Tuesday, 24 March 2015

District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>>>> Monday 23rd March >>> reports on housing

Yesterday afternoon, the District Council's planning committee met to look at the local plan:
Futures Forum: District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>>>> Monday 23rd March >>> the issues
Futures Forum: District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>>>> Monday 23rd March >>> Sidford Employment Land

It seemed that some areas might be 'saved':
Local Plan ‘saves us from big developments’ - News - Exmouth Journal

... whilst others may not:
Number of new houses in Clyst St Mary set to triple as “greater restraint” afforded to towns across East Devon | Exeter Express and Echo

Here is comment from just before the meeting from the East Devon Watch blog:


22nd March 2015

The Development Management Committee meets this week to nod through the latest draft of our Local Plan, after which it will go out for consultation.

It’s just about a year since the first version was inspected and thrown out straight away – the Inspector saying he expected to re-hear it in October 2014.

That month came and went and the excuse was: we have LOTS more work to do, be patient.

Those dealing with the revised plan were given few extra resources (around £50,000 worth when costs last published), more resources being piled into headquarter PRE-relocation work (£750,000 plus at least £10,000 to keep consultants reports on the project secret after EDDC was taken to court by the Information Commissioner for refusing to publish them).

February 2015: and we are told consultants reports are “imminent” but must not be published before local elections (May 2015) as they are deemed to be “too politically sensitive”. However, Mid Devon (relying on the very same consultants reports) decided to put their Local Plan out for consultation, eventually publishing the reports for the public with no qualms about their sensitivity.

Our Inspector would have no truck with this “political sensitivity” excuse and said he expected our new draft Local Plan to be out for public consultation by April 2015, election or no election.

Out of the mist came the consultants report – short, based on widely available figures and with no explanation as to why they had taken so long and soon after what appears to be a new draft Local Plan hurridly changed to reflect the new numbers and with an extra addendum of vastly more housing for Cranbrook and Clyst St Mary.

The Local Plan still appears to be (possibly fatally) flawed. Whereas it fixes on a number (18,000 plus houses including windfalls) IT DOES NOT MAKE IT CRYSTAL CLEAR WHERE EXACTLY THEY WILL GO except for Cranbrook and Clyst St Mary.

The report says some towns will have their built-up boundary respected (e.g. Sidmouth) whereas no such promise is made in other places (e.g. Budleigh Salterton). Some towns and villages have little idea of what their allocations will be or where they are to go. That makes Neighbourhood Plans very difficult.

What are the chances of this draft Local Plan being passed by the Inspector? Layperson’s opinion: very slim.

Whatever happens it will be a THIRD council that carries the can – the previous two having failed to get to grips with an out-of-date plan. Let us hope the new council will do a better job than the first two (big Conservative majority) councils did.

A vote for Independents is a vote for a new Local Plan to protect the district from free-for-all development. Heaven knows what a vote for Conservatives would bring on past and present performance!

Local Plan version 2: a layperson’s summary | East Devon Watch

This is their comment from just after the planning committee met:


23rd March 2015

A barrage of questions from the public (no less than 17 people had pre-registered to speak) were fired at the DMC who were today considering the revised Local Plan. Several councillors firmly added their own particular concerns.

Seven speakers were from the Save Clyst St Mary Group. Campaign leader Gaeron Kayley has just circulated the news copied below:

As you will be aware, today was the day the Development Management Committee met at EDDC to discuss the Local Plan.

This had great significance for Clyst St Mary, given that it had been proposed that both the Winslade Park area and the green field owned by the Plymouth Brethren would be used for the village’s allocation of an additional 200 houses.

22 members of our group met last Monday and discussed our key arguments against this which were to be delivered at today’s meeting.

We are thrilled to announce that, following today’s Committee meeting, it was unanimously agreed by the 15 councillors present to reject the green field proposal and reduce the housing allocation for Winslade Park to 150 in total.

A massive thank you to everyone who attended last Monday’s meeting, including the seven brave souls who spoke so passionately and articulately today, as well as all those local residents who turned up simply to offer moral support. It really was greatly appreciated.

Whilst this was only a hearing for the Local Plan – not a hearing for the specific applications to which we have all objected – it does give us hope for the future. Things certainly appear now to be less bleak than they did ten days ago!

Rest assured, with your support, we will continue to fight in a dignified, professional and open manner to unite and preserve our village community.

Bad day for EDDC’s Local Plan officers. Good day for Clyst St Mary. | East Devon Watch

This blog does not endorse any particular candidate in the coming elections: However, the blog entry from Cllr Claire Wright on housing number proposals is pertinent:

EDDC proposes very high housing growth for district

Monday, 23 March 2015 2 Comments by Claire

East Devon District Council’s planning committee today gave the green light to thousands of more houses for its beleagured local plan, in line with officer recommendations.

More than 18,000 houses are now proposed to be built in the area by 2031. But the figure may be much higher than this even. Read on….

The controversial figures, which will be debated at an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday afternoon, have been long-awaited by East Devon councillors and residents, following the council’s draft local plan being thrown out by planning inspector, Anthony Thickett around a year ago.

But in a scene of deja vu the numbers appear to be based on the highest level of growth possible. In fact it is hard to even work out where the numbers come from.

Rewinding to 2007, the Atkins report commissioned at great cost by EDDC recommended low growth for the district and so did the Roger Tym report in 2011. But EDDC ignored them both and opted for a report by East Devon Business Forum, recommending very high levels of industrial land, which was put together by the landowners and developers on the forum - who then gained from major planning consents when EDDC policy shifted in their favour!

Unfortunately, not much seems to have changed.

In the past year, Mr Thickett’s requirements for an updated housing and employment land evidence base, has meant that the council (along with other local councils) commissioned consultant reports on the numbers of jobs required (industrial land) and also for the numbers of houses, for the district.

And yet again, in the consultant report on jobs the clear recommendation is for the council to follow a lower growth scenario – from government projections (the Office of Budget responsibility) to determine jobs growth (or new industrial land allocations) in the district.

The report, by Ash Futures, references two other higher growth scenarios - and the highest is described as risky. The bottom of page 10 states: “There is an inherent risk associated with the assumption that growth will occur over the whole plan period …”

But guess what? EDDC has not just opted for the highest growth scenario, it has also added on some more for the western end of the district! Its press release trumpets that EDDC will provide 549 jobs a year, …. However, the recommended projection from Ash Futures following government projections, is 273.

So I then took a look at the housing report, by Edge Analytics. And guess what? They had only been given ONE option on which to determine the housing numbers for the district. Yes, you guessed it, EDDC had plumped for the vastly inflated figure of 549 jobs and told Edge to come up with the numbers of houses to match the hugely inflated (and unachievable) jobs growth.

Surely, if one consultant had been obviously steering the council in one direction, EDDC might have at least asked the housing consultants to come up with three scenarios….. But they didn’t. And in today’s report under “risk” officers admit that the revised local plan may be so different from the last one, that the planning inspector may view it as a NEW local plan, incurring considerably more delays.

The disappearing houses

And something sinister has happened to all the houses built between 2006 and 2013.

They have disappeared!

Before I get on to this I should explain that in the old draft local plan the plan period was between 2006 and 2026.

The new revisions propose a plan period of 2013 to 2031.

So what has happened to all the houses that were in the old draft local plan between 2006 and 2013?

Have they been erased from the towns and villages that they were built in?

No. They simply have not been counted! This means that the figure of 18,000 is a considerable underestimate. I am not sure how many houses are now unaccounted for but I think we can assume it is several thousand. Which does rather increase the true housing hike up to well over 20,000.

I gave the council quite a blast over all this (as did other councillors including Susie Bond and Ian Thomas and a more than a dozen residents) at this morning’s development management committee meeting, which was packed with around 100 members of the public.

I also asked whether the planning inspector had recommended a housing number for the district. The chief executive indicated that he had not.

Then why I asked, does it say on the press release dated 9 March, that the planning inspector had advised on housing growth of 950 a year? This gives a clear (and totally false) impression that the council was implementing the sort of development levels that the planning inspector had told them to.

Villages v towns

Today’s report to the development management committee made it clear that further growth at the towns of East Devon was not desirable.

Instead, there should be more development in villages, it advised.

So there is now a list of villages that are deemed “sustainable” and therefore ripe for development.

The rest are set to lose their built up area boundaries, which effectively renders them in the countryside, pretty much only capable of receiving replacement dwellings and barn conversions.

The villages that are deemed sustainable for an unspecified level of development by EDDC include:
West Hill, Broadclyst, East Budleigh, Lympstone, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury, Feniton, Woodbury Salterton, Otterton, Whimple, Clyst St Mary.

Clyst St Mary was in fact singled out for a housing allocation of 200 dwellings! But I am told that the committee later deleted this allocation.

Ironically, Rockbeare looks set to be swamped by Cranbrook as it is now proposed to expand significantly south of the A30, however, the village is set to lose its built up area boundary. Ironic you might think.

Tipton St John, Aylesbeare and Alfington are among those villages set to lose their built up area boundaries.

Who knows what the planning inspector will make of all this. We will see in due course.

The public consultation on the new figures is expected to start in April for six weeks.

The contentious revisions to the local plan will be debated on Thursday afternoon - 2pm, at an extraordinary meeting, at the Knowle.

EDDC proposes very high housing growth for district - Claire Wright

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