Conservation against Profit? It’s Greendale again …

From a correspondent:

A development proposal adjacent to Woodbury Common for 14 “holiday lodges” could be built on a section of the golf course created by the owners of Greendale Business Park.

The Hotel and Golf course was sold some years ago to Nigel Mansell and two years ago, sold again to a c company known as the “Club Company” which operates 13 Country Clubs in the UK, who are owned by a London Based private equity group “Epiris”

The planning application documents outlines how falling numbers of golfers across England is forcing clubs to diversify and that it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through ventures like the proposed holiday accommodation.

The developers view:

It also says that with the golfing sector under pressure with declining membership and participation forcing many clubs out of business, they must look at new ways to attract golf societies and other groups looking for golfing holidays.

One way to do this is through investing in new accommodation and the lodges would add to the existing hotel on the site.

The statement explains how the number of registered golfers has dropped eight per cent in the last four years. Adults playing golf has fallen 27 per cent between 2007 and 2016, and juniors playing golf weekly have dropped five per cent since 2014.
It adds:

“In clubs where membership is growing, clubs have taken positive steps to address the issues and are catering for a range of different needs and are developing facilities to broaden income streams and become part of the community.”

“The proposed changes at Woodbury Park Hotel and Golf Club aim to follow a similar pattern, providing further golf accommodation in order to attract more golfers from a wider national market.”

“Given the declining popularity of playing golf in England and in order to maintain the business, it is necessary to attract golfing markets, such as golf breaks, through the proposed holiday accommodation. This will allow the club to attract more golfers and more visitors to the bars, restaurant, health club and spa, to generate a vital additional income stream.”

However, the location chosen to build these lodges is next to a very important historic and environmentally important ancient “Green lane” known as Walkidons Way.

The Conservation view.

A local conservation group describes the location:

“Walkidons Way is a rare example in our locality of a green lane – most of the rest having been tarmaced. It is a public access route and runs between Hogsbrook Farm at its north-western end and Woodbury Common at Woodbury Park to the south-east. Along the way it passes beside Rockham Wood – a (private) ancient wood that is a designated County Wildlife Site.

A green lane can be defined as an un-metalled track with field boundaries on either side. These boundaries may be banks, hedges or woodland edges, often with features such as ditches – all of which can be seen along the length of Walkidons Way. The hedges and woodland edges here are particularly rich in examples of hedge-laying and coppicing of great age, and possibly also an ancient boundary trees.

In terms of bio-diversity, green lanes are mini-landscapes with their own micro-climate and ecology, due to the combination of the track and its boundary features. They may be more botanically species-rich than a single hedge, act as wildlife corridors, and their sheltered conditions are of great importance, for example, to butterfly populations.
Historically, Walkidons Way linked Greendale Barton – formerly an important farm on the site of the present Greendale Business Park – to the Common. This route adopted from at least Saxon times, as a drover road, for moving stock between Greendale and the Common.

The former agricultural land here has been much altered for leisure use, and the lane now passes between golf courses at the higher end, and fishing lakes lower down, which were both created during the 1990s. The Woodbury Park complex, which opened in 1995, was a highly controversial development at the time, but has become a generally accepted element of the modern landscape.

The track and its verges are unfortunately suffering degradation from modern vehicular traffic, but Walkidons Way offers a beautiful walk of very different character to that of most of our local lanes, to the open spaces of the Common.”
It will be interesting to see if the need of “big business” will win over the concern to preserve an ancient way.

The Planning can be viewed on the EDDC planning website under the reference 19/2145/FUL

East Devon’s “North West Quadrant” of “linked villages” – or Exeter’s North East suburbs?

“The potential for strategic scale development in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon was identified and a network of linked villages, referred to as Clyst Villages, has been put forward

The concept of a ‘network of linked villages’ being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon will be investigated.

East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday morning unanimously recommends to the Cabinet that East Devon supports the Exeter and East Devon garden communities status.

The Exeter bid would see around 12,000 new homes built in the city as part of the Liveable Exeter vision and has already been agreed by their council. …”

“The villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon would be most likely to be included as ones that could be expanded further, based on them being in the quadrant and close to existing infrastructure….”

Cllr Philip Skinner said: “We are going to have the housing numbers whether we like it or not, and we cannot put off and delay this as there is a much bigger vision than just focusing on that. This is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in.

“This is an extremely important document that we should be signing up to this now and I am bang up for seeing this comes forward in the right way.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-could-getting-network-3454612

Local “Experts” win the day in the battle of Woodbury Power Plant (but the war is not yet over)

From a correspondent – as positive as it is, Plutus Energy will almost certainly appeal so we must await a final outcome.

“East Devon District Council has rejected plans for the construction of 20 gas-fired electricity generators on grounds including that the scheme would be “inappropriate development in the open countryside”.

Acting against the recommendation of Planning officer EDDC`s Development Management committee, refused permission for the construction of “20 self-contained natural gas engine driven electricity generators”.

The scheme, proposed by applicant Plutus Energy, would have been built on land close to Woodbury Business Park, Woodbury.

The Key to the decision was Strategy 39 of the council’s local plan, which states the authority’s commitment to promoting the use of renewables and low carbon energy, as grounds for refusing the plans.

The planning report said that the proposed development “would be powered by natural gas and therefore it is important to recognise that this technology is a “facilitator of renewable energy” rather than a renewable technology or low carbon energy project itself and therefore there is little direct policy support within Strategy 39 for this proposal.”

However, it added that “whilst Strategy 39 of the local plan promotes renewable and low carbon energy, it does not in itself provide an “in principle” reason to refuse proposals for fossil fuel energy development.

Therefore, on balance, the Planning Officer considered that the adverse impacts from the scheme would “not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits that would be derived from the scheme which would support the delivery of renewable and low carbon energy by providing back-up generation to help achieve the transition to a sustainable, low carbon future.”

However a team of local residents including an expert from commercial finance, a Professor who is recognised as a world expert of climate change, a solicitor, local councillors, planning experts spoke at the planning meeting with a very detailed forensic exposé of the proposed development that exposed that the far from “facilitating renewable energy it was would block any renewable energy being added to the National Grid, and rather than running at “only a few hours a day in winter time it would actually run over 3000 Hours a year, having a devastating effect on the area.

After a short debate, where the Legal Officer of the council recommended a referral because of the further information the committee voted against the proposal and the Legal Officers recommendation.

A statement from the council said the application had “proved controversial with the local community who raised a number of concerns regarding noise and pollution from the facility, as well as fears that a low carbon energy generation and storage facility was not being proposed, which would be consistent with addressing the climate change emergency declared by the council only a few weeks earlier.”

It added that the committee resolved to refuse the application on the basis that “it would be inappropriate development in the open countryside, with local plan policies only supporting renewable and low carbon energy projects in the open countryside” and a further reason for “related to concerns about the impact of the proposal on air quality in the locality.”

Carters Woodbury power plant refused by EDDC Development Management Committee

Of course, it will be appealed – too much profit (for them, not the village) at stake :

East Devon councillors have rejected plans for a power plant near Exeter.

Plutus Energy Limited had proposed building 20 generators near Woodbury Business Park in a bid to provide additional power to nearby homes and businesses at peak times.

Campaigners against the plans said the system would be extremely harmful to the environment, pumping out 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.

Before the meeting, Plutus had told the BBC the development was “not a renewable technology, but an essential component in supporting the increase in renewable and low carbon energy”.

About 100 people attended the meeting which saw it turned down.

A planning report recommended approval of the scheme, with conditions. There were also suggestions the decision be deferred for further investigation.

However, councillors said they had heard enough to be concerned the scheme went against the local plan and against the authority’s declared climate emergency.

Ten councillors refused it, while three voted for a deferral.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-devon-49494877?

More desecration of agricultural land by the Carters in Woodbury despite more than 100 objections

As earlier application reported here:

… “£4.46 million a year from the 1.7 acre site – better than storing caravans or rearing cattle. Its a pity none of the money goes to the actual residents of Woodbury, or the wider community, who have to live with the noise and pollution.”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2019/05/02/the-woodbury-power-plant-a-nice-little-earner/

The application:

“An application to install 20 self-contained generators on land south of Woodbury Business Park could be given the go-ahead next week.

On Tuesday (September 3) East Devon District Council’s development management committee is set to discuss the proposal submitted on behalf of Plutus Energy Ltd.

If committee members approve of the application, which has had more than 100 objections, 20 natural gas engine driven electricity generators will be installed on storage land near a substation in Woodbury.

In a report to the committee, planning officers have recommended approval, despite the application falling outside the East Devon Local Plan.

The planning officer’s report said that while the proposal is a ‘departure’ from the local plan, there is support within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The report said: “On balance it is considered that the adverse impacts from the proposed gas fuelled standby electricity plant do not significantly or demonstrably outweigh the benefits that would be derived from the scheme.

“Accordingly it is recommended that permission be granted subject to the conditions set out.”

If given the go-ahead, the generators would provide an additional 40 megawatts of energy to the National Grid at peak times for the next 25 years.

The existing access to the site would be retained and the equipment will only be operated between 7am and 10.30pm.

Each generator will be housed within an acoustically insulated weather-proof steel container.

Strategy 39 of the East Devon Local Plan says renewable or low-carbon energy products will, in principle, be supported and encouraged.

The officer’s report said the local plan does not provide a principle reason to refuse proposals for fossil fuel energy and the NPPF supports the transition from fossil fuels.

The report added: “While the proposal is not a renewable energy source itself, as identified above it clearly encourages and supports the use of renewable energy generation by supporting the transition from fossil fuels.

“It achieves this by being a back-up to energy supply at times when the renewable energy struggles to meet demand.”

The development management committee meeting will discuss the application at Blackdown House, in Honiton, from 10am.

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/woodbury-gas-power-plant-recommended-for-approval-1-6242265

EDDC Development Management Committee agrees industrial expansion in Woodbury AONB

Details of industrial business expansion plan for Woodbury Common site agreed.

he first phase of expansion plans for an industrial business at the former Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury Common has been approved.

Last year, East Devon District Council’s development management committee gave the go-ahead for outline plans for 35,000 sq ft of additional industrial floor space at the quarry, operated by Blackhill Engineering, in Woodbury.

Tuesday’s meeting saw the committee approve the details of the first of those buildings, which will become the first part of a four-building development for Blackhill Engineering Services.

The site lies in the open countryside, this part of which is designated as an AONB and lies adjacent to the Pebblebed Heaths SAC, where development should be strictly controlled.

Cllr Tom Wright proposed that the scheme be approved, saying that the buildings would be less intrusive than the cranes and the movements to and from the quarry beforehand.

He added: “We also have to take into account the CDE management of the pebblebed heaths and no other organisation is more committed to retaining the high quality wildlife.” …

Cllr Olly Davey said that the ecological measures go some way to mitigating the effect of this, but said it was such an incongruous place for such a development to actually be taking place and that it was unfortunate it is here.

Cllr Nick Hookway added that he also had a real problem with the application. He said: “I understand the need for jobs but I am at a loss as to how the outline permission was passed by the previous DMC as this doesn’t seem to fit in at all here.

But Cllr Wright said that Blackhill have been there for decades and there are time limits of when they can operate.

Councillors voted by nine votes to two, with two abstentions, to approve the scheme.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns had been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/details-industrial-business-expansion-plan-2970387

And Clinton Devon’s Blackhill quarry plans at Woodbury go for decision …

Oh dear, another development test …

“Applicant Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) is seeking reserved matters planning permission to build a 929m2 building with 11 car parking spaces at the former Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury Common.

The building is set to become the first part of a four-building development for Blackhill Engineering Services.

Landowner CDE has previously-approved outline planning permission for four industrial buildings and this latest development would be the first phase of the application.

The proposal is set to be discussed at East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee on Tuesday (June 11) and planning officers have recommended approval.

The officer’s report said: “The proposed building would be the first in a phased development of the site, it would be of a suitable scale taking into account the limitations imposed at the outline stage in terms of height and a building finished in green cladding under a dark grey roof would assimilate well into its surroundings.

“The layout of the site responds well to its constraints and is clearly part of a planned phased development.”

Outline permission was granted last year despite calls for the former quarry land to be returned to heathland.

Concerns have been raised by parish and district councillors in Woodbury and the Otter Valley Association about the continued industrial use of a site in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

This latest plan has had one comment of support which said the area was already ‘degraded’ and was ‘not worth trying to save’.

In its design and access statement, CDE said it will retain existing trees and hedges which would provide more than 7,000 square metres of habitat for various mammals and reptiles. A redundant concrete tank will be converted into a bat refuge.

A further three units are expected to be built in the former quarry and CDE anticipates submitting reserved matters applications for those in the next four years.

EDDC will make the final decision on the reserved matters application.”

https://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/blackhill-engineering-plans-for-woodbury-common-1-6093931