Sunday, 29 March 2015

Housing in East Devon: "Why has the District Council opted for such high growth level?" >>> in contrast to consultants' reports and government growth projections

Politicians, when promising 'homes', seem also to be promising something 'affordable' - but there has been very little delivery on the ground, as pointed out by the East Devon Watch blog:
Affordable housing figures lowest since 2000 | East Devon Watch

The blog also refers to a policy document from Cornwall, which looks seriously at the issues around the sustainability of housing:
High growth and sustainability | East Devon Watch
Sustainability Appraisal of Housing Growth Options: An Overall Analysis ofTrends - Cornwall Council

The District Council looked at housing last week:
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 >>> reports on housing
Futures Forum: District Council to consider draft Local Plan >>>>> Thursday 26th March >>> rural housing numbers

The proposals for employment land were also considered - as was the notion of the 'green wedge':
Futures Forum: Proposals for a business/retail park at Sidford are removed from the draft Local Plan >>> to be replaced by new proposals for 'green wedge' between Sidford and Sidbury?

And in that context, here is the view from independent Cllr Claire Wright:

After four years of battling Sidford industrial estate is struck from Local Plan

Thursday, 26 March 2015 4 Comments by Claire

The hugely controversial industrial estate, proposed at Sidford was today struck from the Local Plan, following a proposal by Cllrs Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman. The five hectare site was inserted into the Local Plan at the last minute when I was a member of the panel back in 2011. It has taken local people four years of campaigning for the council to finally agree to delete it. Many votes of a similar nature have been taken in the past and have failed. Today’s got through.

The move took place at today’s extraordinary full council meeting to discuss revisions to the local plan.

I blasted the council for opting YET AGAIN for unevidenced and huge levels of growth that are contrary to consultants recommendations.

How many consultants have to tell EDDC that the right way forward is low growth before they actually listen? The answer is they never will listen. They (who I am not entirely sure) wants big big levels of development in East Devon - and so shall it be.

That is, until the planning inspector takes a look at it and wonders what on earth is going on.

A press release was issued by EDDC earlier this month which contained a grossly untrue statement about the planning inspector recommending the levels of growth that EDDC have opted for.

The planning inspector made no such recommendation. This was a disgraceful attempt to try and fool the public into believing that EDDC is doing the will of the planning inspector, who threw out the draft local plan last year.

See here for my blog earlier this week on what EDDC has done .... http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_proposes_highest_housing_levels_possible_for_district

Frankly, the council has sold the western end of the district off to the highest bidder. Villages like Clyst Honiton, Rockbeare and Blackhorse are set to be absolutely swamped in urban sprawl.

The council promised Rockbeare that it would be protected by a green wedge. If you saw the area that Cranbrook is set to expand now, massively south of the old A30, you would be shocked. Rockbeare is set to be lost amid bricks and concrete.

Whimple was supposed to have a green wedge to protect it from Cranbrook.

Not any more.

Whimple’s green wedge is proposed to have a great chunk eaten out of it as Cranbrook also sprawls to the east.

Given that councillors have never had the chance to question the consultants I moved an amendment that both sets of consultants are invited to the next overview and scrutiny committee meeting.

This amendment was argued against by the chief executive, who for some reason decided to mention my “parliamentary ambitions.”

It was voted down mainly by the conservative group.

My second amendment proposed an extension of the consultation period by two weeks, making a total of an eight week consultation period. This proposal was carried, despite some senior conservatives arguing against it.

Interestingly, I informed the council that Mid Devon District Council (which has been working with EDDC on this) has opted for a low growth scenario for its district. This is because Mid Devon councillors did not wish to concrete over any more of the countryside than they had to.

So why has EDDC opted for such a high growth level?(it is impossible to even match the levels to any figures in the reports!)

The chief executive said it was because East Devon is a “growth area.”

But I replied, the consultants knew this before they drafted their report didn’t they.

Yet they still recommended a preferred approach of significantly lower development, that is also in line with government growth projections.

Why oh why is EDDC doing this?

The Local Plan, with some minor amendments, was voted through by the majority of councillors.

Consultation for eight weeks will start next month.


1. At 09:43 am on 27th Mar Deirdre Hounsom wrote:

The simple answer is that “they’re doing it because they can” but it still seems extraordinarily wilful on the part of the executive and the majority of Tory councillors. let’s hope that they all get a big shock in May!

2. At 02:22 pm on 27th Mar Graham wrote:

Thank you for the good news - common sense at last! Like the lawn terraces in the Knowle land grab, the Sidford Fields were of course sneaked in the local plan by officers at the last minute with no prior council approval. Once again it is noticeable the former East Devon MP has been very reluctant to comment on the matter. Now why would that be?

3. At 03:14 pm on 27th Mar Sandra Semple wrote:

High growth = high risk. One recession during the plan period will lead to stalled growth, which will lead to fewer planned properties being built, no 5 year land supply which will lead to another development free-for-all when the compulsory 5 year review of the Local Plan coincides with that recession. Aaah - NOW I understand!

4. At 03:17 pm on 27th Mar Paul F wrote:

Yes indeed - WHY?

If you are interested please see my full answer at http://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/03/27/local-plans-with-the-same-figures-mid-devon-opts-for-low-growth-in-housing-numbers-east-devon-opts-for-high-growth/ .

After four years of battling Sidford industrial estate is struck from Local Plan - Claire WrightEDDC proposes very high housing growth for district - Claire Wright

And here is that comment in full:

One thought on “Local Plans: with the same figures, Mid-Devon opts for low growth in housing numbers East Devon opts for high growth”

Paul F says:
27 Mar 2015 at 9:54am

Yes indeed. Why?

Whilst Claire is a councillor and bound by the Code of Conduct, and thus unable to bring the council into disrepute by suggesting possible reasons, we members of the public are not so bound.

Since there is no logic, nor any democratic mandate from the last elections for the Tories to pursue a high-growth policy, and since I think it unlikely that most people in East Devon would like to see East Devon (and Teignbridge) become suburbs of Greater Exeter (perhaps eventually as far as Honiton – why stop at Whimple when you can extend further along the A30 before reaching the AONBs at Honiton), there seems to me only two possibilities for this fervour:

1. Some sort of political dogma that believes that high-growth is the right thing to do regardless of the consequences on the local electorate who they are supposed to represent; or

2. Undeclared personal gain by key individuals at EDDC.

I must declare that I have no evidence to support either of the above potential reasons, but these are the only two reasons that make sense and EDDC are certainly not explaining the reasons for their high-growth position to allay these sorts of supposition.

With the elections looming, as individuals we all need to think about whether we want high-growth and for western part of East Devon to become part of Greater Exeter (in which case vote Tory) or want a more considered restricted and considered approach to planning – in which case VOTE INDEPENDENT.

Local Plans: with the same figures, Mid-Devon opts for low growth in housing numbers East Devon opts for high growth | East Devon Watch

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