• Lawyer: EDDC planning process was subverted by councillors

    22nd January 2013 | News | Claire
  • Save Our Parkland campaign group lodged a legal challenge against EDDC’s approval of the scheme at Cloakham Lawns, which was granted permission in September 2010, using a draft planning strategy, which was still out for public consultation.

    The Local Development Framework received considerable public criticism because of its level of development and weakening of countryside protections. 

    Controversially, councillors sitting on the Local Development Framework Panel in 2009 instructed the applicants to bring forward their planning application forward early, in advance of the finalisation of the document.

    This practice (asking developers to bring forward early planning applications), took place at least twice, possibly more, during the preparation of the plan, and was heavily criticised by the Planning Advisory Service, brought in by officers to review the Local Development Framework process.

    On the Cloakham Lawns legal challenge, last week, news came that a judge had ruled in favour of EDDC.  But reacting to the news, Save Our Parkland’s lawyer, Charlie Hopkins, said:  “The main flaw in the judgement is that whilst it’s perfectly acceptable for officers to enter into pre-application discussions on applications, it’s quite another for members of the body responsible for the emerging plan not only to invite developers to put a proposal to them (as opposed to the professional officers), but to then effectively subvert the plan process by “encouraging”  an early planning application.

    “Not a question of prematurity as EDDC put it, but placing the interests of a private company (Axminster Carpets) above the interests of the wider community (as we have seen so many times in East Devon).”

    Mr Hopkins said that the group’s barrister, David Wolfe, has advised that there are grounds to appeal.