“Rewild a quarter of UK to fight climate crisis, campaigners urge”

Rewilding would (according to the Environment Secretary) focus on:

Native woodlands
Salt marshes
Peat bogs
Ponds and lakes
Meadows and grasslands

all of which we have in abundance in East Devon.

Perhaps it is now time to revive the idea of a Jurassic Coast National Park (West Dorset would be an already-enthusiastic partner) which was squashed by the previous council because they feared losing their cosy relationship with housing developers …

And, as part of our climate emergency, make rewilding an integral part of all future neighbourhood, district and Greater Exeter development plans.

A correspondent explains why he won’t be voting Conservative on Thursday

Unless your readers live in a new house on an estate they will have little understanding of what happens today.

I moved onto a new estate which had a grassed open area. I was aware that there was some infrastructure to prevent flooding beneath it and knew that I would have to pay a share of the upkeep. I did not fully understand was that it was a public open space which was available for anyone’s use, not just the residents on the estate.

Maintenance charges have rocketed whilst quality of service has been poor. Any talk of with holding service charge payments is referred promptly to debt recovery. The whole system is unregulated and frankly, stinks.

I have dug deep to try to understand how a simple purchase of a freehold house is suddenly caught up in a land charge where I am compelled to pay for maintenance of land owned by someone else.

The root cause of the problem seems to have started with the council. In this case EDDC. As part of the planning condition for the estate the developer had to provide a public open space and a SUDS system to prevent flooding. In all probability it was an attempt by the council to stick their fingers up at the developers and force them to provide facilities for public benefit at no cost to the local authority.

The next stage was to make the developers responsible for the maintenance of the new open spaces. They could either do that themselves or pay a lump sum to the council to maintain it for the next 25years. Clearly the developers were unable to afford that so they passed the maintenance charges on to the residents within the title deeds for each house.

That was very unpopular and most developers, wanting to distance themselves from the problem, gave the piece of public land to a land management company. It seems that none of those companies are regulated and can charge what they like. If you don’t pay their bill they could apparently seize your house. All quite outrageous.

There has been lots of bad press about these land management companies and the matter discussed in Whitehall although the housing minister has taken little interest.

In East Devon our Conservative council has decided to stick their nose in the trough and has decided to offer to take over the public open spaces at Cranbrook and offer to carry out the maintenance of the public open spaces and charge F band houses £370 per annum and H band houses £512 per annum. Both of those figures are in addition to the normal council tax which is supposed to cover supply and maintenance of public open spaces !!

So lets look at this…. EDDC created the problem by insisting that the developer provide the public open spaces which the council had no intention of maintaining. When it all starts to go wrong EDDC offer to take the responsibility over but only by penalising the residents who live on those estates.

To make it clear those public open spaces are available for use by anyone. So maintenance of those public open spaces should be maintained at public expense. The costs must be paid out of council tax revenue.

This mess has been created by EDDC who enjoy a massive Conservative majority. Any proposals are just nodded through without opposition.

I have always voted Conservative in the past but things have got out of hand. Things must change. The public has a chance to voice their opinion in the local elections on 2nd May.

I know I won’t be for any Conservative Councillor and no, it’s got nothing to to with Brexit….”

The great public asset sell-off

Public open spaces
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/sold-from-under-you-explainer_uk_5c796bdee4b033abd14b61c8

Land and buildings:
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/revealed-councils-are-selling-off-buildings-to-fund-more-council-cuts_uk_5c7cdc1be4b0e1f776539948

No-one goes into public service to do this:
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/council-funding-austerity_uk_5c794d31e4b0de0c3fc03024

Twenty minutes a day in an urban park [if you can find one] makes you happier

Owl says: with many urban parks being sold off for poor-quality, high-cost housing it seems “wellbeing” just isn’t a priority.

“… Researchers from the University of Alabama found people who visited their local parks experienced physical and mental health benefits ranging from stress reduction to recovery from mental fatigue.

“Overall, we found park visitors reported an improvement in emotional wellbeing after the park visit,” said lead researcher Hon Yuen. “We did not find levels of physical activity are related to improved emotional wellbeing. Instead, we found time spent in the park is related to improved emotional wellbeing.” …”

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/twenty-minutes-in-an-urban-park-every-day-makes-you-happier_uk_5c750504e4b0bf166202c5d3

Rights of way – action needed

Ramblers Association:

“We have until January 2026 to save our historic rights of way.
Well over 140,000 miles of public paths criss-cross England and Wales. This network has evolved over centuries with many paths dating back to medieval times – or earlier! These paths link villages, hamlets, roads and towns – they describe how generations before us travelled to the pub, field or shops and reflect the changing patterns of human interaction with the landscape. To this day, millions of people across our towns, cities and countryside, use this fantastic network. However, miles and miles of our public paths are unrecorded and if they are not put on the map by 1 January 2026, they will be lost for ever.

Download our guide below and get started on the hunt for lost rights of way in your area (requires form fill-in)

https://e-activist.com/page/34392/data/1

Axminster: “Millbrook Park – includes a “publicly accessible” green space

Note the words. Not a publicly OWNED green space – a publicly ACCESSIBLE green space. Big difference!

Sorry there is no link to the masterplan. The three EDDC-dictated press releases Owl has seen on various sites include no link, just rather hazy schematics or cartoons, so far.

“Developers to be forced to plant more trees amid fears barren developments are being constructed by builders”

Developer definition of trees – two trees which residents have to pay high maintenance charges on
Developer definition of open space – pocket handkerchief, which belongs to them but which residents have to pay for high upkeep costs

“Developers will be forced to demonstrate to planners that they are improving wildlife habitats whenever they build new homes, Michael Gove will say on Sunday.

Under plans that will go out for consultation next week, builders will be required to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or commercial development.

This means that wildlife habitats must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were before development started.

It could also see developers planting more green spaces around new developments. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/12/02/developers-forced-plant-trees-amid-fears-barren-developments/