Sidford Business Park – a grubby history

Tim Ford, once a much-respected plumbing and electrical contactor in Sidmouth, is renewing his controversial application to build a business park in the AONB at Sidford. (18/1094/MOUT)

Incredulous locals wonder how it was possible for a council to allocate an ‘employment site’ in its local development plan that is on a flood plain, is a rich wildlife habitat, and whose main access would be a narrow street where two lorries can’t pass without mounting the pavement!

For the dominant Tory group on East Devon District Council it was easy!

First, they let landowners and developers decide where to build. In 2007 they asked East Devon Business Forum how much employment land the district would need over the next 25 years. EDBF was a lobby group which included the Carters of Greendale, the Stuarts of Hill Barton and Tim Ford of Sidmouth. Their answer was predictable: lots and lots!

Second, they put Chair of EDBF, Cllr Graham (‘I ain’t doin’ it for peanuts!’) Brown:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/12/17/the-disgraced-ex-eddc-tory-councillor-graham-brown-if-i-cant-get-planning-nobody-will-scandal-refuses-to-die/

in charge of quietly asking landowners where they would like to build. Apparently, the proposal for a Sidford business park was first mooted at one of these confidential meetings in July 2010.

Third, in 2011 they elected Paul Diviani, founder member of EDBF, as leader. Under him the District Council became what many saw as a ‘Development Corporation’, the planning system became less about protecting the environment and more about encouraging building.

Fourth, they didn’t listen to the public or community groups whom they ignored or misrepresented. Sidmouth Chamber of commerce said the business park would be catastrophic for local businesses, Council minutes recorded the Chamber as supporting it!

Fifth, they whipped their large political majority to vote through the Sidford allocation. When hostile public reaction worried them just before the 2015 council elections they voted to ‘remove it’ from the Local Plan. Universal Rejoicing! But in 2016 the Inspector kept it in the Plan. Why? Because East Devon’s chief planning officer had not been instructed to give the Inspector reasons for the council’s change of mind!

Former EDDC Leader Diviani is now EDDC’s representative on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. In its confidential meetings he is helping to oversee a gigantic overspill project along the A3052 in the west end of the District where hundreds of acres of land are being earmarked for a massive expansion of business parks and thousands of new houses.

Indeed one such expansion was announced only this weekend near Cranbrook, where the developer is quoted as saying:

“The first, ‘Scenario 1’ is a response to existing market demand with the provision of a single large unit of around one million square feet (92,9000 sq.m.).

‘Scenario 2’ would see the site offer a multi-unit option, providing a range of sizes and configurations informed by ongoing market need.”

http://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/huge-distribution-centre-near-cranbrook-is-given-the-nod-by-planners-1-5564832

Which all makes the wretched Sidford application even less necessary!

Would you choose immediate A-road and motorway access to Exeter and the M5 or access down a country road where two medium-size vehicles cannot pass?

“Rural businesses say the government’s review of national parks could fuel economic growth in the countryside”

This will be a REAL test of what EDDC councillors’ priorities: a clean, green environment (remember Diviani promising this years ago!)

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/30/from-the-archives-1-clean-green-and-seen-promise-east-devon-tories-in-2011/

or more concrete.

“… Country Land and Business Association president Tim Breitmeyer said boosting economic growth and productivity in designated landscapes should be at the centre of the review.

“Designated landscapes are crucial to the wellbeing of the nation, providing opportunities not only for visitors but most especially for those who live and work there,” he said.

The crucial challenge is to strike the right balance between ensuring designation that delivers natural beauty, alongside encouraging the right types of economic activity.

Together, this more positive balance will sustain these areas and create thriving communities, said Mr Brietmeyer.

“Most businesses within designated landscapes experience significant opposition and hostility to development of any kind.”

Success would see more landowners, users, park authorities and conservation boards working together to identify opportunities to deliver sensitive development, said Mr Breitmeyer.

This could help improve the use and enjoyment of these unique areas, he added.

Two-thirds of people in England live within 30 minutes of a National Park or AONB, with visitors contributing more than £6bn each year to the local economy.

Game-changing

Emma Marrington, senior rural policy campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), described the review as “potentially game-changing”.

It was an opportunity to shine the spotlight on national parks and AONBs – and to consider whether there should be new additions to the current network of designated landscapes. …”

http://www.rsnonline.org.uk/rural-groups-react-to-national-park-review

East Devon National Park? Not in EDDC’s (many thousands of) back yards!

Gove wants more national parks. Dorset wanted a Jurassic National Park for Dorset and East Devon. Then EDDC Leader Paul Diviani said NO, NO, NO – we would lose control of planning (housing growth is heavily restricted in national parks).

And Clinton Devon Estates is most definitely against it too:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/11/09/dorset-positive-about-national-park-we-cant-join-up-as-diviani-doesnt-want-to-lose-control-of-assets/

And we wouldn’t want that, would we ….. well, naturally, of course, Owl would! And Owl suspects many others would welcome it.

A test of new Leader Ian Thomas’s green credentials?

“New wave of national parks could be created under Michael Gove’s plans for a ‘Green Brexit’

A new generation of National Parks could be created under Michael Gove’s plans for a “Green revolution”, The Telegraph can disclose.
The Environment Secretary is announcing on Sunday a sweeping review of the country’s protected landscapes, 70 years after the designation of the first National Parks.

The review, to be conducted by a panel led by Julian Glover, a former Downing Street adviser, “will look at both extending existing sites or creating new ones”, Mr Gove’s department said.

It is likely to consider calls for landscapes such as the Chilterns and South Devon Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to join the list of 10 National Parks, which include the Lake District, Snowdonia and New Forest, and are protected by dedicated planning authorities and given special status in law.

Earlier this month, Dame Cheryl Gillan, the former Conservative cabinet minister, warned the Chilterns AONB was “threatened by development on all sides” and said National Park status “would provide safeguards at the highest level”.

Writing for the Telegraph, Mr Gove describes how National Parks are made particularly precious by the fact they are legally required to “promote opportunities for enjoyment” for visitors and to “provide homes for the farmers who keep our countryside both productive and beautiful”.

He adds: “In order to ensure our protected landscapes are in the best possible shape to meet future challenges I have asked the acclaimed writer Julian Glover, a passionate advocate for the countryside and a resident of one of our National Parks, to lead a review into how we can guarantee our most precious landscapes are in an even healthier condition for the next generation. The goal of Julian’s review is not to diminish their protection in any way, but to strengthen it in the face of present-day challenges.
“Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land? Could we do more to enhance our wildlife and support the recovery of natural habitats?”

The review, a key plank of the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan for a “Green Brexit”, will seek to “enhance natural habitats and protect plants and wildlife” as well as consider “expanding [the] network of National Parks and AONBs, supporting people who live and work there,” the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs said. It will also look at ways to improve public access, in line with a separate pledge by Mr Gove to replace EU farming subsidies with a new system which pays farmers to improve access to their land.

The last time a new National Park was created was in 2009. Dame Cheryl has said designating the Chilterns as a National Park would help to “enhance the environment”.

Campaigners have also called for the Dorset AONB to be upgraded to National Park status, while others have advocated designating the Forest of Dean and Herefordshire Black Mountains as AONBs. While both statuses afford special protections, National Parks have a second formal purpose, under the 1995 Environment Act, to “promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities” of the areas by the public.

The Government pledged to conduct a review of protected landscapes as part of its 25-year Environment Plan. In its foreword, Mr Gove stated: “The plan looks forward to delivering a Green Brexit – seizing this once-in-a-lifetime chance to reform our agriculture and fisheries management, how we restore nature, and how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/05/26/new-wave-national-parks-could-created-michael-goves-plans-green/

EDDC Independents lead call for action on local health provision

Owl can’t quite see why Tory Councillor Allen felt the need to table his amendment – perhaps he felt Independent councillors were rather too Independent and therefore needed a dash of Tory policy! Now we just have to hope that new Leader Thomas doesn’t go and do exactly the opposite of what was resolved when he attends to DCC health scrutiny meetings – as Diviani notoriously did last year.

“A motion calling for the community hospitals which have lost beds to be maintained as health hubs, that services and clinics should be moved out of Exeter to local community hospitals and that more outpatient services should be provided in each community hospital was discussed by East Devon District Council at their meeting last week.

Proposing the motion, Cllr Marianne Rixson [EDA, Independent] said that health hubs in local areas need to be supported by the Council.

She added that the need for less travelling and difficult local bus services needed to be taken into consideration and that if place-based care was to be effective then the level of out-patient services need to be increased overall or at least maintained in every town.

She was supported by Cllr Val Ranger [Independent] who added that those people discharged early from hospital, children and elderly living with long-term health conditions should be able to access out-patient services locally in every community.

Councillors voted for an amendment, proposed by Cllr Mike Allen [Conservative], that said that this Council resolves to welcome the proposal of the Devon CCG’s to develop placed-based health care where strong evidence suggested that it would deliver high-quality patient care and sustainable services.

It added: “However, due to lack of supporting clinical evidence and clear future planning, the Council has strongly opposed closure and removal of community hospital beds and hospital-based services throughout East Devon.

“All efforts are made, in consultation with local communities, to ensure the existing estate of community hospitals was retained for health care purposes, where appropriate, the potential development of ‘Health Hubs’ was investigated, and council members received from the Clinical Commissioning Group a review of service changes (bed-based to home/community based care) made during 2017/2018 in East Devon, to include clinical evidence highlighting levels of patient safety and outcomes achieved and an evidence-based forward plan of proposed changes to health services in East Devon, for initial discussion at a future Cabinet.

After the meeting, Cllr Martin Shaw [DCC East Devon Alliance], said that he has written to Cllr Ian Thomas, who is due to become the new leader of the council on May 16, asking for assurances that each of the hospitals which has lost its beds (Axminster, Honiton, Ottery and Seaton), as well as Exmouth and Sidmouth, to be kept open and that a formal public consultation in the affected town and surrounding area should a closure of any community hospital, involving substantial relocation of outpatient services, be proposed.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/health/closure-removal-hospital-beds-should-1530794

Committee promises to double the number of unicorns in Devon and Somerset

How will we know that this committee can or will double productivity in 20 years? They will tell us in 20 years time! How will we know if they are correct? Answers on a postcard …

From the press release:

“Representatives from 23 organisations across Devon and Somerset today agreed steps to drive up productivity at the first meeting of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Joint Committee.

The inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee unanimously endorsed the Productivity Strategy that has been taking shape over the last two years and aims to double productivity over 20 years.

At the meeting in Plymouth City Council offices, the committee also voted unanimously to appoint Councillor David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, as the first Chair of the new committee and Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, as the Vice Chair. …

… The Productivity Strategy aims to double productivity in the area over 20 years, focussing on themes including promoting business leadership, housing, connectivity, infrastructure, skills and training. It looks at growth, capitalising on the area’s distinctive assets and maximising the potential of digital technology. … [just as a large part of digital technology has gone into freefall!]

Somerset County Council is acting as the host of the HotSW Joint Committee and meeting agendas and further information including the full Productivity Strategy can be found here:

http://democracy.somerset.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=357

DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (East Devon Alliance) updates on NHS changes

This is a long article but if you want to know where we are with NHS changes in Devon this gives you all the information.

Our pressure has led to Devon NHS joining a national retreat from privatising Accountable Care Organisations. However the Devon Integrated Care System will still cap care, with weak democratic control – we need time to rethink

We must thank ALL our Independent Councillors – particularly DCC Independent Councillor Claire Wright, DCC Councillor Martin Shaw (East Devon Alliance) and EDDC Councillor Cathy Gardner (East Devon Alliance) for the tremendous work they have done (and continue to do) in the face of the intransigence (and frankly, unintelligence) of sheep-like Tory councillors.

At EDDC Tory Councillors told their Leader to back retaining community hospitals, so he went to DCC and voted to close them (receiving no censure for this when Independents called for a vote of no confidence).

At the DCC, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee Tory members were 10-line whipped by its Chair Sarah Randall-Johnson to refuse a debate on important changes and to vote for accelerated privatisation with no checks or balances.

At DCC full council – well Tory back-benchers might just as well send in one councillor to vote since they all seem to be programmed by the same robotics company!

Oh, what a surprise! Another poor, poor developer at Hayne Lane, Honiton

One presumes that Councillors Diviani and Twiss are aware of this, having declared hospitality from Baker Estates in September and December last year:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/02/22/eddc-councillor-freebies/

PRESS RELEASE

“Developer requests reduced affordable housing provision on residential development at Hayne Lane, Honiton

Local planning authority will consider offer from Baker Estates to provide improved mix of houses at Hayne Lane development plus £0.5m contribution towards off-site affordable housing

East Devon’s Local Planning Authority (LPA) has received a request from Baker Estates to amend the amount of affordable housing that they provide on their development of 300 houses on land to the west of Hayne Lane in Honiton.

The request will be considered after 12 noon at the next meeting of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee on 6 March 2018, which is being held at Exmouth Town Hall

East Devon planning officers are recommending that the request be agreed.

As present Baker Estates is required to provide 40% of the dwellings (120 units) as affordable housing in accordance with the original planning permission granted on the site in 2015.

However, the developer is now asking the LPA to agree to reduce the affordable housing provision to 30% or 90 dwellings, whichever is the greater. This change would also affect the amount of financial contribution being secured for off-site open space, which would be reduced from £488,000 to £210,000.

In exchange Baker Estates is offering an improved mix of houses on the site and £500,000 financial contribution towards off-site provision of affordable housing.

The applicants have submitted this request as they believe that current planning policy would support a reduction in the provision of affordable housing down to 25%, if a new planning application were to be submitted. While they are offering less than the 40% affordable housing provision currently secured, they are offering more than the 25% they believe they would be required to provide if a new planning application were submitted.

The planning officers’ report advises that while there is a chance that Baker Estates may not be able to successfully argue 25% affordable housing provision as part of a new planning application, there is an equal chance that such a proposal would be acceptable should an application be submitted and determined on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

In addition, the planning officers believe that the viability of the site is such that it is unlikely that the council would be able to secure the current 40% provision into the future, and that agreeing to the request will negate the need for a lengthy and costly planning appeal, enabling the development to proceed as quickly as possible while providing 90, much needed, affordable housing units.

The report can be viewed on the council’s website:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/committees-and-meetings/development-management-committee/development-management-committee-agendas/

Cllr Mike Howe, Chairman of East Devon’s Development Management Committee, said:

“It is important that this sort of decision is made in the public view, so that everyone can understand the issues at stake. It is about striking a fair balance, while ensuring that the right amount of affordable housing provision is made.”