Otterton residents worried about holiday park expansion take note

“Plans to expand a holiday park near Ashford have been refused by North Devon councillors.

Park Holidays UK’s plan to accommodate as many as 116 caravans and build a clubhouse complete with a swimming pool, amusement arcade, shop and entertainment room at Tarka Holiday Park was discussed by North Devon Council’s planning committee on Wednesday.

Councillors unanimously refused the application, which would have included a new roundabout to serve the entrance at Braunton Road, and the decision was met by a round of applause from a group of around 30 Ashford residents who attended the meeting at Barnstaple Rugby Club.

They cited an adverse impact on the landscape and countryside, the scale of development and the impact on the village of Ashford and other amenities as reasons for refusal.

Councillor Joe Tucker said: “I’ve had quite big concerns about this site in many ways, and we have got grave concerns as a planning committee with the site.

“We are driven so much by national planning policy guidelines made by people sitting in London, it’s a different kettle of fish for people in North Devon.

There are so many fundamental issues with this site. I think it’s dangerous for us as a planning committee to pass through an application with so many issues.”

The committee heard from six village residents, who expressed concerns about the level of noise, the generation of traffic and the impact on a nearby supported living accommodation.

Parish Councillor John Bleech said it was ‘hard to overstate’ the level opposition to the application, noting 138 letters of objection sent to the council.

Ashford resident Dale Hall said: “Ashford strongly objects to the application and all residents fear for their life in the village. The development is too large, too commercial and too close.

“The change from a quiet caravan site into a large entertainment complex should bring noise.

“Tarka say this is a tranquil site but they threaten that tranquility with that application. Ashford will feel betrayed by the local authority if the application is approved.”

The Gazette has approached Park Holidays UK for a response.

A statement from Park Holidays UK said: “Park Holidays UK will be studying the reasons for the council’s decision with a view to determining the best course of action which will enable us to take the matter forward.”

https://www.northdevongazette.co.uk/news/tarka-holiday-park-expansion-1-5694176

Unrest in Otterton – planning policies in shambles

Otterton Residents frustration to visitor and contractor traffic.

Residents in the beautiful village of Otterton are very concerned after the hot summer which has seen a heavy increase to their village roads with serious problems in noise pollution and traffic with visitors to Ladram Bay Holiday Park and now large mobile homes getting stuck in the village and causing further frustration to local people.

Residents blame EDDC and the County Council for allowing the Holiday Park to expand over the last 20 years and not listening to their views or those of the Parish Council concerns.

However, District Councillor Cllr Geoff Jung who has been the District Councillor for the last 3 years for Raleigh Ward that includes Ladram Bay, says:

“I have done everything possible to control the expansion of the Holiday Park. The Park is there and there is nothing that a Planning Authority can do to reduce its size.”

“The East Devon Local Plan does not support any further expansion for any Holiday Park within the AONB, and with the site being on the Jurassic Coast which is a World Heritage site, this you would think would be reason enough to protect the area from further expansion.”

“However as demonstrated at East Devon’s planning meeting last Tuesday regarding Industrial units to be built at Blackhill Quarry in the AONB of Woodbury Common, that although it was against East Devon’s local plan policies, the lack of support from Natural England and the controlling party Tory Councillors supporting Enterprise over Environmental issues, the committee unfortunately voted to approve the application by just one vote!!”

“The justification for Blackhill was – it will provide jobs and unfortunately RSPB and National England did not object won the day. I fear the same will happen when three outstanding Ladram Bay planning applications that are being considered at present.”

The 3 planning Applications awaiting determination are:

18/2015/FUL LPG storage tanks Ladram Bay Otterton Budleigh Salterton EX9 7BX.
This is for the siting of large storage tanks in the field above the existing Holiday Park and the Public Road.

8/1517/FUL Retrospective application for a new ‘splash’ zone adjacent to the indoor swimming pool, extension to viewing deck at junction of beach and slipway; relocation and re-orientation of bases and addition of static caravan. These developments have already been built and the owners have been requested to summit the applications to comply to Planning Policy.
The Jurassic Coast Trust has objected, plus the Parish Council and 10 individuals. The Planning department are awaiting further comments from the AONB and Natural England before they come to a decision.

17/1584/FUL for revisions to a planning permission submitted in 2016, 16/1709/FUL for the construction of new service yard and building. Again, this application covers work that has already been carried out with new roads car park and a service yard being built one third larger than originally approved.

This application is being held up for further landscaping proposals from the applicant before it can be finally being determined by the planning department.

Sandy Bay caravan park looks bigger than some East Devon towns!

“The holiday park, at Sandy Bay, is holding an open day on Saturday, January 20, from 10am until 3pm, where applications will be accepted for more than 400 vacancies.

Pat Titley, talent manager at the holiday park, said staff training starts at the end of January in readiness for March 1 and the new holiday season.

Allen Main, Devon Cliffs Holiday Park assistant general manager, said last year more than 23,000 families holidayed at the attraction. …”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/exmouth-hundreds-of-jobs-available-as-devon-cliffs-launches-summer-season-recruitment-drive-1-5348502

Why do Ladram Bay owners like Hugo Swire so much?

Perhaps this from Swire’s 2016 blog sheds some light on why the Carters are so fond of him (see earlier post today). Owl wonders what he now thinks of local lobbying after he demanded that transparency about it should be increased because of Priti Patel’s involvement with lobbyists?

And remember, the words below are his own, from his own blog, not a puff job from Ladram Bay owners. Ah, except that Mrs Swire, his parliamentary assistant, is said to work on his blog – so he might have had a bit of help from her.

Wonder when we can expect to see Swire is a caravan that doesn’t belong to an Arab sheikh?

“East Devon MP Hugo Swire was given a behind-the-scenes tour of a major holiday park in his constituency this April after it put the finishing touches to a £10 million redevelopment project.

The family owners of Ladram Bay Holiday Park near Budleigh Salterton invited Mr Swire to see the changes and to meet park staff as it gears up for the 2016 holiday season.

He was accompanied on his tour by park directors Zoe House and Robin Carter, two of the four siblings whose family has owned the park for over 70 years.

The MP, who is also Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, heard that holiday bookings are already up by 10 percent compared with this time last year.

Helping to provide an even more memorable experience will be the new facilities completed last year, including a new swimming pool complex and Jurassic-themed adventure golf course.

This winter has also seen further improvements such as the newly made-over customer reception area which Mr Swire declared officially open during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Mr Swire commented: “It was a pleasure to visit Ladram Bay once again to open their new reception and view their new facilities. The business continues to thrive and grow, which is good news for local employment and the wider East Devon economy”.

The MP also toured Ladram’s bright new park shop which puts a special emphasis on locally sourced food and drink, from artisan bread to Devon-brewed craft ales.

Other developments fresh for 2016 include improvements to Ladram’s Seaview Shack on its private beach where families can hire boats and watersports equipment, and enjoy light refreshments with stunning views along the coast.

There are also additional brand new holiday homes with the emphasis on five-star comfort, and early summer will see the installation of new super-luxury glamping pods.

Mr Swire was also shown a pair of colourful historic gypsy caravans which the park has had in its proud possession for many years, and which have now been renovated using traditional construction skills and hand-painted decoration.

The MP congratulated the Carter family on their long history of providing top quality and good-value holidays to tens of thousands of Devon visitors each year.

The park’s high standards have been recognised with a raft of awards, and Ladram now boasts a top five-star accolade from VisitEngland, putting it among an elite of UK holiday parks.

Zoe House said the family was delighted that Mr Swire was able to take time out to visit the park and officially open the new reception area. …”

https://www.hugoswire.org.uk/news/seaside-parks-£10m-splash-wins-mps-backing

Claire Wright: “Director of Ladram Bay Holiday Park attempts intimidation at public meeting”

Carter family (Ladram Bay, Greendale Business Park and other businesses) prefer absent Hugo Swire MP to present DCC councillor Claire Wright. Surprise, surprise!

“A director of Ladram Bay Holiday Park ordered me to be silent and leave a public meeting last night, which was called to discuss traffic concerns associated with his business.

The meeting, which was held in the restaurant of Ladram Bay, was arranged at the behest of myself and Otterton Parish Council, following widespread concern over the level of traffic and size of vehicles travelling to and from the caravan park.

It was attended by around 70 Otterton residents, who were largely exasperated and angry about the problems caused by the continually expanding caravan park.

At the end of the meeting I outlined three key concerns that I had heard in the meeting, in order to seek assurances from the management team. They were on:

• frequent use of retrospective planning applications
• continual expansion (a huge increase in the number of lodges and caravans)
• level of traffic and size of vehicles travelling to and from the park and funding potential mitigating road improvements

But before I could get more than a sentence out, Robin Carter approached me and asked me to stop talking. He added that I wasn’t welcome and that I should leave.

His co-director, Zoe House, added that the members of the public were there at their invitation (I had just mentioned my letter that was delivered to every house in the village).

The room sort of erupted at this point and there were shouts of:

“Let her speak!” “She’s our representative!” “Leave her alone!”

Robin Carter, whose family also own the controversial Greendale Business Park at Woodbury Salterton, told residents that I wasn’t their representative. Hugo Swire was. He added that I was not going to “canvass for votes” on their property.

I replied that I was Otterton’s Devon County Councillor and was entitled to speak at a public meeting.

I said I would like to finish my points. But after almost every sentence, Mr Carter interjected with similar remarks – and to more shouting from outraged residents.

One of my points was that if highways officers identified any road improvements whether Ladram Bay might consider contributing funding. Seeing as Robin Carter was standing right in front of me, I directed this question at him.

He then moved so close it felt as though he was actually squaring up to me. Someone called out: “That’s intimidation!” I asked him to move back, which he did but only slightly. He glared angrily and carried on addressing me in a low menacing voice.

Mr Carter said that if I had these points to make I should raise them in a private meeting, not in public and that I should hurry up and finish what I was saying.

I replied that I had already attended a private meeting with his co-director, Zoe House and the parish council in August. That many of these points were already made and surely now was the time, with residents present, to provide these assurances.

Cue further glaring and, no answers.

Many residents came up to me afterwards to thank me for standing up for them, and to Mr Carter.
***************************
The meeting started with a PR video set to music, which struck me as entirely the wrong note. It was the sort of video that would have been more appropriate for investors. Then the Ladram representatives read out a list of accolades awarded to the company.

Management team Steven Harper-Smith and Will Tottle who ran the presentation and fielded questions seemed out of their depth at times and as a new member of staff, Mr Harper-Smith was unaware of the continual retrospective planning applications.

People complained they couldn’t hear. It wasn’t helped by the loud thumping music coming from downstairs, which I asked to be turned down. It wasn’t.

Some of the management team’s points, such as the new £10 fee (increased from £5) for parking on site, which they claimed reduced congestion in the village and was “not a money making scheme” was met with understandable derision. How can this improve traffic and parking in the village?!

They said that their letters to visitors included a line about driving carefully through the village. That this was “a journey” and the start of a positive relationship with the parish council.

A traffic survey carried out in August by a group associated with the parish council found that around 35 per cent of traffic travelling through Otterton is generated by Ladram Bay. Another survey is imminent.

The incredible claim by the management team that traffic hadn’t increased much over the years and that all roads were busier, was met with loud and understandable frustration. The park has expanded massively over the years, with hundreds of pitches – and the traffic has increased with it!

I should add here that on my visits to Otterton I have observed a genuine and real problem with the level of traffic on the road and the absolutely enormous caravans and lodges that make their way through the village and residents tell me, knock walls down, erode banks and damage trees and hedges.

There was acknowledgement of this damage and a promise to repair it. How further damage is prevented is another issue, when the road is simply too narrow for the size of the loads.

Someone asked for a commitment for a maximum number of lodges so the village could have peace of mind on further development. This was supported by clapping.

The management team did not commit to this.

Someone else suggested that the lodges should be brought in by barge instead.

One resident said the number of cars increasing in the village was not related to Ladram Bay. It was due to people having more cars. It was clear that this view was not shared by the vast majority of residents.

Someone else described the traffic situation as “horrendous.”

Then the thorny subject of planning was raised. Ladram Bay is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in a coastal preservation zone. The landscape is highly protected under a number of strong policies. Yet planning consent keeps being given for expansion. And many of these planning applications are submitted after the building has taken place.

One resident spoke on this in a very informed way about this. He asked why the dog walking area was now a car park and said there was no point in objecting to the planning application as the trees had already been removed. The team were vague on this but the new general manager did say that in future what they did would comply with planning consent.

Parish council chairman, John Fudge told the meeting that the parish council had objected to the application but it was approved by East Devon District Council’s planning committee.

This started a bit of a debate in the room and how people are not notified about planning applications. And why there is one rule for them and another for Ladram Bay.

An attendee asked the Ladram Bay owners to liaise with the village and said that the park should “have the decency to talk to the village” over planning applications and it was no surprise that there was “distrust and a complete lack of confidence” in the business by residents.

A resident of Ladram Road said she had been hit twice by vehicles and there needed to be speed deterrents. The management team agreed.

A resident of Fore Street said that she takes her life in her hands every time she leaves her house and that traffic is travelling too fast.

Someone replied that community speedwatch found few cars travelling over 30mph but that was too fast anyway. That the village needed a 20mph zone.

(This is something I have been investigating and will continue to do so).

John Fudge, parish council chairman spoke at the end of the meeting to thank people for coming. He said the parish council would work with Ladram Bay to improve the situation. He said he believed there was a genuine desire on the part of the caravan park to improve things.

Directors, Robin Carter and Zoe House remained silent throughout the meeting. Until I spoke at the end.

What do I think of Robin Carter’s behaviour? I think it was aggressive and an (unsuccessful) attempt at intimidation. It was totally inappropriate and completely unnecessary. I am a key representative of Otterton people and I am entitled to attend and speak at a public meeting.

A thriving business on the edge of Otterton is a positive thing. Otterton Mill is also a successful local business. Yet I haven’t heard a single complaint about Otterton Mill. All the complaints I have heard have been about the attitude of the senior management team at Ladram Bay, their lack of consideration and the effect that their continual expansion plans have on the village.

I am hoping that this will be the start of a more positive and considerate relationship between residents and Ladram Bay. Local people deserve better.”

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/director_of_ladram_bay_attempts_to_silence_me_at_public_meeting