Tiverton and Honiton parliamentary candidates – more staid than East Devon!

Neil Parish – Conservative
Described as “blustering” in a recent Private Eye. Pays much more attention to the north of his constituency (A303 widening enthusiast, farming) at the expense of the poorer, coastal southern end. Originally a Somerset farmer and former MEP.

Caroline Julia Kolek – Labour
Embattled former Mayor of Honiton, where the town council is involved in some sort of police investigation and where newspaper reports of allegations of bullying and harassment have been made. Teacher.

Matthew Wilson – Lib Dem
Describes himself as campaigner, entrepreneur and teacher “currently run companies that support businesses providing networks that allow them to access new markets and support public sector staff such as NHS works by providing them with retail discounts.”

Green – Gill Westcott
Leading light and green campaigner in Exeter and wider area Green and Transition Towns movement, economics graduate of Oxford and Cambridge, helped create “Exeter pound”. Has taught sustainability in schools and writes and gives talks on economics and sustainability.


Hhhmm – which one does land, sand and sea Tiverton and Honiton need? Farmer, teacher, entrepreneur or sustainability campaigner?

Sidford hustings: strong performance from Councillor Rixson (Independent EDA)

Best candidate for County Council? It’s your choice. Voting’s on 4th May!

The Devon County Council hustings at Sidford on Wednesday evening (19 April),brought together five of the six candidates vying for the Sidmouth division, which now covers the whole of the Sid Valley.

They are Jeannie Alderdice (Green), Ray Davison (Labour), Stuart Hughes (Conservative), Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance) and Richard Wright (UKIP). Only Lewis Ragbourn (Lib Dem) was unable to attend the event, which was Chaired by Cathy Debenham of the Sidford-Sidbury Residents’ Group.

A common thread for most candidates was “transparency, accountability and listening to residents”; concerns about cuts to NHS, social care, and education; and inappropriate development. Despite passionate speeches from Jeannie Allerdice (“EU environmental rules should apply post-Brexit”); Ray Davison (“Conservative austerity policy is past its sell-by date”);and Richard Wright (“countryside not concrete”), just two serious candidates emerged based on their respective records as serving councillors: Marianne Rixson, and Stuart Hughes.

Cllr Rixson has a solid reputation for thoroughness and efficiency, much appreciated by local people in the successful fight against the planned Sidford business park. Long-serving Cllr Hughes offered promises such as “the long-awaited Sidmouth traffic management plan”, and “funding for Alma Bridge” this year.

On the basis of this hustings, Caroline Lucas’ suggestion this week of an informal coalition of e.g. Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, against the Conservative Party machine, sounds a sensible idea.

A second hustings, arranged by the Vision Group for Sidmouth, is scheduled for 28th April , 7pm, in the cellar bar at Kennaway House. For details, see futuresforumvgs.blogspot.com Voting for this DCC election is 4th May, 7am-10pm.

Useful case law on sustainability

“A judge has dismissed all seven grounds on which a developer sought to challenge the Community Secretary’s decision to reject a planning inspector’s recommendation.

The case concerned Arun District Council’s refusal to grant permission to developer Keith Langmead to build 100 homes at Yapton, West Sussex.
An inspector recommended that Langmead’s appeal be allowed, but this was overturned by the Secretary of State.

Giving judgment in Keith Langmead Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Anor [2017] EWHC 788, Mrs Justice Lang noted the Secretary of State had concluded the appeal did not accord with either the overall local plan or Yapton’s neighbourhood plan.

Arun lacked the five-year supply of housing sites required by the National Planing Policy Framework (NPPF) and so could be liable to the presumption in favour of sustainable development.

But the Secretary of State concluded that the proposed development did not comply with the social element of sustainability, and the “adverse impacts of this proposal would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the identified benefits”.

Langmead appealed on the grounds that the Secretary of State misunderstood and misinterpreted the NPPF, failed to apply it correctly, failed to take into account the independent examiner’s reservations about the Neighbourhood Plan and made a decision internally inconsistent with regard to the weight given to the local plan.

The company also argued that the decision was irrational and failed to give adequate reasons.

Lang J said the Secretary of State’s decision “did not disclose any misinterpretation or misapplication of the NPPF”, while it was unlikely that any material change came to his notice at the right time.

The inspector’s view had been incorporated and the Secretary of State “disagreed with the inspector’s conclusions, as he was entitled to do”.
Langmead had obtained by disclosure a copy of the internal planning casework division (PCD)’s submission to the Secretary of State to allow the appeal and while the decision letter did not mention this “it seems very unlikely that the Secretary of State failed to consider it, since an internal submission of this kind would usually be a helpful starting point for the minister”, the judge noted.

She said: “Although this appeal was controversial, it was not especially complex, in fact or law. The reasons in the [decision letter] were adequate and intelligible.

“In my view, the claimant knew full well the Secretary of State’s conclusions on the principal important controversial issues. Its real complaint was that the conclusions reached were unreasonable and misguided.”
The judge added: “The Secretary of State was entitled to make up his own mind, and reach a different conclusion to that of the PCD and the inspector.”


“Greater Exeter Strategic Plan”: are we already shafted?

Time is running out to comment on the “Greater Exeter Strategic Plan” initial consultation on “Issues”. Comments must be in by

10 April 2017

and the document is here:


and the full (12 page) document is here:


Owl thinks that there is precious little in the document that points either to a strategy or a plan! There are, however, many issues not covered such as:

– inequality ( how are the “just managing”, the “barely managing” and the “not managing at all going to access Greater Exeter’s resources (housing, transport, infrastructure, environment, health care, education) none of which is geared to them – only to the “managing very nicely thank you and ready to trade up to a bigger property or luxury retirement village” group

– the effect of Brexit, labour and skills shortages on the much-vaunted “economic growth”

– landbanking and housing supply – how they undermine all strategic planning projects

Owl also thinks this “plan” is shutting the door well after several horses have bolted, as already in the pipeline are massive developments planned to circle the city:

– west of Exeter: the 5,000-plus houses planned for “Culm Village” (Mid Devon)
– north/east of Exeter: the more than doubling in size of Cranbrook (East Devon) and the connected developments at Tithebarn Green, Pinn Brook Pinhoe and Monkerton (East Devon and Exeter City)
– south of Exeter: the massive development of Alphington and similar plans for doubling the size of Newton Abbott
– not to mention city developments such as St James’s Park and the thousands of student units in the city centre
– Local Enterprise Partnership plans to build extra houses just about everywhere else

Can anyone tell Owl which bits of “Greater Exeter” are left to consult on?

“Energy projects including Hinkley Point threatened by Brexit, experts warn”

Vital energy projects including the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant and interconnectors used to import cheap electricity from Europe are under threat due to Brexit, energy experts have warned.

They said the projects, which are key to efforts to keep the UK’s lights on, could be at risk if the energy sector is denied entry to Europe’s internal energy market.

That looks increasingly likely, after the European parliament passed a resolution on Wednesday opposing “piecemeal or sectoral provisions” for individual UK industries.

Speaking at an event organised by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, experts said plans by French power firm EDF to build two new reactors at Hinkley Point C could be affected.

Antony Froggatt, senior research fellow at Chatham House, said EDF was already concerned that Brexit will make it harder to import skilled EU nationals to build Hinkley, which is slated to provide 7% of UK electricity.

“I was at a conference recently where EDF were saying their main concern about skills was specialised steel fitters for the construction of Hinkley,” he said.

“They said there were not enough in the country to build Hinkley and therefore this is the main area that they’re concerned about.”

He added that the staff shortage could be exacerbated by the building of the HS2 high-speed rail link, which will be competing with Hinkley to attract steel fitters.

EDF did not return requests for comment.

Froggatt and his fellow panellists at the ECIU event also raised concerns about the impact on plans for interconnectors, wires connecting the UK with the European electricity network.

Interconnectors are considered increasingly important as Britain turns to renewable energy, because they allow electricity to be imported to make up for shortfalls when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

Plans are in place to build 14GW of interconnectors between the UK and countries including Norway, France, Belgium and Iceland.

But building them could prove less attractive to investors if the UK cannot remain part of Europe’s internal energy market.

This is because the agreement allows electricity to be automatically traded on a short-term “intra-day” basis, improving efficiency and making it more lucrative to build interconnectors. …”

EDDC relication costs £10.3 million and counting …

Owl says: are these audited costs or still on

“District chiefs are being advised to press ahead with their £10million relocation from Sidmouth – despite having no guaranteed buyer for their ‘not fit-for-purpose’ Knowle HQ.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) cabinet is being asked to sign off nearly £8.7million to press ahead with building work at Honiton’s Heathpark, on top of the approved £1,7million pot to refurbish Exmouth Town Hall.

If approved, the relocation project’s total budget will stand at £10.36million, up from £9.2million in March 2015.

Members will also be asked if they support a further £225,000 cost for an improved access road to the Honiton base when they meet next week.

EDDC originally promised that the relocation would be ‘cost neutral’, that it would not borrow money and the project would not progress before Knowle was sold.

But after refusing PegasusLife’s £7.5million bid to redevelop Knowle into a 113-home retirement community, the authority now has to decide how to proceed with the relocation.

According to cabinet agenda papers, members have three options to choose from:

• ‘Go now’ – press ahead with building in Honiton in anticipation of an acceptable combination of cash for Knowle and prudential borrowing. Work could be completed as soon as December 2018.

• Delay relocation for one to two years, or more, so planning permission for Knowle can be secured to fund the project. EDDC understands PegasusLife is preparing an appeal, which would have to be lodged before June 9.

• A ‘do minimum’ option of giving up on the new-build Honiton HQ, completing the refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall and modernising a section of Knowle. Essential repairs to Knowle would cost £1.9million, but there is no capital receipt for this expenditure.

Councillors have been recommended to pursue the ‘go now’ option. EDDC maintains that the move will save money in the long-run.

Its development management committee refused PegasusLife’s application because it represented a departure from Knowle’s 50-home allocation in the authority’s Local Plan and due to the lack of ‘affordable’ housing.

EDDC has considered various re-marketing options for Knowle – if a PegasusLife appeal is unsuccessful – that could fetch between £3.22million and £6.8million. One scheme proposes 50 homes, half of which would be ‘affordable’, and could bring in £4.2million.

Critics have long said EDDC could remain at Knowle rather than relocate. The cabinet papers say modernising the former hotel would cost nearly £11.3million, or, for the newer offices, the bill is expected to be more than £5.9million.

The relocation project has cost £1,784,884 to date.

Cabinet members will meet to discuss the options at Knowle at 5.30pm on Wednesday (April 5).”


Clinton Devon Estates offers to “fix broken housing market”

Owl says: the winning formula: promises, promises, promises, pseudo-eco words, pseudo-eco words, pseudo-eco-words spin, spin, spin, build, build, build. And when a “consultation” gives you the wrong answer – ignore it. Well, it does seem to be working so far

Even if you have to take half a “hospital hub” garden (the excuse there? Because it is “no longer being used for its original purpose”! Proof that hubs aren’t hospitals when it comes to land grabbing!