• New zero tolerance approach for planning committee?

    12th June 2013 | News | Claire
  • More than half the committee sensationally walked out the room, following a contribution from a fiesty Exmouth resident.

    The resident, who said she was a former lawyer, refused to sit down again after her three minutes was up. She didn’t obey rules, she said and when asked to sit down, suggested someone might arrest her. 

    Nevertheless she was standing up, clearly about to leave and sit down when chair, Cllr Helen Parr and most of the committee, without a word, abruptly stood up and left the room! 

    The speaker went to sit down again and the committee returned some five minutes later.

    The meeting lasted a marathon 11 hours and the morning’s scheduled debate on Plumb Park, Exmouth, had to be rescheduled to the afternoon session.

    The two applications that were attracting so much attention were 170 houses on sensitive land between Seaton and Colyford.  The other contentious application was to build a large Premier Inn on Exmouth seafront.

    The Premier Inn was approved and the 170 houses between Seaton and Colyford was rejected by councillors. Both applications were recommended for approval.

    I was there to speak against four applications in my own ward :
    – Aylesbeare Inn – third dwelling on the pub premises) – APPROVED
    – Aylesbeare school field – change of use to garden, despite it being the selected site by residents (put forward by the landowner only a few months ago) for five houses in EDDC’s Local Plan – APPROVED
    – Agricultural worker’s dwelling in a field at Pitt Farm, Coombelake – REFUSED
    – A second dwelling at Barnfield House, Cadhay Lane – APPROVED

    A zero tolerance approach seemed to be order of the day as others who called out during the committee session were informed by the chair that they would be “removed” if they did not keep quiet.

    And vice-chairman of the committee, Cllr David Key, gave another one of his scolding speeches (he is prone to at planning committee meetings) – accusing Seaton protesters of being rude (which was nonsense) and of not caring about the football pitches (which I believe would have been provided through the new development).

    One Seaton resident’s attempt to ask about any involvement in the application by former disgraced EDDC councillor, Graham Brown, received a response by an EDDC officer, who read out a statement, which said that although ex-Councillor Brown chaired the local development framework panel between 2009 and 2010, all the proposals were debated by the development management (planning) committee, so were, therefore, scrutinised properly in the public domain. 

    Further questions by this resident about this subject, were swiftly squashed.

    The meeting made uncomfortable viewing at times and I did not think it was necessary to either suspend the meeting nor suggest that people might be “removed.” 

    I think what is forgotten at these sorts of meetings, is that people are feeling very emotional – angry, upset and quite often, helpless in the face of an incomprehensible planning system, where they have little influence. 

    A little more understanding wouldn’t go amiss.  I am quite certain the new hardline approach will simply create more resentment and even poorer relations between EDDC and its residents.