Tuesday, 8 April 2014

East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected: more questions

There has been considerable reaction following the Inspector's rejection of the draft Local Plan:
Futures Forum: East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected: further analysis



The Inspector’s conclusions:
> The proposals are unsound in every respect. EDDC has ignored all advice and evidence.
> East Devon has no Plan.
> The whole process has been flawed. The proposals were not evidence-based.
> No adjustments can be made. The Council must start again.
April 2014

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) means:
There is now nothing to stop developers doing whatever they want in the Sid Valley and AONB.
Paragraph 14 insists development proposals must be granted permission “where the plan is absent or silent or relevant policies are out-of-date.”
The people of East Devon will now have to prove that “any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits”
Paragraph 32 states that a refusal on highways grounds can only be sustained if the impact is “severe.”

The only people that can fix the NPPF are in Parliament.
Write to Hugo Swire at swireh@parliament.uk 
Robert Crick


East Devon independents submit raft of questions on local plan failure
Monday, 07 April 2014 2 Comments by Claire
Members of the independent group at East Devon District Council have submitted a raft of questions for Wednesday’s full council meeting, on the planning inspector’s resounding rejection of the local plan.
The local plan has been found unsound by government planning inspector, Anthony Thickett, who described the absence of an up-to-date strategic housing market assessment as a “serious failing.”
As a result of the significant delay in getting the local plan adopted, we are likely to see an avalanche of large-scale speculative planning applications.
Our questions are:
Cllr Ben Ingham
Housing Numbers
1 – How much do you think it will cost EDDC tax payers for us to provide up to date evidence of housing number requirements for the local plan and to prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment?

2 – Why did EDDC officers think it was acceptable to use the 2008 population and housing projections for East Devon when they were warned/reminded otherwise time and again by outside bodies and members of this council of these shortcomings?

3 – Will EDDC continue to carry on meeting the needs of Exeter City Council through housing allocations in East Devon or do you intend to start considering the needs of environmental sustainability within East Devon?
Five Year Land Supply 
4 – As we need to provide evidence of a five year land supply from the adoption date of a revised local plan, when do you plan that adoption date to be?

Housing Distribution
5 – Now the inspector has explained to officers that the formula P x 0.05 = housing growth is unacceptable for towns and villages, how do EDDC intend to work this out, other than by starting again right at the beginning?
Plan Period
6 – Why did EDDC officers think a twelve year plan was adequate to meet a fifteen year requirement?

7 – Do you believe that the new plan should target 2031 as the earliest final date of the plan?
Cllr Susie Bond
In light of the very disappointing news from Mr Thickett, when does the leader of the Council expect to have ‘all the boxes ticked’ for the Local Plan?
Please provide a full breakdown of the costs of the local plan and local development framework process, since it started in 2007.
Written answers will be provided at Wednesday evening’s (9 April) full council meeting. We will then have the opportunity of asking supplementary questions.
The meeting will start at 6.30pm and is held at the Knowle as usual.
1. At 01:58 pm on 07th Apr Sandra Semple wrote:
Just don’t be disappointed when you get the equivalent of:  “How dare you ask such questions, it’s nothing to do with you (unless we want to blame you for something) and anyway we don’t know - but in a relaxed way”.
2. At 03:24 pm on 08th Apr Jennie Elliott wrote:
I find it wholly unacceptable that EDDC seems incapable of writing a Local Plan that is acceptable to the Planning Inspector.  If I employed an entire department whose main function was planning expertise, it would be a very sorry state of affairs if they couldn’t deliver against a key objective. I suspect I would be sacked for incomptence!
Perhaps it is time that EDDC need to enlist external support, as the skill set would seem to be lacking from within their own office. To ask how much money has already been wasted is pertinent, as I suspect we could have reached a better position having employed external consultants who would perhaps have a) less politically motivated aspirations, b) the ability to get the job done in a timely and effective manner c) provide a plan which actually delivers against the requirements set out by Government -  and gives East Devon some hope of fending off large scale, inappropriate development.
It’s definitely time to ask some very serious questions: thanks to the Councillors listed above for stepping into the breach - let’s hope you get some answers!
East Devon independents submit raft of questions on local plan failure - Claire Wright


It’s all OUR fault that the Local Plan failed! We local people, campaigners and NIMBYs, not EDDC officers and councillors!


Some interesting comments further down this blog imply that it is local campaign groups and NIMBYs who have caused the draft Local Plan to fail. According to the commentators (who seem to have an awful lot of information about the planning process and the history of the Local Plan), former Planning supremo Kate Little really wanted 18,000 houses, NIMBYs, naughty protesters and local people in general wanted 12,000 and so the council settled for a figure in the middle of 15,000 – rather in the manner that they seem to have picked numbers generally for the Local Plan – without any or much evidence, according to the Planning Inspector.

If NIMBYs had not moaned and protested, the comments imply, the figure of 18,000 would have satisfied the Inspector and everything would be hunky-dory.

But let us look at the Inspector’s letter more closely. He says:

The 2007 SHMA was updated in 2011 and it was accepted by your consultant at the hearing that it was prepared before the most recent guidance was issued. The 2011 update is founded in part on survey work done in 2007 and so its reliability is questionable. Further, it only covers 2011 to 2016 and is criticised by your other consultants, Roger Tym and Partners who produced the 2011 Housing and Employment Study.
Now, where does the general public or campaign groups or NIMBYs figure in that statement? Could anyone by any stretch of the imagination blame anyone but councillors and officers for this basic error.

In fact, you could say that campaign groups attempted to assist EDDC in correcting its mistakes since they pointed out time and again that EDDC had not taken enough notice of the Tym report where these errors were flagged up.

He goes on:

…I give little weight to the County Council’s work given that it is county wide and is based in part on demand rather than objectively assessed need. I cannot, therefore, conclude that the figure of 15,000 is justified by up to date and appropriate evidence.

Once again, where would campaign groups or NIMBYs be in any position to influence that decision by officers and councillors of a completely different council? Anyone remember protests outside DCC?

And again:

…. As discussed at the hearing its seems most unlikely to me that parts of West Dorset and East Devon do not fall into the same housing market area. I see that according to the 2007 SHMA and 2011 update the Coastal Towns sub market area includes part of West Dorset and Lyme Regis in particular. However, none of the survey work appears to include any parts of West Dorset. …

Please can we see your evidence that the general public, campaign groups or NIMBYs were responsible for this error!

Further on he says:

… I am aware that the numbers allocated for villages in Strategy 27 are based on consultations with local communities. However, I am concerned that these figures are not based on an assessment of the ability of the small towns and villages to accommodate growth and that the blanket application of a 5% minimum growth is too crude a tool. Further, the post submission changes to Policy 27 strongly imply that the 5% will be treated as a maxima.

Yes, here we must admit we all played our part. Knowing that it was a “blanket figure” villages bit the bullet and generally agreed to the figures for the greater good. But was it their fault that the officers and councillors did not offer a more flexible tool for their needs?

He continues:

…The NPPF advises that plans should preferably have a life of 15 years. This is not fixed in stone but if adopted in 2014, the plan would only have a life of 12 years. …

Now correct me if I am wrong, but I did not hear any of the protesters at EDDC chanting

“What do we want? A 12 year nor a 15 year local plan! When do we want it? NOW!”

I would imagine a Freedom of Information request (probably to be denied) could come up with the person who thought this one up and it is unlikely to be anyone who was not at the time a councillor or officer!

Further on:

The last assessment of the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers was carried out in 2006 and only addressed provision up to 2011.

Again, does anyone recall a protest group shouting “Your gypsy and traveller information is woefully out of date – update it NOW”? Who decided the agenda for the SECOND LDF panel and left it off? After the first one made no progress whatsoever in its 3 year life under Councillor Brown who was, at the time, also Chairman of the East Devon Business Forum and MUCH more interested in that and visiting housing sites put forward by EDBF members!

Sorry, contributors, fight your corner – as you must – but blaming the public, protest groups and NIMBYs for procedural and mathematical errors in the Local Plan is taking things just a bit too far!

It’s all OUR fault that the Local Plan failed! We local people, campaigners and NIMBYs, not EDDC officers and councillors! | Sidmouth Independent News 

SIN commenter, Mark Eppels, seems to be wrong on a number of levels.. | Sidmouth Independent News

It’s all OUR fault that the Local Plan failed! We local people, campaigners and NIMBYs, not EDDC officers and councillors! | Sidmouth Independent News/#comments
Employment Land figures and other parts of the Local Plan NOT passed | Sidmouth Independent News/#comments
The East Devon District Council press release on the failure of the Local Plan, dissected | Sidmouth Independent News/#comments
Is it the fault of East Devon NIMBYs that the Local Plan failed? | Sidmouth Independent News/#comments
EDDC totally screws up Local Plan: developers free-for-all to continue indefinitely | Sidmouth Independent News/#comments

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