• Hugo dodges The Thorny Question and blames EDDC for speculative development

    23rd February 2015 | News | Claire
  • Around 100 people turned out to hear Mr Swire’s views on their village being swamped with housing developments, which would grow the village by over 100 per cent, if approved, or allowed on appeal.

    Mr Swire was being asked many questions about the government’s position on a range of issues associated with development.

    The repeated mantra from Mr Swire, was that East Devon District Council was solely responsible for the planning mess East Devon is in, and that every community should draw up a neighbourhood plan. A lengthy, time-consuming and expensive process.

    I said that I had dealt with planning applications for years and there was an elephant in the room – The national planning policy framework (NPPF) – which had not been mentioned, with its priority of economic growth, trumping the balance that used to be present in national planning policy.

    I asked Mr Swire what his plans were for amending it, but cut me off before I had finished speaking, chastised me for being late and returned to his mantra of the local plan being the problem and urging Clyst St Mary to put together a neighbourhood plan.

    I challenged him again on this, but he continued to evade the issue that is so toxic to the Conservatives – and to his election campaign.

    Before the NPPF was published in 2012, there was never a need for communities to work themselves to the bone on neighbourhood plans – because even when local plans were not up-to-date, there was enough protection for the countryside in national policy for communities to be relatively safe.  Not as safe as they would be if there was an up-to-date local plan of course, but nothing like the best ever get rich quick scheme for developers – that is the national planning policy framework.

    Mr Swire must be pushed on this and cannot be allowed to get away with not addressing this issue that is so central to East Devon’s future.