Save Our Sidmouth


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Appeal to councillors ”secretly sat on a few acres of land”, by senior EDDC officer

Ed Freeman, EDDC’s  Lead Planning Officer appears to have re-ignited potential conflict of interest in his e-mail to East Devon District Councillors, on 23 Feb 2017. In it, he says,”…if you are secretly sat on a few acres of land and would like to put it forward for development now is the time to tell us!”

The context of this appeal by Mr Freeman, is the preparation for a “Greater Exeter Strategic Plan” (GESP), with Exeter in partnership with Teignbridge, Mid-Devon, Devon County Council, and EDDC, for the period up to 2040.  He explains that it will “address large scale housing sites (around 500 homes or more) and employment sites”, along with associated road and rail networks, and that GESP “will ultimately supersede some of the strategy policies in the Local Plan”  www.gesp.org.uk.

This morning, Mr Freeman has issued a subsequent e-mail, assuring the public that “Engagement with stakeholders and communities will be critical to the success of the Plan”. He is unlikely to create confidence, given EDDC’s sorry record in this respect: the ongoing Knowle relocation mess is just one prime example.

Stuck with the taint of the Graham Brown affair, EDDC’s “call for sites” should be correctly handled. Complete transparency does not fit with hints that some councillors might be  “secretly sat on a few acres of land” .

Note from SOS: Some dangers of planning secrecy are clear from this example:

How did business-park on-a-Sidford -floodplain come to be in the Local Plan?

 


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EDDC claims Sidford employment site will still be developed….Are their claims watertight?

In today’s Sidmouth Herald, Cllr Phil Twiss (Con), states that reasons for refusal for the business park planning application are based on “detailed concerns” that “can all be overcome”.

Looking closely at the Highways report from Devon County Council, comments from EDDC local Ward members, the Sid Vale Association, Natural England, and the flood of others who wrote objections in the public consultation, Cllr Twiss’s opinion seems overly lightweight. The consultees’ and individuals’ comments, most solidly based on planning grounds, are registered on the EDDC website, under Planning Application ref 16/0669/MOUT.

Councillor Twiss was responding to a press release from the East Devon Alliance, copied below for your information:

‘The EDDC statement to the Sidmouth Herald (30th September 2016) claims the Sidford site will still be developed, because it is in the Local Plan. This is not necessarily the case, says Chair of East Devon Alliance (EDA), Marianne Rixson, who is also an EDDC Ward Member for Sidford-Sidmouth. She says “EDDC’s press office statement is inappropriate. It’s not EDDC’s land, and any application has to be measured against policy. Most importantly, the outcome of future planning applications should not be predetermined. Decisions on planning applications are made by the Development Management Committee (DMC), who must judge individual planning applications on Planning Matters (i.e. whether an application fits EDDC strategy and policy, e.g. on in-commuting). The Local Plan is only one aspect.”

The EDDC officer’s report on why Tim Ford’s planning application has just been refused, seems to corroborate Cllr Rixson’s point. It makes a clear distinction between a local plan allocation and a planning permission. EDDC’s statement apparently confuses the two things.

A Local Plan is not set in stone. It can adapt to ‘material changes’, such as the dramatic re-assessment of Highways problems, in Devon County Council’s late but welcome final report on this planning application (ref 16/0669/MOUT, Two Bridges Road, Sidford on the EDDC website). For those familiar with the narrow roads, rat runs, and frequent traffic chaos in the area, it makes interesting reading.’

Note from SOS: A video of traffic chaos on the access road at Sidbury can be seen on the Facebook page (right-hand column), Say No to Sidford Business Park, which was set up by Sid Valley Residents.The page details serious problems with the narrow access road from Sidford Cross (School Street), and the rat runs in Frys Lane and the significantly named Brook Road.


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Planning application for business park at Sidford is rejected

East Devon District Council has today refused permission for Fords’ application to develop a business park at Two Bridges Road, Sidford.

The reasons for refusal given on the EDDC website planning portal, are copied here for your information:

‘The Council hereby refuses permission to carry out the development described in the application and the plans attached thereto for the following reasons :

1. The application has failed to demonstrate how the quantum and mix of development and the parameters for its scale and massing could be incorporated into this rural location whilst reflecting both the local vernacular styles and reinforcing the existing landscape. Without robust landscape mitigation and an associated design code with adequate detail, the development would:

o result in harm to the landscape;
o make inadequate provision for green infrastructure; and

o fails to work sensitively with local habitats resulting in an over engineered appearance to the regraded stream and proposed flood attenuation ponds

It is considered that the proposal therefore fails to meet the requirement for the highest design and landscaping standards set out within the policy which allocates the site for employment development and fails to adequately respect the landscape which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and which should therefore be afforded the highest level of landscape protection. As such the proposal is considered contrary to national guidance and to Strategies 5 (Environment), 26 (Development at Sidmouth), 46 (Landscape Conservation), 48 (Local Distinctiveness in the Built Environment) and Policies D1 (Design and Local Distinctiveness) D2 (Landscape Requirements) EN5 (Wildlife Habitats and Natural features), of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013-2031.

2. The proposed development would use access routes that by reason of their inadequate road width (with unsuitable footway provision) and a potentially unsatisfactory junction, are unsuitable to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be generated by the currently proposed quantum and split of employment uses. In addition the directional split of traffic generation has also not been justified. As such the proposed development is therefore considered contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework and Strategies 26 (Development at Sidmouth), and Policies TC7 (Adequacy of Road Network and Site Access) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

3. Insufficient information has been submitted to justify the noise assessment and its findings that are contained within the Environmental Statement. As such it is not considered possible to accurately understand or assess the likely amenity impact that the development would have on near neighbours or secure appropriate mitigation. As such the proposal is currently considered contrary to Policies D1 (Design and Local Distinctiveness) and EN14 (Control of Pollution) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

4. No mechanism has been submitted to secure necessary contributions towards or the management and maintenance of both the hedgerow bounding the proposed cycle route and the surface water attenuation and drainage scheme proposed. In addition there is no mechanism to secure the necessary junction assessment in respect of Sidford Cross which is likely to require an improved signal system and which falls outside of the identified strategic infrastructure list associated with the adopted CIL charging scheme. As such the proposed development is therefore currently considered contrary to Strategy 50 (Infrastructure Delivery) and Policies TC7 (Adequacy of Road network and site access), EN22 (Surface run off implications of new development) and D2 (Landscape requirements) of the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2013 – 2031.

NOTE FOR APPLICANT

Informative:

In accordance with the requirements of Article 35 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 in determining this application, East Devon District Council has worked proactively and positively with the applicant to attempt to resolve the planning concerns the Council has with the application.

However, the applicant was unable to satisfy the key policy tests in the submission and as such the application has been refused.