Friday, 11 April 2014

East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected: SOS responds

Following reactions to the failure of the Local Plan:
Futures Forum: East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected: more reports
today's Herald carried the response from the Save Our Sidmouth campaign:

Home - Sidmouth Herald

Here is the full press release from SOS:


A Government requirement is that each Planning Authority must have a Local Plan in place; if they do not all developments in that Authorities area are determined by the Government's own "National Planning Policy Framework", (NPPF), which is heavily biased towards development.

EDDC has been preparing the Local Plan for East Devon over the last five years, and it was submitted to a Planning Inspector in August last year. After errors in it were corrected at the Inspector's request, the actual inquiry into it started in February and finished in March. The Inspector has rejected it entirely and has demanded that EDDC do much more work to substantiate their proposals for development.

Some readers may have seen a Press release put out by EDDC which says that rejection of LPs is not unusual, that EDDC expected it and that "the Inspector has given EDDC more time to produce the LP".

This is a considerable glossing over of the truth, as outlined below

The criticism (put politely by Mr A Thickett, the Inspector,) is scathing.

He said "Unfortunately I do not consider that the Local Plan is sound nor at this stage can it be made so by main modifications", He criticised particularly;-

> The lack of robust justification for the number of houses proposed
> The "unreliability" of support documents.
> The failure to comply with the requirements of the NPPF
> That evidence was not appropriate and not up to date
> The failure to co-operate with neighbouring authorities
> The failure to assess the necessary 5 years supply of housing land
> The Plan was only valid for 12 years instead of the 15 years laid down by Government.

He will not comment on other issues, such as Sidford development, until EDDC resubmits their Housing proposals.

Thus the Local Plan has been rejected in its entirety. 

All in all, a shambles. Given that the housing figures underpin so many of the other strategic policies, especially of employment land, all of those will need to be revisited in the light of new assessment of housing figures. So effectively EDDC must go back to the drawing board, and carry out an up to date Strategic Housing Market Assessment.

EDDC have not yet issued a timetable for the production of the revised figures, but they will have to do so, since the Inspector has requested it. He says he is aware that" this may take some time".

Thus the District is dangerously exposed for the next year or so to the depredations of Developers, since we don't have a plan in place.

The Local Plan preparation demonstrates EDDC's shambolic and woeful performance. They have had 5 years to produce their plan, and now they are back to square one.

EDDC must now be considered to be seriously incompetent, rather than just incompetent as we thought before.. This has been demonstrated by their involvement and support of the biased Business Forum, by the disgraced former Councillor Brown's presence on the planning scene, by EDDC's error strewn attempt to get Planning for the Knowle, and by EDDC's original assertion that the 53 changes to the LP at submission stage were only "minor", an statement which was comprehensively rejected by the Inspector.

All of these incompetances (and many more I suspect if we only knew the truth), cost us, the taxpayers, a great deal of money

We need a root and branch reform of EDDC; the dominant Cabinet must be voted out, as must supine Councillors. The CEO should get a reprimand for permitting such incompetence on his watch, as should his Deputy and the responsible technical staff; otherwise we will continue to pay the price for their failures.

Save Our Sidmouth

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