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2013 Cash for Planning Consents: VGS Reaction

VGS reaction to the recent Daily Telegraph investigation published on 11 March.

The revelations published in the Daily Telegraph since March 11th have come as no surprise to the Vision Group for Sidmouth (VGS). They do not distract or deflect us from our determination to continue exploring positive options for the solution of the many real problems confronting the valley.

For many years the Sid Valley has been frustrated by the persistent failure of our town and district councils to agree a strategic plan for the town. This lack of vision was the reason why the VGS was established by the Sidmouth Town Council (STC) and Sid Vale Association (SVA) 8 years ago. Planning consents given to assertive developers with powerful lobbies have been an inevitable consequence of this strategic vacuum. Similar short-term perspectives have bedevilled other communities across East Devon.

We hope and believe that the current scandal, which has already led to the suspension of one senior EDDC councillor, will serve as a wake-up call before the de-regulated development flood gates are opened by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) later this month. The VGS continues to offer its voluntary expertise and advice to our elected representatives and their officers, hoping for positive outcomes for the town and valley in such areas as housing and commercial development, employment creation, coastal defence, traffic management, and food and energy security and energy.

We also deprecate EDDC Cabinet’s fixation on making a quick profit from the sale of our assets. At present this appears to be a separate issue. We are however gratified that opposition to such proposals has encouraged the whole community to come together successfully. We hope that this unity can be harnessed positively as soon as our local government chooses to engage with us.

Robert Crick, Chair of the VGS Futures Forum
12 March 2013