Thursday, 22 August 2013

Local Plan: latest comment on 'minor to major' changes

There have been a few developments over the last sleepy August days:

From the District Council:
East Devon District Council - News

Comment on Independent Cllr Claire Wright's blog:

Further last minute consultation on EDDC local plan

Claire | Monday, 19 August 2013
comments (6)

The text below is from an EDDC press release issued today ..................


1. At 10:38 pm on 19th Aug Sandra Semple wrote:
Normal?  Not realising that 53 changes were major not minor when many people had actually pointed that out to them and they were ignored!  Normal for Planet EDDC.
2. At 11:22 pm on 19th Aug Conrad Black wrote:
Curiouser and curiouser.  The EDDC consider that they have made only minor changes to the local plan, but the appointed Inspector considers them to be major.  However, beware of the approach.  The argument is being put that the earlier version of the Plan is sacrosanct, and only changes to that can be debated.  So, for instance, the more ‘restricted’ approach to the development of the Knowle is up for debate, but the earlier much bigger development is not.  The same appears to be the argument for the Sidford development.  No doubt there are others.  What is not on offer is to remove the earlier stupidities?
The travesty is that although labelled as a Plan, the local plan is just a dubious allocation of building schedules without any underlying justification about investment in employment or the changing pattern of employment or a program for attracting employment.  Presumably these things just conveniently happen.
3. At 04:43 pm on 20th Aug Claire wrote:
What it reveals to me is that when the LDF -  precursor to the local plan - was released in ‘draft’ form for consultation after three years of secret talks back In August 2010, those in charge of the process appeared to know exactly what they were doing.
Who was in charge of the process for much of this time? Graham Brown. Those who say things have changed since 2010 conveniently forget that the level of development proposed remains virtually identical to that first draft in 2010.
4. At 04:50 pm on 20th Aug Tim wrote:
So much for the cunning plan eh Baldrick!
5. At 08:24 pm on 20th Aug Val Jones wrote:
For those of us who are trying to protect our countryside from being concreted over with the loss of good agricultural land, can someone please explain in plain English exactly what all this means.  Because if they are going back to the public for consultation, most of us won’t know what we are voting for.
Are we going to see a free-for-all in planning with applications just rubber stamped until the Local Plan is accepted?
6. At 12:21 pm on 21th Aug Malcolm wrote:
If the EDDC planning function was subject to inspections by a body similar to OFSTED, it would clearly be judged to be FAILING and put into SPECIAL MEASURES.
As EDDC is usually consistent (well, consistently incompetent, secretive and abusive to residents) I am waiting for Cllr Diviani to ‘slag off’ the Inspector as a ‘troublemaker’ and Nimby who is against development and to blame him for the inevitable delays which will give local landowners and developers even more opportunities to build hundreds (possibly thousands) of houses in unsuitable locations and in settlements where there is a limited local need. 
Cllr Diviani is always boasting about how fully residents have been consulted about the plan and blamed ‘troublemakers’ for forcing EDDC to carry out ‘too much’ consultation so they are to blame for delays in production of the plan,  The Inspector says there has been insufficient consultation (eg Sidford, Knowle) – who do you believe?
We need to know how all decisions were made in the development of the Local Plan, who was involved, what was said and what actions took place.  Until this happens how can anyone have any faith in this organisation which is supposed to serve us and protect East Devon from unsuitable development.
Any issues which have been raised have been dismissed by the leadership - concerned residents and non-Tory councillors have been ‘fobbed off’ and insulted at public meetings.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to see Cllr Diviani questioned by Jeremy Paxman or Margaret Hodge (Chair of Parliamentary Select Committee who laid into Murdoch and bankers) and made to answer instead of making facetious and flippant comments, cheered on by his acolytes. 
All the current problems were identified in 2009 and nothing was done.  With other ‘dodgy’ decisions over recent years there is clearly a need for some form of public inquiry into EDDC’s planning process and how it has been mismanaged and unduly influenced by those with a vested interest.
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural 

From BBC Radio Devon:

Radio Devon interviews EDDC about the 53 ‘major’ changes to Local Plan

This morning’s interview, by Radio Devon’s Michael Chequer, grilled East Devon’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Andrew Moulding, on the subject.
Here’s the gist , noted by an SOS correspondent (but not verbatim) :
Michael Chequer:   53 changes – how did you get it so wrong (MC repeated the charge later in the interview)
Andrew Moulding:  It’s a matter of interpretation; that`s (the Inspector’s ) opinion; we respect his views.
        We put forward 183 proposed changes which we considered minor; the Inspector took the view that 53 of them were major.
        We are pleased that the Inspector came back to us at an early stage.
MC:  Could you give us an example of the changes?
AM (struggling): They are about the environment, and how we change our villages.
          Let`s see, I`ve got the document here (pause while he looked at it; he then read out a couple of changes)
MC: Were you hoping to get things through without the public noticing?
AM: No, not at all
MC: When can we expect to see the Plan finalised
AM: Hopefully in the early part of the New Year.

And more from Save Our Sidmouth:
Local Plan must be resubmitted, EDDC has been advised. | Save Our Sidmouth
Letter today from SOS Chair to EDDC Chief Executive | Save Our Sidmouth
Inspector rules that EDDC Local Plan must be resubmitted, after further public consultation | Save Our Sidmouth

Lastly, from Sidmouth Independent News:

Now EDDC’s Local Plan has to go back to the drawing board: 53 major problems

19th August 2012

Full story HERE
The CEO of East Devon and South Somerset district councils now has the dubious honour of both of his Local Plans being in major difficulties.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Development Management Committee says:““This development comes as no surprise to me or to our planning team. It is common for Inspectors to call for further consultation on Local Plans submitted to them and this is only to be expected when you consider how much interest there is in the planning agenda both nationally and locally.”
Mrs Parr: the further consultation required is because the Inspector says that East Devon District Council did not consult on major changes to your Local Plan when it should have done so, not because it was so interesting!
Comments anyone?

Now EDDC’s Local Plan has to go back to the drawing board: 53 major problems | Sidmouth Independent News

EDDC’s Plan Unravels?

20th August 2013
The inspector who told EDDC to consult again on their Local Plan mentioned two key aspects of the Leadership’s “ambitions” for the Sid Valley.
Namely, Knowle (to be flogged off to pay for Cllr Diviani’s dream of moving to new offices in Honiton) and Sidford (where a 12-acre  business park in the AONB will “compensate” for the resultant loss of employment land .)
  Alexandria Road Industrial Estate, which according to the Leader has insoluble problems of accessibility for industrial activities, will then become very accessible indeed  for a supermarket and/or housing.  It will be just like “winning the lottery” for certain lucky landowners.
Except now the usual hounds will have another opportunity to poke their noses into these secretive projects.
Who knows what fresh truffles they may unearth?

2 Responses to “EDDC’s Plan Unravels?”

  1. Sandra SempleAugust 20, 2013 at 10:05 am #
    You need to actually HAVE a plan for it to unravel. What has happened here is that EDDC did a lousy job putting together its Local Plan and they have only themselves (and not us) to blame.
    First, it allowed the original LDF panel to waste more than two years whilst it did nothing much more than visit sites of EDBF members and say how great they were and how they must be included in the Local Plan.
    Then in 2009 a report was published at EDDC that predicted TOTALLY what would happen if EDDC continued to deal with the Local Plan in the way they were doing:
    This was totally ignored.
    The East Devon Business Forum muddied the waters with its insistence on spending months and months finding ways to increase the amount of employment land in the Plan whilst EDDC sat on the sidelines and waited for them to produce the report that THEY wanted rather than take the advice of two other independent reports they had themselves commissioned which, in one case (Atkins), EDBF disagreed with and, in the other (Tym) refused to discuss.
    It then rushed through, under Councillor Mike Allen, a second LDF Task and Finish Group that had minimal discussion and refused to deal with any criticisms about consultation or methodology – even Councillor Allen suggested that EDDC should examine the metholology of his LDF Panel but this has so far not happened. Sidford Fields was slipped in AFTER consultations had finished and then EDDC made more changes to the plan without any consultation whatsoever. It is these changes that the Inspector has picked up on.
    EDDC tried to say that they were “minor” changes but others (particularly the Independent councillors) argued that in fact they were major changes that needed further consideration and consultation. The majority party disagreed, rushed through the plan as fast as they could and dumped it on the desk of the Inspector. Not surprisingly, being an experienced Inspector, he saw the problem straight away and lobbed it back to EDDC immediately.
    I find Mrs Parr’s comments frankly unbelievable. First, they do not make much sense at all: “This development comes as no surprise to me or to our planning team.” Why not? They and you made a major basic error. If you knew this might happen, why submit? She then goes on to say: ” It is common for Inspectors to call for further consultation on Local Plans submitted to them and this is only to be expected when you consider how much interest there is in the planning agenda both nationally and locally.” I confess I am at a loss to understand exactly what this means. Does she mean that it is only interest in the planning process that has led to the Inspector dumping the Plan back with them? No, it is because EDDC did something wrong, something it should have anticipated, something it was warned about and something it chose to ignore.
    Heads should roll – but of course, they won’t. There will be a hurried patch-up job, another swift resubmisssion and then we wait to see what else might be wrong. meanwhile, developers continue their free-for-all. Is this what EDDC wanted? I do hope not.
    And all of this could have been avoided – had EDDC had the right people on the job at the right time and if the Leader and the CEO and the Chair of the Development Management Committee had stopped being blinkered and started being pragmatic and sensible. Politics and self-interest were allowed to intrude and we are all paying the price.
  2. Not a DeveloperAugust 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm #
    EDDC employs many people whose job it is to ensure that the Local Plan is as it should be. It has councillors to check that what those employees do is what needs to be done. What exactly do these officers do to earn their high salaries and what do these councillors do allowing it to go forward knowing it was a risk?

EDDC’s Plan Unravels? | Sidmouth Independent News

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