• Four new policies in East Devon District Council’s Local Plan (currently out for consultation) are promoting the building of industrial units or workshops in, or next to, villages and smaller towns in the district. There are currently around 400 empty commercial units in the district. And two sets of consultants (Atkins and Roger Tym) hired by East Devon District Council have advised that existing plans for this kind of development, known as ‘employment land’ should be significantly reduced, as there is a large over-supply proposed.  Four new policies found their way into the[...]

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    British supermarkets are planning to open enough new stores in the years ahead, to cover 500 football pitches. If all the plans are approved, the UK’s supermarket trading space will increase by up to 50 per cent, or to about 3,000 acres. The draft NPPF has weakened the ‘town centre first’ policy for supermarkets and has rather than putting the onus on supermarkets to make a case for opening in or near towns, the burden of proof that supermarkets will cause harm to town centres, rests with local councils.  The reality of course is, that if this policy goes through into [...]

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    Leaving aside the financial incentives provided by developers to weaken the planning laws, I will stick to the quite astonishing comments uttered by ministers, supposedly intelligent ones, once the opposition started against the NPPF. As soon as the National Trust and CPRE started to object to the plan when it was launched for consultation during the first week of the summer holidays, Greg Clark came out all guns blazing.  He accused the NT of overreacting and scaremongering.  The old chestnut when an organisation that has cooked up a dubious plan wants to discredit someone who has a[...]

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    This is the most hopeful news we have received yet that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) must be changed to reflect the importance of the environment.  It puts enormous pressure on Greg Clark and George Osborne - the driving forces behind the plans - to conform with what the majority of respondents to the NPPF consultation have said, instead of reflecting the wishes of the developers, who have given the Conservative Party enormous financial donations and consistently argued in favour of the proposed weakened planning legislation. It also vindicates what I have been saying at[...]

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    According to planning blogger, Andrew Lainton, several sources are pointing to the 21 December as the day the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) will be released. It is unclear how much weight the document will be given in planning decisions once it has been published. Sources have also indicated that little will change from the first version, which was widely condemned by environmental groups and many residents across the country. If this is true the Government is simply being true to form.  The draft NPPF was released at the beginning of the summer holidays when ministers [...]

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    ‘Taking on the Plan’ was a carefully chosen title, reflecting the fact that our planning campaign has been based on policy, not politics. We don’t make a habit of criticising Government, but we couldn’t avoid making our position clear on the changes that were taking place in England as a result of the Localism Bill (now an Act) and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). And the response was amazing – we’ve received more signatures to our public petition than there are members of the Conservative Party. What’s wrong with the NPPF? The planning reforms at stake are [...]

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    The Planning Inspectorate decided appeals for more than 6,900 homes between July to September this year and allowed 55 per cent of them, representing a 16 per cent rise in approvals for residential schemes.  The rate was just 39 per cent from April to June. The success rate of appeals across all sectors decided by hearing also shot up from 38 per cent in the first quarter of this year, to 47 per cent during the last three months. The hike is being seen as evidence that the government’s pro-growth stance and the draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is already having an effect.[...]

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    The proposals are based on a survey in Aylesbeare’s Parish Plan, which was published around 4-5 years ago.  It found that there was some support for more development in Aylesbeare. Aylesbeare Parish Council has lodged proposals for 50 houses with East Devon District Council for the East Devon Local Plan process, which sets development levels in the district for the next 15 years.  To create this level of development the parish council is likely to be asked to develop a Neighbourhood Plan.  This is because East Devon District Council plans to grow villages by around five [...]

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    Many views were expressed over whether West Hill needed affordable housing, with the 50 residents present divided over whether the village would benefit if more low cost housing was built. Myself and Dick Beardsall gave presentations - me on the strategic overview of the Local Plan and what has changed since the discredited Local Development Framework bit the dust.  Dick’s presentation was more specifically about the implications of the development proposed for West Hill. Other issues raised were about the numbers of houses that could be built on top of the 35 allocated to the [...]

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    I was unable to attend the meeting as I was unwell, but the written response from the leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, indicated that EDDC is placing a high value on East Devon’s environment and would look into the issue. The East Devon Business Forum, which has had a significant impact on EDDC’s Local Development Framework, and in turn, the Local Plan, is a key consultee on any matter relating to the economy of the district, including planning - a stated priority for the forum. Only a couple of weeks ago, we heard that many birds are in sharp decline, including: partridges, turtle [...]

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    In the statement George Osborne sent a clear signal that the Treasury viewed the environment as a “ridiculous” barrier to economic growth and would be reviewing the UK’s implementation of the EU Habitats Directive which he claimed was “gold plated”. The Habitats Directive [Note 1] was established in 1994 under the previous Tory administration. In the West Country it provide safeguards from uncontrolled development to iconic landscapes as diverse as The Lizard in Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Somerset Levels and Moors, the Severn Estuary, Chesil Beach and the Dorset Heathlands.[...]

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    The field in question, the subject of an appeal by Devonshire Homes, is between Mallocks Close and Otter Close on the edge of the village near Coombe Cross junction. The two opposing legal teams sat facing each other, with the planning inspector, David Prentis (the same inspector who oversaw the Eastfield appeal) at the head of the room.  To the inspector’s left was a table and chair reserved for witnesses. The appellant’s barrister set out the grounds for the appeal which were:  - to demonstrate that the land was in a sustainable location - to challenge the [...]

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    The applicants, Strategic Land Partnerships, made a last ditch attempt to save their application at Ottery Road, which had been recommended for refusal last week by planning officers. In a letter received by EDDC planning department on Monday afternoon (5 December), the developers offered financial sweetners of almost £10,000 for provision of open space, as well as a further £10,000 for a study to look into drainage. The applicants also offered a 40 per cent affordable housing deal, at the last minute.  The planning officer’s committee report had stated that no affordable housing [...]

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    Planning officers had initially recommended the scheme for approval last month.  And then at the last minute the application was withdrawn from the agenda following receipt of a planning inspector’s appeal report for an adjacent piece of land (Eastfield). The outcome of the inspector’s report, which dismissed an appeal by Blue Cedar Homes for 50 houses at Eastfield, on landscape quality grounds, was that planning officers considered the application for 15 houses at Westhayes to be subject to the same criteria that the inspector had applied to Eastfield.  In fact, planning[...]

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    The attack – backed by organisations including the RSPB and the Campaign to Protect Rural England – is a significant embarrassment for David Cameron who claimed at the last election that his would be the “greenest government ever”. However, in letters to the Observer, green groups – including the umbrella organisation the Wildlife Trusts, which has more than 800,000 members – ridicule this claim and vent their fury over last week’s autumn statement by George Osborne. With the government outlining cuts in solar energy subsidies, reforming planning regulations and [...]

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    The document, which sets out plans for housing and economic growth over the next 15 or so years, can be viewed from this link: East Devon Local Plan You are able to view and comment on the plan until 31 January.  You can either comment at the end of each section by following instructions, or by emailing: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_dDGNJhZeqi'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/*]]>*/  Please get in touch with me if you have any queries and I will be pleased[...]

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    Instead, councillors claimed the solution to the growing problem of empty second homes was to ‘flood the market’ with more houses. And leader of the council, Cllr Paul Diviani appears to have changed his mind since backing a similar proposal at a Devon County Council meeting in October. I had initially lodged a Notice of Motion at a full East Devon District Council meeting on 12 October, calling on the Government to remove the council tax discount on empty second homes.  But at this meeting, no vote took place because leader of the council, Paul Diviani, requested the issue be [...]

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