Things are hotting up over the planned industrial estate at Sidford:
Here is what Devon Live has to say:
This is some comment from the East Devon Watch blog:
And here is the latest from the campaign against the estate:
Campaign Update 33
In response to a request from District Councillor John Loudoun for an independent investigation into comments from the Council’s Chief Executive which were presented by the applicants’ representatives at the recent Planning Inquiry, the District Council has today issued the following statement to the press –
“The council officers and legal representative, acting on behalf of the local planning authority, did not consider the comments made by Mr Marchant or the appellant’s QC as material in specifically defending the reason for refusal which is of course their role in the Inquiry. The simple point is that the circumstances described have no bearing or relevance to the local planning authority’s decision and nor therefore to the focusing of all of their efforts in seeking to persuade the Inspector that the proposed development was unacceptable.
“As for the meeting itself, as was made clear at the Inquiry, the CEO was asked by the applicant/appellant to facilitate a meeting between them and Councillor Hughes to ascertain what options there might be available to them in the light of the refusal of planning permission.
“At the meeting, as reflected in Mr Marchant’s proof of evidence, Cllr Hughes expressed his opinion that he could not foresee any circumstances under which planning permission would be acceptable, notwithstanding the Local Plan allocation. The CEO did not advise the appellant of anything but expressed the view that there were therefore three potential options open to the applicants: resubmit with changes to the proposed scheme; appeal the decision; or walk away from the site. The applicant appears to have chosen to interpret this as encouraging an appeal and we would note that the comments from their QC were in the context of also making an application for costs against the Council – a situation where a degree of hyperbole and exaggeration is not unusual.”
In response to this press statement, Councillor Loudoun has in turn issued this statement –
“I am appalled that the response to my concerns and a call for an independent investigation to what was presented by the applicants at the recent Planning Inquiry has been sent to the press and not to me.
Evidence provided at the Inquiry was fully tested by both the Council and the applicants’ representatives because this is the way in which facts are established or challenged. The statements made verbally and in writing by Mr Marchant for the appellants are, according to the District Council statement, misinterpretations of the events and comments at the meeting involving the Chief Executive.
This is an extraordinary state of affairs as we now have a challenge to Mr Marchant’s evidence at a point where he cannot defend himself and after the point when the Council allowed the statements to be accepted as fact. It would appear that the Council is now saying that Mr Marchant spoke untruths and that these were untruths were in turn repeated by the applicants’ QC.
The Council’s statement is disingenuous in that it tries to down play the quotes of what the Chief Executive said as put forward by the applicants’ QC as “hyperbole and exaggeration” whilst pursuing a costs order.
This ignores the fact that Mr Marchant made the claims whilst giving evidence and that the appellants’ QC repeated them not only in his arguments for costs but also, and more importantly, in his broader closing submissions in support of the applicants’ case.
I am even more concerned having read the Council’s public response to these matters and I am now even more convinced of the need for what I originally asked for, a genuinely independent inquiry in these issues”.
We are bemused at the response from the Council to this matter which seems to be now turning into as much a focal point as the planning application and subsequent Inquiry. No doubt more will be said in days to come.