Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sidford business park >>> and the East Devon Business Forum revisited

Two years ago, a planning application for an industrial estate was refused:
Futures Forum: BREAKING NEWS >>> Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 16/0669/MOUT >>> REFUSED

This is the comment from the Vision Group at the time:
Futures Forum: VGS comment on Fords planning application 16/0669/MOUT >>> 'inappropriate', 'unsustainable' and 'overdeveloped'

As for the latest planning application, most of the issues resolve around the impact of the proposed development on traffic - and there is quite a history:
Futures Forum: Ford's @ Sidmouth & Sidford >>> of supermarkets and traffic congestion

Another issue is that the proposed development is actually not needed.

And there is again quite a history...

The applicant was part of a committee set up by the now-disbanded East Devon Business Forum to push for a larger allocation of employment land in the draft Local Plan.

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)
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).

A member of this group which lobbied successfully for more employment land will now benefit directly from the considerable inflation of employment land which was then accepted in the Local Plan – should this planning application 18/1094/MOUT be granted.

The original Atkins Report forms part of the 'evidence base' for the East Devon Local Plan - even though it was overridden:
Local Plan documents - Evidence base - East Devon

However, five years ago, when the Local Plan was still being put together, Cllr Claire Wright raised serious questions as to how these figures for employment land had in fact been overridden:
East Devon Business Forum’s influence over the Local Plan - Claire Wright 

These observations have been key to questioning the validity of the employment land allocation at Sidford:
Local Plan “a deeply flawed document”? | Save Our Sidmouth
Disingenuous? | Sidmouth Independent News

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