• A protest march, a rap and some familiar faces …

    4th November 2012 | News | Claire
  • At the time of course, the LDF Panel meetings were still being held in secret and we were battling for months for the minutes to be made public.  Eventually, they were.

    What has changed in two years you might ask, given that there were thousands of written objections to the LDF, and it was revised (I sat on the panel that revised it) and has since re-emerged as the Local Plan.

    The answer is some things have got better.  The countryside protection policies are much stronger now.  The LDF scarily proposed to weaken all of them.  Even built-up area boundaries were proposed to be made ‘flexible’.

    Of course since the LDF was launched the Government launched the National Planning Policy Framework, which seemed to me to be a nationwide version of the EDDC LDF.  Although, it was amended for the better before its official launch in March, it still remains a strongly ‘pro growth’ document, which, in many instances, puts countryside protections in second place to development. 

    Fortunately, EDDC’s Local Plan has now changed for the better in some aspects, however, the overall level of development is largely unchanged, it has just moved about a bit.

    For example, Exmouth, which was due to get a whopping 3,000 houses, had 1,000 houses deleted from its allocation…. but the 1,000 houses were simply moved to Cranbrook.  Who could object?  There was no one living there at the time!  Now Cranbrook will be built with an extra 1,000 dwellings within its existing boundaries.  A bit of a tight fit you might think.

    Sidmouth has been dealt a bitter blow.  At our last panel meeting in March this year (Local Plan Panel), the Sidford employment land was in our agenda papers.  I had never seen it before and neither had other councillors, it seemed.  So all of the claims by EDDC that its consultation had taken years, cannot apply to the Sidford employment land because no one knew anything about it until about six months ago.

    But there will be time for making our representations – and that is firstly to the next consultation phase – to start imminently – and then to the planning inspector, him or herself – due to consider the document next August.

    But anyway, if you’d like a blast from the past, have a look footage from our (considerably smaller) march in November 2010. 

    You will note that poor old planning policy manager, Matt Dickins, was sent out to receive us.  The councillors all lurked indoors until the shouts for a councillor brought out Branscombe representative, Mike Green, who was a member of the then LDF Panel.

    View the Sidmouth Herald story and video HERE.

    You will see some familiar faces (not just mine) and hear some familiar themes!

    Photograph courtesy of Sharon Pavey:  Protesters gathering in the Knowle car park.