East Devon’s Villages Plan is agreed by the planning inspector (with implications for business parks)

Press Release including comments from East Devon Alliance Independent Councillor Geoff Jung:

“I am delighted that, after a number of years of hard work and following extensive public engagement, the Planning Inspector has found our Villages Plan to be sound. The Plan is a key document that once adopted will sit alongside the Local Plan and help promote the right types of development in the right places for our rural villages and communities while protecting our outstanding countryside assets and environment.”

Developers will be able to refer to Villages Plan when considering building in larger East Devon villages, the town of Colyton and Greendale and Hill Barton business parks.

Planning Inspector Beverley Doward’s report on the East Devon Villages Plan has been received by East Devon District Council and the inspector concludes it is sound, subject to her earlier submitted “main modifications”.

The East Devon Villages Plan sets out planning policy that will help determine planning applications in the larger villages of East Devon (and the town of Colyton), as well as at Greendale and Hill Barton business parks. The primary role of the Villages Plan is to set boundaries (known as built-up area boundaries and employment areas) around villages and the two business parks, which will help determine where new development can be built.

Outside these boundaries opportunities for development will be far more restricted, which will effectively control the outward expansion of villages and the two Business Parks into the surrounding countryside. The Villages Plan will sit alongside the adopted East Devon Local Plan and together they will guide and manage development across the whole district.

East Devon’s Strategic Planning Committee will consider the report on 26 June 2018. The committees new Chairman Cllr Paul Diviani says:

It is expected that the Villages Plan will go before the Full Council on 25 July 2018 for adoption.

Welcome News to the Communities of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton
The adoption of the Villages plan is a welcome additional Planning Document to the two rural communities of Woodbury Salterton and Farringdon, which are close to Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks. These very large Industrial parks have seen continued growth for many years and dwarfed their rural communities.

The Inspector in her report states that:

“By virtue of the definition set out in Strategy 7 of the EDLP, the business parks lie within the countryside where development will only be permitted where it is in accordance with a specific Local or Neighbourhood Plan policy that explicitly permits such development.”

Further in her report the Inspector notes that:

“Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park have clearly made an important contribution to the supply of employment land within the district and provide valuable employment opportunities.”

“There is nothing in the evidence that has been submitted to the examination of this Plan that leads me to conclude that there is currently a need to provide for future employment development in locations other than those which have been tested and found sound through the examination of the EDLP. (East Devon Local Plan)”

“The inclusion within the EDVP of a policy providing for future growth at Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park, whilst considered as a ‘reasonable alternative’ in the SA, is not supported by it and instead the option of not providing for further expansion of the business parks is identified as the preferred option.”

“I am satisfied that the approach not to provide for the further expansion of Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park in the EDVP beyond that which is already authorised is justified and consistent with the development strategy of the EDLP.”

“To conclude on this issue therefore, subject to MM08, MM09, MM10 and MM11 the approach adopted in the EDVP to Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park is justified and consistent with the development strategy of the EDLP and is capable of effective implementation.”

East Devon District Councillor Cllr Geoff Jung for Raleigh Ward which includes the village of Woodbury Salterton says:

“I welcome this long-awaited Village Plan and the inclusion of the Employment Areas for the Business Parks of Hill Barton and Greendale.

The Planning Inspector Beverley Doward’s comments and recommendation for the business parks demonstrates that further expansion of either the Business Parks beyond the present approved boundaries will not be considered appropriate.”

“This Plan will provide clarity and certainty required for both communities of Farringdon and Woodbury Salterton and the owners of the Business Parks.”

Best live in western East Devon and not in northern or eastern East Devon!

In some parts of East Devon you are lucky to get a couple of buses each day!

“East Devon District Council gave the go ahead to fund four projects, unlocking new jobs and employment space locally.

Some £530,000 has been allocated over three years for an ‘enhanced’ bus service connecting the Enterprise Zone – Exeter Science Park, Skypark, Airport Business Park and Cranbrook town centre – and Exeter, with some services also running to Woodbury and Exmouth. This will be for a three year period from summer 2018. …”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/enhanced-bus-service-for-exmouth-to-boost-job-opportunities-1-5481849

Blackill Engineering Extension – is this an excuse to drive a new industrial site into the heart of the Pebblebed Heaths?

These days most large developers pay for pre-application advice before submitting a planning application. A recent Freedom of Information request has uncovered the advice that was offered to someone (name redacted) seeking such advice on proposed business units at Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury in early October 2017.

Specifically this proposal was for the erection of AN ADDITIONAL industrial building to support the existing business, Blackhill Engineering, being operated form the site together with the erection of FIVE ADDITIONAL industrial buildings for use by other businesses.

In summary the advice given was that this would not comply with the protective policies that cover this sensitive site. A much stronger employment benefit case regarding the expansion of the existing business to justify a departure from these policies would be needed. The five speculative industrial buildings would not justify a policy departure.

On 20 December 2017, within three months of this advice, planning application 17/3022/MOUT was submitted for outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure.

The accompanying justification reads:

“There is considerable and clearly identified need for the existing business at Blackhill Engineering to expand as a result of that business having grown considerably over recent years and with its existing premises now at full capacity. The provision of additional facilities on the application site would allow the company to continue its expansion and so deliver additional economic and employment benefits to the local area…. With the winding down of the existing quarry use of the site, there is a short and fortuitous window of opportunity in which to address BESL’s growth requirements with the reuse of an area of former minerals processing site….It is a crucial part of both local and national employment strategy to protect existing businesses and to encourage their expansion. If approved, the scheme would allow the existing business not to only remain at the site but also to expand. The resulting investment will enable a substantial increase in the provision of highly skilled jobs in the area, increased training opportunities for apprentices and added value to the local economy. Furthermore, the expansion of the Blackhill Engineering will help reinforce the vitality of its parent organisation…”

So, is this application all about the needs of Blackhill Engineering to expand, having already designed flood defence gates for New York City Hospital, worked for the European Space Agency and the pier at Hinkley Point, which in October seemed to require only one building; or more about Clinton Devon Estates trying to generate rent from a new industrial park? Restoration provides no income.

For those interested here is the detailed pre-application advice, given on an informal basis and without prejudice, in about half the words:

The extant planning permission on the site requires a restoration and aftercare scheme to be implemented following cessation of the quarrying operations. As part of this condition, alternative schemes (subject to planning permission) can be considered but two policies are of particular relevance:

East Devon Local Plan- Strategy 7 – Development in the Countryside.

This strategy states that development in the countryside “will only be permitted where it is in accordance with a specific Local or Neighbourhood Plan policy that explicitly permits such development”. In this instance, there is no local or neighbourhood plan which would permit the proposal and, therefore, it is considered that it would not comply with Strategy 7.

East Devon Local Plan- Policy E5 – Small scale Economic Development in Rural Areas.

This policy states that the expansion of existing businesses designed to provide jobs for local people will be permitted where

1. it involves the conversion of existing buildings. Or

2. if new buildings are involved, it is on previously developed land. Or

3. if on a greenfield site, shall be well related in scale and form and in sustainability terms to the village and surrounding areas.

In this instance, the Local Planning Authority recognise the previously developed nature of the site, however, in the ‘Glossary of Terms’ section of the Local Plan (which echoes those contained in the National Planning Policy Framework) previously developed land specifically excludes land that has been developed for minerals extraction or waste disposal by landfill purposes where provision for restoration has been made through development control procedures.

Accordingly, the land would be considered as greenfield.
In terms of Policy E5, as the site would not be well related in sustainability terms to Woodbury or surrounding areas, the proposal would be contrary to policy.

However, if sufficient justification can be made in terms of the needs of the existing business being operated from the site to expand into an additional building, then the economic benefits may outweigh the environmental harm, of the unsustainable location as a departure from the Local Plan.

For this purpose, an economic benefits statement would need to be submitted as part of an application.

The five speculative units being located in an unsustainable location would not be acceptable.”

A cautionary tale for EDDC and Greendale

“Bath & North East Somerset Council has taken direct action under s.178 of the Town and Country Planning Act to demolish a large building that was built nearly ten years ago without planning permission in the Green Belt.
Cllr Bob Goodman, cabinet member for Development and Neighbourhoods at the council, said the local authority, so far as he was aware, had never taken enforcement action this far.

The two-storey building at Folly Lane, Stowey, was built in 2008 without planning permission sparking numerous complaints, the council said.

Following an investigation by Bathnes, in 2008 the land owner and the company responsible (AJP Growers) were served an enforcement notice requiring the demolition of the building and the restoration of the land.
The notice was appealed but the appeal was dismissed in 2009 giving the landowner until 2010 to comply with the enforcement notice.

However the owner repeatedly failed to comply with the notice despite what the council said was numerous attempts to regularise the development. The local authority launched prosecution proceedings over non-compliance with the notice.

A successful prosecution in July 2016 saw the owner of the land and AJP Growers convicted of an offence under S.179 of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990.

Councillors then agreed direct action to have the building demolished in order to ensure compliance with the notice. Works were due to commence in 2017 however bats were found in the building, so the council had to have an ecologist survey the site and obtain a licence from Natural England to allow its lawful demolition.

Demolition works pursuant to S.178 and in line with council’s resolution were due to start on site on Monday (19 February). All costs associated with the demolition will be recoverable against the land, the council said.

Cllr Goodman said: “I am disappointed that the owners have let it get to this point. However we have pursued this case and at long last this illegal building, which is a real eyesore, will be demolished and the land put back as it should have been done almost ten years ago.

“Nationally there are only a handful of these interventions each year mainly because people comply with Enforcement Notices before it gets to this stage, however the public must have confidence in Bath & North East Somerset Council as a planning authority that we have the teeth to follow through with the most extreme form of enforcement available to us when necessary.”

http://localgovernmentlawyer.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34265%3Acouncil-takes-direct-action-under-tcpa-to-demolish-large-building-in-green-built&catid=63&Itemid=31

EDDC to help unauthorised Greendale businesses to relocate

Owl says: Here is EDDC’s version of the Greendale High Court decision.

With hindsight, EDDC might have been better served by not allowing the unauthorised businesses on to the site in the first place. And if the owners allowed businesses on an unauthorised site, maybe the owners and the businesses should be paying for specialists when those businesses have to move this time, not availing themselves of a free service from EDDC – especially as the rest of us are paying more and more for OUR EDDC services.

EDDC PRESS RELEASE

21 February 2018
Enforcement action taken to remove unauthorised development at Greendale Business Park
Council will work with park owners to find alternative locations for businesses

East Devon District Council has successfully fought a planning appeal by Greendale Business Park against an enforcement notice requiring the park owners to remove an unauthorised extension.

The business park has been extended into the countryside after four fenced compounds were created, concreted over and were used variously for the storage of mobile homes, shipping containers, portakabins and, in the case of one of the compounds, had two permanent buildings on it.

Following the latest High Court hearing, it now means that the owners of Greendale Business Park, FWS Carter and Sons, must comply with the enforcement notice, remove the extension and return the land to countryside within six months of the court’s decision.

Councillor Mike Howe, chairman of the district council’s development management committee, said that the council will work with the park owners to find alternative locations for businesses on the unauthorised site affected by the enforcement notice.

“This case demonstrates that we take unauthorised development very seriously and as a local authority are charged with using our enforcement powers to ensure that development carried out without planning permission is removed.

“We will work hard with the site owners to find alternative locations for the businesses currently operating from this unauthorised area.

“We’re pleased that the courts have now stopped this appeal from proceeding any further and the enforcement notice to get these works removed has now taken effect.”

The works were all carried out without planning permission and a subsequent planning application was refused due to the harm that the extension caused to the countryside and the visual amenity of the area.

Following the refusal of planning permission, the council served an enforcement notice on the owners requiring the uses to cease and the land returned to its former condition including the removal of temporary and permanent buildings, fencing and hard surfacing.

Although the owners appealed against the enforcement notice, a planning inspector ruled in favour of the council and directed the owners to stop using the land in the way it was and return it to its former condition within six months.

The owners subsequently appealed against the decision in the High Court arguing that the planning inspector had made an error in law by concluding that the East Devon Local Plan specifically covered the issue of development at Greendale Business Park.

In responding, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government argued that FWS Carter and Sons had misinterpreted the Local Plan and that their interpretation was “patently wrong”. Ultimately, the court did not grant the owners a further opportunity to proceed with an appeal and they will have to pay all costs arising from the case.”

Greendale Business Centre: FWS Carter and Sons application fails at the High Court

PRESS RELEASE:

“After 3 years challenging the planning system, Greendale Business Park owners are required to return an area back to Agricultural use.

It may have taken 3 years but finally the Planning Department at East Devon District Council (EDDC) has succeeded in winning a long running planning and legal challenge.

It was the 8th Feb 2015 when earth moving and general building works were first reported to EDDC Enforcement Officers by neighbours of Greendale Business Park. This was on a 3.5Ha site, east of the existing permitted development area at the Business Park near the village of Woodbury Salterton.

Following investigation, the Local Planning Authority (EDDC) served an Enforcement Notice to the owners FWS Carter and Sons, but they chose to ignore the notice and carried on developing the site at “their own risk”.

A planning application was submitted nine months later (06/11/2015 15/2592/MOUT) but the development was considered to lie outside the agreed development area for Greendale Business Park and it was refused by EDDC. A second attempt was made with a similar proposal split into 2 separate planning applications the following December but this was also refused (06/12/2016 16/2597/FUL and 16/2598/MFUL).

The Local Planning Authority then issued the owners with an Enforcement Notice, requesting the removal of the industrial concrete hardstanding, fences, buildings and the return of the land to agricultural use. The company then appealed to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate in March 2017 for the decision to be revoked.

on Dec 7th, 2017 the Inspector found in favour of the Local Authority and upheld their enforcement decision, but within days the Company lodged an appeal with the High Court. Last week 08/02/2018 the Judge ruled that there was no case to answer and therefore the decision by the Local Authority was upheld and costs of £3998 was set against the applicants, FWS Carter and Sons.

The Company now has 6 months to remove all industrial activity and return the land to agricultural use. This work will be monitored very closely

Another section of the Business Park (an area approximately 1Ha) south of the Greendale Business Park and just off Hogsbrook Lane, has also been developed without planning consent. The owners FWS Carter and Sons claimed in Oct 2017 that this land has been in “unlawful” industrial use for more than 10 years and they applied for a little-known planning regulation loophole known as a “Certificate of Lawfulness ” (17/2441/CPE) to enable the area to continue to be used without requiring further planning approval.

However, the Local Planning Authority followed Legal Advice and concluded that the land had not been used “unlawfully” for 10 years because there was lawful permitted development with a gas pipeline contractor occupying the site for 3 years. Because of this, the Certificate of Lawfulness was refused and it is expected that an Enforcement Notice will be served on the Company for this breach of planning shortly.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC Ward Councillor for Raleigh Ward which includes Greendale Business Park says, “It is a great shame that the Company started to develop this area prior to any planning permission being in place. The efforts and costs incurred by the company in developing the site, including the cost of architects, planning consultants, barristers, solicitors, court costs, contractors’ costs and everyone’s time has all been wasted.”

“Add to that the considerable costs to the local authorities` planning, enforcement and legal teams in endeavouring to provide a sound and fair case.”

“It’s quite clear the Planning System has moved on enormously in the last 15 years, with much more openness and clarity, mainly down to modern technology. Planning applications and official documents are now open to scrutiny at the touch of a button and can be viewed without leaving your house.”

“Previously documents were available only at District and Town Halls, for interested parties to view but now the internet and Local Authority Planning Portals provide everyone with a better understanding of the planning regulations and legal issues involved.”

“I look forward to the day when all developers will follow the normal planning procedures and not proceed in such a cavalier way. This may have been the way it was done in the past but its proving much more difficult now.”

“I would like to thank the many local people who have frequently written to the Planning Authority to comment whenever it was required, as well as the Planning and Legal Team at East Devon District Council who ensured that the Planning Regulations were correctly upheld”

Tonight’s Countryfile: how to rewild a disused quarry – one for Clibton Devon Estates to watch?

“Ellie and Matt are in Cambridgeshire where Matt is looking at a huge project to turn a quarry into the UK’s biggest reed bed. Thousands of tons of sand and gravel are being shifted at Ouse Fen to create the perfect habitat for wildlife.”

BBC1 18.30 hrs