Sunday, 5 June 2016

Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> the applicant, the East Devon Business Forum and lobbying for more employment land

It is clear from all sorts of sources that there is no demand for a large amount of new employment land in the Sid Valley - as repeated yet again by the chair of Save Our Sidmouth and District Councillors on the BBC last week:
Sidford Employment site result of “heroic calculation” on a “speculative basis” , SOS Chair tells Radio Devon | Save Our Sidmouth

And as submitted by the VGS as part of the consultation to the Local Plan back in 2012/13:
REPRESENTATION TO LOCAL PLAN - final version - vision group for sidmouth - 14jan13

It is also clear to most observers that the employment land at Sidford should never have been included in the Local Plan - with the District Council's CEO having to defend the Inspector's decision to include it:
Public servant at centre of ‘remarkable event’ should ‘consider his position’ | Save Our Sidmouth

And actually, no one is blaming the Inspector:
Who bears the responsibility for putting the Sidford employment site into the Local Plan? Hardly the Inspector, says Councillor. | Save Our Sidmouth
Sidford employment land scandal will not go away, despite adoption of Local Plan | Save Our Sidmouth
Inspector’s recommendations for Sidmouth “a huge disappointment” . | Save Our Sidmouth
Councillor slams decision to retain Sidford employment allocation, as “neither democratic nor sound”. | Save Our Sidmouth

In fact, the inclusion of the industrial estate at Sidford happened simply because the 'need' for employment land across the District was inflated - thereby calling into question the basis of the whole Local Plan:
Local Plan “a deeply flawed document”? | Save Our Sidmouth
The enduring influence of the East Devon Business Forum on the Local Plan | East Devon Watch

Moreover, the company which will benefit from the insertion of extra employment land at Sidford into the Local Plan was a member of the sub-committee set up by the East Devon Business Forum to push for extra employment land across the District.

To quote from the VGS submission to the Local Plan:


(submitted 8th June 2012) 

The influence of the East Devon Business Forum on proposals for employment land and housing in the draft Local Plan should be considered. In January 2007, a Sub-Committee was established by the Forum to consider ‘amending the Atkins report’; this included the Sidmouth business now seeking to develop the proposed 5-hectare site at Sidford. 


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the East Devon Business Forum held at East Devon Business Centre, Honiton on Thursday 25 January 2007 

3 Matters Arising 

Atkins Report 

Graham Brown reported that he had attended a meeting with the Corporate Director – Environment to discuss the preliminary findings of the Atkins Report. 
The findings included the conclusion that East Devon did not need as much employment land as East Devon Business Forum had recommended. 
Forum members discussed how the findings of the Atkins Report would be amended as they were not in step with East Devon’s needs. 
The issue of the employment land availability and the Atkins Report would be considered at the meeting of the Business Forum on 19 April 2007. 
A Sub Committee of the Business Forum would need to investigate employment land availability, where there was potential for growth and where the business community would like to see development take place. 
There was also debate around whether the employment land identified in the Atkins Report was ‘fit for purpose’. 
The first redrafted report would shortly be available for members to see. 

RESOLVED that a Sub Committee consisting Graham Brown, Donovan Galling, Nigel Harrison, Tim Ford, Roy Stuart and Claire James or Louise Mayor be established to discuss the issue of availability of employment land in East Devon.


It appears that a group of business people comprising this Forum reviewed the publicly-funded Atkins Report and then determined that the employment land provisions were insufficient; they subsequently proceeded to derive their own projections, which the District Council then adopted as "evidence" for the increased employment land figure which ensued: 


Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the East Devon “Business Forum held at East Devon Business Centre, Honiton on Thursday 31 January 2008 

3 Matters Arising 

Update on Employment Land Issues (Min no 36 refers) 

2 Members noted that the work the Business Forum had done on the Atkins Report had made an enormous difference to the final report prepared by the Employment Land Issues Task and Finish Forum. 
This had been accepted by the Executive Board. 
The report was now being used by the Development Control Committee as a base when considering planning applications for employment land. 
The report had highlighted key issues and themes that had been addressed and examined. 
It was noted that the report would help set an agenda to inform future employment land provision in respect to future planning policy and development decisions (particularly in relation to land supply shortfalls).


REPRESENTATION TO LOCAL PLAN - final version - vision group for sidmouth - 14jan13

See also:
East Devon branch of Campaign to Protect Rural England raise concerns over amount of development planned across the district | Exeter Express and Echo
Changes to East Devon District Council's development document are major not minor planning inspector rules | Exeter Express and Echo

East Devon Business Forum’s influence over the Local Plan - Claire WrightResidents report concern over business forum interests - Claire WrightDisingenuous? | Sidmouth Independent News

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