Thursday, 4 January 2018

Pressures to expand the Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks >>> deadline to comment: Friday 2nd February

Before it was finally published, members of the East Devon Business Forum had been pushing for more 'employment land' to be stipulated in the Local Plan.

This is from a report submitted to the Save Our Sidmouth campaign in December 2012:

The EDBF enjoys a privileged status within the District Council, having been recommended as a planning consultee for the District Council since 2007.

The EDBF has convinced the District Council of the need to reduce planning restrictions generally, as of 2007. Following research by the EDBF, the District Council’s TAFF on Employment Land challenged the conclusions of the independent Atkins Report. The Chairman of the EDBF subsequently led the debate at the Corporate Overview Committee (22 Nov 2007), securing the agreement that planning policy on employment land should be changed forthwith, due to an ‘undersupply’ in East Devon, despite the Atkins Report’s evidence to the contrary.

The consequences of this policy change are clear, in that the Corporate Overview Committee (23 Oct 2008) confirmed the ‘urgent need’ for more ‘employment land’, recommending Exeter Airport, Greendale Barton and Hill Barton Business Parks for expansion (all of whom are EDBF members). Moreover, as of 2008, planning applications from EDBF members for large extensions to their industrial estates have been approved.

The EDBF has also persuaded the District Council to increase the amount of ‘employment land’ specified in the strategic Draft Local Plan: ‘Members noted that the work the Business Forum had done on the Atkins Report had made an enormous difference to the final report prepared by the Employment Land Issues TAFF. This had been accepted by the Executive Board. The report was now being used by the Development Control Committee as a base when considering planning applications for employment land.’ (EDBF Minutes 31 Jan 2008)

Futures Forum: A history of the East Devon Business Forum, part three....... "Members of the Business Forum often underestimated its influence on policy at EDDC; an example was for the need for more employment land in the District."

And here is comment to a piece on Cllr Claire Wright's blog in July 2012:

EDDC must distance itself from East Devon Business Forum

Friday, 13 July 2012 - 15 Comments - by Claire


I have studied the EDBF for many years. It may be helpful here to re-state the objectives of the EDBF as they appear on the EDDC website:


1 To act as a forum in which business organisations, major employers and the District Council can meet on a regular basis and agree, so far as possible, a common approach and policy on matters relating to the ecomony, prosperity and well-being of East Devon.

2 To facilitate the communication of views and opinions between the business community and the District Council (and any other relevant local government and public bodies) and through an effective partnership with local government to promote the prosperity of the District.

3 Specifically, to advise on the preparation, adoption and performance of an Economic Development Strategy for East Devon and the Council’s annual service plan for Economic Development; to facilitate development and implementation of the East Devon Community Plan; and identify or promote by other means, issues relevant to the economic well-being of people living and working in East Devon.

My comments on the above are:

(1) states that EDBF should represent major employers in the area - it does not do this, except perhaps for Flybe (where the former district councillor and current county councillor Ms Randall Johnson holds a senior position). It mostly represents a number of businesss that councillors and ex-councillors are involved in and those where councillors and ex-councillors own where land which was permitted to be changed from agricultural land to industrial land (e..g. Greendale and Hill Barton).

(2) EDBF should be interacting with other government and public bodies - read the minutes, this does not happen. Specifically, they have not forged links with the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the replacement for the Regional Development Agency and probably the most influential organisation in the South West at the moment.

3) EDDC’s economic strategy was prepared by Cllr Graham Godbeer’s unminuted ‘think tank’ which was heavily influenced by EDBF - controversial proposals for loosely controlled expansion of industrial estates as well as industrial land in villages found its way straight into Local Plan policy.

EDDC must distance itself from East Devon Business Forum - Claire WrightFutures Forum: A history of the East Devon Business Forum, part two....... "It mostly represents a number of businesss that councillors and ex-councillors are involved in and those where councillors and ex-councillors own where land which was permitted to be changed from agricultural land to industrial land."

Some of the history to these industrial estates - and the ambitions to expand them further - can be found in a piece from March 2013 on the SIS website:
“The A3052 corridor” – When is discussing planning applications NOT discussing planning applications? | Sidmouth Independent News
Futures Forum: A history of the East Devon Business Forum, part nine ....... "The local development framework would enable businesses to progress land allocation. It was agreed that the strategy should reflect the Forum’s views."

With a little more history here:
Residents report concern over business forum interests - Claire Wright
Our History - Stuart Partners Ltd
Greendale Group
‘His handshake was his word’ - family pay tribute to Bill Carter, the founder of Ladram Bay holiday park | News | Complete France

However, despite
these pressures, the final Local Plan of 2016 decided to limit the growth of two of the District's largest industrial estates:

This Local Plan Document will set out strategic policy for development across East Devon and the full suite of policies for the seven main towns of the district and the West End and countryside areas, but not those villages with/proposed to have Built-up Area Boundaries (see below) nor Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks. These villages and Business Parks are to have their own inset maps which will form part of the Village Development Plan Document.

7.19 The A3052 highway runs from Junction 30 of the M5 motorway Eastward into East Devon. Adjacent to this road, on the Western side of East Devon, there are a number of employment sites, housing areas and also Crealy Adventure Park... Recent planning permissions granted at Greendale and Hill Barton business parks will help create new jobs for this part of the District.

E7 - Extensions to Existing Employment Sites
Outside Built-up Area Boundaries and where it is clear that a business or employment site or estate is at or near full occupancy the Council will permit the small scale expansion of the site in a manner that is proportionate to the existing size and scale of site operations provided the following criteria are met in full: ...
This policy will not apply at Hill Barton and Greendale business Parks.

Local Plan 2013-2031 - East Devon

Meanwhile, as part of the 'Villages Plan', District Council officers have looked into the question of expansion of these industrial estates in some depth and in February 2017 published a report - with the conclusion that any expansion should be very small scale:

6 Summary Conclusions on Possible Site Options for Greendale and Hill Barton Expansion 

6.1 The site by site assessment of land around Greendale Business Park and Hill Barton Business Park has shown, irrespective of in-principle considerations, that there are limited viable or desirable site choices to accommodate expansion. The larger fields and areas surrounding and abutting the existing business parks are typically visually open and in many cases of some prominence. Development in such instances would be expected to lead to visually intrusive developments that would be out of keeping with the landscape and countryside setting of surrounding areas. In a number of cases any development occurring, especially on larger fields or undeveloped open areas, would lead to a contraction of the open spaces and gaps that separate the business parks from surrounding villages and residential areas. 

6.2 The assessment work shows that if there were potential for business park expansion, notwithstanding any in-principle considerations, it could be on small-scale parcels of land, typically land that abuts legitimate or permitted existing industrial uses, and which is well screened by existing planting, that offers the greater scope for what would be limited further business use development.

Nevertheless, the pressures continued and in June 2017 there were further attempts to push for further expansion:

And these attempts continued with a meeting of the District Council's Strategic Planning Committee last month - as reported in the East Devon Watch blog:



3 JAN 2018

EDDC Tory councillors recently very, very hurriedly organised a meeting of their Strategic Planning Committee when they suddenly realised that the Villages Built Up Area Boundary Plan might severely restrict extension of the massive Greendale Business Park and the smaller but ever-growing Hill Barton Business Park.

The ensuing discussion as to how expansion of Greendale and Hill Barton might be inserted into the plan at this very, very late stage, and the loopholes that might be exploited to enable this was very interesting.

Owl says: This is SO SO reminiscent of the attempts to move the goalposts for the proposed business park in Sidford (so ably fought against by Independent EDA councillor Marianne Rixson)

and the time when councillors attempted to add no less than FIVE business parks to the eastern side of East Devon in the Local Plan in March 2015 when CEO Mark Williams said it was not possible to take the Sidbury site out of the Draft Local Plan when it went to the Inspector but it WOULD be possible to ADD five sites! These were: Woodbury Park (Greendale), Addlepool in Clyst St George, Lodge Trading Estate at Broadclyst, Hungry Fox also at Broadclyst and McBains, presumably the site at Exeter Airport.

We are in the consultation period for the EDDC villages plan (consultation closes on 2 February 2018 (see final paragraphs of this post on how to submit a comment)


The East Devon Strategic Planning Committee proposed to change the wording of Policy VP04 and VP05 for Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks.

The meeting was somewhat controversial as it was held at short notice (8 days) to consider the EDDC Village Plan Consultation. It was agreed that this meeting was to be held urgently but due to the short notice and councillors previous engagements not all councillors where able to attend, with only 7 members of the committee able to attend.

Greendale, Hill Barton: councillors meet hurridly to try to ensure they can expand and discuss possible loopholes to enable it | East Devon Watch

Below are from the notes taken from the meeting - where it is clear that the Planning Officer is not happy to allow the two industrial estates to expand: 

Notes taken from the meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee held at Knowle, Sidmouth on 14 December 2017

For minutes see:

Mr Ed Freeman (Planning Strategy and Development Manager) summarised the modifications and advising of the next steps to the Plan adoption. ..

Both sites were in the open countryside and the Inspector was suggesting that the relevant polices within the Local Plan would be used to determine planning applications for both sites. ...

Mr Freeman advised that the legislation would not permit the Council at this late stage of the examination process to challenge or amend the modifications put forward by the Inspector; however, a submission could be sent from the Committee in response to the consultation advising of Members preferred wording to the policy.

Councillors suggested that the sites should be treated as “Brownfield employment sites” and not Greenfield sites and that there should be flexibility to allow for appropriate development within and expansion of the sites.

Mr Freeman advised that both sites were clearly Brownfield but this did not change the fact that they were in the open countryside and that developments would be considered as development in the open countryside under the policies of the Local Plan. ...

Some Councillors attending were under the misapprehension that Hill Barton and Greendale Business Parks are required for delivering the current District and Village Plan Employment Strategies. However, Mr Freeman explained that other strategic Employment sites are being delivered for employment within the district.

Mr Freeman explained that there were many key strategic employment sites within the district and that the employment allocations within the Local Plan would more than deliver the required employment figures for the district. It was recognised that some of the sites were constrained, but work was being undertaken to unlock and deliver those sites. The Villages Plan reinforced what was already in the adopted Local Plan.

He acknowledged that the two sites were important to the district’s economy, however they were both constrained by the road infrastructure and their impacts on neighbouring properties/settlements and the wider landscape. Any expansion needed to be appropriate and delivered in accordance with the Local Plan policies. Previous applications had been approved as departures from the Local Plan where they were considered appropriate and the benefits of the development outweighed the previous Local Plan polices.

Rob Murray (Economic Development Manager) advised that he believed that Greendale and Hill Barton were strategic employment sites for the district and constraining them would exacerbate the current under supply of employment delivery and therefore his recommendation, through the internal officer consultation process, had been that the two sites should be removed from the Villages Plan.

Greendale, Hill Barton: councillors meet hurridly to try to ensure they can expand and discuss possible loopholes to enable it | East Devon Watch

The Inspector refused alterations to the Local Plan over the Sidford Industrial Estate allocation:
Futures Forum: East Devon Local Plan >>> the Inspector decides >>> >>> the immediate response
Futures Forum: Sidford business park: "The council considered the allocation to be sound when the plan was submitted for examination and it defended the allocation at the hearing in February 2014. No new evidence has been submitted by the council to support its volte face."

Who knows how the Inspector will respond to this request to change the Village Plan... 

To submit a response, the EDW blog provides details:

Details of how to respond to the Village Plan

The schedule of main modification, the updated SA/SEA, an amended version of the Villages Plan that incorporates the proposed changes and further information about the consultation may be viewed on the Council web site at:

Villages plan examination – East Devon:

If you wish to comment on the proposed schedule of main modifications or the updated SA/SEA, please email planningpolicy@eastdevon.gov.uk by no later than 2nd February 2018. All responses received will be forwarded to the Inspector for her consideration prior to issuing her report, which will be in the Spring of 2018.

If you want further information please contact the planning policy team on 01395 571533.

The Officer to contact is Linda Renshaw (Mrs) Senior Planning Officer East Devon District Council Tel. 01395 571683 Working days Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Greendale, Hill Barton: councillors meet hurridly to try to ensure they can expand and discuss possible loopholes to enable it | East Devon Watch

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