches particularly to provide permanent homes for gypsy and/or traveller families and this provision should be within the allocation of affordable homes within the scheme.

“The indicative site was, however, shown as an alternative to employment land and had close proximity to the airport. This site was not suitable for settled gypsy or traveller families to be located because of its proximity to the airport and the Committee felt that a possible transition site should be located nearer the main arterial routes and the M5 and not in a residential area

“The Committee also reiterated that there was a need to separate between sites for each group and, traditionally both genuine gypsy and genuine traveller families were not usually content to share sites with new age or caravan travellers.”

They resolved to object to the planning applications.

Since the build of the new town in East Devon began in 2010, 3,500 homes, a railway station, St Martin’s Primary School, play facilities, the neighbourhood centre, local shops, the education campus, the Cranbrook Farm pub, while construction of buildings in the town centre and the sports pitches are underway, while plans for the ecology park in the town have also been submitted.

The application for the southern expansion for Cranbrook would see the town get an additional 1,200 homes, but also a petrol station, a residential care home, employment land, a new primary school, and an all-weather sports facility.”


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”.




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.”