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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Turning our backs on 2016. Raising a glass to the New Year!

As the New Year approaches, some seasonal left-overs require some imagination. For SOS they include the turkey of EDDC’s relocation project, and the mincemeat that was made of the relocation budget, for its uncertainty and overspends, by Opposition Councillors and members of the public*, at the final Full Council meeting of 2016. That meeting (21 Dec, at Knowle) is pictured below, viewed  from near the microphone stand used for public question time. (See link  below**, for comments on this seating / speaking/ arrangement.)

fullsizerender

With seasonal irony, Sidmouth Town Ward  Member, Cathy Gardner (Leader of East Devon Alliance), spoke of a revelation by Deputy EDDC Leader, Andrew Moulding as “a miracle”.  She was drawing attention to  Cllr  Moulding’s surprise statement a few days earlier, (rather oddly included in a press release on Sidmouth’s beach management plan), that the District Council’s relocation project is “cost-neutral”.  Cllr Moulding, looking serious and possibly flustered, did not respond, and disappointingly was not asked to do so by the Chair, Stuart Hughes. But councillors and the public alike will presumably want to know what change has brought about this new “cost-neutral” stance.

No doubt all will become clear as 2017 unfolds..

Happy New Year to all who have contributed to the Save Our Sidmouth campaign (There’s a reminder of actions and progress timetabled on the OUR CAMPAIGN page). 2016 has seen curtailed two major developments planned for the Sid Valley : a large Sidford Business Park on a floodplain, with highways problems; and at Knowle, a change from major employment land to restricted (over 60’s) residential use.  The outcome may result in a more appropriate type and scale of development to secure Sidmouth’s  future as a unique, balanced community and tourist town. But SOS is very aware that the Port Royal and seafront ‘regeneration’, in EDDC’s hands, will be key.

So let’s raise a New Year glass to continued active public support for our new EDDC local representatives; to the Neighbourhood Plan Team born of the refreshed Town Council http://www.sidmouth.gov.uk/index.php/neighbourhood-plan ; and to all other Voluntary Groups, notably the  Sid Vale Association http://sidvaleassociation.org.uk and Vision Group for Sidmouth http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk  , and the recently established Sid Valley Residents’  group https://www.facebook.com/sayNOtoSidfordBusinessPark/.  All contribute to ensuring that those responsible for re-shaping the Sid Valley, led by Cllr Andrew Moulding, and Deputy CEO Richard Cohen, will get things right.

*https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/12/22/eddc-relocation-has-hallmarks-of-a-dodgy-project-full-council-is-advised/

**https://saveoursidmouth.com/2016/12/22/eddc-majority-turn-their-backs-on-the-public-yet-again/


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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.