Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Knowle relocation project: visual impact of the proposed development

One of the main reasons for rejecting PegasusLife's application to develop Knowle was the visual impact:

The application was refused on the grounds that it was an overdevelopment of the site which would impact on neighbours and the character of the area;

9 December 2016 - East Devon’s Development Management Committee refuse permission to build 113-apartments at EDDC’s offices at Knowle in Sidmouth - East Devon

The appellant considers its proposal is quite alright:
Appeal lodged against refusal of multi-million pound redevelopment plans for East Devon's HQ | Devon Live

Especially in that it 'will sit comfortably within the parkland and townscape context':
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: PegasusLife grounds of appeal

This is not very convincing:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: >>> a far more imposing development than assumed >>> "in your face"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the setting of the Listed folly - and challenging the mass and positioning of the buildings
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: >>> a far more imposing development than assumed >>> "Until PegasusLife provide a proper Townscape and Visual Impact Statement covering all the views and perspectives on this massive development, (2.1 times the size recommended in the Local Plan), the DMC should not be asked to make a fair and accurate assessment of the proposal's worthiness for Sidmouth."

The Devon Live website carries a picture of how the development would impact on Sidmouth, from the Bickwell Valley:

Retirement village plan for East Devon Council's Knowle HQ rejected | Devon Live

Other photo-montages were made at the time.

Here is a montage of the view from Alma Bridge: the outlines are not perfect but the heights are accurate as demonstrated by helium balloon last October: 

Here is the  current view with existing roof line for comparison:

See also:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: planning application to be considered by District Council: Tuesday 6th December >>> planning officers brush aside planning policies

Sid Valley Bat Project: lower half of the Sid and shoreline: bat catching research session: Saturday 19th August

Things are well underway to track bats in the Sid Valley:
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Bat Project: White Cross: first bat catching research session: Friday 11th August

The next session is this coming Saturday - with a change of meet-up point:

Hi All,
I have changed the venue for our bat catching session to focus on the lower half of the river Sid and shoreline.
We will meet in the car park behind the swimming pool Grid Ref: SY 12795 87399  EX10 8BN in Sidmouth Town. The parking is free after six and we will still meet at 7:30.
Hope to see you there
Kind Regards

Louise Woolley BSc (Hons) ACIEEM - Ecological Services
22 Arcot Park, Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 9HP
01395 512536                  07905 418460

Sidmouth Bat Group.pdf

‘Creativity on the Coast’ at the Museum

We've had some very creative work showcasing the area's maritime heritage:
Futures Forum: 'Working the Sea' > celebrating Sidmouth's fishing heritage on film
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Seafest 2017: celebrating a maritime heritage >>> "Working the Sea": "This stunning film: fascinating and inspiring, funny and humbling is a powerful reminder how lucky we are on the coast"

The Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub have been busy again - working with the Museum:

Sea-inspired activities draw youngsters to Sidmouth Museum

PUBLISHED: 06:56 16 August 2017

Children enjoy getting creative with Sidmouth Seafest at Sidmouth Museum. PICTURES: Sarah Hall

Sidmouth Museum and Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub team up to show youngsters about the town’s coastal heritage

Creative youngsters enjoyed a day of activities learning about the town’s coastal heritage at Sidmouth Museum.
The tourist attraction teamed up with Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub to host the day, which attracted nearly 40 children. Louise Cole and Coco Hodgkinson, from the hub, volunteered to bring their ‘Creativity on the Coast’-based activities to the museum.
The young visitors tapped 
into their creative side through a range of activities, including tile rolling, card designing and star fish rubbing.

Therina Mulder, leading the museum’s young visitors’ section, set the youngsters a sea-based quiz tasking the visitors to find items around the displays.
She added: “It is about encouraging them to go round the museum and see what’s on offer and hopefully [they will] come back.”
Louise Cole, director for the coastal hub, said the event helped youngsters to learn about the town’s coastal heritage.
She added: “The museum is trying to do more activities for children over the summer. We took these coastal connections and had pictures for inspiration of seasonal fish with information about them. They could then design their own tiles and cards and it was really nice.”

Seafest activities for Sidmouth youngsters - Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

The limits of neighbourhood planning: how 'the DCC Scrutiny committee decision may have legal implications for an effective Neighbourhood Plan being implemented, not just for Honiton but for other affected towns in Devon who are also losing their community hospital facility.'

Honiton's hospital is about to close:
Hospital beds in Seaton and Honiton to close before end of August - View News
Bed closures at four Devon hospitals to begin next week | Devon Live
Dates set for Seaton and Honiton hospital bed closures - Honiton, Axminster and Seaton news - Midweek Herald

And a 'direct action' campaign has started up:
Honiton patients' group promises 'direct action' - View News

This follows on from a controversial decision by the County Council's health committee not to intervene:
Futures Forum: The future of Devon's hospitals >>> a decision NOT to refer plans to close hospital beds across Devon to the Health Secretary
Futures Forum: The future of East Devon's hospitals >>> District Council urges County Council "to stop dithering" and refer bed closures to the Secretary of State

The vote is now open to scrutiny:
Conduct of health committee members investigated by Devon council | Devon Live

This all leads to the question of how much or how little local communities can really shape themselves.

This blog has looked at how neighbourhood plan processes have been stymied by developers:
Futures Forum: The limits of neighbourhood planning: how developers can 'outmanoevre'

It now seems that the council decision has thwarted the Honiton neighbourhood plan process:

Will it be back to the drawing board for Honiton’s neighbourhood plan?

HONITON’S Neighbourhood Plan could be facing an uncertain future after the decision to close the inpatient beds and temporarily close the maternity unit at the hospital.
Neighbourhood Plan committee member Stephen Kolek says that after all the work the group had done in collecting facts and figures to help shape the Neighbourhood Plan, the hospital regularly came out on top as a vital service to the town and one it couldn’t do with out.
Mr Kolek said: “I am very concerned how the effective closure of Honiton Hospital will have on the Honiton Neighbourhood Plan steering group’s ability to deliver a suitable Neighbourhood Plan for Honiton. The process is still in the early stages. However, the first round of information gathering via a public questionnaire asking residents ‘What did people want in their town?’ showed a hospital was joint top.
“The Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny committee decision on July 26th effectively closed Honiton Hospital and therefore leaves the next level of consultation for the Honiton Neighbourhood plan a much more difficult task.
“There may even be a case that the DCC Scrutiny committee decision may have legal implications for an effective Neighbourhood Plan being implemented not just for Honiton but for other affected towns in Devon who are also losing their community hospital facility.”
Mr Kolek says that through the process of developing the important plan, the town council has been very supportive but said that he was extremely disappointed that two former Honiton county councillors, Paul Diviani and Sara Randall Johnson, both voted to not refer the matter of closing inpatient beds to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and called it ‘a real stab in the back’ for the town and their ex-constituents.
“Did these Devon county councillors discuss their decision making with residents? Or did they make their decision on the basis of ‘I know best’. The Neighbourhood Plan is being put together by volunteers and we’ve collected the feelings of the people who have now been ignored.
“Cllr Diviani twice voted against the public’s wishes and yet had the gall to stand with residents on Red Line Day on April 1st in protest of the CCG’s decision.”
Cllr Diviani, who attended the scrutiny committee as the representative of Devon district councils, and Cllr Sara Randall Johnson, who was chairing the meeting and representing her ward of Broadclyst, have both clarified their views after residents from across the district expressed their anger towards their decision.
Cllr Diviani said: “My position on that scrutiny committee is by virtue of my being elected by the other leaders of all the Devon districts to represent the countywide views of the district councils (not just East Devon), a function I perform regularly both locally and in London (through the District Councils Network) where I represent the South West
“The major flaw appears to me to be the ever present ‘one size fits all’. Flexibility is key and our response should be the start. Attempting to browbeat the Secretary of State with a demand to overturn his own policies is counter-intuitive. I prefer the softer approach of asking him to rural proof our rural situation, before allowing any further reductions in service.”
Cllr Randall Johnson said: “I know there are many people who are concerned that the ‘new model of care’ and wrap around care – rapid response team might not be in place before the beds are closed. Members were reassured by the provider (RD&E) that no beds would be closed until the new service was in place and fully functioning.
“Over the coming months the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny committee will be holding NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and the RD&E to account by closely monitoring the implementation and delivery of the ‘new model of care’ to ensure each patient has a care plan that supports their rehabilitation and longer term wellbeing.”
Will it be back to the drawing board for Honiton's neighbourhood plan?

Brexit: and how to make a 'Green Brexit' work

There's been a bit of a tussle over the future of the UK's vision for its farming and countryside:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Fox eating chlorinated chicken
Futures Forum: Brexit: and paying farmers to make the countryside look beautiful

With several related issues on the horizon:
Futures Forum: Neonicotinoids @ Countryfile
Futures Forum: Brexit: and strawberries

Honiton MP Neil Parish is also the chair of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee - and he comments on government proposals:

We need to make a 'Green Brexit' work - Neil Parish MP column

By DanielClark | Posted: August 02, 2017

Brexit and environmental protections must go hand-in-hand.

The new Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has now set out his vision of a 'Green Brexit'. Last week, I pressed the Government on how this would work in practice.

The British countryside is among the most beautiful in the world - and we are fortunate enough to live and breathe it here in Devon. I am delighted the Government has re-stated its commitment to safeguarding our vibrant natural environment post-Brexit. It's something I have pressed Minsters on specifically in Parliament. Post-Brexit, we can now tailor policy to the needs of our precious habitats and wildlife, instead of following a one size fits all approach for 28 EU different countries. This is an opportunity we mustn't miss.

For instance, we must look to reform our agri-environmental schemes. These are payments to farmers to protect and enhance our environment. We need to ensure such schemes are simple and provide proper incentives to farmers. Take trees as an example. Trees are a carbon sink, a way to manage flood risk and a habitat for precious species. Landowners and farmers should be encouraged to plant more.

So, if we are going to achieve a 'Green Brexit', we need to cut bureaucracy and create incentives to protect our environment. The everyday environmental benefits farmers secure for us should be recognised, not taken for granted.

We also need to be hard-headed about how we use environmental payments and subsidies. Anyone who drives up and down the M5 will not be surprised to learn that we now have enough solar to power 2 million homes. But we should avoid using fertile and productive agricultural land for renewable energy generation.

English farmland is some of the best in the world and should be geared towards growing quality food and crops. Solar panels, for instance, are best placed on the 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial rooftops, where they will not compromise the success of our farming industry. I therefore welcome the fact that landowners are now being discouraged from constructing solar farms on the best and most versatile agricultural land.

The Government will soon be publishing its plan for the environment in the next 25 years. We should take heart at what we have already achieved so far.

Since 2010, the UK's greenhouse gas emissions are down 18% and our carbon emissions down 19%. We've introduced a 5 pence charge on plastic bags, decreasing their use by 83% in just two years. That means 9 billion fewer carrier bags distributed since the charge was introduced. Over a quarter of our electricity came from renewable sources last year, keeping the UK ahead of target on our renewable energy directives. We've also started phasing out coal-fired power stations, ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change and will soon be introducing laws to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads, thanks to some excellent work by my neighbouring Conservative colleague, Rebecca Pow MP.

We should be proud of our record so far – but now is the time to redouble our efforts and press the Government to continue its good environmental work. The Government's ambition to leave the environment in a better state than it was found is a noble one. But there is more work to be done. I want our water to be cleaner and healthier, our seas plastic-free, an even lower carbon economy – and urgent work on air quality.

As we leave the EU and create our own domestic environmental regulations, I will press the Government to commit to the highest possible standards. But if a 'Green Brexit' is going to be a successful Brexit - food, farming and the environment must not become competing interests.

We need to make a 'Green Brexit' work - Neil Parish MP column | Devon Live

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Regenerating Exmouth seafront: "the council have not done anything to progress the development of the site"

Things are not looking too good down at Exmouth's seafront:
Futures Forum: Regenerating Exmouth seafront: development vs World Heritage Site status

A point raised further in the media:
Fears raised about effect of East Devon District Council's Exmouth seafront plans on Jurassic Coast - Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal

With observations from East Devon Watch looking at the notes of the Exmouth seafront regeneration latest:
Exmouth Regeneration Board notes* – not all going to plan** | East Devon Watch

Meanwhile, campaigners have demanded 'a proper consultation so that we can come up with something that the public actually wants':

'Astonishing' revelation that Exmouth seafront site hasn't been remarketed yet for redevelopment

By DanielClark | Posted: August 11, 2017

Comments (4)

Save Exmouth Seafront campaigners have hit out at the 'astonishing' news that East Devon District Council have not yet remarketed the Exmouth seafront Queens Drive site for development since sacking the previous developers last summer.

The council's development management committee gave the green light in April by 10 votes to four to approve the £18million redevelopment plans which will transform the centre area of Queen's Drive, Exmouth.

The proposals include the construction a new watersports centre, a hotel with 71 bedrooms, a Minigolf centre, a restaurant, a café, including coast watch observation deck, a 250 space car park, and retail shops.

Phase two of the scheme, which in plans for a world class, environmentally friendly watersports centre in Exmouth are expected to soon be released for public consultation by Grenadier Estates, the council's preferred development partner.

But a Freedom of Information Request to East Devon District Council has revealed that phase three of the development – the proposed mixed leisure use site – has not been remarketed by the council since the sacked the previous developers Moirai Capital Investments of Bournemouth in July 2016.

Exmouth seafront Queen's Drive development site

East Devon District Council say that they want to ensure the public has a say on the development on these sites before they go back to the market, but Save Exmouth Seafront campaigners have said that they feel misled by the council and have raised questions about the overall development.

The family-run Harbour View Café and Chip Shop is set to disappear from the seafront after 40 years of trading at the end of September, and the family Fun Park will close at the end of August as a result of the plans.Nick Hookway, Save Exmouth Seafront spokesman, said: "It was really surprising to find out from the Freedom of Information Request that the council have not even remarketed the rest of the Queens Drive site. I question what the point of all these years of arguments and have been if the council have done nothing to remarket the site.

"Having found out that nothing will happen imminently, the people in Exmouth feel misled and are really wondering why the Fun Park and the Harbour View Café have to close this summer when it is clear that nothing will happen for years. We were left astonished by the news that the council have not done anything to progress the development of the site, particularly as they have had the planning permission for the development for a while."

He added: "Now is time to go back to the public and have a proper consultation so that we can come up with something that the public actually wants, as it should be up to them rather than the council to decide what happens to the site."

The Freedom of Information Request revealed that the council have not progressed the re-marketing of this site since July 2016 when they sacked previous developers Moirai Capital Investments.

When asked by Devon Live why they have not remarked the site, a spokesman for East Devon District Council said: "The council's focus at the moment has been on securing its development agreement with the water sports centre investor, Grenadier Estates, and enabling them to bring their plans to public consultation in the autumn. Before we go back to the market for Phase 3, the former Fun Park and café sites, the council has committed to developing a new leisure and mixed use vision for these sites. We want to make sure that the public and business has a say in what happens on the remaining sites before they are marketed."

Phase two of the development, the proposed watersports centre, is not connected to phase three of the development. Grenadier Estates, the council's preferred development partner for the watersports centre, have said that they are committed to sharing their plans with the community and will hold a consultation event with the public before a formal planning application is submitted.

Save Exmouth Seafront campaigners are also urging both East Devon District Council and Grenadier Estates to re-consider the building of a Water Sports centre after concern that its location will 'threaten the entire existence of a World Heritage Site'.

When planning permission was granted in April, a timeline of development as to what will happen next was revealed, although timescales may have slipped since then.

'Astonishing' revelation that Exmouth seafront site hasn't been remarketed yet for redevelopment | Devon Live


Sidmouth Food Festival >>> this Saturday 19th August!

Sidmouth's second food fest starts up again this weekend:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Food Festival >>> Saturday 19th August

With more info here:
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Food Festival - calendar
Vision Group for Sidmouth - Food Festival - more info

And a piece in the latest Herald:

Sidmouth and Ottery breaking news and sport - Sidmouth Herald