• West Hill Residents Association writes to EDDC chief executive

    7th February 2013 | News | Claire
  • 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 the support of the whole community, should and could take a much more aggressive stance in contesting something that is patently wrong.

    The principal issues on which we feel that argument can be sustained are (and I will try to be brief as they are well known to you):

    1. Disaggregation
    Notwithstanding the Inspector’s comments in the Butts Road decision, there are strong grounds for supporting the Council’s disaggregation approach. One which the Inspector did not address is that the West End allocation includes a significant allowance for Exeter overspill. To spread this across the whole District would not respond to the need. Nor would it reflect the rationale for developing this area.

    2. The impact of land availability on development rates
    There is no evidence that land supply is a limiting factor on current rates of development. The main factor is the economic situation. Thus, increasing the notional supply of land will not of itself lead to more development until the economic situation improves. Mr Dickins has pointed out the dire consequences of trying to buy our way out of trouble by simply granting numerous inappropriate consents.

    3. RSS Evidence Base
    The Inspector advocates the use of the RSS evidence base in preference to the more recent Roger Tym and Partners’ report as it is “arguably more robust”, despite the fact that we now know that the RSS evidence base is wrong, massively over-estimating the rates of population growth.

    It is our belief that the Butts Road decision is perverse and that, whilst we have to accept it, it should not form the basis of planning policy in East Devon and that we (the whole community) should do everything in our power to resist it. The lead must be taken by you but we all have a part to play:
    ? The Council acting through the Local Government Association and in concert with other Devon Districts facing a similar situation;
    ? Councillors (especially those belonging to the Coalition parties) through their national parties and by direct approaches to Mr Swire, Mr Pickles, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg;
    ? Parish/Town Councils, local branches of national organisations such as CPRE, local bodies such as residents’ groups, and individual residents through lobbying, letter writing and social media.

    In addition, the Council must do everything in its power to expedite housing development in the West End.

    The preparation of the Local Plan and the redevelopment of the Knowle have caused a deep rift between residents and the Council. We now have a great opportunity to work together to support Council policy and protect East Devon from the consequences that could arise from the adoption of the DMC recommendation.

    I had hoped to express these views at the start of the DMC proceedings but, despite a clear invitation to do so in the agenda papers and on your website, this was not permitted.

    Please let me know if you would like to discuss any of these points further. I have copied this letter or written in similar vein to Mr Dickins, Cllr Williamson, Cllr Diviani and other councillors, Mr Swire, CPRE and the local media.

    Yours sincerely,

    R E Beardsall