Seaton heritage building – no stay of execution

(photos: Midweek Herald)

Word reaches Owl that, despite a last-minute attempt by Seaton Town Council to delay the auction of the Seaton beach searchlight building until alternative ideas for its use can be explored, EDDC CEO Mark Williams has decided it will go ahead to public auction tomorrow.

Question marks over the Greater Exeter Strategic Plans?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan seems not to be going to plan for the team!

Teignbridge, Mid Devon and East Devon District Councils in Feb 2017 teamed up with Exeter City Council to produce a “Greater Exeter Strategic Plan” (GESP). Recently they announced a delay to the ambitious plans which now puts the completion date to around 2022.

It was stated the delay was because of the substantial number of sites coming forward for consideration together with the complexities of the funding gap for infrastructure projects.


Devon councils and the Government have underinvested the roads and rail network in this area except for the passing through traffic for the last 60 years. Only the artery roads of the M5, A38, A30 and A361 were constructed and hardly any improvement to rail services with only “quick fix” solutions to storm events at Cowley Bridge and Dawlish.

Large housing development in Exeter, Exminster and Exmouth in the 1970s was encouraged with new roads promised for Exminster to the centre of Exeter and a dual carriageway to Exmouth. The houses were built but then funding withdrawn!

The consequences of the underinvestment throughout the area, have heavily impacted Exeter now recognised as one of the worst congested cities in the UK.

The plan was to build substantial housing providing a levy which would help fund the urgently needed infrastructure, with extra funding being provided from government in exchange for delivering extra housing numbers over the planned housing numbers

Housing Numbers

But now there are question marks over the housing numbers, with the Government deciding to calculate the required “build out” numbers for housing rather than each individual authority calculating their own housing needs.

East Devon’s requirement is to build 844 per year. This is under East Devon’s own Local Plan target figure of 950 each year up to 2031.

This week the Devon section of CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) announced they are challenging all of Devon’s Planning Authorities housing requirement figures with a 60-page document by the leading planning consultants Opinion Research Services.

They are also challenging the way the Government arrive at their figures and conclude that:

The overall housing need for Devon produced by the Government standard methodology remains an over estimate.

Their report concludes that far too many homes are being planned and claim that the combined Devon Local Plan Housing Target is overstated by at least 25% with 1500 houses too many each year.

In the case of East Devon, the percentage is an estimated oversupply of 40% of homes required against the Local Plan Target of 950 suggesting a required buildout figure of only 570 homes per year.

There is a massive funding gap for the GESP area infrastructure projects. East Devon’s underfunding gap alone is around £70M just to provide for what is needed for their current plan!

The GESP aspiration was to approach the government with a proposal to build even more houses in the GESP rural areas (as Exeter is nearly full) and to ask for extra funding to pay for the extra infrastructure requirements for Exeter.

On top of road and rail improvements, health, education and social care investment which are also critically underfunded the Council Leaders recently proposed a £20M plus Music Arena to hold 20,000 people to be included in these infrastructure requirements.

However last week the government announced plans to grant 10 cities throughout England extra multimillion funds to assist in Infrastructure projects, unfortunately Exeter is not Included.

So, the Housing numbers are now being questioned and the extra government funding seems not to be forthcoming.

East Devon’s problem of accommodating extra housing

Although in the last 10 years East Devon has outperformed all other Local Authorities except Plymouth to build new houses (8169 units), the GESP proposal hopes to build substantially more in this area.

However East Devon is restricted with 2/3 of East Devon being a special area of designation “Area of Outstanding Natural of Beauty.” where development is strictly controlled.

Therefore, the area of search known as the “Exton to Honiton Arc” is restricted into the small area of East Devon that is not restricted by the AONB. Already there is the developing town of Cranbrook, and Exeter Airport, but this is where the GESP planners propose to develop.

Already the rural communities of Clyst St Mary, Feniton, West Hill, Woodbury and the town of Ottery St Mary have questioned the emerging GESP strategy for even more housing. The very reason why people migrate to this area is its rural nature and beautiful countryside. They claim this will be lost with mass development of the scale that the GESP Planners suggest.

The GESP proposals future for East Devon

• The Authorities’ own estimated build out figures and the Government own figures are questionable and being challenged.

• The massive Infrastructure costs to help deliver extra housing and ease congestion are not being supported by recent Government grants.

• There is only a small area of East Devon that can be developed which is not supported by the local communities.

Is the GESP deliverable, is all this extra housing needed in this area especially this small area of East Devon?

The CPRE report published this week claims:
“The current local plans are planning far too many homes.”

Quality and width – part 2 – do not as we do …

A reader with a forensic memory of EDDC matters, on reading Owl’s post below, points out that our ruling party is no stranger to councillors not attending meetings.

From the Exmouth Journal of October 2010. And, what do you know, it was another member of the EDDC’s Planning Committee and the East Devon Business Forum shirking his other duties! And, from the remarks of a current sitting EDDC councillor (Tom Wright – Con) at the time, it seems he feels it is OK for members of HIS party to go missing from meetings!

“At this month’s Budleigh Salterton town council meeting members responded with ‘who, who?’ whenever councillors Ray Franklin and Malcolm Florey were mentioned.

Some residents have questioned how Councillor Florey, who recently moved from East Devon to France, can adequately serve the town.

A Budleigh Salterton resident, who did not want to be named, said many in the town felt misrepresented by Cllrs Florey and Franklin.

She said: “I think it’s quite surprising how Cllr Franklin attends East Budleigh meetings and very rarely attends Budleigh Salterton meetings.

“I would also like to know how can a man who lives in France know what’s going in his ward?”

After the meeting, Budleigh town councillor John Shiel said: “We are not being represented by our ward members. One’s a Francophile and one’s Where’s Waldo.

“The other one is working his socks off for us. We’d be better off just keeping the one.”

The town council has called for a meeting with the district council to discuss its ward member concerns.

District councillor Ray Franklin said he worked hard for the town’s future investment through his role sitting on the district council’s planning committee.

He said: “They have got their view and I have got mine. Malcolm and myself are always positive.

“I hope a meeting takes place and I hope that something constructive comes out of it.”

Budleigh mayor Tom Wright said: “Since I have been mayor, Councillor Franklin’s not appeared to have shown any interest in Budleigh Salterton affairs, but that’s not to say he doesn’t do things behind the scenes for the people he represents.

“When Malcolm Florey was living in East Budleigh he was very active. He got the farmers’ market off the ground, he was behind the opening of the East Budleigh shop and very active and energetic in pursuing the youth club.

“Malcolm Florey did attend our meetings when he was here, but not now he’s living in France. I can’t remember Ray Franklin attending a meeting.”

Malcolm Florey was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.”