Officers advise councillors not to fight Clinton Devon Estates over withdrawal of Newton Poppleford doctors’ surgery in planning application

EDDC fight CDE – not on your life say officers …unless, of course, councillors instruct them to do so …

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/newton-poppleford-home-appeal-meeting-1-6194658

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan delayed

“A document that was set to reveal the possible locations for more than 57,000 new homes across four districts has been delayed.

The paper, which details sites put forward for developments of 500 homes or more in East Devon, Mid Devon, Teignbridge and Exeter (Greater Exeter) was due to be published in June.

More than 700 parcels of land were proposed by agents, developers and landowners during the ‘call for sites’ for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP). Details of these options were due to be published in June.

However following the elections, a review of the timetable is ‘likely’ be needed, according to the GESP website.

Four councils are involved in the development of the plan – Exeter City Council, East Devon District Council, Mid Devon District Council and Teignbridge District Council.

But, in May’s elections the Conservative leadership at three of the district councils lost control.

The Local Housing Need Assessment for the Greater Exeter Area, published in November 2018, quotes an annual housing need figure in East Devon of 844. It states that the GESP authorities must plan to deliver at least 2,593 homes per annum between them up to 2040.

The assessment of larger strategic sites is being undertaken and the results will be published in a housing and economic land availability assessment (HELAA) alongside the draft Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.

The assessment of smaller sites will be undertaken by the four individual councils (as relevant). And, the results in HELAA will support the respective local plans.

The timetable is:

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan timetable:

– Issues Consultation – February 2017 (completed).

– Draft policies and site options – June 2019 (Now under review).

– Draft Plan Consultation – November 2019 (Now under review).

– Publication (Proposed Submission) – February 2021.

– Submission – July 2021.

– Hearings – September 2021.

– Adoption – April 2022.

If approved, then the GESP would supersede and sit above the existing local plans, but they would not be scrapped.”

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/greater-exeter-strategic-plan-document-is-delayed-1-6190128

Possible new East Devon “villages” (mostly extensions to current ones) are detailed here:

https://www.midweekherald.co.uk/news/possible-locations-for-new-devon-villages-set-to-be-released-1-6061225

Report on Sidford Business Park Planning Inquiry

Owl says: an excellent summary – but particularly pay attention to one interesting point in it:

QUOTE: …it transpires that after their 2016 application was refused by the District Council the appellants representatives met with the Council’s Chief Executive where he encouraged them to appeal the decision. UNQUOTE

Since when did the CEO give planning advice to appelants – and who (if anyone) was with him at that meeting. And to whom, who, if anyone did he/they subsequently disclose it?

“Apologies for this lengthy Update but we wanted to provide the full flavour of the Planning Inquiry.

As we are sure you all are aware last week there was the Planning Inquiry into the appeal lodged by Tim and Mike Ford, trading as OG Holdings Retirement Benefits Scheme, into the planning application to build a Business Park in Sidford that was refused by East Devon District Council at the end of last year. The Inquiry was held in public in front of a Planning Inspector.

The District Council was represented by a very competent barrister and had one of its planning officers and a highways officer from Devon County Council as their witnesses. On the other side, the Fords, known throughout the Inquiry as the appellants, were represented by a QC and had a plethora of witnesses.

Four representatives from this Campaign were present continuously at the Inquiry from the very moment when it commenced and over three days until the moment that it concluded. Indeed, three of the Campaign’s representatives gave evidence to the Inquiry, were cross examined by the appellants’ QC and were able to direct questions to be put to witnesses, as well as participating in several “round table” discussions on specific issues related to the matters under consideration.

The three Campaign representatives who gave evidence were District Councillor Marianne Rixson, Keith Hudson and John Loudoun. There were also three other witnesses, all speaking against the proposed Business Park. These were – Town Councillor Jeff Turner, County Councillor Stuart Hughes and Sidford resident Jackie Powell. In reality, and for all other appearances, this Campaign’s representatives were treated as, and able to participate as, full participants alongside the Council and the appellants.

At all stages of the Inquiry it was pleasing to have a number of members of the public in attendance for what on a number of occasions must have been a rather dry affair, particularly when legal arguments were being exchanged and technical data argued over.

The bulk of all of the evidence and legal arguments centred primarily, as one would expect, around the issue of the suitability and safety of the highway (the A375 through Sidford and Sidbury) as this had been the grounds upon which the District Council had refused the latest planning application. Its worth recalling that for the appellants the planning application which was the subject of this Inquiry was the latest on for that site, with the first one being back in 2012, whilst the Fords submitted their first in 2016, which as we know was refused in the same year.

On the final day of the Inquiry this Campaign’s representatives were able to make strong interventions on what could become an important set of issues. As in any such Inquiry the Inspector, whilst they have all the parties together, go through what planning conditions would apply should the Inspector uphold the appeal. None of this is meant to signify that the Inspector has made a decision one way or another, but rather makes good use of everyone’s time.

We were able to put arguments on behalf of local residents for some of the main planning conditions. These conditions include important matters such as the days and hours when noisy machinery could be operated, the days and times when deliveries or collections could be made to businesses using the Business Park, having an agreed site lighting scheme which would include the use of illuminated advertising, the days and times of when the construction can take place and when construction vehicles can access the site.

Both parties agreed that if the site becomes operational there will be provision made at it for a cycle/footpath through it. This would link to the existing cycle/footpath that goes from Two Bridges Road down to the Byes and is meant to be an additional link to join through to the centre of Sidbury. The only problem here is that the County Council appears to have made no progress in developing the route into Sidbury.

This Campaign argued that the appellants, if successful at the appeal, should agree to fund the full cost of the cycle/footpath from Sidford to Sidbury and that such a condition should remain for the next 10 years. The appellants, not unsurprisingly, did not accept that this should be a condition that either legally or voluntarily should be applied!
We were very pleased to hear from the Inspector that the day before the Inquiry started, he had visited the site, as well as key areas within Sidford and Sidbury.

At the end of the Inquiry the Inspector invited both parties and this Campaign to identify sites that we wanted him to revisit. We are pleased that our proposed locations were accepted by the appellants representatives.
During the Inquiry we were able to persuade the Inspector to pay five videos that we had submitted as part of our evidence. These videos, we argued illustratively show the effects on the A375 in both Sidford and Sidbury of traffic problems given the current level of traffic, and we argued that with the additional traffic that would be generated by the Business Park this would only get worse. Links to each of these videos are set out at the end of this Update.

Interestingly, three new pieces of information came from evidence provided on behalf of the appellants.

The first is that the appellants argued that the planning application as it currently stands is the least that would make the site financially viable for them. In other words, if the appeal is lost then there is no point in the appellants submitting another application as it wouldn’t make them enough money.

Secondly, it transpires that after their 2016 application was refused by the District Council the appellants representatives met with the Council’s Chief Executive where he encouraged them to appeal the decision.

The third was that even if the appeal is successful and the appellants are able to build the Business Park, they would not be intending to build a phase two development in the neighbouring field as was expected.
The documents that both parties, this Campaign and members of the public have submitted to the Inquiry, and which the Inspector assured us he has diligently all read are available via this link –

https://planningapps.eastdevon.gov.uk/Planning/lg/dialog.page?Param=lg.Planning&org.apache.shale.dialog.DIALOG_NAME=gfplanningsearch&SDescription=18/1094/MOUT&viewdocs=true

Grenadier development in Exeter “a series of unfulfilled promises” – MAY be completed in SEVEN years!

“A series of unfulfilled pledges by a housing developer has seen a historic former school remain visibly untouched for five-and-a-half years, but assurances have now been given its transformation could be completed by 2021.

Former girls’ school St Margaret’s in St Leonard’s, Exeter, was granted planning permission to be turned into housing in 2014.

Grenadier Estates promised to turn the Grade II listed building into an ‘exclusive development’ of 35 apartments and four town houses, by winter 2019/20.

Work was due to begin in the summer of 2017, but instead it has remained boarded up and shrouded in scaffolding and plastic.

Last June, the developers said work would begin on the first phase that month.

Among the reasons stated for the delay was making it a sustainable development, and seeking further planning permission.

At that time no date was given for when the project would be completed due to ‘sensitivities of preserving the historic building, suppliers and ensuring the selected construction techniques are appropriate’.

However, Grenadier has announced today it estimates the project will take a further two years to complete.

Its new vision is to provide a mix of 38 high-quality apartments and three individual townhouses which will be high-quality and energy efficient homes.

The Exeter-based developer has pledged not to compromise the historic character of the property by using the latest advancements in building techniques and technology. …..”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/eight-year-wait-former-exeter-3076220

“Planning fees set to increase says Brokenshire”

“The prospect of local authorities being able to increase their fees for managing planning applications has been raised by housing and communities secretary James Brokenshire, as part of a long-awaited Accelerated Planning Green Paper.

With many departments relying on temporary staff from overseas and university courses closing through lack of demand, the shortage of local authority planners and under-resourcing of departments has been an acute problem for some time.

Planning Delivery Grant was introduced in 2003, linked to a 13-week target for decisions. For the next five years, £110m a year was allocated in grants. In the same period, £4.8m was spent on student bursaries to increase the number of qualified planners. Fee increases of 25% and 23% were introduced in 2005 and 2008.

But the problem, which was highlighted by the Public Accounts Committee in 2008 continued, hampering the Government’s ability to deliver changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, designed to boost housing supply.

Mr Brokenshire’s announcement has been widely welcomed. Some stakeholders, including the Royal Town Planning Institute, have been calling for English local authorities to be allowed to raise fees to cover the entire administrative cost of the planning application function.

The construction sector would be less than happy with such an approach, particularly small builders who have complained that the increased planning fees already imposed don’t seem to have speeded things up.

Richard Blyth, RTPI Head of Policy and Research, commented: “We are delighted to see that Mr Brokenshire has taken note of our proposals. We have been talking to our members and will be contributing to the forthcoming Accelerated Planning Green Paper. We look forward to working with the Government on its proposals.”

Martin Tett, Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said that council tax payers were currently subsidising planning application administration to the tune of £200m a year.

He commented: “It is good that the Government recognises our call for council planning departments to be given greater resources if they are to ensure applications are processed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Councils need to be able to set their own planning fees.”

Announcing the proposals at the CIEH’s annual housing conference in Manchester, Mr Brokenshire said: “The planning system is not a barrier to housebuilding – with councils approving nine in 10 applications, and the majority processed quickly while hundreds of thousands of homes have been given planning permission but are yet to be built.”

He said that the green paper would look at creating “greater capacity and capability within local planning authorities, stronger plan-making, better performance management and procedural improvements, including in the process of granting planning permissions.”

Currently, he said, only half of the annual £1bn spent on local authority planning functions was covered by fee income. The green paper would launch pilots of new approaches to meeting the costs of planning.

Councils would be expected “to demonstrate measurable improvements within their performance – not just in terms of speed, but very firmly also in terms of quality”.

Other Brokenshire announcements:

Government may appoint a new homes ombudsman to deal with shoddy standards in new-build

Consultation on redress for purchasers of new build homes

Ground rents on new leases reduced to zero, preventing leaseholders being charged exorbitant fees, and the sale of leasehold houses will be banned

Nineteen new garden villages delivering 73,000 new homes. They will include a facility for people with dementia at St George’s Barracks in Rutland

Proposals to make it easier for renters to transfer deposits between landlords when moving

Rogue landlord database could be accessed by tenants

Half of the £2bn of long term funding to 2028-29 for housing associations will go to London

Planning process for families wishing to extend their properties to be improved.”

https://environment-analyst.com/dis/79500

Land: the new rhodium (the most expensive metal in the world)

“What is the most neglected issue in British politics? I would say land. Literally and metaphorically, land underlies our lives, but its ownership and control have been captured by a tiny number of people. The results include soaring inequality and exclusion; the massive cost of renting or buying a decent home; the collapse of wildlife and ecosystems; repeated financial crises; and the loss of public space. Yet for 70 years this crucial issue has scarcely featured in political discussions.

Today, I hope, this changes, with the publication of the report to the Labour party – Land for the Many – that I’ve written with six experts in the field. Our aim is to put this neglected issue where it belongs: at the heart of political debate and discussion.

Since 1995, land values in this country have risen by 412%. Land now accounts for an astonishing 51% of the UK’s net worth. Why? In large part because successive governments have used tax exemptions and other advantages to turn the ground beneath our feet into a speculative money machine. A report published this week by Tax Justice UK reveals that, through owning agricultural land, 261 rich families escaped £208m in inheritance tax in 2015-16. Because farmland is used as a tax shelter, farmers are being priced out. In 2011, farmers bought 60% of the land that was on the market; within six years this had fallen to 40%.

Homes are so expensive not because of the price of bricks and mortar, but because land now accounts for 70% of the price

Worse still, when planning permission is granted on agricultural land, its value can rise 250-fold. Though this jackpot was created by society, the owner gets to keep most of it. We pay for this vast inflation in land values through outrageous rents and mortgages. Capital gains tax is lower than income tax, and council tax is proportionately more expensive for the poor than for the rich. As a result of such giveaways, and the amazing opacity of the system, land in the UK has become a magnet for international criminals seeking to launder their money.

We pay for these distortions every day. Homes have become so expensive not because the price of bricks and mortar has risen, but because the land that underlies them now accounts for 70% of their price. Twenty years ago, the average working family needed to save for three years to afford a deposit. Today, it must save for 19 years. Life is even worse for renters. While housing costs swallow 12% of average household incomes for those with mortgages, renters pay 36%.

Because we hear so little about the underlying issues, we blame the wrong causes for the cost and scarcity of housing: immigration, population growth, the green belt, red tape. In reality, the power of landowners and building companies, their tax and financial advantages and the vast shift in bank lending towards the housing sector have inflated prices so much that even a massive housebuilding programme could not counteract them.

The same forces are responsible for the loss of public space in cities, a right to roam that covers only 10% of the land, the lack of provision for allotments and of opportunities for new farmers, and the wholesale destruction of the living world. Our report aims to confront these structural forces and take back control of the fabric of the nation. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jun/04/tackle-inequality-land-ownership-laws?