• She interviewed a jetlagged John Withrington from Feniton Action Group about the enormous pressure Feniton is under from developers, who are being given a helping hand by the National Planning Policy Framework.  Mass development in Feniton, or anywhere else for that matter, will swamp local schools, medical services and wreck beautiful countryside in the process. Almost 300 new houses are on the table for a decision currently, with two planning applications scheduled for the Tuesday 2 April development management committee meeting. There are reliable rumours however, that other landowners[...]

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    Question 1On 27 March this council, along with many others, could lose control altogether of being able to determine any planning application using its adopted Local Plan, following the rules set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Will the leader be making representations to central government, requesting that this date be deferred by at least a year to allow councils across the country to get their Local Plans up-to-date? Written answerThis is a matter affecting all local planning authorities. Government is well aware of this issue.  It has set out its policy in the National [...]

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    The debate was part of the budget and was agreed after leader, Cllr Diviani had spent 10-15 minutes outlining how little money the council had to spend because of the government’s withdrawal of a massive 30 per cent of its funding. “Special budget items” had been debated by EDDC’s scrutiny meeting in January, where myself and Roger Giles, along with several other councillors, had expressed real concern about the justification for spending such a large amount of taxpayers money on a website which is at least adequate. Last night I outlined the concerns of the scrutiny [...]

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    The decision is fraught with controversy and at last night’s full council meeting, there was doubt cast on whether the development management committee would even be quorate, as Cabinet councillors and those who have attended relocation working group meetings, are advised that they could have compromised their impartiality and should not take part in the debate or vote. The meeting starts at 2pm, but it is advisable to arrive early as hundreds of people are expected to crowd into the council chamber and into the nearby committee room, which will receive a live feed on a screen, from the [...]

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    East Devon also has a major problem with second homes that are empty most of the year. Around 3000 houses fall into this category, with negative implications for affected communities - including shops and pubs closing and a dying sense of community. The conservatives answer to the problem?  Just build more houses! The motion (an excellent initiative) was supported by the full council.  The story is here and below - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1173022/cornwall-calls-planning-action-second-homes/ [...]

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    The story is here and below:  http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/East-Devon-District-Council-accused-plan/story-18276163-detail/story.html#axzz2MBUIfz3B Campaigners against controversial plans to sell a council headquarters have questioned whether the local authority should make the decision on the scheme. Senior members of East Devon District Council faced a series of questions at a meeting last night over its plans to abandon its Sidmouth offices. At the meeting, at the Knowle House offices, the council was accused of having “blinkered ambition” in wanting to transfer its central [...]

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    Journalist, Nicola Stanbridge, is visiting the village as part of a story concerning the impact of the National Planning Policy Framework, which could cause Feniton to grow by almost half - certainly it will if the current planning proposals that are on the table are all approved, which is quite possible. I will blog again once I know when the story will be aired, which will probably be in the next day or two.

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    130,000 people have already signed the online petition against the worrying revelations, which was circulated on Monday - the latest news is that Mr Hunt is wobbling…. Read the email from 38 Degrees below: .............................................................................................................. A new fight over NHS privatisation has just begun. Jeremy Hunt is trying to use new powers, hidden within last year’s controversial NHS laws, to force local GPs to privatise more health services. [2] This is one of the things we were afraid might happen - and now our [...]

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    The letter to Feniton Parish Council from the developer comes as two separate planning applications of 120 houses and 32 houses are expected to be determined at EDDC’s development management committee in April. Earlier this month, councillors on the development management committee endorsed a proposal to weaken planning policies to allow more development in the district, following two appeals being lost at Feniton and Ottery St Mary, on the required five year land supply. New rules under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) means that councils that have had a long-term problem [...]

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    Country-lovers across the region have been celebrating this week after it was announced that important areas in what is generally recognised as one of the most beautiful parts of Britain have been handed over to a charity in perpetuity. Vociferous objections were raised nationwide one year ago when Somerset County Council declared its intention to sell-off large swathes of the Quantock Hills, which was the first place to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. But now 400 acres of the council’s holdings on the ridge – which was much loved and written about by [...]

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    The story is reported by the Midweek Herald here and below: - http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/news/axminster_carpets_parkland_group_drops_homes_action_1_1953159 Green campaigners abandon legal challenge to carpet factory’s money-raising scheme for 400 houses at Cloakham Lawns. Green campaigners have dropped their legal challenge to the Cloakham Lawn housing development to give Axminster Carpets the “best chance of being rescued from insolvency”. The Save Our Parkland (SOP) group has abandoned a planned court appeal after hearing the delay in selling the land was proving to be [...]

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    Question 1 On 27 March this council, along with many others, could lose control altogether of being able to determine any planning application using its adopted Local Plan, following the rules set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Will the leader be making representations to central government, requesting that this date be deferred by at least a year to allow councils across the country to get their Local Plans up-to-date? Question 2 Minute 51 of the Development Management Committee meeting of 5 February concerning the five year land supply relates to a crucially important [...]

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    Peers and charities fear a change in the law will allow the Government to “fast track” fracking against the will of local communities. The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, could allow exploration for shale gas to be considered as of “national significance”, meaning the Government can override local authorities to grant planning permission. The National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the Town & Country Planning Association, Wildlife Trusts and Greenpeace have joined up to fight the change in the law. [...]

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    And it won’t just affect East Devon.  It is thought that 27 March 2013 could trigger a developer’s paradise in around one third of council areas in England – see article from Planning Resource - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1163956/Survey-reveals-NPPF-transition-fears/ Up until now I have been reluctant to use the term “planning free-for-all” in relation to the five year land supply shortfall and its implications for East Devon, but 27 March will prompt me to reconsider my position. The five year housing land supply problem relates to housing alone and EDDC’s [...]

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    Normal practice is that the appellant pays their costs and EDDC funds its defence. Regular blog readers may remember that last August, EDDC’s development management committee approved Kelly’s application to build a tiny bungalow on a small piece of land she owns near Tipton St John. The news that Kelly’s application had been approved seemed to signal the end of years of fighting for the right to live in a caravan on the land, which is screened from the road by a 30ft high hedge. But in a bizarre and possibly unique move, Kelly’s application was brought back to the [...]

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    Mr Algar explains:  “In my life as a journalist, I discovered that making an important point in a semi-jocular way was more effective than just shouting. “For some time, like so many people, I have been concerned at local authority decisions and the way in which they are made. Consequently, I created Woodfield Magna, which, initially, unknown to its residents, was facing a serious combination of big business and some corrupt local politicians determined to change the village for their own commercial gain.” Mr Algar describes his book below: [...]

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    The full story, from the BBC website, is here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21544943 and below…................................................................................................................................................................................ The Home Office did not have “sufficient resources or the level of expertise” required to run effective police and crime commissioner (PCC) elections, electoral staff have said. The Association of Electoral Administrators criticised the timing of the first PCC elections in England and Wales, which [...]

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    Personally, I have never accepted this term and cringe when I hear people say “I am not a NIMBY, but ...” because this is exactly what developers and politicians want.  People feeling guilty and apologetic about objecting to development - like it is somehow selfish.  After all, the last planning minister Greg Clark, and the current one Nick Boles, are free and easy with their NIMBY jibes, supplementing them with perjorative remarks about how selfish NIMBYs are. It is an interesting concept though and I would be interested to know what you think.  Does the term NIMBY[...]

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    The ruling shows that the damaging effects of the National Planning Policy Framework are becoming more and more widespread throughout the country.  National planning mayhem is well on its way.  And with it large-scale environmental destruction The story is in Planning below and here - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1171002/pickles-approves-300-gloucestershire-homes/  ..................................................................................... Plans for nearly 300 homes at two separate greenfield sites outside Tetbury in Gloucestershire have been approved by the[...]

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    A LEADING East Devon Councillor has reacted to news that one of the district’s oldest and most respected employers – Axminster Carpets – is proposing to appoint administrators. The company, formed in 1755 and a global brand in the supply of carpets to sitting rooms, board-rooms, hotel rooms and even airlines, trains and shipping lines, announced today (Wednesday 20 February) that it is in financial difficulties. Councillor Andrew Moulding, Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council, and also Mayor of Axminster, was commenting on the revelation that one of East Devon’s biggest [...]

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    This is despite the gardens having public access and a significant economic impact on Sidmouth, should the offices move to Honiton, including the potential loss of up around 70 jobs to Sidmouth.  But after reading the officer’s report - Friday 1 March - I would consider this a considerable understatement. Officers’ justification to approve the application is summarised below: - The proposal does not adversely affect the privacy or amenity of neighbouring properties. - The design and external appearance of the proposal does not harm the visual amenity of the site and [...]

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    This time the government are trying to do away with our right to light.  It is one of the key basic planks of permissable objections, in that it is taken seriously.  It isn’t a clear cut case currently for refusal now though, with arguments over whether the loss of light is significant or not.  I have lost a couple of cases recently where it appeared that there was an obvious problem.  Councillors on EDDC’s development management committee did not agree, however. But minister say that meddlesome objectors are using this right to light, to delay [...]

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    In Chris Huhne’s old constituency of Eastleigh, the LibDem controlled council does not have the pre-requisite five year housing land supply, and has just approved an application for 1,400 houses on a greenfield site.  There is no allocation for the scheme in the council’s Local Plan but planning officers recommended approval, presumably because of the lack of a five year housing land supply.  Enter high profile political row between Tories and LibDems, each blaming the other for the state of planning and the district getting 1,400 houses it didn’t want. Planning [...]

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    The planning application has, controversially, been submitted by EDDC… and will be determined by EDDC councillors on the development management committee next Friday (1 March). EDDC says it has to build over the Knowle gardens to be able to afford to build new offices at Honiton.  Councillors claim that the maintenance costs of staying at Knowle are too much and that the move will be cost neutral….. over what time the move would be cost neutral it is unclear, however. Councillors continue to claim no decision has been made to move to Honiton, yet well over £300,000 of [...]

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    On Saturday morning (16 February) a large group of people from across East Devon, met in the appropriately named, “Dissenter’s Chapel” in Sidmouth. They got into groups to talk through certain problematic issues, such as the five year housing supply issue, as well as Freedom Of Information responses, the National Planning Policy Framework and forthcoming elections. It was an incredibly inspirational morning spent with intelligent, determined, like-minded people and I predict that the East Devon Alliance (EDA) will make a big and positive difference in our district and very [...]

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    The association is asking for comments on the layout and content of the site, which they say is still work in progress. You can view and comment on the site here at http://www.westhilldevon.org.uk

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    Just 11 people attended the meeting on 13 December ... BUT when the EDDC councillors and officers are discounted, it leaves just six business people, including EDBF vice-chair, Roy Stuart, Crealy owner, Chris Down, Bill Murray from Devon Contractors and Tim Ford of Fords of Sidmouth.  Greg Page-Turner from the Federation of Small Businesses and Val Baker from the Blackdown Hills Business Association were also present. Things seem to have changed a lot since the EDBF was at the height of its influence with EDDC in 2007, when the group dismissed an independent report on industrial land and[...]

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    And last Wednesday (13 February), saw a whopping 50 per cent increase in sales, says proprietor, Kevin Tratt. He said:  “We are seeing people we haven’t seen for years and the customer count on Wednesday was up by 50 per cent, compared with a normal Wednesday.  People weren’t buying steaks so we don’t think it was Valentine’s Day sales.  There is a lot of conversation about the horse meat scandal.” “We hope to keep around 20 per cent of the increase in customers we are seeing.” Mr Tratt buys his meat from within a 10 mile radius of[...]

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    At the meeting, which takes place on Wednesday 27 February, EDDC has decreed that one of the most momentous decisions in recent years doesn’t even require ratification by the full council. The minutes of the development management committee are below.  You will see a star next to the relevant agenda item - 51.  This means that the decision has already been taken and no councillor at full council can propose any amendment to the resolution.  Nor does any vote have to take place in order to confirm the decision. Non committee councillors and members of the public were banned[...]

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    On Tuesday 12 March at 6pm, councillors will reconvene to have their next meeting.  It will be just the second meeting in six months, following the decision made at the September overview and scrutiny committee meeting, to set up a scrutiny process for the forum. And it will be seven weeks after the 23 January meeting, which was cancelled due to snow. Why not have a meeting in February I hear you ask?  There’s too much on apparently. The process so far has been far from smooth, with incorrect minutes, an incorrect scope, weeks of unnecessary delay and agendas that bear no [...]

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    Sadly, if the West Hill Royal British Legion club doesn’t find the money to replace its roof, it may have to close.  Huge efforts from the club’s committee have been made to encourage more people to use the facility, including holding many events at the Legion, such as last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and a community New Year’s Eve Party.  Monday night is now Film Night and a big breakfast is held quite regularly, which is a really nice social occasion.  Community helpers have also spruced up the interior of the building. More people are now [...]

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    The story, in today’s Western Morning News, is below and here - http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Backbenchers-rally-overturn-hunting-ban/story-18143537-detail/story.html#axzz2Krh9Rv4U ................................................................................................................................. A group of backbench Tory MPs are drumming up support for a repeal of the hunting ban before the next election. Devon MP Neil Parish is among a core of Conservatives who want the Hunting Act overturned, but are anxious to secure enough support before going to a Commons vote. [...]

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    I have to confess to being a bit stumped by some of the questions, including why are our water rates so high?  And how successfully is the EU managing the financial problems? Other questions ranged from local issues - “why can’t we have lighting in the Byes”, right through to bigger national issues such as gay marriage and discounted bus travel for students - a question which has continually dominated the three political speed dating events that I have attended. Others wanted to know what my biggest achievement had been, what my role was within the council, what I [...]

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    Cllr Giles made the statement verbally and as part of his written report, at Feniton Parish Council’s meeting, which took place on Monday (11 February) evening. In the past month, it has been confirmed that virtually two thirds of the funding for the village’s flood defence scheme has been allocated, subject to match-funding. Cllr Giles comments come following many months of Feniton’s EDDC councillor, Graham Brown claiming that the only way Feniton can achieve a flood defence scheme is by building hundreds of extra houses to pay for it. Cllr Brown, a planning consultant and builder, was [...]

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    The comprehensive story mainly relates to the victory flags flying on land next at Higher Ridgeway and features in today’s edition here - http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Anger-developer-s-insensitive-victory-flags/story-18125148-detail/story.html#axzz2KfwcmYRE But Redrow Homes promise to the town council was that the developer would transfer OWNERSHIP of the allotments to the town council, not that it would continue to allow the council to lease the land! What kind of commitment is that?  Quite understandably, allotment holders are now worried about future of their vegetable plots. On[...]

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    The committee, which has been beset by one problem after another such as: - incorrect minutes - stating that councillors were going to scrutinise business in general - an incorrect scope - relating to scrutinising business in general - not being allowed to talk about the issue of biggest public concern - planning - not being allowed to scrutinise EDBF at all (see whitewash agenda from 23 January) - EDBF chair and vice-chair applying pressure to the chief executive on the membership of the committee .... ...it now suffers from a new problem….. ..... being able to meet at all!  The [...]

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    “Dear All, May I just say that the quality of debate yesterday was excellent and you followed a logical path in your deliberations. Perhaps if the BBC had covered your meeting, they might raise the standards of “The Planners”! Mark (Williamson) – your handling of the obvious (if sad) politicking over the housing numbers was masterly, restrained and a credit to the Council. There will be criticism over “democratic deficit” in terms of the rules of debate, but that is sadly, what we have come to expect. Well done! Paul” Read more here: [...]

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    During Redrow Homes planning application’s consultation phase, the developer promised to gift the allotments to the town council, thereby giving residents and councillors peace of mind over their future. Residents now fear that the developers may have set their sights on building over the allotments, in addition to building over two fields. Redrow won an appeal to build 130 houses on grade 2 agricultural land, between Butts Road and Higher Ridgeway in December, amid much controversy. Ottery St Mary Town councillors and EDDC ward member, Cllr Roger Giles have expressed their anger over [...]

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    Construction is to start on 93 new flood defences in England this year to improve protection for more than 64,000 homes, the government has said. The largest new scheme is an £80m coastal defence at Rossall, Lancashire, to improve protection of 7,000 homes. The government says some schemes will also help growth, suggesting a £50m river defence in Leeds city centre would result in 18,000 new jobs. Labour said that spending on defences against flooding had fallen. Defra said that it expected 165,000 homes to be better protected by 2015 - some 20,000 more than its previous target. Environment [...]

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    Dear Mr Williams Five Year Land Supply and Planning Policy I refer to the report by Mr Dickins to the Development Management Committee on 5 February and the debate that followed. I hope you will excuse my writing directly to you on a planning matter but the issue has such wide implications that I thought it appropriate. We understand the very difficult situation the Council now finds itself in and how this has come about. However, the potential damage to our District which may be caused by simply accepting the situation (as the DMC has done) is so great that we believe that the Council, with [...]

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    The Local Government Association (LGA) has been asked to start a national debate by EDDC, on this issue, following a motion I lodged at the December full council meeting. The news that the LGA executive will consider the issue at its meeting on 16 May, was communicated to councillors via this week’s Knowledge - here http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/the_knowledge_1_february_2013_issue_36.pdf . At the LGA’ s executive meeting it will be decided whether the motion goes forward to be debated by the General Assembly, alongside other motions submitted. Here is the link to the blog that [...]

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    With the sleet falling outside, it was standing room only in the council chamber, with over 150 people packed in to hear the debate on the five year housing land shortfall.  At the start of the land supply agenda item the chairman stated that there would be no public speaking and nor would any non-committee councillors be able to speak. I raised my hand and stood up, at the same time as Feniton Action Group’s Dr John Withrington said that he wanted to make a “point of order”, which the chairman allowed. Dr Withrington challenged the refusal to allow public speaking, holding aloft [...]

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    Myself and Cllr Roger Giles met with Mr Swire today, following a letter we sent him at the beginning of the year, detailing our deep concerns about EDDC’s planning policy, following two lost appeals at Feniton and Ottery St Mary last year. In a meeting that lasted about half an hour, we set out the complex and worrying picture of what has happened in East Devon, where we are with the EDDC Local Plan and what role the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has played in the unfortunate situation that EDDC now finds itself in. We also updated Mr Swire on EDDC’s response to the [...]

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    The report is about EDDC’s development management committee meeting, starting at 2pm tomorrow, which recommends that planning policies be weakened to allow many more planning applications for housing to be approved, following two major appeals being lost at Feniton and Ottery St Mary last year. Matt Woodley and his team with BBC Good Morning Devon, kicks off at 6.30am, finishing up at 9am.

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    More Devon mothers are choosing to give birth at community hospitals or at home. NHS figures show the number of women giving birthing at Devon’s award-winning community birthing services has gone up by eight per cent in the last year. This follows changes made in 2010 to the way maternity services were organised for women giving birth at home and at the community birthing units in Honiton, Okehampton and Tiverton. As part of the changes new mothers have midwifery support in the community, with midwives available on call at night, so they are also available where needed, either at hospital or[...]

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    3 February 2013 Dear officers and development management committee members RE: Five year land supply – paper to Development Management Committee – 5 February 2013 1. We have read Matt Dickins’ paper on the five year land supply situation, contained within the 5 February development management committee agenda papers, with great concern. 1.1 We fully appreciate the very difficult position in which EDDC finds itself, following the two appeals at Feniton and Ottery St Mary and we understand that the planning policy team is doing its best to take action in an attempt to mitigate future [...]

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    It was over two years ago that I read a national newspaper’s alarming headline, that the government was planning to sell-off our publicly owned forests. Campaigns kick-started everywhere to try and prevent this from happening, amid fears that the public would end up being locked out of our woodlands, once they fell into private ownership. Or worse still, that the trees along with all the life they support, would be felled to create golf courses or holiday parks. Ministers initially claimed that this was a load of baloney.  However, I suspect what they were telling us was actually [...]

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    The piece of land between Higher Ridgeway and Butts Road is now sporting three enormous flags with Redrow branding, presumably to advertise their forthcoming housing scheme. Residents of Higher Ridgeway, who lost a hard fought battle against the scheme, which is now seen as one of the most controversial appeals ever allowed by a planning inspector in East Devon, are aggrieved about the flags, branding them “victory flags.” They have questioned whether Redrow Homes are allowed to erect such large advertising signs without planning permission. Interestingly, a resident who lives on [...]

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    I wonder how they will distinguish between genuine comments from members of the public and developer submissions - especially when at least one of those in charge of this project… is a developer! Here is the story in Planning - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/bulletin/planningdaily/article/1169299/government-launches-planning-red-tape-challenge/ ...and the full story below:............................ Businesses and members of the public are being asked by the government to nominate planning regulations to be changed or removed in the latest stage of a deregulation drive. The latest [...]

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