“Persimmon Homes slammed over new homes plan and accused of being unreliable”

Coming soon to a HUGE development near you, Axminster!

“Calls for a £1m performance bond to be placed against housing developers Persimmon Homes were made by councillors who said ‘we cannot rely on them to deliver what they promise’.

Cllr Phil Bullivant launched a stinging criticism of the company when their plans for 99 new homes on green space at Ogwell Mill Road, Newton Abbot, were being discussed by Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee.

He outlined his concerns with the planning application that they have submitted, but added that he had an issue with the developer because of the fact they have created so much trouble at the Hele Park development they have been building.

Cllr Bullivant said: “At Hele Park they have just ignored the conditions that we put down and they still haven’t put in the green space and allotments, seven years down the line. There are still unadopted roads in the estate and they have ignored the advice of a planning inspector.

“We cannot rely on this developer to deliver what they say they will and any performance that we give to them has to come with a caveat that they will deliver what they say they will deliver.”

He said that the faults of Persimmon Homes led to the council being ordered by the Local Government Ombudsman to apologise to a member of the public and pay him £300 in recognition of the frustration and inconvenience he has experienced because the council had failed to deal with a breach of planning control at the Hele Park site.

Larkspur Drive, between Thistle Close and Mile End Road, was being used as an access road, contrary to the planning permission granted to Persimmon Homes.

At the Hele Park development of 650 new homes off Ashburton Road, to the west of Newton Abbot, councillors had previously been told of a ‘catalogue of errors’ from Persimmon Homes, with pavements not linked, no allotments coming forward, the road not being adopted, a close being called a close when it is a through road, roundabouts in use that shouldn’t be, and a lack of bus services.

Cllr Bullivant added: “There should be a £1m performance bond attached to them that means if they don’t deliver what they say they will in a reasonable time then we can do it for them.”

But Nick Hill, the council’s planning solicitor, said that even though the committee may have a concern about a developer, their previous reputation isn’t a material consideration that can be considered during the planning process, they have to look at the application, not the applicant, and the council does have enforcement mechanism they can use.

The committee though raised a litany of other issues that they had with the development, which is included in the Local Plan for at least 70 homes.

Cllr John Nutley said: “I have concerns over the amount of houses being built and the design of them, as it is atrocious. This will be a complete blot on the landscape.”

Cllr Richard Keeling said that the design looked very similar to the ‘horrible box houses’ being built at the Penns Mount estate in Kingsteignton, Cllr Mary Colclough said the designs were abysmal, while Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “The designs look like children’s drawings.”

Cllr Bullivant added: “I called this in to the committee as I considered this was overdevelopment, and when I look at the detail, this is overdevelopment so much so they cannot even design space for bins to be stored.”

A whole range of problems were raised by Cllr Jackie Hook, who said that some of the houses that were being built were so small that housing associations won’t take them on as ‘they cannot even fit a bed in a bedroom’. She said that the committee couldn’t approve this and should either refuse it or defer it for more discussions to take place.

But Cllr Mike Hocking said that the application was much improved from the initial one that they proposed. He said that the originally proposed 109 homes had been reduced down to 99, the location of the houses had been moved further down the hill, and that the access to the site was now going to be from Emblett Drive and not from Ogwell Mill Road, next to Bradley Barton Primary School, and originally proposed.

He said: “I think 99 homes is too many so something closer to 70 would be more realistic, but then we start to lose some of the affordable homes. We have done a good job in persuading them to tone down the development, but this will be built on at some point.

“If we turn this down then Persimmon will go to appeal and we may well lose all the benefits that officers have worked hard to try and get.”

Planning officers had recommended that full planning permission for the development be granted, but Cllr Hook said that as there were still a lot of outstanding matters and that councillors were unhappy about parts of it of the plans, a decision should be deferred so further discussions between the council and the developers to address the concerns could take place.

Councillors voted by 11 votes to 1 to defer the application until April’s meeting for further discussions.”


Flybe rejects second bid as too late

“Troubled Exeter-based regional airline Flybe has snubbed a rival rescue proposal from investors including US airline Mesa Air Group and backed by former Stobart boss Andrew Tinkler.

Shares in Flybe more than doubled to 2.9p as it confirmed the “highly conditional” approach from a consortium including Mesa Airlines of Arizona and South African hedge fund Bateleur Capital.

But Flybe said it “does not believe that the indicative proposal is executable in the timeframe required to enable Flybe to continue to trade”.

It added it continues to back the existing takeover by the Connect Airways consortium – which consists of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, Stobart Group and investment firm Cyrus Capital – as the “only viable option available to the company which provides the security that the business needs to continue to trade successfully”.


“Housing developer forced to scrap ‘misleading’ ads targeting first-time buyers”

“One of Britain’s largest housing associations has been forced to scrap an advertising campaign that implied its shared ownership scheme was equivalent to home ownership.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled Notting Hill Genesis – which owns 55,000 properties in London and the south-east – misled consumers by comparing its scheme in contrast with renting.

A slogan on its ad said: “I own a two-bedroom apartment and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare.”

But the ads were promoting the group’s shared ownership scheme, where homeowners only technically own a slice of the property and pay rent to Notting Hill in respect of the rest. …”


EDDC: “Relocation cost, No Deal Brexit, electric charging points and climate change motions rejected from being discussed”

Owl says: remember, the Chief executive, Mark Williams, is supposed to be a NEUTRAL civil servant and yet ALL of the refused motions are from ALL the minority groups ONLY……!

“Motions to support recycling, to call for a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders, and for East Devon to get its fair share of the police precept rise will be discussed at next Wednesday’s full council meeting.

But motions over the full relocation costs of the move from Sidmouth to Honiton, to put electric charging points in all car parks, what to prioritise in a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and on climate change will not be discussed.

Various motions that councillors had put forward for debate at East Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, February, were rejected by the council’s chief executive, as either the agenda already provides the opportunity for debate or the wording of the motions were inaccurate.


Cllr Cathy Gardner had proposed a motion calling for the council to commit to publish an annual ‘summary of accounts’ for the relocation project until break-even is reached as relocation from Sidmouth to Honiton was proposed and predicated on the basis that the project would breakeven within 20 years and deliver cost-savings to the council tax payers of East Devon.

Cllr Gardner said: “Whilst some of this information is already available we feel it is vital for the ongoing costs to be published to show confidence that this project will breakeven. A majority of Councillors voted for relocation on the basis that money would be saved on energy bills. We are left unsure of whether breakeven will ever be proven.”

But an EDDC spokesman said: “The rejected motion contained inaccuracies and omissions that had the potential to mislead councillors and it was also premature. It is however proposed to bring a report to the next meeting of the Cabinet that will summarise the position reached with regard to the sale of the Knowle and the relocation. Cllr Gardner can raise the matters she is concerned about as part of the debate into that report.”

The motion would have called for the accounts to include

energy costs for the Knowle for the past 20 years (for comparison);

energy costs for both Blackdown House and Exmouth Town Hall per year;
the capital receipt for the sale of the Knowle;

a Red Book valuation of Blackdown House as of 1 March 2019;

the full costs for the relocation project since its inception, including: project management; removal, furnishing and equipment;

staff retraining and travel expenses;

new-build costs for Blackdown House; refurbishment costs for Exmouth Town Hall; and any other associated costs.”


Cllr Matthew Booth’s motion had called for the council to recognise that Climate Change and Global Warming are the key issues of our time, to acknowledge the strong concerns of young people in particular the recent walk out of school children and for the council to commit to introducing a policy of carbon measurement and reduction within all aspects of its own activity.

He said: “I personally do not care how we begin to do this, or who does it, but that we act now not wait for some planned strategy in the future.”

An EDDC spokesman said that the issue of climate change emergency is acknowledged to be of critical importance but that it would be appropriate to wait to see what Devon County Council decides. They added: “Currently, however, the County Council is considering its position and will shortly debate the matter. As we are in a two tier area it is appropriate for the District Council to assess the position taken by the upper tier authority and then respond accordingly. The public would expect us to work in partnership with the County Council rather than unilaterally.”


Cllr Eleanor Rylance had submitted a motion calling for the council to plan for and implement over the next five years a full rolling renovation programme of its car parks estates to fit and bring into operation electrical charging points at every space for domestic cars, and cycle parks with charging points for all types of cycle and that there should be mandatory EV charging points for the parking spaces of every new-built house in East Devon.

She added: “This council should approach the future of electrically-powered domestic vehicles with enthusiasm and proactivity, play a positive role in helping develop the use of electrical and should make this infrastructure, that will be a necessity within the next ten years, available in advance of full electrification of domestic vehicles in 2042.

But an EDDC spokesman said: ““The agenda already provides an opportunity for this issue to be raised so this motion was inappropriate.”


Cllr Rylance had also submitted a motion that said in the event of a No Deal Brexit or a version of Brexit that causes significant disruption, the council should approach this event as a situation of emergency in respect of its most vulnerable residents, dedicating any available human, material and financial resources required to palliate any negative outcomes for these groups, but the motion was rejected.

Talking about all the motions, a council spokesman said: “The council agenda for February contains the most important annual decision, namely the setting of the budget and the approval of the Council Tax for the forthcoming year. The process leading to this meeting has included several meetings where members were encouraged to raise all items of future relevance so these could be assessed as part of our service planning process and for assessment as part of the budget.

“It is unfortunate that some members did not take these opportunities and have chosen instead to submit their proposed motions.

“It is also noted that the wording of the motions was not checked in advance with relevant officers who would have been able to give timely advice as to their wording.”

But motions on the police precept, protection for new home owners and supporting recycling will be discussed.


Cllr Tom Wright’s motion says: “In view of the £24 per band D property increase in policing precept, this council urges the Chief Constable to recognise the needs of East Devon when deciding how to allocate extra resources. East Devon residents are the biggest contributors to the police budget in Devon, other than Plymouth. It is only fair that we should get a fair share of the larger cake.”


Cllr Douglas Hull’s motion says: “The Government has stated that it would therefore be introducing as a priority a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders. As a council that not only provides an excellent and highly regarded building control service but also has seen significant levels of new building in its district, we call on the government to fulfil its pledge to provide this much needed remedy for homeowners as a matter of the highest priority.”


Cllr Peter Burrows’ motion says: “This Council continues to support the fine work done by the EDDC Recycling team in achieving the best results in Devon and to support and encourage local Organisations and voluntary groups who are involved in trying to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in their communities & beaches by making resources and expertise available, where appropriate. The order of priority should be – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To actively help promote such activities through the Councils social media platforms.”

The full council meeting will be held at East Devon District Council’s new Honiton Heathpark HQ on February 27 at 6pm.”


“Flybe or Flybmi? Airline reassures passengers after rival goes into administration”

“… Flybe has now spoken out to reassure users that it bears no relation to Flybmi.

A post on Twitter said: “We are very sorry to hear about the situation with the competing British regional airline Flybmi and our thoughts are with their employees during these difficult times.

“Flybe has nothing to do with Flybmi and our flights continue to operate as normal.”

But while flights may be unaffected, the airline is currently mid way through a takeover that could affect passengers later this Spring.

The company is currently being bought out by the firm behind Virgin Atlantic in a £2.2 million takeover.

It comes after the carrier put itself up for sale in November, placing 2,300 jobs at risk, just weeks after issuing a profit warning.

Speaking on what this means for customers, a Flybe spokeswoman told Mirror Money no changes to schedules are expected.

“There will also be no changes to bookings from its website, while existing flights won’t be affected by the announcement,” a comment added.

On twitter, the Exeter-based airline said: “Flights will continue to operate as per our published schedule and you can continue to book flights with us at Flybe.com “.

And speaking about flights over the summer holidays, it said: “Flybe with its consortium including Virgin Atlantic & Stobart Group would like to reassure passengers that there will be no major change to our published schedules to the end of Summer 2019 (i.e. end of Oct 19).”

Flybe, whose roots date back to 1979, has 78 planes operating from smaller airports such as London City, Southampton, Cardiff, Aberdeen and Norwich to destinations in the UK and Europe.

It serves about eight million passengers a year, but has been struggling to recover from a costly IT overhaul and has been trying to reduce costs. …”


“New “affordable” housing in Devon is anything but, investigation reveals”

“Most new “affordable” housing in Devon is anything but, a major new DevonLive investigation has revealed.

Affordable housing is an umbrella term used by the government to describe lower-rent properties that are available to eligible households unable to afford the full market rate.

This includes both traditional social rent housing – which is similar to what most people know of as council housing – and “affordable rent” housing, which was first introduced in 2011/12.

Social rent is based on a formula that combines local wages and local property values, and typically sees rents set at around 50 per cent of private rents in the same area.

“Affordable rent”, however, is capped at 80 per cent of the full market rate – meaning that in many areas it will still be out of the reach of people on low incomes. …

… Some local areas see “affordable rent” housing dominate more than others. In Mid Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and West Devon, 100 per cent of new affordable housing was “affordable rent” rather than social rent last year.

Meanwhile, in East Devon the figure stood at 97 per cent, in Torridge at 67 per cent, and in both North Devon and Exeter at just 13 per cent.
In Plymouth the figure also stood at 100 per cent, while in Torbay they made up 58 per cent of the total.

In comparison, the national average saw 81 per cent of new affordable housing built or acquired across England in 2017/18 classed as “affordable rent” rather than social rent.

The most common type of affordable housing found in Devon is general needs properties managed by private registered providers, such as housing associations.

These cost an estimated £86 a week on average for a social rent property, compared to £121 a week for an “affordable rent” property – meaning “affordable rent” in Devon is typically 42 per cent higher, or £1,854 more a year. Private renters in Devon pay an estimated £150 a week, on average.

Kate Henderson chief executive of the National Housing Federation said: “In 2010, the government stopped funding social housing altogether, and announced it would only fund homes for “affordable rent” instead.

“This left housing associations in a really difficult position where they had to choose between building homes for “affordable rent” or building nothing.

“In the face of a dire housing shortage, many housing associations chose to build affordable rented homes, but continued to argue that social housing shouldn’t be neglected.

“While affordable rents do work for some people, there are many more who desperately need social housing.

“In 2017, the government announced some new money for social housing for the first time in seven years, but this is nowhere near enough.”


Swire’s business pal hits the headlines yet again

As Owl’s readers know, our MP has a (currently) dormant business (Eaglesham Investments Ltd) with controversial peer Lord Greg Barker, who is mixed up with Russian oligarch Oleg Derepaska – and with him his Trump campaign pal Paul Manafort:


Now Lord Barker has hit the headlines again (page 10 of the Sunday Telegraph to be precise). He is to be questioned (again) by MPs over his dealings on behalf of Deripaska in the US and UK. Deripaska is said to be a very close ally of Vladimir Putin.

A prominent Vladimir Putin critic, Bill Browder, said last week:

“It’s remarkable … a member of the House of Lords is allowed to be paid by a Russian to lobby against sanctions for that Russian”.

Source: Sunday Telegraph

The Telegraph article continues with (yet another) attempted justification of his highly-criticised conduct by Barker.

Oh, Hugo – why can’t you get some NICE friends and business colleagues?

You have already swanned around the arms-buying capitals of the world (Saudi Arabia, Colombia to name but two);

You get paid a consultancy fee to advise on Latin American matters: and

You get a salary from the Conservative Middle East Council (see Register of Interests),

which is hard enough for your constituents to swallow, without this!