New for Summer 2007
EDDC and Liatris commission a range of postcards celebrating the beauty spots around Seaton...
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Community Action for Seaton's Regeneration Area, 80% owned by Tesco - a floodplain on a World Heritage site bordered by nature reserves, tidal river, the sea and the unspoilt town. SU4S is a state of mind - no members, no structure, no politics. SU4S has objected to 2 planning applications by Tesco, including one for a massive superstore/dot com distribution centre which led to the recent closure on the site of 400 tourist beds with the loss of 150 jobs,a gym and pool - all used by locals.
EDDC and Liatris commission a range of postcards celebrating the beauty spots around Seaton...
Yesterday and this evening I was at the Town Hall in meetings. On both evenings young people were messing about around the toilets next to the building and on both evenings threw toilet rolls into the foyer.
Malcolm - a Seaton resident has commented in another part of the blog and included this poem which perhaps more people would like to see:
The council is rushing to change Seaton town
They want us to give up our tourism crown
Instead we’re to be a large housing estate
For the rest of
There won’t be the jobs for all of these folk
They’ll drive miles to work gushing carbon and smoke
And the site for these houses is tourism land
So the building of houses should be positively banned.
If the holiday village was refused change-of-use
Then they’d have to invest and abandon this ruse,
If they’re short of the cash or can’t reach a decision
Then they should be selling to those with more vision.
‘Cos the folks who will come will be ‘overflow’
They will fill up the Docs, the Dentist and Schools
and if we don’t speak up, then we’ll be the fools !
On 20th February 2007 Seaton Town Council sent the following letter to Terry Dinham, agent for Liatris, with a copy to EDDC , which Mel Greenyer suggested yesterday evening, when addressing Seaton Town Council about (non-existent) youth facilities in Seaton, stands for
Well, Devon County Council are supposed to look after our roads EXCEPT, according to TV news last week, they are £205 million behind in their road maintenance programme and are concentrating on A-class roads, not the B-class roads in Seaton (and Colyford, and Musbury).
The Audit Commission has published this year’s “league table” of councils with details their strengths and weaknesses. East Devon District Council gets a "good" rating and the strengths and weaknesses are shown below (with our comments in red).
What are East Devon District Council’s main strengths:
It provides good-quality services, such as parks and open spaces, leisure facilities and recycling. Public satisfaction is good.
Well, that won’t wash in Seaton where there are no leisure facilities - except for the holiday village, which will soon be demolished - and where the plans for parks and open spaces in the Seaton Regeneration area are for nothing at all except cycling in the monsoon drain and a “public square”. They refuse to pick up recycling boxes in some parts of Seaton and we can't recycle plastics or cardboard from our homes - we have to take it to dumps 10 miles away. When you try to recycle at the Seaton dump on a Saturday, everything ends up in one dumper.
It provides a wide range of activities and facilities for young people to use.
Ha, ha, ha – this has to be an early April Fool joke - see our post below. Seaton is the only town in
Council homes are in good order and tenants are very satisfied with the services they receive.
Let’s see just how many council homes there in the Seaton Regeneration area).
Most of the council's buildings and beaches are accessible for disabled people.
We’ve been trying to get mats on Seaton beach to allow access to the sea for disabled people for 5 years without success, even though they have been on Beer beach for years. There is no access for disabled people to the upper level of
The council manages its budgets well.
It certainly does – it refuses to spend any money in Seaton!
The council is improving the quality of the local environment through enhancing its parks and gardens and by providing new local nature reserves.
Now they really are taking the p … mickey – they are getting their new local nature reserve by refusing to let us have youth and community facilities!
What are East Devon District Council's areas for improvement (notice we use "strengths" above but not the word "weaknesses" here - New Labour speak?).
Its development control (planning) service is an area for improvement.
Oh, yes! well, they certainly got that right!).
People are not clear about what the council's priorities are.
Well, we are pretty clear, the priority is - Stuff Seaton.
It does not always tell residents what standard of service they should expect.
That’s because they probably think we shouldn’t expect service, let alone standards!
It does not yet have strong clear plans in place to meet its future ambitions.
Well, we are pretty sure what it’s plans and ambitions are for Seaton and they seem very strong and clear – third class development, third class visitor centre, “shopping as leisure” and top class Wetlands Centre for tourists who can only stay 3 hours in a supermarket car park to go and look at it.
As promised, the full content of the Natural England objection letter is now available to view and download
The derelict Youth Centre on the regeneration site is on land owned by East Devon District Council. The Youth Centre was run by Trustees who handed the lease back to EDDC in August 2006. The various groups which used the Centre (ballroom dancing, table tennis, short mat bowls, indoor boot sales, etc) were given notice by EDDC on 21 December 2006 and since then it has remained empty.
Popped in to Sidmouth today to check on latest news. Objections are now up from 713 to about 800 letters. Many letters are from groups, etc. so the number of objectors is definitely well over 1,000. Letters of support remain the same at 8.
We have noticed that, both on the blog and at various meetings, there are very few young people who seem to want to make their views on the regeneration area known more widely.
What is the sustainability challenge for the South West?
I asked this question of EDDC under the Freedom of Information Act. I got the following reply:
This is from today's Guardian about the government's wish to build nuclear power stations. This was challenged at judicial review by Greenpeace.
For those of you interested in other ways of regeneration have a look at
Labels: community land trusts
The reply from Natural England to the regeneration area planning application appears to be a resounding - not likely. Unfortunately, in the EDDC documents it is summarised so we can't yet get the full flavour of the letter.
Natural England says its remit is to "work for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas". Natural England brought together the former organisations: English Nature, the Countryside Agency and the Rural Development Service.
Here is the summary (done by EDDC) from the EDDC website - more information when we go to consult the objection files again next week:
"General Observations : Commenting on the proposal has been made very difficult by the fact that some of the information presented covers only the application area whilst the master planning and other data cover the whole of the redevelopment area. The riverside area is likely to be the most ecologically sensitive and this is not part of the current application. This raises doubts over whether the development in its entirety can be achieved in an acceptable way Section 14.49 states that "in order to defend the site it is proposed to raise the levels of the site to a level about the 1 in 200 year level in 75 years' time (allowing for climate change)" and 14.78 states that in order to achieve this "it will be necessary to import approximately 256,000 cu m of material to raise site levels to provide the flood defences required. It is anticipated that this will take place over an estimated 61 to 115 working weeks". 14.75 suggests that the development will become an island at times of flooding. This has to bring into question the long term sustainability of development in such a vulnerable area Consultation response also covers Protected sites, Sidmouth to West Bay SAC, River Axe SAC, Beer Quarry and Caves SAC. Protected Species Bats, Landscape Impacts, See file for report".
Wonder how EDDC will seek to rubbish and/or discount this one?
Looking back over some past posts it seems some people are confused about whether we would like to keep the holiday village or not.
The Environment Agency has written to me saying that they will consider working "with a flood plain" only if it is part of a "water compatible development". EXACTLY!!! This is NOT a "water compatible development" and yet it is surrounded by water (and water which has behaved very badly in the past - the not very distant past).
There are fewer postings here at the moment whilst we give EDDC and the developers chance to digest the letters of objection (713, representing approximately 1,000 people and many more still to be indexed) and the letters of support (8). We shall be checking on the situation again next week, so watch this space.
If you want to know how Martyn Harrison (owner of Lyme Bay Holiday
Before it was called Hollybush Hotels, the business had a different name:
Against the application: 713 letters representing approximately 1,000 people and/or organisations (see below).
20. Some choice phrases from a few letters: “not enough emphasis on leisure and tourism”, “the live/work units in the O’Rourke plan have gone” [not the only thing to go!), “division of the town” and “application by stealth"
Letters of objection so far: more than 750 (if you count the number of people they represent, possibly nearer a thousand as there are many couples, families and letters with up to 19 signatures from groups).
Just when you thought it was bad enough that we have a planning application to end serious tourism and plunge Seaton into a "suburbia suicide", presented by a dubious shell of a shell company fronted by a property development pr specialist aided and abetted by a bunch of exeter pr mercenaries....with me so far?
Well, in Honiton it seems you get two for the price of one. I gather they have just bought the Honiton Business Park which will probably be the site of Tesco 2 in the town. Bear in mind that we already have Tesco in Axminster, Exmouth and in Sidmouth (albeit, in Sidmouth, it is only a small one - wonder why when Sidmouth is twice the size of Seaton?). I presume EDDC would not want to consolidate Tesco's monopoly position in East Devon by letting them into Seaton too - surely not?
We know that Liatris is associated with other companies - JJ Portfolio Ltd (we get that from EDDC documents) and we know that JJ Portfolio is (or was until recently, I haven't checked in the last few weeks) owned by a company called Silver 2004.
The background: We had worried about the links between Liatris and terrestrial and online gambling. EDDC had been planning to ban casinos in East Devon but, following a visit by one of its councillors to Bristol (where a Liatris-linked casino was situated, though it has now been sold) he came back and said that he thought that gambling was actually a good thing for a local authority to be involved in. We asked for details about who had financed his trip and where he had been and we were told that it had, in fact, been a family visit and he hadn't actually been INSIDE the casino. Quite how he was then able to speak with authority about gambling we haven't quite worked out.
I said that I would publish the reply from the Chief Executive of EDDC to my earlier letter about consultation procedures. Here it is in its entirety - with my comments in red.
Seaton Regeneration area: consultation
I am writing in response to your email of 23 January. This followed an earlier email from you to Mrs Kate Little. I apologise for any delay in responding to you. In your email to Mrs Little, you have raised a number of points, which I will deal with in turn but I would first of all like to reassure you that the correct procedures in terms of this consultation period, have been followed.
We have consulted with more than 4000 households in Seaton as well as printing the usual notices in the local newspaper and putting up site notices. We have also extended the consultation period from the Government requirement of 3 weeks to 8 weeks so this means we have far exceeded our legal obligations in this respect. (The 8 weeks started on 1 December 2006 and included: nearly 3 weeks when you could not get the planning application CD complete with Environmental Impact Assessment (sent out on 19 December 2007)and 10 days over Christmas and New Year when the documents were not available at the Town Hall or library i.e. one whole month of the two month consultation period. It is common with planning applications smaller than this to have 16 weeks if it is in the public interest).
(The 8 weeks started on 1 December 2006 and included: nearly 3 weeks when you could not get the planning application CD complete with Environmental Impact Assessment (sent out on 19 December 2007)and 10 days over Christmas and New Year when the documents were not available at the Town Hall or library i.e. one whole month of the two month consultation period. It is common with planning applications smaller than this to have 16 weeks if it is in the public interest).
1. You have correctly stated that the newspaper advert shows the 31 January as the deadline for consultation responses. This is because the newspaper ran the advert later and so we were obliged to extend the period to allow for this. (Of course, this email arrived only on 30 January 2007 so we could not take advantage of the extra 5 days as we had to get our objections in by 26 January 2007).
2. A member of my technical staff will be asked to go through each and every letter received and note down the points made as the letters come in. We will keep a running total of the numbers received in each category. (But surely, it isn't just quantity - it is quality - and who will decide on that?)
(But surely, it isn't just quantity - it is quality - and who will decide on that?)
3. There is no revised transport assessment either requested by the County Council’s highways department or submitted by the applicant. It is my understanding that South West Water has misunderstood the number of houses involved in the application and will be submitting an amended response, over-riding their original objection. (I think there may well be a revised transport assessment requested - and if there isn't I for one will want a thorough investigation as there are MAJOR, MAJOR flaws in the one submitted which have been pointed out to DCC and EDDC - like no weekend statistics being calculated which makes a mockery of the report. South West Water did NOT misunderstand the number of houses - it has been misled because planning applications are being submitted in a piecemeal way so it was never informed of the TOTAL number of houses nor of the number of anticipated tourists for the entire site). This is what South West Water said to EDDC from EDDC's own website: "
(I think there may well be a revised transport assessment requested - and if there isn't I for one will want a thorough investigation as there are MAJOR, MAJOR flaws in the one submitted which have been pointed out to DCC and EDDC - like no weekend statistics being calculated which makes a mockery of the report. South West Water did NOT misunderstand the number of houses - it has been misled because planning applications are being submitted in a piecemeal way so it was never informed of the TOTAL number of houses nor of the number of anticipated tourists for the entire site). This is what South West Water said to EDDC from EDDC's own website: "The scale of development within the application is considerably more than that agreed previously and therefore we cannot confirm the ability at this stage of the foul drainage infrastructure being able to deal with the additional flows. In order to establish whether the public foul sewerage system/pumping station and treatment works can accept the development, investigations need to be undertaken. Such investigations will have to be funded by the applicant, and until the results of this are known we cannot comment fully upon the application. In addition to the above, it is believed that the public rising main from our sewage pumping station runs across the site, its precise route will need to be established and appropriate measures taken to ensure its protection as a result of the development.". Not quite the same as Mr Williams.
4. Mrs Little has said that she will accept submissions up until the date that the application goes to Development Control Committee but she has made the point that the later the letters are received, the less likely they are to influence any potential negotiations that will commence once the timetable for the initial consultation closes at the end of January. Any new documents received in respect of the application will be “re-consulted” on in the usual way, allowing a further period for responses. (How will we know if "new" documents are received? How long will be be given to comment on them? Will the developer be treated in the same way as us? And see above and below about "consultation periods)
(How will we know if "new" documents are received? How long will be be given to comment on them? Will the developer be treated in the same way as us? And see above and below about "consultation periods)
The major consultees are also expected to meet the timetable for submitting their responses and, if they are late and the application is moved on, this could cause a problem. However, there is no possibility of this application being dealt with in anything less than 4 months, given the technical difficulties in dealing with the site for development. I am satisfied that everybody will have sufficient time to submit their responses. (At least two consultees have asked for extensions - the Environment Agency and the World Heritage Coast Team. Local Government elections take place in May 2007 - in about 4 months time. The Development Control Committee will have new members (I wonder if Seaton will be represented this time?) and some of them may have little experience of their new roles. In such situations you tend to be guided by "experts" - in this case EDDC officers.)
(At least two consultees have asked for extensions - the Environment Agency and the World Heritage Coast Team. Local Government elections take place in May 2007 - in about 4 months time. The Development Control Committee will have new members (I wonder if Seaton will be represented this time?) and some of them may have little experience of their new roles. In such situations you tend to be guided by "experts" - in this case EDDC officers.)
5. The applicants will be asked to submit open book accounting in respect of the viability of the scheme in order that we can assess what capacity there is for community benefit to assist negotiations on the section 106 agreement. However, there is no requirement to know whether or not any of the businesses on the site are viable and we will not be seeking to examine their accounts. This is not a material planning consideration that we will take into account in the processing of this application. (So, we just Hollybush's word for it - in spite of their links to other companies associated with this particular developer. Martyn Harrison (chair of Hollybush) must be resting MUCH more easily in his bed, given his remarks about Hollybush Hotels and loans to Weymouth Football Club recently. Let's hope the EDDC lawyers doing their "due diligence" think otherwise)
(So, we just Hollybush's word for it - in spite of their links to other companies associated with this particular developer. Martyn Harrison (chair of Hollybush) must be resting MUCH more easily in his bed, given his remarks about Hollybush Hotels and loans to Weymouth Football Club recently. Let's hope the EDDC lawyers doing their "due diligence" think otherwise)
I hope that I have answered all of your questions (no). However, I do feel that we are in danger of pursing something of a “red herring” in terms of focusing on the issue of the length of the consultation period. I feel that efforts should now be concentrated on the consultation response rather than continuing the debate over the time being allowed to respond. (Spot the "red herring" - it may not be where you think it is!).
(Spot the "red herring" - it may not be where you think it is!).
This application has some considerable way to go and there will be plenty of time for all concerned to make any comment that they wish to (I have to recall here the meeting of the Executive Board in November 2006 when we got 48 hours notice that they were meeting to agree to sell EDDC's land to the developer "to facilitate development" - excuse me therefore if I do not find this reassuring). I am more than satisfied with the way this issue is being dealt with by my planning team. (Nice to know that he is "more than satisfied" with his planning team- but why should that make us satisfied too? It sounds rather complacent to me, but then, what do I know about local government).
M R Williams
Several times recently I have received communications from East Devon District Council which say that Lyme Bay Holiday Village isn't viable and we will be losing only 26,000 bed nights but gaining more than 250,000 day visitors. In fact, Lyme Bay Holiday Village has around 120,000 bed nights per year and, as I have said before, you need to replace one bed night with at l;east 3 day visitors (or 6 half day visitors if they can stay here only for 3 hours?) so the real figures are quite different - so different that it constitutes a major error which should not have gone unnoticed.
This is one to ponder on while you enjoy the sunshine....