Wednesday, 20 January 2016

East Devon Local Plan >>> Sidford business park to remain >>> "pushing levels of development to their very limit" >>> “neither democratic nor sound”

There might be scepticism that the Neighbourhood Plan is 'peanuts':
Civic Voice Forum | Localism Bill and planning reforms
Whalley: Neighbourhood Planning A Bad Joke?
Can neighbourhood plans stop unwanted developments? (From Stroud News and Journal)

However, with the process now under way at Town Council level
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan >>> "How you can become involved" >>> join the steering group

... it is clear that this is profoundly more 'democratic' than the process around putting together a District Council Local Plan:
Q&A: Neighbourhood planning | The Planner
Want a 50% turnout in a local election? Try Neighbourhood Planning : Democratic Audit UK

Last night, the District Council's planning committee met to consider the Local Plan:
Futures Forum: East Devon Local Plan >>> "finalisation now within sight" >>> "It will help protect our beautiful countryside from unwanted and inappropriate development."

However, things got rather heated, as reported in a piece on the Save Our Sidmouth blog:

Councillor slams decision to retain Sidford employment allocation, as “neither democratic nor sound”.

January 20, 2016 by sidmouthsid Leave a comment

Confirmation that the Sidford Fields employment site is to be kept in the Local Plan, brought strong reaction,not just from local Ward members, at this morning’s Development Management Committee (DMC) meeting at Knowle. 

Councillor Mike Allen (Con, Honiton) was particularly incensed. Referring to EDDC’s policy of reducing outcommuting, he said that the evidence that “at least half of the workforce comes into Sidmouth to work”, “confounds” the Inspector’s comments about Sidford Fields. In Cllr Allen’s view, the conclusions were “neither democratic nor sound”. 

Cllr David Barratt (Ind, Sidmouth Rural) agreed, it was “absolutely undemocratic, emphasising that “this council was against it”. “That site is not suitable from a planning point of view”, he added. 

Cllr Marianne Rixson (Ind, Sidmouth/ Sidford) informed by her detailed research into traffic and flooding, said the decision on Sidford Fields was “Absolutely appalling for Sidmouth”, in every aspect.

Councillor slams decision to retain Sidford employment allocation, as “neither democratic nor sound”. | Save Our Sidmouth
‘Sidford Fields’ no longer….employment land allocation remains in Local Plan. | Save Our Sidmouth

The East Devon Watch blog asks some very pertinent questions:
Sidford Fields employment land: who knew what and when? | East Devon Watch
Another push-me pull-you situation: Sidford Fields Industrial Estate | East Devon Watch

And Independent Cllr Claire Wright leads her comment on the Local Plan with the issue of the Sidford business park:

East Devon District Council’s local plan found sound BUT Sidford land will become industrial estate

Monday, 18 January 2016 2 Comments by Claire

A government planning inspector has ruled that East Devon District Council’s local plan is sound.

Welcome news for most of us, despite the very high numbers of housing and industrial estates approved, as it will at least provide planning certainty. However, it does mean that the proposed hugely controversial 12 acres of industrial estate at Sidford WILL go ahead - in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The industrial estate proposed on this land inspired the launch of Save Our Sidmouth - and latterly, the East Devon Alliance…..

Last March Cllrs Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman won a controversial vote to delete the allocation from the draft local plan.

But the planning inspector has included it once again.

This news makes me remember what feels like endless campaigning and years of work that I put in, with others, such as Roger Giles, to try and improve the policies and reduce the amount of development.

The first demonstration I led on this was in November 2010. I then sat on the reconfigured local plan panel after I was elected to EDDC in 2011. We certainly managed to improve some of the really awful policies, but in the end, the overall level of development has hardly altered at all.

Some may remember all the shenanigans relating to the East Devon Business Forum, which I led on exposing in 2012 - and the subsequent resignation of its chairman, former Cllr Graham Brown in 2013, after a sting operation by the Daily Telegraph where he appeared on pages two and three offering his services as a planning consultant for “hire.”

I contributed to many sessions of the first planning inspector hearing in 2014 - and argued vociferously with Mark Williams, chief executive, at the full council meeting in March last year when, after reading the evidence behind the significant levels of development - I learned that all the new evidence (commissioned by EDDC) pointed in favour of MUCH lower levels of development.

I had a hope that Mr Thickett would look at the evidence and reduce the proposed development accordingly. But this was obviously a vain hope.

Why was it a vain hope? Because Mr Thickett is ordered by the government to sanction plans that push levels of development to their very limit.

The issue was of course, a pledge in my general election manifesto. Unfortunately Mr Swire and Mr Parish have been silent on the issue of the levels of development - even going as far as to praise the developer friendly national planning policy framework which all councils must use to determine their local plans. Mr Swire certainly had nothing negative to say about the NPPF.

The fact that our government appears only interested in building as much as possible and in as many places as possible should concern all of us.

We need houses - of course we do, especially properly affordable housing for younger people and those on low incomes - but what we don’t need in East Devon, is growth of almost a third in just a few years.

This is now what we will get.

The next election is a long way away yet, but I hope that those people who voted Conservative will remember that our MPs knew all about these plans.

And did and said nothing at all.

Roll on the next parliament.

East Devon District Council’s local plan found sound BUT Sidford land will become industrial estate - Claire Wright

See also:
Futures Forum: A local plan, a neighbourhood plan & a 5-year housing plan >>> all 'effectively overruled' >>> 'any future developer can propose to develop sites with as many houses as they wish'

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