Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Sidford business park > "The Local Plan is a deeply flawed document."

The planning application for an industrial estate has been rejected:
Futures Forum: Sidford business park > Fords planning application >>> 18/1094/MOUT >>> REFUSED: but only on grounds of 'highway safety'
Futures Forum: Sidford business park >> campaign group's latest update > District Council refuse planning application

The press continues to report:
Planners refuse controversial Sidford Business Park scheme over 'potentially lethal' highways issues - Devon Live
District council refuse Sidford Business Park proposal | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Meanwhile, the East Devon Watch blog asks: 

If the Sidford Business Park was turned down because of:
“the potentially combination of narrow roads and increased heavy goods vehicle usage” …
why was it hurriedly and grubbily added to the Local Plan at the last minute?

Sidford Business Park: a begged question | East Devon Watch

And so we are back to the origins of how this appeared in the District Council's Local Plan:


18 JUN 2018

Tim Ford, once a much-respected plumbing and electrical contactor in Sidmouth, is renewing his controversial application to build a business park in the AONB at Sidford. (18/1094/MOUT)

Incredulous locals wonder how it was possible for a council to allocate an ‘employment site’ in its local development plan that is on a flood plain, is a rich wildlife habitat, and whose main access would be a narrow street where two lorries can’t pass without mounting the pavement!

For the dominant Tory group on East Devon District Council it was easy!

First, they let landowners and developers decide where to build. In 2007 they asked East Devon Business Forum how much employment land the district would need over the next 25 years. EDBF was a lobby group which included the Carters of Greendale, the Stuarts of Hill Barton and Tim Ford of Sidmouth. Their answer was predictable: lots and lots!

Second, they put Chair of EDBF, Cllr Graham (‘I ain’t doin’ it for peanuts!’) Brown: 

The disgraced ex-EDDC Tory Councillor Graham Brown “If I can’t get planning, nobody will” scandal refuses to die | East Devon Watch
in charge of quietly asking landowners where they would like to build. Apparently, the proposal for a Sidford business park was first mooted at one of these confidential meetings in July 2010.

Third, in 2011 they elected Paul Diviani, founder member of EDBF, as leader. Under him the District Council became what many saw as a ‘Development Corporation’, the planning system became less about protecting the environment and more about encouraging building.

Fourth, they didn’t listen to the public or community groups whom they ignored or misrepresented. Sidmouth Chamber of commerce said the business park would be catastrophic for local businesses, Council minutes recorded the Chamber as supporting it!

Fifth, they whipped their large political majority to vote through the Sidford allocation. When hostile public reaction worried them just before the 2015 council elections they voted to ‘remove it’ from the Local Plan. Universal Rejoicing! But in 2016 the Inspector kept it in the Plan. Why? Because East Devon’s chief planning officer had not been instructed to give the Inspector reasons for the council’s change of mind!

Sidford Business Park – a grubby history | East Devon Watch

The SOS campaign has had several powerful points to make over the years:
Sidford Business Park still in Local Plan. Comments must be submitted by midday on 12 June. | Save Our Sidmouth
EDDC claims Sidford employment site will still be developed….Are their claims watertight? | Save Our Sidmouth
DCC Highways reconsider their response to Fords’ planning application for a Sidford Business Park | Save Our Sidmouth
Planned Sidford business park would be “a total disaster” for the Observatory, says NLO Director | Save Our Sidmouth
SVA further objects to Fords’ controversial planning application | Save Our Sidmouth
Increased flood risk: SVA calls for Environment Agency rethink on the Sidford planning application. | Save Our Sidmouth
Sidmouth Town Council votes unanimously against Fords’ planning application for Sidford business park | Save Our Sidmouth

Finally, on the SOS site, further reference to this 'grubby history':

Local Plan “a deeply flawed document”?

February 2, 2016 by sidmouthsid Leave a comment

Evidence was offered to the EDDC Extra Ordinary Meeting (28 Jan 2016), by SOS member, Jeremy Woodward, in the following speech:

‘Mr Chairman,

Would you not agree that the Local Plan which you and your colleagues are being asked to adopt is in fact a deeply flawed document?

As an illustration, if I might quote from the submission made by the Vision Group for Sidmouth to the Local Plan on 8th June 2012.

I begin:

“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’:

To refer to the

“Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the East Devon Business Forum on 25 January 2007

“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 [the] 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.

“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.”

End of minutes.

It appears that a group of business people comprising this Forum reviewed the publicly-funded [independent] 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:

To refer to the

“Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of the East Devon Business Forum on 31 January 2008 [a year later]

“Update on Employment Land Issues:

“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.”

End of quote.

Again, Mr Chairman, would you not acknowledge that the Local Plan is a deeply flawed document?

Because, if we chose to take the Council’s own calculations of one new home to one new job, this deliberate inflation of employment land undermines fundamentally the housing figures proposed in the Local Plan.

Thank you.

Local Plan “a deeply flawed document”? | Save Our Sidmouth

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