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Allowing a warehouse or a vaccination centre at Greendale Business Park?

  • by JW

“At a recent committee, councillors couldn’t agree whether to grant or refuse planning permission and instead voted to visit the site before making a decision.” [Local Democracy Reporter]

“Councillors noted that a retrospective planning application was refused in 2017 for a previous building on the site which had to be taken down.” [BBC Devon]

“A separate walk-in vaccination centre at Greendale Farm Shop remains open.”



In April last year, the Exeter vaccination centre moved to the Greendale Farm Shop – with more from the NHS Royal Devon | Exeter COVID-19 Vaccination Centre.

But there have been planning tussles over the larger centre in the business park…


Last December, the District Council’s planning committee said the Greendale Covid vaccination centre must be demolished by the end of 2023 – as covered by the area’s local democracy reporter:

A temporary building at Greendale Business Park used as a vaccination centre during the Covid pandemic must be demolished by New Year’s Day after an application to keep it was refused, writes local democracy reporter Will Goddard. The 72-metre-long structure was originally built under emergency regulations in 2021, and East Devon District Council (EDDC) later agreed it could stay in use by the NHS until the end of 2022, but that it had to be removed by December 31, 2023.

Planning officers recommended that Councillors refuse the application, as the building, near Woodbury Salterton, goes against its ‘local plan’, a guide for new development in the district, which does not permit the outward expansion of the business park. They also had other concerns such as its visual impact on the landscape.

Greendale Vaccination Centre. Image: EDDC.

Some Councillors agreed with the officers, but others thought it should be allowed to stay.

Cllr Geoff Jung (Lib Dem, Woodbury and Lympstone) said: “A large regional centre made strategic sense but obviously it is not required now. Existing local surgeries and pharmacies are now more than willing and able to provide the flu and covid jabs and they welcome the beneficial income that this provides. Is this site suitable for commercial use? It’s not supported by our agreed local plan, it’s not agreed by our adopted villages plan… because this large business park is considered to be an unsustainable location and increasing it would be detrimental to the local landscape.”

Cllr Ben Ingham (Conservative, Woodbury and Lympstone) said: “The NHS are the body best placed to advise on medical need and they say they need it. The covid inquiry stresses the importance of preparing for future pandemics and learning from the mistakes of 2020 when we could not respond to covid-19 at short notice. Our communities need it to safeguard our public health. It really is that simple.”

Cllr Mike Howe (Independent, Clyst Valley) said: “There is no policy support for this at all. If you want to barge a horse and cart through our local plan as it stands today, carry on ahead. We haven’t got the proof from the NHS.”

Cllr Ian Barlow (Independent, Sidmouth Town) said: “I speak to the people I represent, and whenever you say to them, they want to remove the vaccination centre… they can’t believe it. The whole point of planning is to plan for the future. What difference does it make what it’s for? If the NHS has quite rightly said they’d like to save some money. If they can do a deal, surely that’s the sort of thing we want to encourage. They’ve done a deal that this building is for the NHS, on short notice it can be cleared if it is required. We didn’t know about the first pandemic. We will not know about the second pandemic.”

Woodbury Parish Council also supported the application to keep the building. But, after a vote, permission was refused.

The BBC Devon’s political reporter also gave an account at the time, of the owners of the Greendale Business Park’s former vaccination centre being issued with a demolition order:

East Devon District Council planning committee members voted on Tuesday to refuse permission for the building at Greendale Business Park between Exeter and Sidmouth and said it had to be removed by 31 December. The owners of the business park have now amended their application to say the building would only be for use by the NHS and said they have no intention of taking the building down with that application still to be resolved.

The building is now empty apart from some NHS material stored there – image BBC Devon

Eileen Wragg, chairwoman of the East Devon District Council planning committee, said the building went against its Local Plan, a guide for new development in the area. She said: “We can’t have expansion of commercial premises into the open countryside.”

Councillors noted that a retrospective planning application was refused in 2017 for a previous building on the site which had to be taken down.

The committee heard the NHS had said it needed a “surge vaccination centre,” in the event of another pandemic, but officers felt they had not seen enough information to be sure there was no other suitable site… A separate walk-in vaccination centre at Greendale Farm Shop remains open.

The local democracy reporter gives an update today, saying that now, the future of the Exeter Vaccination Centre at Greendale hangs in the balance:

At a recent committee, councillors couldn’t agree whether to grant or refuse planning permission and instead voted to visit the site before making a decision.

Greendale Vaccination Centre. Image: EDDC.

Cllr Ian Barlow (Independent, Sidmouth Town) said: “We’re all getting a little bit blasé nowadays with Covid. “Covid was the last pandemic. We don’t know what’s coming. You never know what’s coming. The reason that Greendale was so successful is, if you remember back then, there was a lot of pressure on the National Health Service. It didn’t have lots of people to set up [but] lots of little ones to deal with lots of little groups of people. We needed something that was going to basically….save us. And this building was built three years ago now – in 28 days from memory. It was so impressive. I did argue last time that as far as I was concerned it is stupid for a building to be sat there and I don’t see the difference if a building is there and it can be used in short order by the National Health Service, what is wrong with using it for other much-needed business reasons?” 

Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Lib Dem, Broadclyst) said: “Cllr Barlow mentioned it took a very short time to erect this building. That’s because it’s a modular building erected on a base that was very luckily already under the ground there. It’s very, very easy to take it down, probably to recycle as well I should think. You can probably reuse the building somewhere else. We do have other buildings that can be used. There was a specific reason why our showground, for example, was not used last time, but that would also be perfect. It is just a warehouse at the end of the day. And there are many warehouses, dotted around East Devon, dotted around Exeter. I think there is a danger of over-focusing on this particular building. We are still, after a very short number of months, running the risk of giving the go-ahead something that’s in contravention of our own policies and therefore giving a green light to the potential building of other such buildings elsewhere in the district. We have to be really careful with our own policies and protect them because once we let people contravene them then there’s no good reason for opposing them elsewhere either.” 


There is some interesting context to this application…

Last year, the owners were lobbying for a new town at Greendale, but in November, the new town announced for East Devon will be located near Westpoint instead.

Nevertheless, back in 2018, with further pressures to expand the Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks, two retrospective planning applications were approved.

Elsewhere at the same time, another part of the family business, the Ladram Bay caravan park was facing local business, the local community and traffic issues, with three planning applications awaiting determination.

And also in 2018, there was an interesting story involving Brexit and fishing quotas for a tiny Exmouth boat