Monday, 19 March 2018

Plans for Port Royal: a Drill Hall study >>> stimulating ideas on space

There have been several studies put together mapping out the lie of the Drill Hall:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: a Drill Hall study
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: a further Drill Hall study
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: a Drill Hall study: part two

Here is the latest from Graham Cooper, whose professional career has encompassed design in both art and architecture - and it focusses on the possible space configurations in and around the Drill Hall:

The plans indicate the current situation and explore relatively low budget and feasible transformations.

This exercise however depends on the future stewardship of the hall and their requirements. To take this process further will need a schedule of accommodation so I have tried to simplify the plan back to the basic shell.

Such an open plan would provide more social space; however there may be limitations such as the budget, fire exits and disabled access.

To keep costs down rather than a clean slate I have developed the layout incrementally based on the current room locations. I have added quite a number of external elements such as a front balcony with decking along the elevations including a raised viewing platform at the rear all of which will cost...

These diagrams are meant to stimulate ideas on the spacial arrangement within and around the building.

Click on the images to get more detail:

More of Graham's work can be found here:
Painting the Town, Art & Architecture, Vision Group for Sidmouth

See also:
Here's what Sidmouth seafront could end up looking like - Devon Live

Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: 'last chance to have a say' >>> public event Wednesday 21st March

The full neighbourhood plan is 'out for consultation':
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: full draft is published and six-week consultation starts today

And this Wednesday sees an opportunity for feedback from members of the public:
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: full draft published >>> public event Wednesday 21st March

All Saints' Hall will be open 3-6.30pm, with members of the neighbourhood plan steering group on hand to answer any questions, together with forms for anyone to make a submission - to either fill in or to take away to complete later. 

The Herald gives more details:

Last chance to have say on Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 March 2018


The public event will be held at All Saints Church Hall on Wednesday, March 21, between 3pm and 6.30pm.
After the end of the latest consultation, on April 12, no further comments on the plan will be taken into account.
The plan sets out how the community would like to see the neighbourhood preserved and developed over the next 15 years. It comes in two parts, the first describes policies which carry statutory weight when considering planning applications.
Once the plan is made, the policies take precedence over any policies described in the East Devon District Council (EDDC) Local Plan.
There is also ‘community actions’ which are the desires of the local community. The actions do not have any statutory power but serve as blueprints for developments in the area based on a wide sphere of aspirations, interests and activities.
The second part of the plan is an extensive analysis commissioned by the steering group which contains design guidance for developers of any new housing or of refurbishments of existing buildings. This design guidance would apply for instance to any proposals that come forward for the Drill Hall at Port Royal.
Deirdre Hounsom, the steering group’s chair, said: “This is an important time for the Sid Valley community and brings to a close the largest ever public consultation. Our consultations have been extensive, involving all households in our designated area, businesses, special interest groups and young people with the support of our schools.
Visit sidmouth.gov.uk/index.php/neighbourhood-plan 
to see the plan online or for more information. Hard copies are available at Sidmouth Town Council or at Sidmouth Public Library.
Email neighbourhood@sidmouth.gov.uk 
to leave your comment on the plan.
Last chance to have say on Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Plus more info - and the draft Plan - here:

Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan – Shaping our Future Together

Beach Management Plan: meeting Thursday 15th March >>> report

The BMP steering group met up last week:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: meeting Thursday 15th March

The following is a report from the chair of the VGS Futures Forum - who represents the Vision Group on the steering group: 

BMP March 15th 2018 (personal notes of Robert Crick)

Summary: I believe there may be room for hope (without foolish optimism) for a fresh start, building on the years of previous argument, with a new chair and new consultants, to progress towards consensus for an agreed solution.

Cllr Tom Wright chairing in place of Phil Twiss - again. He is a sailor who lives in Budleigh and, when asked, said he would be willing to continue as Chair.

There was an encouragingly professional and clear presentation from Royal Haskoning DHV consultants. They are using the Jacob’s Ladder beach as a template for the future of a protected Eastern Beach. They advised that the splash-wall will need to be raised on the Esplanade. Tony Burch provided them with a history of erosion rates. Crenulate bay theory (see footnote) was being considered.

We are now looking at the 3rd week in April for public consultation/presentation.
Ideas for presentation of the public consultation (likely to be at Kennaway House) should be sent to RHDHV’s Caroline, who is new to the team. She was not involved in the disastrous “consultation” attempt of August 2016. We told her that this had - in the opinion of many in the town - been poorly advertised, misleading and thoroughly counter-productive

CRAG representatives urged clarification of the objectives of the project, in particular that it is not about preserving the property of half a dozen residents on Cliff Road:

Agreed the main purposes of the works proposed are:
  • to avert a catastrophic flood in the town of Sidmouth if Pennington Point is outflanked
  • to reduce the rate of erosion on the eastern cliffs
  • to ensure the safety of residents and visitors to the eastern beach
  • to improve the recreational amenitiy value of the mouth of the Sid, including SWCP & Alma Bridge, and better launching facilities for lifeboat, gig club etc.
On behalf of absent members of the SG questions were raised under AOB:
  • Does Seaton BMP with rock revetment and good drainage from the cliff top set a positive precedent for agreement from NE, WHS for our own BMP? 
Well, no because “Seaton already has a rock revetment and it also has a different environmental designation from Sidmouth”.
  • Ed Harrison of SVA, sent apologies for absence with this advice: “the proposed letters smack of blackmail and will achieve the same result as the ugly collection box on the esplanade.”
Suggested amendments to the draft letters should be sent to Dave Turner.
  • In the absence of several local representatives, I suggested that the Steering Group’s town representatives have ongoing grumbles about ways in which our participation has been marginalised and the facts have been manipulated. I indicated that we, local stakeholders, could help EDDC to “sell” the proposed plan and to secure matched funding from agencies, and financial contributions from the town - if there were more honesty and less bullshit in the communications from EDDC.
The Chair regretted that the press release following the December meeting had been misreported  by the press. This had produced a distorted view of the SG consensus, and had unjustifiably undermined public confidence. 

Research work from RHDHV Exeter, and San Francisco: Sustainable coastal communities: the use of crenulate bay theory at different scales of coastal management (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268735333_Sustainable_coastal_communities_the_use_of_crenulate_bay_theory_at_different_scales_of_coastal_management
“…Coyote Point,  in San Francisco  Bay,  California is a popular recreation area. Coastal defence structures are failing, leading to erosion of the coastal path  and  beach  loss.  In  order  to  develop  an  innovative  sustainable  solution  to  the  erosion problem,  whilst  maintaining  recreational  functions  and  good  public  access,  crenulate  bay  set-back options were examined…”

Historical archive : 2011 DMC notes: Development management committee members conceded that offshore rock islands have accelerated erosion of Sidmouth’s eastern cliffs.
“I have massive sympathy for the plight of residents in Cliff Road, which appears to have been caused by man-made intervention,” said Councillor Phil Twiss. “I feel guilty there’s a significant risk we generated the problem,” added Cllr Ben Ingham.

See also:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: and (again) failing to get answers to technical questions from the District Council
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: new FOI requests on coastal and cliff erosion in Sidmouth

Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: 'accelerated erosion' had occurred since 1996 - after the installation of rock groynes along the seafront in 1995

Xylophilia: the magical spaces of the wood @ Radio 4

Today's Start the Week takes us into the woods: 

In Praise of Passion

Monday 19th March 2018

We are drawn to wildness and disorder, argues historian Bettany Hughes. She tells Andrew Marr about the attraction of Bacchus, the god of wine and fertility, and the subject of a new BBC Four documentary.Bacchus (also known as Dionysus) has been a symbol of excess ever since Roman maidens fled to the woods and drank wine in his name. Hughes follows the Bacchic cult through history, and argues that chaos has been as important to civilisation as reason and restraint.

The wood - scene of so many Bacchic revelries - comes to life in nature writer John Lewis-Stempel's new account, The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood. Through poetry, folklore and his own observations he asks what it is that draws us to magical spaces.

Today we revel in feelings of joy and wonder, but feelings themselves are a surprisingly modern invention, says cultural historian Rachel Hewitt. She looks back at the 1790s, the decade when men and women of learning first began to take emotions seriously. Hewitt explains how an Enlightenment interest in reason led us to explore our own chaotic moods.

There are Bacchic scenes in the music of Debussy, as biographer Stephen Walsh shows in a new study of the French composer. Away from his piano Debussy had to battle professional vendettas, but in pieces such as Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Debussy created a world of rich woodland scenes and musical intoxication.

BBC Radio 4 - Start the Week, In Praise of Passion

John Lewis-Stempel's "The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood" is Radio 4's Book of the Week over the next fortnight, starting today:
BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week, The Wood, Episode 1

The Mail has a review: 

By John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday £14.99)
Xylophile is the correct word for a lover of woodlands.
Historian, naturalist and farmer John Lewis-Stempel admits he ‘came late to woods’, but succumbed to a delirious xylophilia during the four years he managed Cockshutt Wood in southwest Herefordshire, which he describes as ‘three-and-a-half acres of mixed woodland with a secluded pool where the winter moon lives.’
This lyrical book is the diary of his last year at Cockshutt Wood. It begins in December: a ‘minimalist, milk-toned’ month. The hedgehogs, toads, frogs, snakes and insects with whose activities Lewis-Stempel enlivens later pages are all hibernating. Instead he watches the gaudy cock pheasants ‘samurai bowing’ at each other and brings his pigs to rummage for goodies among the leaf litter.
The Wood is the diary of John Lewis-Stempel's last year at Cockshutt Wood. Stock image
The Wood is the diary of John Lewis-Stempel's last year at Cockshutt Wood. Stock image
As a farmer, Lewis-Stempel is keen to remind readers that although the woodland is no longer part of modern farming, historically, its bounty sustained livestock through the winter. Holly would have been ground up for cattle fodder, hawthorn was cut for the sheep and pannage — the traditional practice of releasing pigs in woods — was widespread.
Indeed, according to the Herefordshire Domesday Book, not much else mattered locally. ‘There was woodland there for 160 pigs, if it had born mast [fruit],’ runs the entry for Pembridge. Lewis-Stempel’s mother’s family held the pannage rights up the lane in the Golden Valley until 1600. Today, he is funny and tender about his pigs and their jolly, rootling expeditions. His favourite sow, Lavender, smells of freshly-ironed linen. They’re always escaping. When a woman calls the farm to ask if his pigs are free range he replies: ‘Madam, they are practically wild!
Historically, pannage served a dual purpose, providing food for the pigs and tidying up beech nuts and acorns which can be poisonous to cows and horses.
Later, Lewis-Stempel forages along with his pigs. He shares his recipes for wild garlic dolmades in April, elderflower champagne in June, mushroom pate in August and chestnut soup in October.
It’s not all cosy. Lewis-Stempel often goes armed into his sanctuary. ‘Carrying a gun concentrates the naturalist’s mind, sharpens the senses,’ he writes. On one occasion he reluctantly takes his son to execute a pair of Canada geese which have made their home on his beloved pond.
THE WOOD By John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday £14.99)
THE WOOD By John Lewis-Stempel (Doubleday £14.99)
The birds have attacked frogs, moorhens and mallards. He takes out the gander with one shot and expects the goose to fly, but she stays by the floating corpse of her mate. ‘Is it love? Loyalty?’ he asks. ‘Dead on the water, the Canadas float on their backs, and when the wind blows them towards us they are as menacing as pillows.’
As so often throughout his work, Lewis-Stempel turns to poetry for company and consolation.
On the day he kills the geese he remembers Robert Frost’s line: ‘Pairing in all paradises ends.’
Elsewhere his love of language finds him unearthing forgotten, regional words for wild things. In Olde Hereford, a rabbit was a clover snapper, a small twig was a yimp and a thrush was a Mavis.
He’s brilliant on birds and their habits, enjoying the company of blackbirds as they squawk round the wood ‘like outraged ayatollahs’.
When he shoots pheasants for his table, they fall ‘like comets’. Cockshutt got its name from its game after all: cock for woodcock, shutt for trap.
Lewis-Stempel’s research sends him roving back deeper in time, to 2000BC when the ancient Egyptians imported all their ash from Europe to make wheels. In the new millennium he is planting ash saplings in the hope that some will resist the ash dieback that is biting into Britain’s 80 million ash trees.
The farmer ends his diary in November, with a murmuration of 90 jackdaws swooping through ‘leaf-stripper’ winds above him and a cup of acorn coffee warming his hands.
When his tenure of Cockshutt is up he finds the parting more painful than he had imagined. ‘I thought the trees and birds belonged to me,’ he writes. ‘But I now realise I belonged to them.’

The farmer who fell madly in love - with a wood | Daily Mail Online

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Plans for Port Royal: and a successful community buy-out in Somerset

There's a drive to see the Drill Hall become a community asset:

Here's a story of a successful community buy-out:
Eighteen British pubs close every day. Here’s how we saved ours | Steven Morris | Opinion | The Guardian

And it didn't need a huge number of shareholders:
Our Story | The Packhorse, South Stoke, Bath

The Mail covered attempts to save the Somerset pub as a community hub: 

It takes a village to save a pub:  

  • For centuries, the Packhorse Inn was the quintessential Somerset village pub and a beloved community hub
  • But in 2012, the tavern closed its doors after property developers made an offer to the corporate owners 
  • Furious residents in the village of South Stoke vowed to not let their pub go, and set up a bid to buy it back  
  • After a successful campaign, and with the help of their council, they are close to reopening the historic venue
  • They used the 2011 Localism Act to help turn the pub into a community asset, a law inns across the UK use  
  • Packhorse supporters have raised more than £700,000, just shy of their target, and could reopen in months 

The path back to its former glory has been aided by the locals who frequented the pub before it shut its doors and by volunteers who have staged fundraisers. But the project has also been helped, in part, by politics. The pub’s rescue has been partly down to the Conservative’s 2011 Localism Act, which declared the pub a local community asset.

How South Stoke village saved its 15th century pub | Daily Mail Online

Today's Observer celebrates: 

Pub saved by locals serves first pint after reopening

Almost 500 people chipped in more than £1m to stop the Packhorse Inn in Somerset from being turned into flats
The Packhorse Inn in 1965.
 The Packhorse Inn in 1965. Photograph: Handout

A 15th-century pub near Bath saved from being turned into flats after residents raised more than £1m has served its first pint after reopening.
Almost 500 residents chipped in to buy the Packhorse Inn in South Stoke, Somerset, from property developers who had bought the tavern six years ago.
Dom Moorhouse, project lead of the Save the Packhorse team, said it turned into the biggest community pub buy-back project in British history. “I think people got stuck in because they wanted to save a beautiful old building, but also because they did not want to lose a place of social connection,” he said.
The pub’s rescue was partly made possible by the 2011 Localism Act, which allows communities to apply to their local council to have a building listed as an “asset of community value”. 
If the owner of a listed asset then wants to sell, a moratorium period is triggered during which it cannot be sold. The period gives community groups time to develop a proposal and raise the necessary funds to bid for the property. 

In March 2012, the Packhorse Inn was first put up for sale by Punch Taverns and sold to the highest bidder, who revealed plans to turn it into a residential property.
But the village formed a committee with the aim of buying the pub back, and the act allowed them a period of time to gather funds. 
The law allows a council to deem a building to be an a “asset of community value” if it is or was used to further the wellbeing or social interest of the local community.
Volunteers spent about 1,000 hours clearing out the pub’s garden, and 25 skips of rubbish were removed from its interior.
Sunday’s reopening was welcomed by dozens of villagers including Brian Perkins, 87, who poured the first pint. He was born there when it was run by his family, and he had his wedding reception there with his wife Edith, 88.
He told the Daily Mail: “I was very sad when the pub closed a few years ago. I would go to the pub every Sunday up until then. It was an honour to be asked to pour the first pint – a last bit of fame in my old age.”
Moorhouse said he hoped the Packhorse would inspire others. “We’ve proved to local communities across the country what is possible and we’d love to see similar successes elsewhere. It’s been hard work but worth the effort. It’s brought together so many people across the generations.”
Pub saved by locals serves first pint after reopening | UK news | The Guardian

Pressures to expand business parks in East Devon >>> Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury: part two

Over a month ago, this blog reported on plans to extend the industrial estate at Blackhill on Woodbury Common:
Futures Forum: Pressures to expand business parks in East Devon >>> Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury

Back in December 2016, Aggregate Industries, the company which quarried on the site, announced it was going to move out - and that the area would return to heathland habitat:

Blackhill closure to improve traffic flow

02 December 2016 | Daniel Wilkins

Blackhill quarry. Ref exe 06-16TI 0666. Picture: Terry Ife

The closure of a mineral processing plant in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) could mean 140 fewer HGVs a day travelling across Woodbury Common.

Aggregate Industries has announced it will be moving its processing activities out of the former Blackhill Quarry at the end of 2017. Over the next 12 months, the company will help to return the site to heathland habitat. It will then be handed back to landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE). In a withdrawn application to extend its stay, Aggregate Industries said there could have been as many as 140 HGVs travelling on the busy B3178 through Woodbury Common every day.

Roger Saunders, chairman of the Otter Valley Association, which has been campaigning for mineral processing to cease at the site, said: “The quarry site is within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is bordered on two sides by highly protected countryside (Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation).

“Quarrying activity stopped several years ago, but the site has had its life extended a number of times to store and process material brought in from other sites. Given the sensitivity of this site, and the importance of Woodbury Common, it made little sense to subject the area to the traffic impact of hauling thousands of tons of material to and from the site for processing. Closing the site will have an immediate impact on traffic across the common, making it a much more pleasant experience for drivers and cyclists.”

Blackhill closure to improve traffic flow | Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal

Then Clinton Devon Estates announced they wanted to extend their industrial estate into the site - as reported by the group campaigning against Aggregate Industries at another site:
Straitgate Action Group: Objections mount for CDE’s planning application for Blackhill Quarry

The application has been defended by CDE: 

Quarry expansion plans will provide 'space for nature and sustain local economy'

Clinton Devon Estates have hit back at criticism of the plans for expanded business units at Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury

Daniel Clark Local Democracy Reporter For Devon

5 FEB 2018

Plans to expand business units at Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury represents an area of less than two percent of the former quarry that is being returned to nature, landowners Clinton Devon Estates have clarified.

East Devon District Council planners have received an application for the proposed expansion of Blackhill Engineering to allow construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of general industrial floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure.

Environmental campaigners have said it would be ‘morally and ecologically wrong’ to allow the proposed expansion of business units at Blackhill Quarry in Woodbury.

But landowner Clinton Devon Estates say the plans will enable the sustainable development of the local economy in the South West and the site represents an area of less than two percent of the former Blackhill Quarry on the edge of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths (EDPH) which is being fully returned to nature

Leigh Rix, Head of Property and Land at Clinton Devon Estates, said: “We’re extremely pleased at how well the restoration at the quarry site is progressing, and we’re grateful to both Aggregate Industries and the team from the RSPB for all their efforts.

Blackhill Quarry

“While quarrying and related work at Blackhill has ceased, Blackhill Engineering, who have been based at this site for over thirty years, continue to operate from this location. We are in discussions with them about them taking on the extra space so that they can expand locally, creating extra jobs and apprenticeships. Blackhill Engineering, which supplies products to the UK civil engineering and defence industries and exports to the USA, New Zealand and Europe, already employs 34 full-time staff at the site, and hopes to increase this.

“This application proposes that we replace the existing sifting and grading plant structures with purpose-built units which would be lower and less intrusive on the landscape. All the existing screening on site would be maintained, and studies have shown that the traffic generated by the new use would be less than that associated with the previous quarrying and processing work.”

The site, like much of East Devon, lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also a County Wildlife Site, but is outside the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and outside the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the Special Protection Area (SPA).

Proposed layout of new industrial units for Blackhill Engineering

Mr Rix said: “Prior to submitting this application, we commissioned a comprehensive ecology report, which shows that, because the application involves replacing existing industrial equipment, the work is unlikely to impact on nearby designated sites, nor the County Wildlife Site. Nevertheless, we will be implementing an ecological mitigation plan.

“This application will help a successful local company to grow, creating high-quality, full-time jobs for local people, without damaging the local environment and not causing any interruption to the highly successful restoration work already under way. We believe that approval of this application will result in a major boost for the local economy, while at the same time protecting the environment for the benefit of people and wildlife.”

Woodbury business park expansion would be ‘morally and ecologically wrong’

Tony Bennett, from Wild Woodbury, has said that the plans would seek to reverse this restoration plan and the “U-turn” would be a huge blow to the environment as it sits within one of the most highly protected and scientifically important areas of countryside in Europe.

Processing plant in area 12 being dismantled (Image: Tony Bennett)

Woodbury parish council have also voted to object to the application.

The application is to install new specialist facilities on a 1.5 hectare (3.7 acres) site, formerly occupied by the quarry’s processing plant. The ten year project to return 64 hectares (158 acres) of redundant quarry to lowland heathland with open water habitats has already won national recognition in the 2017 Mineral Product Association’s Biodiversity Awards just five years into the programme. Under the terms of the scheme it was agreed that a planning application could later be lodged to consider alternative use at the site of the quarry processing plant and other buildings.

The area represents less than two percent of the 64 hectare former quarry site which lies within 1,124 hectares (2,800 acres) of the East Devon Pebblebed Heaths and is owned by Clinton Devon Estates and managed by the EDPH Conservation Trust.

East Devon District Council planners will determine the fate of the planning application.

Clinton Devon Estates defends Blackhill application | Latest Exmouth News - Exmouth Journal

This is the press release from CDE:
Blackhill Quarry application - the facts - Clinton Devon Estates

And here, restoration of the heathland is detailed:
Access restrictions at Frying Pans and Quarry Shelterbelt - Clinton Devon Estates

However, as noted by the East Devon Watch blog, it is very much about PR:
Clinton Devon Estates PR team working overtime on Blackhill Quarry! | East Devon Watch

With comment here:

One thought on “Clinton Devon Estates PR team working overtime on Blackhill Quarry!”

David Daniel says:
10 Feb 2018 at 2:13pm

Like, I suspect, many others I welcomed the creation of the Pebblebed Heath Conservation Trust established as a conservation charity (charity registration no. 1109514) in 2006 by Clinton Devon Estates. It put the management of one of the most important conservation sites in Europe on a sustainable basis and enabled financial support from DEFRA to be obtained. I appreciate the good work that the trust has done in the years since.

However, I want to make two comments.


I question the propriety of the Charity in using its Friends mailing list to promote the Estates’ development proposals for Blackhill. There is always going to be a potential conflict of interest between development either on or adjacent to the Heaths and to their conservation. This is recognised by the 400m housing development exclusion zone that surrounds them. The Trustees of both the Clinton Devon Estates and the Conservation Trust should be aware of this.


Despite the story being spun by the Estates’ PR department, this planning application is controversial. At the core is the issue of how to treat the existing site. Is it a matter of replacing existing industrial equipment and, therefore, will not change the status quo? Or should the baseline acknowledge that the existing plant, machinery and buildings are not permanent features and that there is a current agreement to restore the site to heathland?

Currently there are 189 objections from individuals.

It is particularly disappointing to find that the Pebblebed Conservation authors do not appear to have followed their own advice to read the comments on the EDDC planning web site to dispel inaccurate rumours. Had they done so they would have found that Natural England, who oversee the work done on the Heaths, have been very dismissive of the ecological aspects of the CDE planning application and want additional information.

Natural England do not buy the argument that there are no potential significant effects on the East Devon AONB, East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SSSI, East Devon Pebblebed Heaths SAC and East Devon Heaths SPA. They are not satisfied with the “comprehensive” ecology report submitted with the planning application. They are awaiting further information on the effectiveness of the proposed ecological mitigation; and they were provided with an updated (why updated?) Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment only one day before the closure of the formal consultation period.

This is a devastating comment on the quality of the ecological case made by CDE in its application and which the Friends are being told to accept at face value.

Clinton Devon Estates PR team working overtime on Blackhill Quarry! | East Devon Watch

See also:
Welcome - Pebblebed Heaths
East Devon Pebblebed Heaths Trust - Clinton Devon Estates
Pebblebed heaths conservation trust - Home | Facebook

There have been several pieced on the East Devon Watch site the last weeks:
Clinton Devon Estates and Blackhill Quarry – trying to be Mammon AND God! | East Devon Watch
Has Clinton Devon Estates completely lost its moral compass (if it ever had one)? | East Devon Watch

And in a piece last week, EDW asks a few more questions: 


7 MAR 2018

These days most large developers pay for pre-application advice before submitting a planning application. A recent Freedom of Information request has uncovered the advice that was offered to someone (name redacted) seeking such advice on proposed business units at Blackhill Quarry, Woodbury in early October 2017.

Specifically this proposal was for the erection of AN ADDITIONAL industrial building to support the existing business, Blackhill Engineering, being operated form the site together with the erection of FIVE ADDITIONAL industrial buildings for use by other businesses.

In summary the advice given was that this would not comply with the protective policies that cover this sensitive site. A much stronger employment benefit case regarding the expansion of the existing business to justify a departure from these policies would be needed. The five speculative industrial buildings would not justify a policy departure.

On 20 December 2017, within three months of this advice, planning application 17/3022/MOUT was submitted for outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure.

The accompanying justification reads:

So, is this application all about the needs of Blackhill Engineering to expand, having already designed flood defence gates for New York City Hospital, worked for the European Space Agency and the pier at Hinkley Point, which in October seemed to require only one building; or more about Clinton Devon Estates trying to generate rent from a new industrial park? Restoration provides no income.

For those interested here is the detailed pre-application advice, given on an informal basis and without prejudice, in about half the words:

Blackill Engineering Extension – is this an excuse to drive a new industrial site into the heart of the Pebblebed Heaths? | East Devon Watch

Comments on the application can be viewed here:
17/3022/MOUT | Outline application seeking approval of access for construction of up to 3251 sqm (35,000 sq ft) of B2 (general industrial) floor space with access, parking and associated infrastructure (details of appearance, landscaping, scale and layout reserved for future consideration) | Blackhill Quarry Woodbury Exeter EX5 1HD

Finally, the Straitgate Action Group referred to above make a point about how quarries are not in fact temporary and that once extraction is over that the land will not necessarily return to nature: 

Why does quarrying have such a bad name? Take a look at Blackhill


Quarrying is temporary, we’re told; land taken for quarrying will be restored back to nature or farmland, we’re told.

But how many times does that happen?

Look at what’s going on at nearby Blackhill Quarry. Surrounding communities have put up with quarrying for the best part of 80 years or more, with HGVs trundling back and forth through their villages, looking forward to the day when this industrial blot within the East Devon AONB might be restored.

Communities have fought tooth and nail to stop any further quarry development - including processing any material that might be won from Straitgate Farm.

But as soon as quarrying at Blackhill has finished, what do we find? Landowners Clinton Devon Estates submitting a planning application to EDDC just before Christmas for 35,000 sq ft of industrial units; AI’s traffic would be replaced by "around 134 two-way vehicular trips... across the day."

In the mind of the applicant, the prior industrial use has paved the way for more of the same:

The site currently benefits from an existing access road onto the B3180. As a result of the existing quarrying operations and also the adjacent industrial use, the access is able to accommodate HGV traffic. 2.4

Clinton Devon Estates makes reference to relevant planning policies in its documents, but conveniently overlooks point 116 of the NPPF which states:

Planning permission should be refused for major developments in these designated areas except in exceptional circumstances

Anybody who objects to the continued industrialisation of the AONB should make their feelings known to EDDC as soon as possible. The application can be accessed through this link, ref. 17/3022/MOUT.

EDIT 18.1.2018

DCC as Mineral Planning Authority has now responded to the above application. You might have hoped that DCC would have objected, given that the site is within the AONB and adjacent to the SAC, given that AI’s plant area at Blackhill was "the subject of a legal agreement under s.106 of the Town and Country Planning Act which required the operator and landowners to implement a wider restoration and after care scheme...". But no. Legal agreement or otherwise, DCC says:

To clarify, Devon County Council as Mineral Planning Authority would not wish to raise any objection to the proposal so long as adequate compensatory habitat to replace the lost area of heathland is provided elsewhere and that this is secured by condition or legal agreement. In such a scenario it would not then be reasonable for the County Council to seek to enforce the provisions of the legal agreement insofar as they relate to this small parcel of land.

Straitgate Action Group: Why does quarrying have such a bad name? Take a look at Blackhill