Lib Dems at Mid-Devon challenge developers on zero-carbon development, Tories whinge

“A motion was passed at Mid Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, July 24, following on from the declaration of a climate emergency in June.

Developers will face a zero-carbon requirement on all future development taking place in Mid Devon.

A motion was passed at Mid Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, July 24, following on from the declaration of a climate emergency in June.

Councillor John Downes (Boniface, Liberal Democrats) who put forward the following motion: “That this council instructs the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration to take the earliest available opportunity in planning policy terms to embed a zero-carbon requirement on all future development taking place in Mid Devon to respond to the climate emergency.”

Cllr Downes said he had wanted to word the motion so that planning which wasn’t zero-carbon would be refused as policy, and that it would be down to the planning inspector to agree to development or refuse. He added that the Chief Executive, Stephen Walford, had offered advice to defer to the head of planning to allow policy to change.

He said: “This is to make the point that we declared a zero-carbon target and any development we allow that is not zero-carbon is effectively carbon debt which is making the problem more difficult for us in the future.

“One developer, with the profit they made this year, could have made all their houses zero-carbon with the profit that they returned. The point is, if we do make the point and champion zero-carbon, technologies will need to change because that’s the way people are going to start making money and doing developments.

“It’s just about keeping it alive and making it current. I understand that policy will take time, but I think having declared a crisis, we need to show that we’re trying to do something, and planning and licensing are areas in which we can.”

However, Councillor Andrew Moore (Clare & Shuttern, Conservative) questioned whether the motion could be acted upon.

“Do we have any idea as to whether this can be done?” he said.

“An eco-home can operate carbon neutrally, and I’m advised that the likely uplifting cost to build is about 30 per cent, which of course is going to have a significant impact. That will come down in time naturally, but this is not necessarily a cheap thing to be imposing in policy.

“The thing that worries me though is what of the build cost in carbon terms? A study identified that on average, the carbon cost of simply constructing a home – forget the operational cost – is about 65 tonnes of CO2 on average. An average family car uses five tonnes per year, so that’s 13 year’s worth of car travel to build a house.

“Normally, one would amortise that over the life of the house, which is typically taken as 100 years, and how do you do that? Well a UK native tree would consume about one tonne in its whole life of 100 years, so build a house, plant 65 trees, and you know what, it equals out over time. But to be carbon neutral by 2030, that debt payoff model doesn’t work anymore because we’re saying it’s got to be neutralised at the point of the build.

“I have no idea, through my research, as to how on earth that is going to be accomplished. How at point of build, you’re going to get rid of 65 tonnes of CO2. I think it’s a great challenge and I am going to look forward to what actions and policies this motion will ultimately deliver.”

Councillor Richard Chesterton (Lower Culm, Conservative) applauded Cllr Downes for bringing the motion forward but warned that planning policy was a slow process.

He said the Council would also have to manage public expectations.

“I was at a parish council meeting recently in Uffculme where there was an assumption by members of the public that because we had made the decision we had made, that automatically a contentious planning application on the edge of the village wouldn’t happen because it wasn’t in keeping with that decision,” he said.

“I had to explain how the planning process works with policies set out at both national level and local level and that even the adopted local plan, while having some very good policies in them which will encourage the use of green technology and things like that, wouldn’t necessarily get to where you’re looking to get to, and wouldn’t necessarily be able to rely on that in their reason for why it should be turned down.

“The public expects that it will be different from the speed that we will meet, so we mustn’t get our hopes up too fast. It will also be complicated because any local plan and any planning policy that we bring forward has to be in line with national planning policies which don’t, at this moment in time, set out the same deadline and timescale that this Council has set out.

“That’s going be a stumbling block along the way. We need to be aware of that, and we need to know how the executive will push forward a planning policy that might be at odds with Government policy. It might not be of course by the time we get there.”

Cllr Chesterton quizzed the cabinet member for planning and economic generation, Councillor Graeme Barnell, (Newbrooke, Liberal Democrats) about a timescale, and whether or not the Council would have to introduce a revised Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

He added: “Would it be through a revised local plan at the earliest available opportunity, or would it be just through maybe a revised development management policies? And what timescale do you see it being able to come forward?”

Cllr Barnell replied: “We haven’t been idle as a cabinet in responding to the green agenda. We have been very active in thinking through our policies, but as you quite rightly point out, there are a number of constraints including Government policies that are pre-existing and the plans we’ve inherited from the previous administration.

“We’re looking at a greener Devon policy which the biggest single thing we can do in making practical steps towards zero-carbon. We are looking to get people out of their cars, get people working locally, sustain the rural economy, plant trees and hedgerows. These are long term, not short term fixes. They are long term answers to a chronic problem.

“We have to take every practical step within our planning policies to be able to implement this, not just indulge in wishful thinking. We’re going ahead with careful thought about this and how it will impact on the Cullompton Garden Village, the Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension and making sure we have a mixed development with local jobs that aren’t reliant on commuting, that is reliant on high-quality local jobs that people don’t have to get in their cars to go to.

“Reducing car journeys, so people don’t have to take their children to school are really important issues, and they may sound small, but they’re an important contribution to implementing the climate change agenda, and they will be filtering through as soon as possible into local planning policy.

“The last thing we want to do is tinker with the Local Plan. The Local Plan has been subjected to repeated delays; we want to see it across the line. We will be bringing forward changes to local planning policies in line with our greener Devon agenda and moving towards sustainable local Devon communities and more details soon, you will be being asked to consider those.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/zero-carbon-requirement-imposed-future-3167887

CAMPAIGN GROUP STEPS UP PRESSURE FOR REFORMS AT MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL

Just to remind everyone, when he was Leader of East Devon Alliance in 2013, Independent Group Leader Ben Ingham was an enthusiastic supporter of a change from the Cabinet system to a committee system. Since becoming Leader of EDDC in May he has been conspicuously silent on this matter:

 

 

Press Release:
8th July 2019

The Campaign for Local Democracy in Mid Devon was formed at the beginning of April this year, as campaigns for election to Mid Devon District Council were beginning.

The campaign arose from increasing concerns amongst the Mid Devon electorate about the lack of involvement of many District councillors in decision making and the ability of the Cabinet to ignore the wishes of large numbers of councillors. In particular, the decision of three members of the Cabinet to proceed with the sale to a private purchaser of the historic council building and council chamber in Crediton, against the expressed wishes of the majority of the 42 councillors, created uproar in the Crediton area. This resonated with concerns felt elsewhere in the district and led to the formation of the campaign group at a meeting in Tiverton.

With the all-up election pending, the group decided to wrote to all candidates advising them of their wish to see a more open and democratic system introduced and asking for their support.

The Green and Lib Dem candidates indicated their support, as did a number of Independent candidates.

The election resulted in the Conservative group losing overall control and subsequently deciding not to participate in a balanced Cabinet.

Whatever the outcome of the elections, the campaign group also decided that they would allow the new Council time to settle in before expecting to hear whether they were willing to introduce the necessary changes to governance.

As it is now two months since the election of the new Council, leading members of the group have now written to the Council Leader, Clr Bob Deed, on behalf of the campaign group asking what consideration they are giving to the need for these reforms.

In the letter, Mid Devon Alderman David Nation says that if the necessary reforms are not to be implemented, the group would wish to make an early start on seeking the support of the Mid Devon electorate for them. He clearly has in mind a public petition to require the Council to hold a referendum on switching from the present Cabinet structure to the previous Committee structure, where more councillors are involved in decision making and the decisions of full Council are supreme.

Ald. Nation said “We are hopeful that the new Council will share our concerns as so many of those now in control were sympathetic before the elections. If they cannot voluntarily agree the required changes, we are ready to canvass public support to force them to reform.”

Text of letter below:

Dear Councillor Deed

We hope that you are enjoying your new role and that options for changing the direction of travel of MDDC are beginning to emerge.

We are writing, of course, specifically about the concerns the Campaign for Local Democracy in Mid Devon have about the need to make decision making in the Council more open and democratic.

You may remember that at our inaugural meeting on 6 April, the election campaigns for the Mid Devon seats literally having just commenced, we decided to allow the new council time to settle in before expecting any statement about possible reforms.

As it is now two months since the new Council was elected, we are wondering if you are able to advise us whether this issue has yet been considered and if so, what the plan is to progress it.

In view of the changes at MDDC we are obviously hopeful that the Council will itself decide to implement the sort of reforms that meet our concerns but if not, we will wish to make an early start on seeking the support of the Mid Devon electorate for the necessary changes.

As we have discussed before, it is in everyone’s interest if that can be avoided, especially in terms of cost to the public purse.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes
Yours sincerely
David Nation Paul Tucker Judy Tucker”

What’s the future for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan? Highly debatable … unless …

Exeter – minor changes on 2 May (new Green Councillor, first Independendent councillor) but Labour still in control

Mid Devon – now no overall control (Lib Dems, Indies and Greens outnumber Tories)

Teignbridge – Lib Dems won control

East Devon – now no overall control (Indies, Lib Dems and Greens outnumber Tories)

Oh dear, looks like GESP may have to go back to the drawing board …

UNLESS the previous (unelected) councillors controlling it (Diviani for East Devon) and their bossy officers stitched it up before the falls from grace …

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – Exeter leaks its “vision”*

“But not yet in East Devon until July 2019 (see below). It seems East Devon is the only council keeping ALL its plans secret until after the 2 May 2019 district council elections.

Fishy? You bet!

Anyway, here’s what we currently know:

Interesting proposals for changes to Sidmouth Road and Junction 30 of the M5. The Motorway Services and Sowton Park and Ride being developed as a “Mixed Neighbourhood” (see image above).

The Governments require the Greater Exeter Housing target to be 53,200 new homes over the next 20 years. That is for the combined area governed by East Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and Exeter.

Exeter’s housing ambitions

Karime Hassan, chief executive and growth director of Exeter City Council revealed this week a proposal for 12,000 new homes in the City of Exeter over the next 20 years. His vision of “Liveable Exeter”, for delivering a transformational housing programme for Exeter from 2020 to 2040. involves the creation of 8 new neighbourhoods.

Exeter’s published Vision

Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in new neighbourhood, including new work space, on both sides of the railway around St David’s Station.

Water Lane (close to Exe Valley Park) – 1,567 homes. A space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections.

Marsh Barton – 5,544 homes in a new neighbourhood. It will remain an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working, to make better use of riverside location. Development linked to the new proposed train station. Creation of new types of work space, including light industrial, workshops, office and shared work space.

East Gate (Heavitree Road) – 962 new homes, an enhanced approach to the city centre from the east, reduced traffic on Heavitree Road and a greater provision for public transport, walking and cycling. New places to live close to the city centre will exist alongside existing neighbourhoods.

West Gate (Western Way) – 617 new homes, opening up access to the river and canal from the city centre, a new cultural destination, an expanded and connected park at the heart of the city, a “Green Bridge” promoting active travel across the river.

South Gate (Holloway Street/South Street linked via Topsham Road) – 300 new homes, establishing an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, with a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay.

North Gate (North Street) – 308 new homes, a new approach to the city from St David’s, uncovering the medieval city wall.
Sandy Gate (land off Sandygate roundabout) – 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well-connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the proposed Clyst Valley Park.

Mid Devon’s published ambitions.

Mid Devon’s Local Plan is almost complete with a Planning Inspectors hearing due in the next few weeks to consult on their final draft.

Culm Valley on the South side of the M5 opposite Cullumpton create a new community of up to 5,000, with a new Motorway junction and railway Station.

Junction 27. A landmark project for a leisure and tourism development involving Tim Smit from the Edan Project
Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension will cover 153ha, to the east of Tiverton.

Teignbridge future ambitions.

Teignbridge has just started a review of their Local Plan and therefore their plans are in the infancy.

Brownfield Their preferred option to develop brownfield land for development however, the required number of homes the government require Teignbridge to build, is not possible to meet the housing needs from brownfield land only. Therefore, open countryside will need to be considered for development to meet the housing needs.

Garden village is being considered with the new settlement proposal to be between 1500-10,000 homes.

So – What are East Devon’s Ambitions?

Hard to say.

Although the other 3 Authorities are keeping their residents well informed on their sections of the GESP proposals, East Devon has been an almost total blackout! There has been a Local Plan in place since 2016 with most of new development being built in an area known as the West End. That is an area close to Exeter’s border plus the new Town of Cranbrook.

At East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday 29th January it was hoped that Agenda item 12 would be able to explain more on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan strategy and provide councillors some clarity on the East Devon Local Plan, plus the East Devon Villages Plan only agreed last year which most councillors only learned the previous week, would be jettisoned and replaced with a brand new East Devon Local Plan by 2023.

Local Plan to be replaced

At the meeting last week, the Head of Planning Ed Freeman explained that the present Local Plan was in 2 parts, with the section on Policies would require total re-writing because the Policies would be “substantially superseded” by the emerging GESP Policies. He also explained that the Villages Plan policies, will be merged into the new Local Plan.

Tory Councillor Philip Skinner who along with Tory Councillor Paul Diviani who are the only 2 East Devon`s elected representatives on the GESP “steering group committee” along with 2 elected members from the 3 other Authorities gave only a few hints on some of the latest thoughts for the GESP Strategy for East Devon.

Higher Density Housing for Exeter proposed for GESP

Regarding a question on Housing, he explained that it had been decided by the steering group, that each authority had a certain quota of dwellings proposed and it was not correct that if one Authority was unable to provide the housing numbers, other Authorities were required to build extra dwellings to offset the shortfall. He also explained that Exeter City Council had to return to the drawing board to enable extra dwelling numbers through “much higher density” within the confines of the City.

East Devon will take on most of the Industrial and commercial development for the GESP

Councillor Skinner also told the meeting regarding business development that he aimed to “Get the best for East Devon” and explained that to “Our strength and Exeter’s demise, they do not have the capacity, but we do!” and claimed most of the commercial and industrial development “will be in our patch”

After 2 years of joint secret meetings.

Exeter’s residents know what to expect with “Liveable Exeter”, Teignbridge residents are being told that their local plan is being re-assessed and are having public consultations, and Mid Devon residents have been through their public consultations and an agreed local plan about to be approved.

However, the residents of East Devon only know that their local plan is now being superseded by a new plan with substantial more housing and more industrial, commercial and business development.

All will be revealed in July 2019 after the District Council Elections. Who will you trust to steer East Devon through the next few years of obtaining the most appropriate and suitable Planning Policies. Leave it to the Tory Councillors who have kept everyone in the dark?

Or choose an Independent who are the major opposition for East Devon?

Mid-Devon Scrutiny Committee consults residents on problems

People are happier in Crediton than their neighbouring district towns of Tiverton and Cullompton a survey has found.

Members of Mid Devon District Council’s scrutiny committee went to the three towns between May and August to gather opinion after it was agreed a lack of consultation was a key issue for the public. …”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/people-happier-crediton-thanks-community-1010711

You can’t build anything you like in the countryside (well, at least in Mid-Devon!)

“Councillors [in mid Devon NOT East Devon!]have warned residents who live in the rural areas that they cannot just build what they like after a two-storey outbuilding was refused planning permission.

Applicants Mr and Mrs D Hall had requested the retention of a replacement two-storey timber building at Forestry Houses in Chenson, between Lapford and Eggesford Station. The application was brought before Mid Devon District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, November 29 after a previous decision not to take enforcement action and to invite an application given the rural nature of the property and the limited negative impact of the application.

The proposed use of the building was purported to be a workshop with domestic storage over, a greenhouse and potting shed were also included within the lean-to structure.

In his report to members, area team leader Simon Trafford recommended refusal. His report said: “The development by virtue of its siting, scale and massing represents an incongruous feature on the site and furthermore contributes towards an unnecessary proliferation of built structures within this part of the countryside. For these reasons the development as it has been constructed is considered to be harmful to the overall character and appearance of the countryside.

“At the time of this decision the application site contained a single storey timber cabin building used as ancillary domestic accommodation, a pitched roof timber outbuilding with double doors used for the storage of building materials and a motorbike, a timber pitched roof field shelter, a timber store building and a small lean-to extension providing ancillary storage for the main dwelling. …

… All 11 members of the planning committee voted in favour of refusing the application.”

http://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/living-remote-areas-does-not-919277

Oooohhh – a Devon MP gets a ministerial post and it isn’t Swire!

Tory Mel Stride, who held onto his central Devon MP at the general election by a comfortable margin, has been appointed financial secretary to the Treasury.

Stride, 55, who enjoyed 54 per cent of the vote and has a 16,000 majority over Labour in the rural seat he has won three times, was confirmed in the role on Monday after Mrs May’s meeting with the Conservative 1922 committee.

It is a junior ministerial post and the fourth most significant in the Treasury after the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the chief Secretary to the Treasury, and the Paymaster General. …”

http://www.devonlive.com/devon-mp-gets-ministerial-post-in-theresa-may-s-cabinet-reshuffle/story-30385865-detail/story.html