• Last week a flyer was delivered with the Midweek Herald, with details of proposals for between 160 and 200 dwellings, plus a possible care home. The flyer claims that ‘generous amounts of open space’ would be provided, as well as the retention of ‘important trees and hedgerows.’ The applicants are Prockter Lane LLP, represented by Simon Steele-Perkins and based at Greendale Court, off the A3052. Mr Steele-Perkins also represented Strategic Land Partnerships on an application for 120 dwellings on land south of Ottery Road, rejected by EDDC last year. A website - [...]

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    EDDC’s Planning Service is considering the implications of a developer winning a planning appeal for 50 homes on a site in Station Road, Feniton. A Government Inspector upheld an appeal by Wainhomes (South West) against the Council’s refusal of planning permission. The 50 homes near Louvigny Close can now be built, but there are 12 conditions attached to the permission, and 40% of the new homes must be ‘affordable’. At a Planning Inquiry in August, EDDC had maintained that the proposal would see homes built on a site in the open countryside that has not been allocated for house [...]

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    EDDC’s scrutiny committee last night was alive with accusations over conflicts of interest, influence over planning policy, and there were questions raised about the number of successful planning applications by business forum members, that were contrary to the adopted local plan. Some councillors expressed concern over what members of the public had to say about the business forum, but others were defensive and claimed concerned comments were nothing more than ‘innuendo and slur.’ Before the scrutiny committee began its debate it heard from 11 members of the public.  These [...]

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    Also covered were the conflicts of interest in relation to a lobby group, which is also part of the council. I was interviewed by Matt Woodley just after 7am.  Cllr Graham Brown was also on live at around 8.10 and EDDC Leader, Paul Diviani gave an interview last night to journalist, Sophie Pierce, who attended the scrutiny meeting.  Also on the programme were interviews with Tony Green, a Sidmouth resident who was co-author of a report (outlined in a blog earlier this week) that was submitted to last night’s scrutiny committee.  Chair of Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce, [...]

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    The application, which was originally submitted in 2010 was rejected, but was resubmitted in February this year, attracting dozens of objections once again. Many sets of new plans were put forward by the applicant, prompting complaints from residents who argued that there had been so many changes that it constituted a new application. Among the key objectors were Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and EDDC’s AONB officer, Chris Woodruff. I represented residents at Higher Metcombe, who were within a short distance, as the crow flies, from the proposed buildings. [...]

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    The planning inspector, who heard the appeal in August and published his verdict yesterday, has dismissed a number of important material planning considerations and instead smashed to pieces, a key plank of East Devon District Council’s planning policy. The appeal was against EDDC’s refusal of 50 dwellings on a greenfield site on high quality agricultural land.  The application was contrary to the adopted Local Plan, as it was for a field not designated for housing, being open countryside. The main reason for allowing the appeal came down to the inspector disliking the way EDDC [...]

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    Many designated beauty spots are at risk from the Government’s plans to make it easier for “sustainable development” to take place in the countryside, it has been claimed. Under the law, developers have a “duty of regard” for locations listed as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and are only supposed to build on such land in exceptional circumstances. But under new planning rules, which put more emphasis on development and less on the countryside’s natural beauty, more of England’s unique landscapes are under threat, according to a study by the Campaign to Protect Rural [...]

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    Introduction Cllr Troman’s referral of the East Devon Business Forum (EDBF) to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on September 27 2012 is very timely. Many informed residents of East Devon are concerned that the District Council is unduly influenced by the EDBF especially in the preparation of the controversial Local Plan which proposes massive development in the district including more than 15000 houses and over 180 hectares of industrial/ business parks with the consequent loss of agricultural land and parts of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A detailed study which we have [...]

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    An anonymous local authority planner sends an open letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles. Dear right honourable Eric Pickles MP I am writing in response to the planning policy changes you proposed last week. I was educated in planning during the boom years, courtesy of a bursary from your department’s predecessor at a time when there were big shortages in the numbers of planners. As such, I have been unprepared for this government’s barrage of animosity towards the planning profession. Though it has ranged from hypocrisy to downright contempt, your ministerial statement on [...]

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    A second council has voiced its objections to the government’s proposal to allow homeowners to build larger extensions without the need for planning permission, branding the plan a ‘recipe for disaster’. The Liberal Democrat-run London Borough of Sutton has joined Tory London council Richmond in speaking out against the plans to relax permitted development rights for three years. Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey branded the proposals “a recipe for disaster” which have not been properly thought through. “If this is allowed to happen it will set neighbour [...]

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    A flagship Tory council is opposing the coalition’s plan to allow householders to build larger extensions without the need for planning permission, warning that the measure would be ‘permanently damaging to our built environment’. Earlier this month, the government unveiled plans to relax for three years permitted development rights for extensions to homes and business premises in non-protected areas. Communities secretary Eric Pickles told MPs that that the change would extend the existing policy of allowing a domestic extension of three metres to allowing one of roughly six[...]

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    Cllr Graham Brown (Con) and East Devon District Council’s economic development officer, Nigel Harrison, will appear together at the meeting, following Cllr Graham Troman’s (Con) call for the forum to be debated by EDDC’s overview and scrutiny committee. Cllr Troman asked chairman of the scrutiny committee, Cllr Stuart Hughes for East Devon Business Forum to be listed on the committee’s agenda, following my motion lodged at the full council meeting on 25 July, where around 100 people were present to hear the outcome. I proposed that EDDC should withdraw its funding of [...]

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    The trunk road is the shortest route for those travelling from London and the South East, to Devon and Cornwall. More than 90% of commuters and businesses in the South West back an upgrade of the A303, a council survey has found. Motorists were asked about the benefits to dualling sections of the A303, which often has delays at certain points. The survey found 90% of businesses in the South West felt they would benefit from an upgrade. The same number also identified journey time reliability as a problem to their business. Councillor David Hall, from Somerset County Council, which is leading a[...]

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    EDDC Environmental Health Officers have been advised this week that some children playing in the River Otter at Budleigh Salterton have become ill with severe vomiting.  Tests have shown that they were infected with Norovirus, which is a highly infectious form of gastroenteritis. Signs advising the public not to bathe or paddle in the river have today (Friday) been put up near the mouth of the River Otter at Lime Kilns.  The virus can be spread from person to person, but in this case it is likely that the source was contaminated river water. Two other incidents have been reported [...]

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    According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the minerals giant has given £50,000 to the Tory party since David Cameron has been its leader. And the Electoral Commission website reports that the company has donated at least £150,000 to the Conservative Party since 2008. The sizeable donation places them in joint first place as being THE most generous donors from the construction industry, in the entire country. Aggregate Industries has been pushing to create a huge quarry on land on the edge of Ottery St Mary.  Devon County Council proposes to allocate the site - Straitgate Farm[...]

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    The six volunteers have been receiving training from police community support officer, Steve Trail (pictured) and started their work at the end of last week. Dick Beardsall, chair of West Hill Residents Association said:  “The first time we were out, last Friday, in West Hill Road, there was no one exceeding the permitted speed. “On Monday morning, at Bendarroch Road/Moorlands junction, seven people were clocked doing 36 mph or more, including a bus. A white transit van was spotted travelling at 46mph - in a 30mph limit. “The radar gun can pick vehicles up from quite a [...]

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    The event, which will be held at The Kings School on Thursday 18 October, will aim to demonstrate the benefits of such schemes to the local economy and also to residents health. The Tarka Trail in North Devon has given a huge boost to tourism in the area. Organisers - Kings School teachers Jo Elliott and Jason Wood, myself and Cllr Roger Giles, are aiming to set up presentations from individuals who have been involved in creating similar schemes locally and at the end of the meeting will be asking for volunteers to join a committee who will work towards making the scheme a reality. The task [...]

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    This application may appear on the face of it to be a Sidmouth issue.  However, the proposed loss of public open space and the implications for other major schemes waiting in the wings across the district should this application be approved, are significant.  This is a unique application which has been submitted by EDDC and will be determined by EDDC. I believe that it is in every EDDC councillor’s interest to carefully examine this application and the implications of its approval. 1. Planning policy The Knowle and its parkland are not allocated for housing in EDDC’s adopted [...]

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    These plans are simply likely to lead to large and ugly extensions that have negative implications on neighbours and on the surrounding area. When will ministers grasp that it is the banks lending money that is the issue, not the planning system. There are thousands of houses already approved, but are not being built because developers don’t think they will sell them.  Why don’t they think they will sell them? Because people aren’t buying because they can’t get mortgages. Reducing the requirement for building affordable houses will simply make the situation worse[...]

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    Nooks and Corners on page 14, reports John Betjeman’s comments on Sidmouth’s beauty and the campaign by Save Our Sidmouth, to retain the Knowle gardens as public open space. Also its fight to prevent a 12 acre industrial estate from being built between Sidford and Sidbury. East Devon Business Forum gets a mention as an unelected lobby group, representing big developers and landowners in the district.

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    But sometimes a really excellent service takes you by surprise. Last night at about 8.30pm I completed an online application form via the EDDC website, for a replacement outdoor blue food waste caddy, as mine had its lid broken. I was completely taken aback to return home after shopping this morning and find a replacement food bin, which must have been delivered at around 9.30am this morning! And a message was left for me by a Sita member of staff letting me know it was outside my door. That is really great service!

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    George Osborne is to chair a new growth implementation cabinet sub-committee, as Downing Street seeks to build momentum after the cabinet reshuffle. The government is due to make a series of growth announcements on Thursday, but the new growth committee, a sub-committee of the economic affairs committee, is designed to review roadblocks in Whitehall, local government and planning regulations holding back growth. Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, will act as the chancellor’s vice-chair on the committee. Meetings will also be attended by Kenneth Clarke, the former [...]

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    David Cameron will signal a fresh row over the green belt today with the appointment of a minister who describes opponents of planning reform as ‘hysterical, scare- mongering latter-day Luddites’. In a clear statement of intent, the Prime Minister will make prominent Tory moderniser Nick Boles his planning minister, despite mounting concern on the Conservative benches that tearing up planning rules could cost the party dear at the next election. Mr Boles has a track record as a radical thinker who wants to slash red tape to boost the economy. In a speech to the influential Tory Reform [...]

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    West Hill Residents Association is behind the ‘community speedwatch’ programme and has worked with Devon & Cornwall Constabulary to kickstart it. Complaints about speeding through West Hill are long-standing and frequent and the primary school children have also expressed their fears about being knocked off their bikes through inconsiderate driving. Given that the police service is undergoing swingeing cuts, it is not possible for officers to monitor speeds regularly.  The community speedwatch programme trains a team of volunteers to use radar speed guns to monitor the [...]

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    George Osborne’s new push to overhaul planning laws is unwelcome, misjudged and could end up reducing the number of houses that are built, the country’s most senior planning officer has said. Malcolm Sharp, president of the Planning Officers’ Society, spoke after ministers pledged another attempt to rewrite planning laws only months after major changes were announced. He told The Daily Telegraph that ministers had misjudged the problems of the property industry, saying that developers’ lack of finances and the weak state of the economy were the real obstacles to building, not red tape.[...]

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    A fresh Coalition assault on “ludicrous” planning laws will make it harder for residents to object to new developments and encourage councils to allow building on greenbelt land, the Chancellor has said. David Cameron and George Osborne insisted that more changes in planning rules were urgently needed as part of a package of reforms to restart growth in Britain’s stagnant economy. Rural campaigners warned that the latest proposals – which come only months after a widespread overhaul of planning laws – contradict government promises to protect the countryside. Legislation expected [...]

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    Honiton-based Bale Group, which runs 55 lorries and employs 120 people, said it would save £25,000 a year in fuel. Widening the road would provide an alternative route to using the M5 and M4 but campaigners say the plan would be devastating for the environment. The views of businesses will be presented to the government later in September. The A303 is one of the most direct routes from London and the South East to Devon and Cornwall, but single carriageway sections, including around Stonehenge, suffer from bottlenecks. Traffic also builds up after accidents on the alternative M5 route into [...]

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    George Osborne’s plans to relax controls on the green belt threaten to “paralyse” the planning system, experts have warned. The Chancellor is preparing to make it easier for councils to relax protections over green belt land, encouraging business growth and boosting the economy. Under plans being considered by Mr Osborne, the councils will no longer be required to hold a public inquiry if green belt land loses its protected status. The change would allow companies to site warehouses and other business units near to major roads and transport networks. Planning policy was thought to be a [...]

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