How neighbourhood plans died

Concluding paragraph of the article:

“The new Framework introduces a two-tier hierarchy of policies: strategic and non-strategic. Strategic policies may be contained in either a development plan or a spatial development strategy made by combined authorities and mayoral combined authorities. The National Planning Policy Guidance still states that “A neighbourhood plan attains the same legal status as the Local Plan once it has been approved at a referendum.” [15] but such plans are now in fact doomed to occupy a permanent state of permanent relegation in the second tier of this new planning policy hierarchy.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36521%3Areflections-on-the-revised-nppf&catid=63&Itemid=31

“Gove wasting his time” – “Wild Woodbury” responds to Blackhill Quarry incursion further into AONB

Press release:

“Michael Gove is Wasting his time!

Conservative Councillors Undermine Government Environmental plans

The Woodbury Common “Area 12” development in East Devon is a classic example of members of the conservative party undermining the leadership and the will of the electorate. The proposed development of factories within an Area of Outstanding Natural beauty caused a local outcry. There were 198 objections to the plans and 4 people supported the application. When the development was put to the planning committee the council chamber was packed with objectors. The plans were passed with 6 people voting in favour and 5 against. The 6 supporters were all Tory Councillors who were not only out of step with the wishes of the electorate but also showed a total disregard for Michael Gove’s 25-year Environmental Plan.

Michael Gove is wasting his time! He is being undermined by his own Party and would be more effective working for an organisation with real environmental integrity such as The Wildlife Trust. He may be the most progressive and forward thinking Conservative Secretary for the Environment that we have had in decades. He recently stated “Outside the EU we are going to make sure that our environment is enhanced and protected. We believe in a greener Britain.”

If he hasn’t been a closet environmentalist all his life he has learned very quickly. He has listened to the much maligned “so called experts” and taken their ideas onboard. He isn’t afraid of speaking out either. When Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the Paris International Climate agreement most of the government were shuffling around looking at their shoes and scared to speak out in case they caused any offence. Michael however came out and condemned the move in his first speech after being returned to the cabinet. People have said that the new Tory “Green” policies that he is putting forward are just “vote bait” and that the conservatives are desperate to grab votes from the younger generation.

It is true that the younger generation in general tend to be greener than the traditional Tory voter, but they are also quite canny. It is not enough these days for a party to Talk the Talk, they will have to be seen to Walk the Walk if they are to get the youth vote. If the Tories don’t make good on their promises the next generation of voters will be even more disaffected about politics than the current ones. Plans for environmental initiatives like the bottle deposit scheme, banning single use plastics, and a switch to electric cars are very welcome, but until the legislation necessary to get them working is in place they are just a good idea and nothing more. Michael may have good intentions but after a year in the job the harsh reality is that he has changed very little.

Michaels downfall will not come because of criticism from environmental groups as most of the conservationists I talk to agree with his proposals. He is in step with most current thinking on environmental protection and is happy to express his own ideas. The document “A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment” contains enough positive ideology to satisfy most environmental campaigners. The document is elegantly designed, and its contents has been carefully thought out. It covers a huge range of subjects: sustainable land use, enhancing the beauty of landscapes, ways of reducing pollution and waste, fishing policy that ensures seas return to health and fish stocks are replenished, climate change, and new forests. The document even covers wildlife crime, poaching and illegal wildlife trade beyond our borders.

The problem that Michael has is that the document is a vision and not legislation. It is a collection of really good ideas, but it is not law. When there is a conflict between potential industrial development and the environment the ideals will get thrown into the river like toxic waste. If there is a chance for a profit to be made Tory councils will always find ways to get around even the most stringent protections. The “Green Future” is not seen as a moral compass for development it is just viewed as a bit of a nuisance.”

Is YOUR village on the EDDC list for expansion? And another east/west divide

East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee are going to discuss:

“Principles for accommodating the future growth needs of East Devon”

on 4 September 2018.

The Committee are being asked to endorse

“The proposed principles for growth” as the basis for future discussion and consultation on accommodating extra growth in the district.”

The document is described as the “start of the debate” for future East Devon growth points for both the GESP (The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan) and the East Devon Local Plan review, which is required to be updated within the next two years.

For the last few years East Devon District Council have achieved their own Local Plan agreed target of 950 dwellings per year. (EDDC Target is 17,100 dwellings between the years of 2013 to 2031).

Recently Central Government decided to calculate each District`s housing requirement targets on a set matrix. East Devon’s build out figure has been set to be 844 homes per year. However, the report suggests that rather than achieve the Government target of 844 new houses per year there is a proposal to build out much higher levels of growth.

The report explains that the objective of higher growth could be achieved by what is called a “Growth Deal” with Central Government where a group of Councils agree to build more housing in return for infrastructure investment from central funds.

This proposed “Growth Deal” is being prepared by the Councils of East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon through the “GESP” Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

It is recognised that Exeter is unable to provide the housing land required to sustain the expected growth of the city, and the rural areas and towns in the rest of the combined area will be required to increase their housing requirements in exchange for the infrastructure improvements for access to and from the city of Exeter.

Improvements to the motorway junctions, new roads, extra park and rides, rail improvements, new stations and an integrated transport system are all identified as priority improvements to overcome the already chronic delays on Exeter`s transport network. There are also aspirations for a “sports hub and concert venue” for Greater Exeter to be included in the GESP infrastructure needs.

The report gives a brief synopsis of the towns in East Devon and concludes that other than the new town of Cranbrook there is limited scope for growth due to the various towns’ proximity to the AONB designated areas, or they are bordering on the coast or close to flood plains.

The conclusion from the report is that the existing towns will only accommodate minimal growth, and with two-thirds of East Devon being included in the AONB of the Pebblebed Heaths or the Blackdown Hills the only area that can accommodate substantial growth is within the North West part of the district.

The report describes this area as the Western most quadrant of this district to the North of Exmouth and West of Ottery St Mary. The land is described to benefit from being relatively flat with no landscape designations. It is also well served by main roads with good vehicle access via the M5, A30, A3052 and A376 and has good existing public transport links with the railway line and existing bus routes.

There are 3 possible ways described as to how development could be achieved in this area.

1. Establish a further new town. Basically, create another Cranbrook. However, the report considers that the creation of another new town in the area could harm the delivery of Cranbrook.

2. Establish a number of new villages. Create a series of modern Devon villages but the report considers that this option would be most damaging in landscape terms.

3. Centre Growth around Existing Villages.

Growth would be required to be substantial with around 400 to 500 extra homes to be added to a number of existing villages (The report does not state how many villages will be required within this area). However, this could harm the character of the village and the existing community.

The new NPPF acknowledges that:

“The supply of a large number of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns, provided they are well located and designed, and supported by necessary infrastructure and facilities.”

A list of the Parishes within the expansion area for extra housing area

By referring to a map of the area these are the Parishes(villages) which are within the West of the district which could have development of between 400 to 500 extra dwellings, parishes identified could be:

Nether Exe
Rewe
Brampford Speke
Upton Pyne.
Stoke Canon ​

All these Villages are North of Exeter and access is by way of the A377 – which is not listed as one of the featured roads, so it is unlikely these will be included.

Broadclyst
Clyst Honiton
Sowton
Rockbeare
Wimple.​

These Villages are close to Cranbrook and therefore unlikely to be selected to avoid the villages and town merging.

Clyst Hydon
Clyst St Lawrence
Aylesbeare
Marsh Green

These Parishes are remote from a main road or railway station which probably eliminates them because of their unsustainable location.

Lympstone

This Village is already designated in the report to provide growth for Exmouth.

This leaves the following Parishes most likely to be included for further expansion in the proposals:

Poltimore
Huxham
Clyst St Mary
Clyst St George (includes the village of Ebford)
West Hill
Woodbury​ (includes the village of Woodbury Salterton and Exton)
Farringdon.

The “Principles for Growth” which the committee are being asked to agree to:

• A significant proportion of growth to be in the Western part of the district by either a new town or extending a number of villages or building new villages.

• Plus, modest growth in existing towns with strategic growth around Axminster, Exmouth (including Lympstone), Honiton and Ottery St Mary.

• All other Villages to be encouraged to provide modest growth through their Neighbourhood Plans.

• Focus development on main transport corridors if possible.

Conclusion:

For the last few years, East Devon has successfully complied with the government`s Housing Strategy, with their current Local Plan and at present build out rates, this will over subscribe the Government Building Target until the year 2031.

The Government is not forcing East Devon to co-operate with Exeter to provide some of their housing needs. This decision is totally at the discretion of the District Council and their leaders.

Yes, Exeter is a thriving growth city, and it is recognised that the road and rail connections are dire, but why destroy the character of a part of East Devon for these improvements?

The very reason people choose to relocate to Exeter, its surrounding towns and villages is the beautiful Devon countryside; the building of a mass of new housing will simply make the area a mirror image of the existing areas the people are wanting to move away from!

So, to satisfy the aspirations and needs of the City of Exeter, the rural west area of East Devon will be required to build many more houses with either another new town or new villages or building an extra 500 houses to a number of existing village communities.

Will the Strategic Planning Committee endorse this proposal or not?

New planning rules = developer free-for-all again

As Owl understands it (feel free to correct) Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans are now basically ripped up unless developers are BUILDING just about everything for which they have permission (building, not land-banking).

A new “Housing Delivery Test” will apply from November 2018. If DEVELOPERS have not built enough homes using these calculations COUNCILS will be penalised by having planning decisions taken from them and DEVELOPERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO BUILD JUST ABOUT ANYWHERE. Just like the old days when we had no Local Plan. Neighbourhood plans will then also count for nothing.

As the CPRE points out:

“…Rather than delivering ‘what communities want’ as it claims to promise, the new planning rulebook and its new ‘housing delivery test’ will result in almost all local plans becoming out of date within two years. It is a speculative developers’ charter and will lead to the death of the plan-led system.

“Without a local plan, councils and communities have little control over the location and type of developments that take place. This results in the wrong developments in the wrong places – local communities’ needs are ignored and valued countryside destroyed for no good reason.”

https://www.pbctoday.co.uk/news/planning-construction-news/revised-national-planning-policy-framework-provokes-mixed-feelings/43866/

Nice one, Tories!

For the geeks amongst us, the methodology of the “Housing Delivery Test” – (9 pages) which will be implemented from November 2018 – is here:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728523/HDT_Measurement_Rule_Book.pdf

Neighbouhood plans, conservation areas – who cares? Not EDDC

A correspondent writes:

Many of us in East Devon have spent, or are spending many volunteer hours in setting up a Neighbourhood Plan for our area.

Is it worth the effort?

Perhaps those in East Budleigh would say no. An application -18/0954-to build 2 bunkers in the conservation area, in the setting of many thatched, cob, listed buildings and within a stone’s throw of the Grade 1 listed church has been approved by planning officers. The application totally contrary to the Neighbourhood Plan and objected to by the Parish Council. Not a whisper from the Budleigh Boys, hence the application was not debated by the Development Management Committee.

The subjective decision by the officers can be summed up as “The benefits outweigh the harm” (see below). The residents may struggle to see the public benefits of 2 more potential second homes to add to those already in the historic centre of one of Devon’s historic villages. The private benefit is all too clear.

They may also struggle with the weight put on the Neighbourhood Plan Policy D2 to contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses and the absence of any weight put on Policy B3 which supports development only on previously developed land and dwellings that reflect the character of the surrounding area.

Here is the planning officers reasoning:

“CONCLUSION

The location of the site within the built-up area and the characteristics of its past use suggest that appropriate forms of development would be acceptable in principle. The submitted scheme does have some shortcomings, particularly in terms of layout and changes to ground levels. These would result in some loss of significance to the conservation area because the historic layout and levels would be permanently lost. The only evidence that would remain would be documentary evidence in the form of maps and photographs. These impacts, however, would occur at a site level and would not affect the significance of the wider conservation area. For this reason the harm is regarded as less than substantial.

According to the NPPF, where a development proposal would lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal, including securing its optimum viable use.

In this case the proposal would contribute to the supply of housing in a sustainable location, bring additional people into the village to support local services and contribute to the need for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom houses identified in the NP (Policy D2).

While it would not support the provision of a community orchard as desired in the NP, the land was not allocated for such purposes and there is no evidence that it could be delivered. The benefits identified would be in the wider public interest whereas the harm would have limited public impact and would not harm the more public parts of the conservation which make the most contribution to its significance.

With regard to securing the optimum viable use of all land in the conservation area, it is considered that the site is effectively redundant for garden use and does not have any value as a public open space (it being in private ownership). Its development can therefore help to secure a viable use for the land while conserving the areas of main significance elsewhere in the conservation area.

Having regard to all other matter raised, it is considered that the public benefits outweigh the limited harm in this case and therefore the proposal is recommended for approval.”

Wake up apathetic Honiton! For the sake of half-a-dozen volunteers your town is at enormous risk!

Owl simply cannot believe that in a town the size of Honiton half-a-dozen people cannot be found to join the neighbourhood planning group. People have been falling over themselves in the rush to volunteer in smaller towns and villages, many of which gave already had their plans signed, sealed and delivered.

What is wrong with the people in the town? Have they no civic pride? Do Honiton people not realise what enormous danger they are in if they DON’T have a neighbourhood plan? Everywhere in Honiton NOT named in the Local Plan (and that’s a lot of land) up for grabs by developers. Who will provide no infrastructure to the town and likely no affordable housing.

It paints a dreadful picture of a totally apathetic town with an inept town deputy clerk (who suggested shelving the project until 2020) and lazy town councillors if this situation is allowed to happen.

“Residents have been urged to ‘step up’ or face ‘losing out’ after the creation of the Honiton’s Neighbourhood Plan was granted a six-month continuation.

The warning, made by the town’s mayor, comes a month after the future of the document was thrown into doubt following a recommendation to shelve the document until 2020.

Deputy town clerk Heloise Marlow made the suggestion to town councillors based on the ‘lack of past and current’ interest from residents in getting involved with the plan’s creation.

The Honiton Neighbourhood Plan’s current committee is ‘inquorate’ – meaning it is not made up of enough members.

A report submitted to last month’s council meeting said: “A steering group made up of about nine to ten members with one-third councillors and two-thirds community members is essential. In view of the lack of past and current interest from the community of Honiton, the recommendation is that a neighbourhood plan cannot currently be delivered.”

However, at a meeting of Honiton Town Council last week, members agreed to let the creation of the town’s Neighbourhood Plan continue for the next six months.

Cllr Henry Brown, town mayor and chair of the council, said: “The Neighbourhood Plan will continue for the next six months, with the hope that the Community Engagement Forum will act as a conduit to entice members of the public to join the Neighbourhood Plan.

“The public must outnumber the council in representation on this – our community needs to step up or we face losing out.”

At last month’s council meeting, Cllr Roy Coombs staged a late intervention to save the Neighbourhood Plan from being shelved until 2020 – recommending it be deferred until last week’s council meeting at The Beehive.

He said: “If we have not got a Neighbourhood Plan in place it could, I feel, become a developers’ free-for-all.”

The Community Engagement Forum, which is comprised of various groups in Honiton, was formed in 2016 with the aim of improving the town and bringing about change.

Anyone who wants to join the Neighbourhood Plan committee should get in touch with the town council on 01404 42957 and ask to speak to Heloise.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/creation-of-honiton-s-threatened-neighbourhood-plan-granted-a-six-month-continuation-1-5567305

East Devon’s Villages Plan is agreed by the planning inspector (with implications for business parks)

Press Release including comments from East Devon Alliance Independent Councillor Geoff Jung:

“I am delighted that, after a number of years of hard work and following extensive public engagement, the Planning Inspector has found our Villages Plan to be sound. The Plan is a key document that once adopted will sit alongside the Local Plan and help promote the right types of development in the right places for our rural villages and communities while protecting our outstanding countryside assets and environment.”

Developers will be able to refer to Villages Plan when considering building in larger East Devon villages, the town of Colyton and Greendale and Hill Barton business parks.

Planning Inspector Beverley Doward’s report on the East Devon Villages Plan has been received by East Devon District Council and the inspector concludes it is sound, subject to her earlier submitted “main modifications”.

The East Devon Villages Plan sets out planning policy that will help determine planning applications in the larger villages of East Devon (and the town of Colyton), as well as at Greendale and Hill Barton business parks. The primary role of the Villages Plan is to set boundaries (known as built-up area boundaries and employment areas) around villages and the two business parks, which will help determine where new development can be built.

Outside these boundaries opportunities for development will be far more restricted, which will effectively control the outward expansion of villages and the two Business Parks into the surrounding countryside. The Villages Plan will sit alongside the adopted East Devon Local Plan and together they will guide and manage development across the whole district.

East Devon’s Strategic Planning Committee will consider the report on 26 June 2018. The committees new Chairman Cllr Paul Diviani says:

It is expected that the Villages Plan will go before the Full Council on 25 July 2018 for adoption.

Welcome News to the Communities of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton
The adoption of the Villages plan is a welcome additional Planning Document to the two rural communities of Woodbury Salterton and Farringdon, which are close to Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks. These very large Industrial parks have seen continued growth for many years and dwarfed their rural communities.

The Inspector in her report states that:

“By virtue of the definition set out in Strategy 7 of the EDLP, the business parks lie within the countryside where development will only be permitted where it is in accordance with a specific Local or Neighbourhood Plan policy that explicitly permits such development.”

Further in her report the Inspector notes that:

“Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park have clearly made an important contribution to the supply of employment land within the district and provide valuable employment opportunities.”

“There is nothing in the evidence that has been submitted to the examination of this Plan that leads me to conclude that there is currently a need to provide for future employment development in locations other than those which have been tested and found sound through the examination of the EDLP. (East Devon Local Plan)”

“The inclusion within the EDVP of a policy providing for future growth at Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park, whilst considered as a ‘reasonable alternative’ in the SA, is not supported by it and instead the option of not providing for further expansion of the business parks is identified as the preferred option.”

“I am satisfied that the approach not to provide for the further expansion of Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park in the EDVP beyond that which is already authorised is justified and consistent with the development strategy of the EDLP.”

“To conclude on this issue therefore, subject to MM08, MM09, MM10 and MM11 the approach adopted in the EDVP to Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park is justified and consistent with the development strategy of the EDLP and is capable of effective implementation.”

East Devon District Councillor Cllr Geoff Jung for Raleigh Ward which includes the village of Woodbury Salterton says:

“I welcome this long-awaited Village Plan and the inclusion of the Employment Areas for the Business Parks of Hill Barton and Greendale.

The Planning Inspector Beverley Doward’s comments and recommendation for the business parks demonstrates that further expansion of either the Business Parks beyond the present approved boundaries will not be considered appropriate.”

“This Plan will provide clarity and certainty required for both communities of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton and the owners of the Business Parks.”