You can’t build anything you like in the countryside (well, at least in Mid-Devon!)

“Councillors [in mid Devon NOT East Devon!]have warned residents who live in the rural areas that they cannot just build what they like after a two-storey outbuilding was refused planning permission.

Applicants Mr and Mrs D Hall had requested the retention of a replacement two-storey timber building at Forestry Houses in Chenson, between Lapford and Eggesford Station. The application was brought before Mid Devon District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, November 29 after a previous decision not to take enforcement action and to invite an application given the rural nature of the property and the limited negative impact of the application.

The proposed use of the building was purported to be a workshop with domestic storage over, a greenhouse and potting shed were also included within the lean-to structure.

In his report to members, area team leader Simon Trafford recommended refusal. His report said: “The development by virtue of its siting, scale and massing represents an incongruous feature on the site and furthermore contributes towards an unnecessary proliferation of built structures within this part of the countryside. For these reasons the development as it has been constructed is considered to be harmful to the overall character and appearance of the countryside.

“At the time of this decision the application site contained a single storey timber cabin building used as ancillary domestic accommodation, a pitched roof timber outbuilding with double doors used for the storage of building materials and a motorbike, a timber pitched roof field shelter, a timber store building and a small lean-to extension providing ancillary storage for the main dwelling. …

… All 11 members of the planning committee voted in favour of refusing the application.”

Effect of Sustainability and Transformation plans on rural communities – East Devon Tories miss the boat then moan about it!

Motion at today’s EDDC full council meeting.

Recall that EDDC council leader voted AGAINST submitting the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’s plan to the Secretary of State for Health at the meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee AGAINST the wishes of his own district council.

Now, that same district council, whose Tory members absolved him of blame for this act are making a TOKEN fuss about its consequences!

“Motion – The effects on Rural Communities of the Sustainability Transformation Partnership (STP) actions in East Devon

“To ask the Leader of East Devon District Council to request Sarah Wollaston, Chair of the Parliamentary Health Select Committee, to investigate the effects on Rural Communities of the STP actions and to test if Rural Proofing Policies have been correctly applied to these decisions in order to protect these communities”.

Proposer Councillor Mike Allen Seconded by Councillor Ian Hall
Supported by:
Councillor Dean Barrow; Councillor Stuart Hughes; Councillor Brian Bailey; Councillor Mark Williamson; Councillor Mike Howe; Councillor Iain Chubb; Councillor Simon Grundy’; Councillor Graham Godbeer; Councillor Tom Wright; Councillor Jenny Brown”

The Times: “Builders shun brownfield sites” [what a surprise!]

Are we surprised? Oh, come on – of course not. And interesting that a council, for example, might spend, say, £10 million on a new HQ, but not have the “resources” to identify all suitable brownfield sites for housing in their district!

Parts of the countryside are being needlessly sacrificed to build homes because thousands of small plots of previously developed land are being overlooked by councils, a study has found.

Sites with room for almost 200,000 homes are missing from official registers of brownfield, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE). These include former builders’ yards, disused warehouses and blocks of garages no longer used for parking.

The government says that it has a “brownfield first” policy when identifying land for more homes. To help to achieve this it has ordered all councils in England to publish registers by the end of this month of brownfield land suitable for development.

The CPRE examined 43 of the registers already published and found that only 4 per cent of the brownfield land they identified was on small sites that could accommodate up to ten homes.

In the budget last month the government announced that it wanted councils to identify enough small sites to provide 20 per cent of the new homes needed.

Philip Hammond, the chancellor, also said that the government would “ensure that our brownfield and scarce urban land is used as efficiently as possible”.

The CPRE found that if councils met the 20 per cent target on small brownfield sites, an additional 189,000 homes could be built in England.

It asked a sample of local authorities how they identified land for their brownfield registers and found that they “routinely disregarded small brownfield sites”.

Councils overlooked the sites even though they usually had infrastructure in place, such as rail and road links and schools and hospitals, which were less likely to be available for greenfield sites.

The reasons given by councils for not listing small brownfield sites included that they lacked the resources to identify them and that housebuilders did not favour them because of the perception that the planning system was too burdensome for small plots.

The CPRE said that the failure to identify small brownfield sites was resulting in councils allocating land for development in the green belt, the protected land around 14 cities.

It has called on the government to amend official guidance to ensure that councils identified all the available brownfield sites in their areas.

Rebecca Pullinger, CPRE’s planning campaigner, said: “Up and down the country tens of thousands of small brownfield sites are not included in brownfield land registers and their housing development potential missed.

“The current system of collecting this data must be improved if we are to unlock the potential of brownfield and stop developers finding an excuse to build on greenfield areas.”

In October Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: “I don’t believe that we need to focus on the green belt, there is lots of brownfield land, and brownfield first has been a policy of ours for a while.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

“One in five wouldn’t be able to get to work using just public transport”

25% of working people cannot get to their place of work by public transport, so it’s one in four in this area.

“The Government is desperate for us to ditch our cars and replace them with zero-emissions electric models or use public transport in a bid to reduce air pollution in the country.

However, a new study has highlighted that more than 10 million Britons would be unable to get to work if they could only rely on buses, trains and other modes of public transport.

Direct Line Car Insurance said a fifth of workers either don’t have a public transport link into their nearest town centre or would have to use three or more modes of shared transport to get to work. … ”

Pockets of deprivation in affluent areas – coastal and rural communities have problems

“Children from deprived backgrounds face the worst prospects in some of the richest parts of the country, according to a damning new study that lays bare deep geographical divisions across Britain.

An annual report by the government’s own social mobility watchdog warns that while London and its suburbs are pulling away, rural, coastal and former industrial areas are being left behind.

The State of the Nation report finds that some of the wealthiest areas in England – including west Berkshire, the Cotswolds and Crawley, deliver worse outcomes for their disadvantaged children than places that are much poorer, such as Sunderland and Tower Hamlets. …

… Other findings include that:

51% of children on free school meals in London achieve A* to C grades in English and maths GCSE compared with a 36% average in all other regions.

There is a gulf between the highest figures of 63% in Westminster and the lowest, 27% on the Isle of the Wight

Meanwhile in Kensington and Chelsea, 50% of disadvantaged youngsters make it to university compared with just 10% in Hastings, Barnsley and Eastbourne

Some of the worst performing areas, such as Weymouth and Portland, and Allerdale, are rural not urban

In fact, in 71, largely rural areas, more than 30% of the people earn below the voluntary living wage – with average wages in west Somerset just £312 a week, less than half of the best performing areas

In Bolsover just 17% of residents are in jobs that are professional and managerial positions compared with 51% in Oxford

The study says that a critical factor in the best performing councils is the quality of teachers available, with secondary teachers 70% more likely to leave the profession in deprived areas.

Although richer parts of Britain do tend to outperform more deprived areas overall in the social mobility index designed by researchers, that isn’t always true. Some of the most affluent areas do worse for the poor kids than some of the least well off.

Coastal areas are a focus of the report, with warnings about schools being isolated. Recommendations include more collaboration between schools and subsidised travel for disadvantaged young people in isolated areas. The commission also calls for central government to fund a push for schools in rural and coastal areas to work together.

They also say that the government should rebalance the national transport budget to help tackle regional disparities. …

…. The report calls for the Department for Education’s £72m funding for opportunity areas to be matched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in order to link up schooling and workplace opportunities.”

“Rural public services funding ‘outdated and chronically unfair’ “

“Funding for public services in rural communities is “outdated and chronically unfair” when compared to towns and cities, the County Councils Network has stated.

The body, which represents county councils, has demanded the government address the ‘postcode lottery’ of government funding.

It says there are large disparities between resources allocated to rural public services and their urban counterparts.

Paul Carter, chair of the CCN, will tell the network’s annual conference today that 26 million countryside residents receive almost 50% less funding for their public services compared to their neighbours in England’s largest cities.

“Our services are threatened and under pressure like never before.

“Unless these inequalities are addressed, many of the highly valued services to our public will diminish or disappear,” he warned.

Carter highlighted that this year, collectively, England’s 37 county areas received £3.2bn less than the English average, including London and towns and cities outside rural areas.

He added: “This impacts on the daily lives on our residents, all whilst they unfairly subsidise services enjoyed in other parts of the country through higher council tax bills.

“This is outdated and chronically unfair.”

The inequality in the current system means that, on average, county councils received £650 per person for public services in 2017-18 however a city or metropolitan borough resident receives £825 for their services, whilst those in inner London enjoy £1,190 per person, the CCN said.

This gulf in funding received by different communities comes at a time when county authorities face a funding black hole of £2.54bn by 2021, caused by austerity and these funding inequalities between rural and urban areas, according to the CCN.

Carter is also expected to warn that the government’s review of local government finance will not resolve historical inequalities, and is likely to “fudge” the issue.

The CCN noted that these historical quirks mean a rural taxpayer in Leicestershire gets £428 per person for their public services, but those living, in some cases, less than a mile away in Leicester, a unitary city council, get £1,107 per person for their services – 61% more.

County leaders say they have little choice but to raise council tax to make sure the shortfall, meaning that their residents are unfairly subsidising the services enjoyed in other parts of the country.”

Sunday Telegraph: “Tory manifesto pledge on broadband not-spots at risk”

“A broadband upgrade for 1.4 million rural homes is expected to be delayed by as much as three years with talks on a deal between the Government and BT’s network subsidiary Openreach close to collapse. …

… the Government will be forced to impose new regulations to give broadband customers a right to an upgrade. It means the work is likely to take much longer and that a Tory manifesto pledge to deliver the minimum standard to everyone by 2020 is under threat. …”

Source: Sunday Telegraph