Wednesday, 8 April 2015

CoVoP Day of Action in Sidmouth: this Sunday 12th April >>> further reports

This coming Sunday will see a demonstration of how many feel about the scale and type of 'development' in East Devon:
Futures Forum: CoVoP Day of Action in Sidmouth: this Sunday 12th April >>> "calling for an end to unrestrained development"

The Community Voice on Planning has also initiated a petition at 38 degrees:
Listen to the Peoples Voice on Planning | Campaigns by You

The front page of this week's Pulman's View from Sidmouth carries the story:

SIDMOUTH: ‘Day of action’ to protest planning rules

8th April 2015 by Jack Dixon jack@pemedia.co.uk

FURIOUS protestors are set to stage a major demonstration against a “rigged” planning system that poses a real threat to the East Devon countryside.

Campaigners have called for a day of action to rally against excessive and inappropriate housing development, with East Devon’s draft Local Plan set to make provision for almost 1,000 new homes a year for the next decade-and-a-half.

Parliamentary candidates from many of the major political parties are due to speak at the event, taking place outside East Devon District Council’s offices at Knowle this Sunday (April 12th).

Organised by the national campaign group Community Voice on Planning (CoVoP) and Vision Group for Sidmouth, the day of action will be co-ordinated with a number of other demonstrations taking place across the country.

Mike Temple, Sidmouth resident and CoVoP trustee, said: “The East Devon economy – largely dependent on farming and tourism – has suffered from an exceptional number of inappropriate housing and other developments in the last three to four years. Guidelines and figures for ‘housing demand’ are notoriously unreliable estimates and subject to constant change – yet it is these that set the agenda for inappropriate developments. In other words, the system is rigged and needs fixing.”

Ottery St Mary resident Ian McKintosh, president of the East Devon Alliance – an affiliate member of CoVoP – added: “Localism is quite frankly a sham. District councils have all the power and in East Devon we have a secret oligarchy running a one-party state. There seems to be a very close relationship between some councillors and several developers – and the result is that local communities have no power at all and are treated with contempt. The great danger is that you end up with ‘homogenised’ housing that is not in scale and proportion with the individual character of the community.”

A series of East Devon election candidates, including UKIP’s Andrew Chapman, the Liberal Democrats’ Stuart Mole and Independent Claire Wright, are all scheduled to speak at the rally on Sunday.

The event comes soon after district councillors put the finishing touches on the draft Local Plan, which has now been sent to a government planning inspector for further scrutiny. If approved, the plan will pave the way for more than 17,000 new homes to be built in East Devon by 2031 – 950 a year.

The council says it has a strong record on planning, enhancing the district with sensible housing provision and blocking inappropriate development. A spokesperson said: “One of East Devon District Council’s top ongoing priorities has been the district’s defence against unnecessary development. Our focus is on granting planning for sustainable development only. We believe in getting the balance right and this is underlined by our highly successful refusal rate for planning appeals. In the last quarter of 2014 we saw 91 per cent of appeals dismissed and we are justifiably proud that East Devon ranks in the top 15 nationally – out of 468 local authorities – as having the best record for winning appeals. We intend to maintain this track record and to defend East Devon from inappropriate development. At the same time we welcome the social and economic benefits that come with good growth in homes and jobs for East Devon.”

But EDDC has already come in for criticism from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) over its housing figures. The organisation’s East Devon branch chairman, West Hill’s Margaret Hall, said the proposed numbers were “not realistic.” “The biggest problem has been the delay in production of the Local Plan, and the inability to show a five-year supply of housing land,” she said. “This has meant great pressure to approve housing developments all over East Devon. Many of these have been inappropriate, in CPRE’s view. CPRE disagrees with the housing figure that EDDC has chosen – 950 houses a year. This is based on the most optimistic economic and jobs growth performance, maintained over a 20-year period, which is not realistic.”

Ottery councillor and parliamentary candidate Claire Wright said the government’s national planning policy framework (NPPF) was the “real culprit”, putting economic growth before balance. She said: “Why are there so many new housing developments threatening to ruin our villages, whilst others increase flooding risks? Why must we have to wait for days before we can see our own doctor? Why do some local children have to travel to more distant schools? The problem of inappropriate developments can only be overcome by changing the NPPF.”

The ‘day of action’ will take place outside Knowle, in Sidmouth, from 2:45pm on Sunday (April 12th), with a series of speeches starting at 3pm.

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