Monday, 4 May 2015

District Council draft Local Plan: how other see it >>>>>> >>> Conservatives and East Devon Alliance

This blog has looked at specific areas concerning the draft local plan:
Futures Forum: District Council draft Local Plan: and the AONB
Futures Forum: District Council draft Local Plan: and Park & Change

It has also looked at how the different groups - the two main groups in the District Council elections - are portraying themselves and each other:
Futures Forum: East Devon District Council elections: what the websites say >>> Conservatives and East Devon Alliance on-line
Futures Forum: East Devon District Council elections: and 'misinformation' >>> Conservatives and East Devon Alliance

Here is the 'official' version of the current draft Local Plan - voted through by the Conservative-dominated District Council:

Council can now demonstrate a robust five-year housing land supply

When this content has been created

6 April 2015

Important changes to affordable housing requirements at East Devon

Five-year housing supply East Devon District Council is now in an even stronger position to defend the district from non-sustainable development. Changes arising from permissions granted since March 2014 and an up to date Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) means we can now clearly demonstrate a 5.45 year housing land supply including a required 20% buffer. This is a significant improvement on the previous position of between 3.51 and 3.83 years.
However, once the new Local Plan has been adopted, this new figure will rise again, due to the inclusion of proposed allocations that could not previously have been incorporated because of uncertainty over their delivery. Once this has happened, we will be in the position of having a housing land supply of almost six years.
The improved housing land supply figure will have a positive impact on housing restraint policies, which can now be fully implemented.  For example, policies relating to Built-up Area Boundaries (BUABs) will now carry greater weight and proposed developments that do not meet the necessary BUAB requirements can be resisted more strenuously.

Changes to affordable housing allocations

Up until now, East Devon has sought 40% affordable housing (Policy H4) provision on development schemes across the district. This was because we previously believed that the new Local Plan on affordable housing provision, until it was adopted, did not carry significant weight to change the provision. However, a recent resolution by the Secretary of State (in agreement with the inspector) to approve an application for a development of 430 dwellings, a local centre and a care home at Pinn Court Farm, Pinn Hill, Exeter, subject to it having a 25% affordable housing provision, has changed our approach.
On the basis of the Secretary of State’s decision (together with the Inspector), all future affordable housing requirements will be subject to two tiers of provision, depending on the location of the development:
  • 25% - This will apply to developments in Axminster, Exmouth, Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton and other major strategic developments within the growth point.
  • 50% - This will apply to all other parts of the district.
However, developments outside Built-up Area Boundaries, will need to be treated as an exception and will require an  affordable housing requirement of 66% under a previously adopted cross subsidy scheme designed to encourage the provision of affordable housing.
Affordable housing provision is still subject to thresholds set down recently in government guidance which dictate the scale of developments where affordable housing can be required, these are as follows:

Exmouth, Honiton, Seaton and Sidmouth

Number of dwellings 1-5: no affordable housing
Number of dwellings 6-10: no affordable housing
Number of dwellings 11+: affordable housing (on site provision)

Rest of Devon (rural areas)

Number of dwellings 1-5: no affordable housing
Number of dwellings 6-10: affordable housing (contribution only)
Number of dwellings 11+: affordable housing (on site provision)

6 April 2015 - Council can now demonstrate a robust five-year housing land supply - East Devon

Public gets a chance to comment on latest revisions to planning blueprint

When this content has been created

15 April 2015
Blueprint for housing and other development is subject to Inspector's questions
Blueprint for housing and other development is subject to Inspector's questions

Eight-week consultation on draft Local Plan starting on 16 April

A fresh public consultation on the future blueprint for planning in East Devon will be launched on Thursday 16 April and will run until Friday 12 June.
Planning Inspector Anthony Thickett has advised East Devon District Council of the matters that he wishes to see consulted upon, following the completion of extra work that planning officers were required to do to supplement the previously submitted draft Local Plan.
The Inspector has given the council a list of questions and these will be available for interested members of the public to view online, at Knowle and at libraries and town council offices across the district for a period of eight weeks.


Awareness of the latest opportunity to comment on aspects of the draft Local Plan 2013-2031 will be raised via a number of channels, including public notices, a press release, social media, EDDC’s website, emails and letters to all individuals and agents on the Planning Policy service’s database, and documents placed in council offices and libraries, plus Exeter Central Library.
As before, it will be possible for people to submit comments online or on forms that may be emailed or sent through the post. These will be available on the council’s website and at the various access points around East Devon. Details about the consultation are available on the New Local Plan and current consultations page.
In this final round of consultation, the council will be asking residents to comment only on revisions to the earlier version of the draft Local Plan.
The Inspector’s questions that are open for comment will be grouped together in four clusters, plus there will be a fifth section for comment on any proposed changes not covered by the Inspector’s questions.
The four specific clusters concern:
  • Housing levels and development in the plan
  • Gypsy and Traveller provision
  • Site allocations
  • Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
Each access point will have a package of information available, including guidance notes explaining what the Inspector wants to know and how to fill in the electronic forms or paper documents.
Comments must be received by 12 noon on Friday 12 June 2015 at the very latest. The responses received will be collated and sent on direct to the Inspector for his consideration. It is anticipated that the Inspector will be able to reconvene hearing sessions in July.
Any enquiries relating to the Examination of the two documents should be addressed to the Programme Officer, Amanda Coombes, at the Council Offices in Sidmouth, viaemail or by telephone: 01395 571682.

15 April 2015 - Public gets a chance to comment on latest revisions to planning blueprint - East Devon

Here is the East Devon Alliance take on the draft Local Plan:

Is EDDC really pushing the Local Plan forward?
And if not, why not?

Written by: Dr. Cathy Gardner, candidate for Sidmouth Town Ward.
Updated by: Dr. John Withrington, Vice-Chairman, East Devon Alliance
EDDC has been working on a Local Plan (previously a Local Development Framework) since 2008. Since the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was introduced in March 2012, having a Local Plan approved by the Planning Inspectorate is essential both to avoid inappropriate developments and to get Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding from developers to grow the local infrastructure to match the growth in population.
Yet after nearly seven years work and three years since introduction of the NPPF (or four, given that the NPPF was out for consultation a year beforehand), the District remains without a Local Plan in place. As if this were not bad enough, the position has been exacerbated by EDDC’s long-standing inability to prove it has a five-year housing land supply – and in those circumstances the NPPF imposes a 20% penalty, i.e. EDDC has had to prove it has six years’ worth up its sleeve. As a result, residents of East Devon, and our beautiful countryside – two-thirds of the District is designated AONB – have been put at the mercy of predatory developers. For example, Feniton has seen virtually annual assaults by developers since 2011; Newton Poppleford and particularly Clyst St. Mary have also had more than their fair share of pain.
A lack of urgency and general incompetence has been the EDDC hallmark throughout. A draft Local Plan was thrown back in August 2013 with 53 flaws highlighted. But when EDDC submitted a revised version the response by Inspector Anthony Thickett in March 2014 was a devastating indictment of EDDC’s cavalier approach[a]: the draft was not sound, there were numerous flaws, some of the data used seemed to be guesswork, unreliable figures used for migration data meant that there was “little point” in taking things further given “the shortcomings in the evidence base overall” … As a result, and with further delays as EDDC decided it needed a more up to date SHMA (see Housing Numbers tab), it has taken EDDC until March 2015 to finally get its Local Plan act together. In the meantime, our countryside has been put at risk and paid the price.
SummaryDetailed TimelineHousing Numbers


EDDC LDF Issues and Options Dec 2008The draft local plan has been in development since at least 2008, and yet some seven years later it is still a long way from being approved by the Planning Inspectorate. Whilst it is true that the government has moved the goalposts between 2008 and 2015 with the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework – which has also had small but significant tweaks in the interim – that is less of an excuse for the excessive time to get a Local Plan approved and more of a reason for them to ensure that it is completed quickly before the goalposts move again.
The advice and guidance on the importance of having a Local Plan under NPPF and how to achieve it has not been in short supply, for example:
  • In a letter to Chief Planning Officers in March 2011[b] Local Authorities were urged to get on with getting a Local Plan in place.
  • In 2012 the Planning Inspectorate[c] provided support to fast track the preparation of Local Plans so that they would only take six months.
The consequences of this delay, and not having an adopted plan are:
  1. That EDDC has found it much more difficult to reject planning applications in the countryside and especially in either of the two AONBs if it believes that they are inappropriate;
  2. That EDDC has been forced to fight a number of Public Inquiries in cases where developers have appealed against their proposals being turned down. EDDC has boasted that it is good at winning such appeals however, not only could this simply be an indication that EDDC is failing to refuse inappropriate planning applications that have a higher probability (though by no means certainty) of being overturned at appeal, but it also fails to recognise that in those cases where it has lost appeals (e.g. Feniton and Ottery), these towns and villages have suffered. And had EDDC got its Local Plan in place, the Council, and its rate payers, would not have had to fight these costly appeals in the first place;
  3. That EDDC has missed out on getting income from the Community Infrastructure Levy, a payment from property developers to improve local services to support the extra housing but which can only be levied once the Local Plan is in place.
Under the old Structure Plan (2001-16), EDDC was required to build 563 houses p.a. According to its own figures[c]EDDC: Audit and Governance June 2014, EDDC’s lack of urgency means that this figure has only been exceeded twice in the past eight years: the crisis facing East Devon, as developers flock to concrete the countryside, is in no small way due to EDDC not having honoured its previous obligations.
So in 2013/14, there were more than double the number of houses built than the average of the previous seven years. The same table in the same document predicts (as at June 2014) that more than 1,100 houses will be built in 2014/15, a third more than in 2013/14 and almost triple the same average.

The Gittisham 300

The gap between EDDC rhetoric and reality and the impact of a lack of a Local Plan is clearly indicated by the following example, an application for 300 houses between Honiton and Gittisham where there were significant concerns about both the visual impact and sustainability.
Pulmans Honiton 20140902 Page 3 Local Plan Excerpt
In Pulman’s View from Honiton on 2 Sep 2014 page 3[d], EDDC claimed that “The majority of our settlements are adjacent to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Wedges and other designations that restrict development anyway and these designations still apply with equal strength whether we have a five-year land supply (part of the Local Plan) or not.” Unfortunately, later that same week the EDDC Development Management Committee approved these 300 homes adjacent to not one but two AONBs, putting the earlier EDDC statement into a more realistic light.
To put this in perspective, this single site is almost equivalent to the entire number of houses built in the whole of East Devon in 2011/12. Had there been a Local Plan in place, this development would almost certainly never have been approved. Indeed, it was only put into the Local Plan as a reserve site in the event that Honiton could not find sufficient sites to meet its allocation. In no way was it considered to be an ideal site.

Most Recently

On 6 Feb 2015, East Devon District Council wrote to the planning inspector explaining that the evidence would not be made available for review until June 2015 “because of the forthcoming local and national elections this would not appear to be a viable programme to follow with concern of risks that the process could been seen as becoming politically motivated rather than being based on the soundness of the plan.”
The inspector responded that whilst he had originally anticipated reviewing the updated evidence in late 2014, he saw no reason why it should not be made available for review by mid-April, i.e. the forthcoming elections were no reason for delay.
Many residents of East Devon will have assumed that the reason for EDDC delaying the evidence until after the elections was for political advantage, i.e. on the grounds that the number of new houses being recommended for East Devon was higher than EDDC had bargained for. As indeed has turned out to be the case.
SummaryDetailed TimelineHousing Numbers

Local Plan Timeline

Dec 2008“Issues and Options” publication[e]
Sep 2010 to Nov 2010“Preferred approach” publication and consultation[f]
Dec 2011 to Jan 2012First draft Local Plan publication and consultation[g]
Nov 2012 to Jan 2013Second consultation on the revised draft[h]
2 Aug 2013Local Plan submitted for examination[i]
15 Aug 2013Planning inspector writes to EDDC in response: disagrees with EDDC that proposed changes are “minor”, and lists 53 [sic] changes that require consultation[j]
Aug 2013 to Oct 2013Back to the drawing board post-publication consultation[k]
26 Sep 2013Planning inspector requires evidence of housing, affordable housing and employment numbers and sets date for Examination in Feb 2014[l]
31 Mar 2014Planning Inspector rejects local plan primarily due to lack of evidence on housing numbers[m]
24 Apr 2014EDDC DMC is informed that Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) has been contracted to David Coultie Associates (DCA) and is due June 2014[n].
26 Aug 2014EDDC DMC is informed that SHMA is delayed[o]. According to this document there are six stages to producing the SHMA, and only two have been completed.
6 Feb 2015EDDC write to Planning Inspector[p]to advise that SHMA will be delivered on 13 Feb, but due to upcoming election and concerns of “political motivations”, consultation will not happen until June 2015.
9 Feb 2015Planning Inspector writes to EDDC[q] stating that he “need to see the evidence and any proposed changes [to the local plan] as soon as they have been agreed and by mid April at the latest”.
2 Mar 2015EDDC announces[r] that Local Plan progress will be made before elections.
9 Mar 2015EDDC issues press release on SHMA report, trumpeting that “950 new homes per year is the right amount for East Devon”. However, 950 was only one of a number of scenarios, and at this stage the scenarios/recommendations had yet to be discussed/approved by EDDC.
25 Mar 2015Revised draft Local Plan approved by EDDC’s Development Management Committee.
31 Mar 2015Final letter in sequence dating from 15 March sent to Inspector Thickett on the development of an approved Local Plan.

Forward View

After years of unnecessary waiting, we may get a Local Plan adopted by end 2015 / early 2016. According to formal questions and answers from full Council in February 2015[s], the current timetable is as follows:
Early March 2015Publication of the SHMA
End March 2015DMC and full council meeting to consider revisions to the Local Plan including proposed housing numbers
Early Apr 2015Revisions to draft Local Plan
Resubmission to Inspector
Inspectors questions seeking views through consultation
Mid-Apr to end-May 2015Consultation
Aug / Sep 2015Oral examination sessions reconvene
End 2015Local Plan adopted.
So, with luck and a following wind, we may have an adopted Local Plan by the end of 2015, hopefully bringing to an end the development free-for-all we have seen for the past two years. But then again, so far at least, time-scales for the adoption of the Local Plan have not exactly gone to … um … plan.

SummaryDetailed TimelineHousing Numbers
There is no more complicated or more emotive issue than the number of new houses needed for East Devon. Key points are:
  • Under the old Structure Plan for 2001-16, EDDC was required to build 563 houses p.a. Historic under-provision – this figure was exceeded only twice between 2006/07 and 2013/14 – has meant that EDDC has potentially faced a huge backlog for a number of years.
  • The National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF) was introduced in March 2012. Designed to sweep away red tape, its new presumption in favour of sustainable [sic] development represented an open invitation for developers to build anywhere they wanted. Open countryside always being cheaper than brownfield sites.
  • Land Supply. Councils needed to prove a five year land supply for housing stock. Under the NPPF, Councils guilty of persistent failure suffered a 20% penalty, i.e. a requirement to provide six years’ worth. EDDC fell into this category, and the lack of a sufficient land supply was a key factor in developers winning Public Inquiries for building in Feniton and Ottery St Mary. (At the Ottery Inquiry in 2012, EDDC calculated that it had a supply of 5.7 years, whereas the developer claimed it to be only 3.6 years district-wide. A major failing of EDDC was to rely on a policy of ‘disaggregation’, i.e. splitting the district into segments as opposed to looking district-wide, a policy found wanting.)
An approved Local Plan would have provided a coherent and defensible position about where development was appropriate, how many houses the district would need, and where the priority for development lay. EDDC’s inability to get round to doing this in the course of many years has led to a policy vacuum, a situation exploited to the full by developers after the NPPF. It’s also meant a bill of unknown proportions for EDDC, which has risked the wrath of residents should it not defend communities against inappropriate development, but which equally has been forced to dip into its coffers to pay for costly appeals which might not have been necessary in the first place.
A key omission in this process has been EDDC’s extraordinary inability to provide reliable data about how many houses the district actually needs. The most shocking example came in March 2014, when Planning Inspector Anthony Thickett wrote to EDDC[t] to comment on the latest draft Local Plan, saying that he did “not consider that the 15,000 housing target is justified by the evidence submitted to the examination”. A key defect in EDDC’s approach was that the NPPF required authorities to have a reliable Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) in place: Inspector Thickett’s conclusion was that this was not the case for East Devon. A new SHMA was required.
Further delays ensued when EDDC decided that its SHMA would have to take into account housing needs alongside those of East Devon, Mid Devon, Exeter and Teignbridge. The SHMA report[u], finally released in March 2015, was supplemented by two independent reports: by Edge Analytics[v] looking at housing growth need, and Ash Futures[w] looking at likely job creation. Significantly, EDDC required its own ‘gung-ho’ scenario to run alongside their standard models – ‘jobs-led policy-on’ – which was predicated upon a highly optimistic view of the East Devon economy in the run up to 2033. While both consultants were careful to hedge their projections with numerous caveats, and while the Edge Analytics had one scenario projecting just 584 new houses needed p.a. for East Devon in the planned period, EDDC seized upon the highest figure possible – 950 new houses per year, i.e. a 63% increase over the 584 figure – and immediately issued a press release, implying that the whole matter was now resolved. While the figure of 950 more houses p.a. was considerably higher than the 750 EDDC had envisaged, even higher than the previous 563 target and massively higher than the 375 average number of houses built p.a. between 2006 and 2013, Leader Paul Diviani nevertheless described the increase as “relatively modest”.
As of writing, EDDC is now convinced that it is able to demonstrate a five-year land supply, the Housing Monitoring Update of March 2015[x] estimating that, working on an SHMA of 17,100 houses between 2013-31, EDDC is able now to demonstrate a supply of 5.45 years. According to an earlier Housing Monitoring Update[y], With the adoption of the Local Plan as proposed, this would rise to 6.08 years.

Local Plan | East Devon Alliance

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