Sunday, 10 September 2017

The limits to how developers can 'outmanoeuvre' neighbourhood planning

Back in May, Clinton Devon Estates launched an appeal over its plans to build housing in the garden of Budleigh hospital - but the District Council was not keen:

"Council officers had raised concerns regarding the proposals because they would lead to the loss of local green space identified for protection in the draft Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Plan, which is currently being reviewed by an independent examiner."

Appeal over fate of Budleigh’s old hospital garden - Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal
Fears for Budleigh hospital ‘memorial’ garden - Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal

The company wishes to contribute to doing something about the housing shortage:
How we can help to fix broken housing market - Clinton Devon Estates

And so, the town's Neighbourhood Plan steering group had to backtrack over plans for the garden:
Hospital garden neighbourhood plan - Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal
Futures Forum: The limits of neighbourhood planning: how developers can 'outmanoevre'

Last week, the people of Budleigh voted in the referendum whether or not to accept the Neighbourhood Plan:
Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Plan referendum - Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal
Budleigh Salterton Neighbourhood Planning Referendum - East Devon

Meanwhile, news has just broken about the plans to build on Budleigh's hospital garden - that the developers have lost their appeal:



10 SEP 2017

In May 2017 Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) ran an online survey which was covered by Owl. Questions were heavily weighted towards suitably glowing answers, such as:

“How credible do you think “We pledge to do today what is right for tomorrow” is as a statement from Clinton Devon Estates?”

In July 2017 Owl then ran the story of how CDE had made a last minute land grab by submitting an outline planning permission to develop half of the Budleigh Hospital Garden for two small houses. The Neighbourhood Planning team had nominated the garden as an historic open green space and the new health hub hoped to use it as an outdoor therapeutic area. As stakeholders in the Neighbourhood Plan CDE had been consulted at all stages but had not divulged their plans for the space.

Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan group apologises for being unable to save hospital garden after being outmaneuvered by Clinton Devon Estates | East Devon Watch

CDE followed this by launching an appeal on the grounds that EDDC had not determined the application within the prescribed time. This appeal has now been roundly rejected.

A planning inspector has ruled against CDE on the appeal, and it seems CDE might now have to think of other ways to wheedle their way our hearts and minds.

Here is the text of a Budleigh Journal article on the appeal:

“A controversial planning application which sought to build houses on a section of Budleigh Salterton green space has been rejected at appeal.

The outline application, for means of access, proposed two houses to be built on half of the former hospital gardens, in Boucher Road.

Applicant Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) appealed to the planning inspectorate against the length of time it had taken East Devon District Council to reach a decision on the plan.

But planning inspector Andy Harwood ruled that the appeal should be dismissed and that the proposal was rejected.

In his report he said: “The retention of the remaining garden would continue to meet some needs for local people. It would continue to be a pleasant landscaped area. “However, it is not demonstrated how the space would be enhanced by the proposal.”

Mr Harwood also pointed out that under the East Devon Local Plan, development should not involve the loss of land of recreational value.

The whole garden had been earmarked for activities relating to the health and wellbeing hub, due to open at the former hospital later this year.

In response to the ruling, a CDE spokesman said: “We have noted the inspector’s report and will be considering our options in due course.”

Town council planning committee chairman Courtney Richards said: “That land was designated an open space in our Neighbourhood Plan. I am glad to see that will be retained for open space in the town.

“Having that open space available for people at the hub will be of tremendous benefit.”

See the full Inspector’s decision here:


The somewhat chilling phrase that CDE are now “considering their options” should no doubt include taking the views of the local community into account when making decisions and pledging to do today what is right for tomorrow.

Owl recollects the First Law of Holes that states that: “if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”!

Clinton Devon Estates and Budleigh Hospital Garden – a PR nightmare for today and tomorrow! | East Devon Watch

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