2015 Vision Group comment on draft Local Plan

District Council draft Local Plan: consultation ends noon Friday 12th June

This is the text of the comment submitted the the District Council:

 

COMMENTS ON EDDC DRAFT LOCAL PLAN

VISION GROUP FOR SIDMOUTH

Initial submission of 14th January 2013 for reference

East Devon Local Plan Ref Point 6.1

The Introduction is fine in theory – a sustainable future with homes and jobs.

But it omits the essentials for planning long term sustainability  – for example in relation to agricultural land for food security, integrating employment land with residential provision, preserving flood plains and wetlands, ensuring a strategy for coastal management, mitigating the effects of climate change, retaining the economic and environmental assets that underpin the local tourist industry, providing opportunities for skills and training relevant to the local economy, or planning the infrastructure of the district in relation to flood control, health provision, drainage and sewage control, traffic management etc.

Regrettably the plan has also been developed in ways that exhibit bad faith. Many members of the public and significant numbers of our elected representatives have found their persistent informed and detailed questioning of the procedures and the policy focus have been ignored or misrepresented by EDDC leadership.  There has been no serious attempt to engage with public concerns. On the contrary, regular offers from reasonable people to speak with the leaders of EDDC have been accepted in theory but studiously avoided in practice.

The leadership of EDDC has lost the trust of the community because of its secrecy, prevarication and distortion of the facts. It is difficult to know whether this is due to incompetence, arrogance or even corrupt practices, or a combination of these factors. Hopefully the inspector will be able to shed light on this.

Ref Point 6.133

The details of the plan do not match the vision.

On housing there is again a failure to emphasise the pre-eminent need for affordable housing for key workers. The modest number of dwellings proposed for the town could easily be met by “windfalls” and brownfield sites if the intent was genuinely to provide for the real needs of the district. The proposed locations suggest that the intent is rather to provide further profits for development companies despoiling green field sites and employment land, to the detriment of the local economy and environment.

On employment, the proposal to allocate several acres of AONB on a flood plain in the green wedge between Sidford and Sidbury is catastrophically perverse as has been argued at length by the vast majority of citizens. Thus far, these arguments have fallen on deaf ears. Admittedly the planning officers have had to operate in a vacuum in the absence of a town plan for Sidmouth. But the range of sensible alternatives proposed by public and elected representatives have not been given any consideration yet. This fact renders absurd any claim that the proposed development is responding to “exceptional circumstances”.

Robert Crick

Chair of the Vision Group for Sidmouth’s Futures Forum

Updated submission of 9th June 2015

 

Subsequently I attended hearings where Mr Thickett was inspecting the proposed Local Plan.

In particular, I observed a very poorly attended hearing on the EDDC Sustainability Policy.

Mr Thicket was scathing: “This policy amounts to little more than an exhortation not to upset the neighbours.”

 

Robert Crick

Chair of the Vision Group for Sidmouth’s Futures Forum

   
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