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Stand Up For Seaton (SU4S)

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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Welcome to Clonesville

I've received an interesting article about the effect of Tesco on property prices, the link to the article is here.

But one of the paragraphs in it is worth copying in full...

Last week the company announced plans to build 960 homes in the Woolwich area of London, as part of a new £400 million development.
The scheme would include a 100,000 square foot Tesco store. The idea seems to be that the homes themselves would make the supermarket itself commercially viable, especially in predominantly poorer areas of the UK. Clearly, the combination of a Tesco store and lots of lovely new Tesco homes will make both much more valuable to each other.

...now there's a thing, the Liatris plan proposes a 50,000 square foot store and 386 houses. Add the other houses yet to be around the site and, gosh this looks amazingly similar. So regeneration, a la liatris, is by building a whole new self contained suburb, sans overnight tourists. Day tourists get to see marshes and, oh, happy shoppers...just like the ones in their own clone town.

Someone remind me, what is it the people of Seaton get exactly?


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How can I check that my planning application has gone in/see the letters of support and objection?

Now that (most) objections have gone in, how can you be sure that yours is there? Well, every member of the public is entitled to view the file with all the objections in it (that will make interesting reading!).

You just have to give the Planning Department at EDDC (telephone 01395 516551) and ask to be put through to the Planning Department. Make an appointment to view the file – and hey presto. At least that’s how the system is supposed to work. If you know better ….. and if you see anything interesting in there mail us at the link opposite.
Problem is, because we don’t know the real cut-off date we can’t know when the file is complete, so we will just have to keep checking


Monday, January 29, 2007

A declining tourism industry?

In the Western Morning News this weekend - plans for a multi-million pound
holiday village with 250 bed spaces and a leisure complex with an indoor
swimming pool and gym. Amazingly this in in Devon -where we are told holiday
villages no longer have a market. The scheme is being put forward by Trevor
Standby, described as one of the leading lights of the tourism industry in
the region. The article goes on " Guidance given to the Standbury family by
South West Tourism, the North Devon Marketing Bureau and a leading holiday
cottage firm has indicated a lack of provision at the top end of the
self-catering holiday market. "

Perhaps Mr Stanbury would like to extend his business to East Devon!

HT - WendyM

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Is there something we should know?

Still on my browse through the Midweek Herald I noticed the item called "tell your Herald". I repeat it here...
"Lyme Bay Holiday Village, Seaton, coveted by the community for so many years, will one day close.
Its owners have put their intentions on record. In two to three years time, the site will be vacated."

Whilst it's beyond argument that Hollybush could upsticks at any given moment, it's that certainty on the timescale that's interesting.

Anyone at Archant like to point me at the doc that says that, definitive, timescale?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Still not too late if you miss the 26 January 2007 deadline for objections

Although we have received no reply to the three emails to four different people at EDDC regarding the deadline for submitting objections to the Seaton Regeneration Area plans we are confident that they would have REAL trouble considering 31 January 2007 too late, as they published this date themselves in the local newspapers.

So, if you haven't yet got those objections in - DO IT NOW!!! PLEASE!

Friday, January 26, 2007


After today we turn our attention to the Development Control Committee - the small group of councillors who decide on this application. This group may first decide to make an inspection of the site - if they do, we can have placards, etc but we can't speak to them. Following the inspection there will be a meeting where certain groups (I expect we will be one) will be allowed to speak for 2 minutes. After that they make their decision. If they say Yes, we have other options which we will talk about then. If no, the developer can object (we can't). We have other options at this point which again we will go into if we need to.

So, other than getting your objections in, we can have a brief rest until the Planning Inspection or the Development Control Committee meeting. We will let you know about the dates for those.

If, however, anyone thinks we should be doing a particular demo in a particular place in the meantime, feel free to suggest it but also be prepared to consider organising it too - with help from us and the blog.

Clean Up at Branscombe - latest news

Devon Wildlife Trust will be wanting volunteers to clean up local beaches in about a month's time when all the oil has been taken off the Napoli and when cargo has been dealt with - contact them if you want to help:

and Stand Up for Branscombe and the Jurassic Coast

EDDC also has a contact email at

Phone number 01395 571700

(mel added that bit as blogger's comment bit wouldn't let me do the email address!)

Response to letter(s) Hugo Swire/Karime Hassan

Dear Mr Swire,

Thank you for your letter of 16 January 2007 (received this morning) and
the copy of the letter from Karime Hassan. I am afraid that this letter
makes me even more worried for the future of Seaton. I will take Mr
Hassan’s letter point by point:

*Community Facilities*

A SUSTRANS cycle terminus is NOT a community facility.

It is not enough that the Visitor Centre should be 1,500 sq m – its
footprint on the ground is 480 sq m so it would need to be three storeys
high. It is well documented in tourism literature that a building such
as this – squeezed between a 5,000 sq m supermarket and a main road -
cannot function as a world-class venue, simply by virtue of its design.

I find it insulting for Mr Hassan to suggest that a community of more
than 7,000 people (more than 8,000 if this planning application is
successful) should be satisfied with 278 sq m of community space which
“could be” either a gym OR a “community room” when the developer (and
EDDC, through its land sale to the developer) walk away with fat profits.

It is interesting to note that Mr Hassan does not develop this section
any further – he does not mention how the OFSTED Day Nursery, gym,
swimming pool, meeting rooms, activities centre will be replaced. Bear
in mind that in order to satisfy the requirements of planning obligation
gains these have to be replaced (or enhanced) in the same phase as the
loss to the community. The Visitor Centre and Wetlands Centre are
conceptual projects at the moment with no hope of realisation for 4-8
years and cannot be considered as appropriate planning gains. There is
also the matter of whether a local authority should buy 250 acres of
land to develop as a tourist attraction without any public consultation.

*Economic Impact*

The 274 chalets is NOT 274 people. They include 2, 3 and even 6 person
units. Therefore the total number of people staying on any one night is
more than 400 = 2,800 bed nights per week 0ver ,say, 50 weeks = 140,000
bed nights. Government figures say that each bed night has to be
replaced by 3 day tourists. 140,000 x 3 = 420,000 day tourists. Number
expected: 230,000 (Visitor Centre) 30,000 (Wetlands Centre) = 260,000.
Shortfall: 160,000 day tourists.

Mr Martyn Harrison says that the holiday village is a dying industry and
yet he has just recently bought another holiday village (from the owners
of Liatris – Renowned Holiday Villages) on Hayling Island. A strange
thing to do if it is a dying business. Also, Hollybush Hotels owns 83%
of Weymouth Football Club which recently asked for planning permission
for its ground to be sold to a supermarket chain (Asda). The local
planning authority refused planning permission and immediately after
this Mr Harrison sacked all Weymouth Football Club’s management and put
all its team up for sale. He cites “financial problems”. Yet, in an
interview on radio (I can provide it) he says categorically that neither
Hollybush Hotels nor Weymouth Football Club is in debt.

Mr Harrison seems to have an unfortunate ability to move into areas
which are on prime development land, then finding that his businesses
fail and then finding himself forced to sell out to developers. No
wonder he is finding life difficult at Lyme Bay Holiday Village.
However, he will no doubt be cheered that he still owns several hotels
in Weymouth which will have a boom time for the Olympic Games in 2012.

I have urged East Devon District Council to be extremely vigilant in its
“due diligence” with the developer and with Hollybush Hotels – I do hope
that they are up to the task.

South West Tourism (Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive) says that the south
west is crying out for high quality tourist holiday villages. We have
never said that we want a hotel on the site – what we want is for the
majority of the site to be developed as an “eco-tourism” destination – a
growing market. This would require none of the infilling and somewhat
less retain space whilst maintaining the required number of homes
(affordable and unaffordable) on this site – which for Seaton to 2011 is
approximately 170, our total to that date being 300 of which some
130-150 have already been built in small developments around the town.

It comes down to who you believe – Mr Harrison, Mr Bell or Mr Hassan -
when it comes to matters of what sort of tourism is needed in the south
west and what is successful and what is not.

It is completely pointless to pursue the rural Renaissance Programme for
a market destination strategy if (a) there is going to be no tourism in
Seaton for 5 years whilst this development takes place (2) using the
assumption that planning permission will be given for this development
since no decision has been taken about it and (3) noting that it is
planned to be a strategy for “Seaton and the surrounding area” and not
Seaton alone.

The 496 car parking spaces available to tourists will be available for
up to 3 hours; after that a fine will be payable. They will be shared
with shoppers to the 7,600 sq m of retail space and with some residents
of homes over shops.

I am afraid that Mr Hassan’s letter goes no way at all towards answering
any questions in terms of the current application; in fact, it raises
more, and more serious, questions.

I note that Mr Hassan does not address the economic and social costs of
what he sees as his vision for Seaton: the 65-90 lorries per day, 6 days
per week, 10 hours per day for 3-4 years (developers own figures) to
build a 2m high island; the impact on nearby residents both in terms of
amenity and flood risk, the loss of community facilities, the lack of
employment opportunity for more than 1,200 extra adults in the town (not
the displacement employment referred to by the developers), the flawed
transport assessment (e.g. no calculations of weekend or bank holiday
traffic done) and the lack of public open space (a hard-paved access to
shops is NOT a public square).

Finally, find below the number of people who have attended meetings on
this matter in Seaton since last September. Not one person has spoken up
in any of these meetings for the development:

26 September 2006 - Winstons
Stand Up for Seaton
More than 300

01 November 2006 - Town Hall
Seaton Development Trust
Between 500 – 600

15 November 2006- The Knowle
Stand Up for Seaton
More than 120

9/10 January 2007 – Town Hall
Stand Up For Seaton

15 January 2007 – Town Hall
Seaton Development Trust
150 approx

15 January 2007 – Town Hall
Town Meeting

17 January 2007 – Holiday Village
Stand Up For Seaton
300 approx demonstrators

What it really comes down to is: who are you representing? The people of
Seaton or the officers of East Devon District Council? I do hope that
the need to keep the people of Sidmouth and Exmouth on-side for the next
General Election whereas the people of Seaton and Axminster will be part
of the Honiton constituency will not influence you in your decision.

Like it or not, if this development is a disaster, your name will be
forever associated with it as the MP who was there and did not make his
views clear.

Yours faithfully

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The "intention" factor

I finally ran into a copy of the Midweek Herald today (there is no delivery here) and noted the letter from Terry Dinham in response to a previous correspondent to the paper. Knowing you read this Terry, whilst I might accept the point that you had "no intention to mislead" per se, the 4 page blurb (sorry, advert) was near the mark when it comes to honesty. According to Mr Dinham, the mere act of stating that it is an advertisers announcement and mentioning the word "developer" and " Liatris" means that it is obvious who sponsored it. Actually the problem is with the thrust of it,that and the only contact details provided were those of the EDDC and the accuracy of the content of the 4 page spread itself being somewhat debatable. Also the many members of the public who asked me at the time why EDDC were doing ads.
If you say the words "sales pitch" then you get the gist...we've already covered the topic so I won't go on about the discrepancies it contains, but what is curious is that Terry seems to have ended up defending the advert placed in a completely different newspaper
No confusion here Terry, just ironic smiles;-)

Martyn Harrison (Hollybush Hotels) and Weymouth Football Club

Anyone wanting to know more about Martyn Harrison runs Weymouth Football club can do no better than listen to the interviews at
this site (click here)

particularly the one titled "Weymouth".

For those without audio, he (Ian Ridley) quit when Martyn Harrison started running the club. He has written a book about it, "Floodlit Dreams - How to Save a Football Club" (though the interview is about how not to save one).

He notes that after Martyn Harrison got to the club 7 directors resigned within 2 years, including the Finance Director. Weymouth Football Club was £2 million in debt and Mr Harrison had said that he was investing (through Hollybush Hotels - owner of Lyme Bay Holiday Village) in the club. However, when they were unable to sell the football ground to Asda he said that the £800,000 he had put into the club was actually loans and he would be wanting the money back.

Mr Ridley says that long-term plans were sacrificed for short-term gains and "instant gratification" and that debate about what was going on was stifled.

Oh, what a tangled web .....

The Seaton Sustainable Living Group's alternative development proposal

If anyone wants a CD copy of the Seaton Sustainable Living Group's alternative proposal for the Seaton Regeneration area, please email me with your name and postal address (email address opposite on the right). It is a slide presentation that works on Windows Movie Maker - which is pre-installed with Windows XP. The CD should run automatically on it.

A donation of £1 towards postage and expenses would be welcome for the CD.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

EDDC, Liatris, our MP - posting 2 (a long one)

OK, I feel up to the typing now, here goes (please see the entry below this for my comments on it). It's a long one so get a cup of coffee (and a pencil!):

The covering letter from our MP Hugo Swire:
Dated 16 January 2007 but received today:

Seaton Regeneration
Further to my letter of the 6th December 2006, I have now heard back from Karime Hassan and enclose a copy of his letter of the 4th January 2007.

I should point out that the Holiday Camp is a privately owned business over which no politician of any party has any control.

We must look to the future when examining redevelopment plans for Seaton and I urge all parties to work together to produce an outcome which is satisfactory to both the town's current residents, future residents, tourists and the surrounding local econom.

Yours sincerely,
Hugo Swire

All fine and dandy except for one work in the last paragraph. We are not examining redevelopment plans for Seaton we are examining REGENERATION plans. They are not the same. Unfortunate slip of the pen there.

Karime Hassan's letter (in the public domain):

Dear Mr Swire

Thank you for forwarding me your letter to Mrs Semple outling the points of concern raised with you regarding the proposals for Seaton.

The outline planning application has now been submitted by Liatris Holdings Limited. Much of the information that is sought is included in the supporting documentation. I shall clarify my understanding of the proposals in relation to the points raised in your letter.

Community Facilities:

The proposals include a SUSTRANS terminus (changing room, bike racks, etc) and community facility. I understand this to be a room that could be used as a gym or meeting room 278 sq m is the size of this quoted facility.

There is no proposal for a swimming pool.

The Visitor Centre is proposed as a building of 1,500 sq m (this is the specification set by the Locym Consulting Feasibility Report).

Prior to the application being submitted, I was aware of concern being raised regarding the size of the centre. I trust now the application has been submitted this point is now resolved.

Economic Impact

The loss of bed space capacity is clearly an issue that will have to be weighed in the assessment of the application. The Socio-Economic aspects of the proposed development are assessed in Chapter 6 of the Environmental Impact Assessment. The report states that there are 264 chalets with a 77% occupancy rate equating to 26,000 visitors. The value to the local economy in terms of levels of spend is much lower than the figure quoted in your letter. The basic conclusion drawn by the Assessement is that the loss of the Holiday Village will result in a monetary loss to the local economy but this will be more than compensated for by the visitors to the new Jurassic Coast Visitors Centre. The SUSTRANS terminus and expanded Seaton Marshes are also anticipated to have beneficial impact.

The Council now has the role of assessing the submitted documentation and testing the assumptions. I therefore believe that it is inappropriate at this stage to draw any conclusions,

The letter from Martyn Harrison, Chairman of Hollybush Hotels, included in the report in the support material is important background material. His view is that the Holiday Village was built in a different era and is increasingly an out-dated holiday concept. he believes Seaton should re-launch its entire tourism agenda taking into account changing tastes. He believes in the medium term the business will be forced to close.

Much of the work the Council has been progressing as landowner regarding the Visitor Centre and Seaton Marshes has been informed by the aim of providing a visitor infrastructure that Seaton use to re-launch its tourism agenda. The uncomfortable truth is that at the moment there is little demand for new hotels to serve the current tourism offer - not just Seaton but across the District. We are trying with the Council's land to provide attractions for visitors that may help stimulate demand for hotels. There are no easy answers and this is why we have resolved to pursue with the Rural Renaissance Programme a bid for carrying out a Market destination strategy for East Devon's Jurassic Coast with particular emphasis on hotels and bed space capacity.

Turning to the car parking provision, this is set out in the Transport Assessment Volume 1. There would be 496 new spaces for the retail development that would be available on short term basis for visits to the town.

Hopefully this will go someway to answering the questions raised but in terms of the current application it is premature at this stage to draw conclusions.

Yours sincerely,
Karime Hassan, Corporate Director, Environment cc: Andy Carmichael

Well - do you know what scares me in all that? The fact that Mr Hassan is constantly quoting what the developer says and then says later on that it is "inappropriate to draw any conclusions" and that it is "premature at this stage to draw firm conclusions". Do you find anything in there that reassures you, Seaton resident? It seems that developer's words stick in Mr Hassan's mind much more than those of Seaton residents.

I happen to be able to calculate that the holiday village has 274 chalets (I've stayed there, unlike many of these people, by the way). Let's assume that each of these sleeps 2 people (though some sleep 3 and 6 - I know I have stayed there) = 548 people could sleep there every night. Elsewhere occupancy is given at 77% so that's 422 people sleeping at the holiday camp every night. Multiply that by 7 and that's 2954 bed nights a week. Let's assume that the holiday village is open 50 weeks a year - that's 147,700 tourist bed nights per year.

Now, I don't think there is anything wrong with my maths there - so how does Karime Hassan get 26,000? (Why does he get 26,000 is another story).

We know from Government figures that to replace one overnight tourist you need three day visitors. We know from the Jurassic Coast documents that they consider day visitors a poor substitute for night visitors. So, we would need to attract 147,700 x 3 = 443,100 new tourists to Seaton to replace the holiday village.

How many are we getting? 230,000 for the Visitor Centre and 30,000 for the Wetlands Centre = 260,000. 443,100 - 230,000 = 183,100 lost day visitors or 61,034 overnight visitors.

Would someone check this and see if I have it right? Perhaps we could start with Mr Martin Jenkins, Sales Manager of Hollybush Hotels: 0845 450 596 - he surely wouldn't want to talk down his sales figures would he!

Hugo Swire, Karime Hassan, EDDC

I have today received a letter from Hugo Swire with a copy of a letter from Karime Hassan of EDDC. Neither letter reassures me - in fact they both make things worse. However, later when I have time to type them out, I will put them on the blog in their entirety (probably this evening). However, here are some choice highlights from the Karime Hassan letter - the remarks in square brackets are mine, the rest are Mr Hassan's:

Community Facilities:
"I understand that this is to be a room that could be used as a gym or a meeting room 278 sq m is the size quoted for this facility".
[that's a gym OR meeting room - anyone notice a replacement for the nursery, youth centre and other facilities in that sentence]

"the monetary loss of the Holiday Village ... will be more than compensated for by the visitors to the new Jurassic Coast Visitor Centre. The SUSTRANS terminus and expanded Seaton Marshes are also anticipated to have beneficial impact".
[Just where will the cyclists who have cycled 70 miles from Minehead stay? - ed. And since when did the developer or EDDC take credit for the SUSTRANS terminus - SUSTRANS have been patiently sorting out their route for years, often with very little help from EDDC and none from the developer until now when suddenly it makes sense to look as though they are the ones that have made this possible].

"We are trying with the Council's land to provide attractions for visitors that may help stimulate demand for hotels".
[sorry, exactly where will you put them - you've put a supermarket on part of your land. And sold it at a nice price to the developer (though perhaps for not as much as you might get on the open market for land with planning permission]

"There will be 496 new spaces for the retail development that would be available on short-term basis for visits to the town".
[NO, NO. NO - this is for shopping AND tourists AND people who live above the shops who can't part anywhere else. They will be for 3 hours maximum - after that, if you get Tesco for example, you will pay a £70 fine].

"Hopefully this will go some way towards answering the questions ...." [Nope - it raises more and more serious questions].

Full text tonight when I can face it ........

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tesco and Competition Commission

The Competition Commission has been investigating supermarkets. Today it issued its interim report. In that report it says it is going to pay more attention to whether Tesco has an unfair advantage in the market over other supermarkets.

It can do no worse than look in Seaton. Should Tesco decide to come here to take the 5,000 sq ft of supermarket space (and this is more than SIX times the size of the current Co-op) we will have:

Tesco in Axminster
Tesco in Honiton
Tesco Metro in Sidmouth (hey, why isn't it a BIG supermarket there! and not just a Metro!)
Tesco in Exmouth

Imagine if it were to be Tesco who came here! I wonder who in this area owns Tesco shares?

Fortunately, we have a long tradition of independent thinking in the West Country and I am sure it will come to the fore if necessary.

Environment Agency response to EDDC requesting more time

The following is an extract of a letter sent by the Environment Agency to Mr N Wright, Planning Admin and Local Land Charges Manager, East Devon District Council on 10 January 2007. It is a letter in the public domain.

“As your Council will be aware, on the 7th December 2006 the Government issued Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) in relation to Development and Flood risk. Central to this quidance is a “sequential risk-based approach to determining the suitability of the land for development in flood risk areas..” (please see paragraph 14 of PPS25). With this in mind, we shall be grateful if your Council will confirm that the appropriate sequential test has been carried out in accordance with this latest Government guidance. Given satisfaction on this aspect, it may then be appropriate for the proposed development to be considered in the light of the new “Exception test” (please refer to paragraph 18 of PPS25). Should your Council progress to this point, we would wish to make additional comments unpon part (c) of the Exception Test since the recently approved Flood Risk Assessment for this site/proposal will also need to be reviewed in light of PPS25.

Given the above position and pending confirmation that your Council considers the proposal to be in accordance with the requirements of PPS25 and particularly the sequential test, we must formally request that you provide an extension of time for comment on this application.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter. Meantime, a copy of this letter has been sent to the applicant’s agent for information.”

For those of you wishing to consult PPS 25, the link is:


http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/england/professionals/en/1021020428593.html (for cut and pasters)

So what is the cut-off date for objections?

I have just sent the following email to Mark Williams, Chief Executive of EDDC. I copied him in to the earlier email on this subject sent on 15 January 2007 - 8 days ago:

Dear Mr Williams

I have not yet received a reply to the email sent to Kate Little last week regarding the above [cut off date for Seaton Regeneration area objections for people in Seaton]. There were 5 points in the email; none of which has received a reply.

Of most pressing concern is to have confirmation of the closing date for objections from people in Seaton about this planning application.

Our letters from EDDC showed a date of 26 January 2007
The notices published in the local press show 31 January 2007
There is no date shown on the date on the Planning Portal
The date given for major consultees to return their comments is 9 February 2007

Which of these dates is the correct one for the people of Seaton?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Seaton Town Council Planning Committee decision

This evening Seaton Town Council Planning Committee met to decide its response to the Liatris planning application for the Seaton Regeneration Area. The Committee decided unanimously to reject the application.

Who owns Liatris?

Some of you will recall my tortuous efforts to find out who Liatris are and moaning that they were not registered in the UK. Well, bless my soul, there is a company called Liatris (but not Liatris Holdings Ltd - the one doing the planning application).

Registered in Haywards Heath - definitely the UK then. So, according to public records, what does this company do: information not supplied. When were its accounts filed: no accounts filed. When are the next accounts due: 1 October 2008, last shareholders list: not available. Secretary and Directors? One of those companies in London that where you don't have to give names (ATC Secretaries Ltd and ATC Directors Ltd, 2nd floor, 37 Lombard Street, London EC3V 9BQ). Dispensation for audit, dispensation of laying accounts, dispensation from holding an AGM - presumably meaning it doesn't have to have auditors, publish accounts or have an annual general meeting (if this isn't the case let me know).

So there you are - I feel much better knowing that this is a reputable UK-registered company if indeed it is connected to Liatris Holdings Limited .... or JJ Portfolio Ltd ... or Silver 2004 .... or Tameview Properties... or .....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Hollybush Hotels and Weymouth Football Club

Hollybush Hotels owns Lyme Bay Holiday Village and Weymouth Football Club. The Chairman is Mr Martyn Harrison. Weymouth Football Club recently asked for planning permission to sell its ground to a major supermarket but permission was refused by the local authority.

Mr Harrison has recently announced that the club is in financial difficulty and has released his management and put all the players up for sale. Hear him talk about why he has done this at a press conference he held on 10 January 2007 at the following link (it lasts more than 17 minutes so you will need broadband):
Terras in turmoil
Go for the press release

Stand Up For Seaton submission to EDDC

Work goes on with the Stand Up For Seaton submission to EDDC. If only there were enough time! However, our submission will be concentrating not only on all those areas which we and others have identified but also areas which others may not have covered. Again, I can't give details as no doubt the developer would latch on to these and Terry and his PR company would have weasel words out in no time.

If you have something you feel really strongly we MUST include in our objection, please comment here or by email (see the link to the right). We will ensure that all comments are included.

After 26 January 2007 don't stop looking here - we must turn our attention to the Development Control Committee. More about that later.

In the meantime, thanks to you all - especially those people who stop us in the street and pat us on the back (and, Mr Buskin, many of these are Seatonians born and bred who do NOT think as you do that "newcomers" have no idea what Seaton wants) - it keeps us going!

The problem, though, seems to be that EDDC seems to think it is a law unto itself or as "Judge Jeffrys" put it at the demo - EDDC Judge and Jury. Well, the EDDC officers, that is. Officially, they are supposed to work FOR the councillors and the tax payers but unofficially who knows who they think they work for - themselves perhaps?

The sad tale is that council officers seem to think that as long as they stay in the black and tick boxes that's their duty done and then they can then ignore us - and the councillors.

By the way, someone who stopped me in the street said that he knew a place where all these houses and shops could be built that had enough land and wouldn't flood - The Knowle!!! Personally, I favour the Sidmouth Leisure Centre and the 2 car parks next to it. After all our Leisure Centre and car parks are going for this development, we lose our swimming pool and gym - why shouldn't Sidmouth lose them instead. There are twice as many of them as there are of us so they need a BIG supermarket much more than we do! Can you see it happening?

And let's not forget that EDDC has promised £330,000 for a new community centre in Honiton - along with £500,000 from a housing developer. I wonder which council officers live in Honiton?

A publicity suggestion - Branscombe

Two people have suggested to me that a small group ought to go over to Branscombe where the media people are and stage a quick Stand Up For Seaton demo.

Sorry, I can't manage it - I have obligations I can't get out of - but anyone else with the opportunity - off you go! If you do go, concentrate on the environmental pollution - the lorries and the monsoon drain, as the people there will mostly be environmental correspondents.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Letter to EDDC about the conduct of the consultation period and other things

I have sent the following letter to EDDC (including to its Chief Executive Mr Mark Williams):

Dear Ms Little,

I am copying this letter to a number of people outside EDDC as it is my
intention to ensure that it is in the public domain - please indicate in
your reply whether you wish it to be in the public domain or private.

I am concerned that correct procedures for the Seaton Regeneration area
consultation period (and beyond) are not being followed correctly and
would like to have some reassurance on this. In particular:

1. Mr Carmichael has not yet responded to my email concerning the
closing date for submissions regarding the Seaton Regeneration area.
The community in Seaton has been told by letter from EDDC that it is
Friday 26 January 2007. The official notices in local newspapers show
it as 31 January 2007.

2. I have also requested from Mr Carmichael clarification on exactly
what system the council will be using to assess letters of support and
objection once received; I have not yet received a reply to this query.

3. We gather that a revised transport assessment has been requested by
DCC Highways Department and that other consultees (e.g. South West
Water) have requested new information from the developer before
responding. If this information is not in the public domain before the
cut-off date how can the community make its decisions if they are based
on incomplete information?

4. Ms Little, in a recent email, has said that she will accept
submissions up to the time of the Development Control Committee meeting
but warned that those received after the cut-off date would be less
likely to be included in the report on support and objection the nearer
it got to the Development Control Committee meeting. Can we assume that
this also applies to major consultees (as in the list on the planning
application) and the developers?

5. Finally, much is made in developer publicity of the fact that
Hollybush Hotels feel that Lyme Bay Holiday Village is not viable.
Bearing in mind that Hollybush Hotels has previous and current
involvement with the developers in other tourist interests (e.g. Hayling
Island Holiday Village, which it bought from the holding company which
owns Liatris) and current remarks by the Hollybush Hotels owner Mr
Harrison about the company's cash problems at Weymouth Football Club
(which Hollybush Hotels - not Mr Harrison - also owns) can we be assured
that both Hollybush Hotels and Liatris will be subject to "Open Book"
accounting procedures when EDDC performs due diligence?

I have copied this email to Mr Hassan, Mr Carmichael and Mr Williams.

Yours sincerely,
Sandra Semple

Radio Devon Interview with Sandra

For the Radio Devon interview with Sandra click on the link on the right for the mp3 version.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The full text of the statement by Malcolm Bell of South West Tourism

Mr Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of South West Tourism has given me his permission to reprint in full the text of his comments about tourism in Seaton which have been the subject of much spin by the developers. These were made on 22 December 2006 to Rachel Whitson, of Absolute PR of Exeter following a meeting with the developers. The text in full is:

Dear Rachel

Seaton Development Plans

I must first apologise for the delay in writing to you following our meeting with Terry and yourself earlier in the month, it has turned out to be a more frantic month than I was expecting.

Overall we would welcome the development of Seaton as a high quality coastal town especially given its location adjacent to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

As we discussed at a meeting, it is important that there is wise and careful development of our coastal towns, in order that we can ensure they are developed in a sensitive and careful manner. Such developments must build and strengthen the distinctiveness of each of the towns and increase the quality of life for local people as well as improving the quality of experience of visitors.

With regard to the development plans for Seaton, I recognize that the existing holiday park is approaching the end of its current commercial viability and that considerable investment would be needed to redevelop the site as a holiday park and that the required additional modern facilities needed may not be financially viable given the bed space capacity on the site. However, we would be encouraging the planning authorities to seek opportunities within East Devon to replace this loss of bed stock and preferably within the holiday park sector.

We would also like to see a high quality, distinctive and compatible design for the development that utilises good sustainable construction principles and that would build on, and improve, the overall visual attractiveness of the town. It will be important to include the local community in the process of shaping the development to ensure its acceptance and to maximise opportunities for other local businesses. In addition, we would like to see effective integration between facilities for the local community, the new residents and visitors. I was pleased to hear that you intend to ensure good integration with the site and the town together with the developing nature reserve.

This is especially important given that the site is adjacent to the main retail street and it will be important that the development ensures a close integration with the existing shops. Shopping is growing in importance as over a quarter of visitor spend is on shopping and we would like to see the maximum opportunities for local produce and goods.

Finally, I confirm our support for the development of Seaton and the sensitive and sustainable redevelopment of the site, but I would like the developers to integrate, if not all then most, of the comments made in this letter during their detailed planning and implementation.

Yours sincerely

Malcolm Bell

Chief Executive

Personally, I do not see that this constitutes agreement with the developer's plans in any way whatsoever and I see nothing to disagree with in Mr Bell's statement. He is talking of the development of Seaton as a whole, he states that he would prefer the tourist zone at the holiday village to be kept and says that any development must encourage tourists and be of the highest quality. He says that it is important to increase the quality of life of visitors and tourists, work with the local community and notes that community facilities should be integrated into the development and makes a special plea for local produce and goods.

I feel that Mr Dinham has misrepresented Mr Bell - who is a victim of spin - and that we should congratulate Mr Bell on his incisive comments. I fear, though, that Mr Dinham's assurance that he will ensure good integration of the site, the town and the developing nature reserve will prove to be empty promises and that Mr Bell's vision for Seaton will not be realised.

Stand Up For Seaton goes into hibernation - sorry, just joking, Terry!

Just in case you think we are resting on our laurels after yesterday's demo (great coverage today in local and regional press - must be keeping you on your toes Terry), nothing could be further from the truth.

Still working on our planning objection (10 pages so far - will be cutting it down!) and tomorrow will be sending out 20-30 copies of our alternative plan - to match the 20 or 30 copies already in circulation.

Sent an email today to EDDC telling them we are unhappy about the way the consultation period has been handled - will keep you informed on that one.

If anyone has suggestions about people who should receive a copy of the alternative plan prepared by the Seaton Sustainable Living and Environment Group (part of Seaton Development Trust) - apart from Terry who will, of course, be getting one - (and yes, Terry we are prepared to talk to you any time) please contact one of us.

South West Tourism and Seaton

Much has been made by the developers about comments made by Malcolm Bell of South West Tourism about his vision for Seaton. The developer gives the impression that Mr Bell is one of their supporters.

I have read some of Mr Bell's comments in newspapers (so they must be true!!!) and must say that I can't agree that he supports Mr Dinham and Co. In fact his comments are about regeneration in Seaton as a whole - not just the planning application site - and make good sense when taken in the context of a tourism chief talking about the development of tourism in a town rather than a developer trying to twist his words to make it look as though he is a supporter of their particular scheme.

I am asking Mr Bell for a statement to put on this blog which I hope will clarify the position for everyone but at the moment my sympathies are with him for being misquoted.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The demo - on ITV West Country News tonight

Well - another excellent turn out - 350 of us according to the reporter from ITV West Country News. We also spoke to other journalists (won't name them because every time I do Mr Dinham calls them and gives the "we are nice developers speech"!

We marched to the Town Hall and it was a wonderful sight - particularly those in their nighties and the children in the boat! Not to mention Bob the Builder and Captain Birdseye along with the Grim Reaper and Hanging Judge Jeffrys - our thanks to you all.

However, this fight has only just begun. The Town Council makes its decision next Monday (advisory only) and the Development Control Committee of East Devon District Council will meet soon - we will need a big turn out for that one so watch this space.

For those who were at the Town Hall meeting who said they would like us to charter a bus to take them to the Knowle - sorted. A kind wellwisher has offered to pay for one for us (and our thanks to that local person) - more about that when the time comes.

In the meantime, watch this space and watch those cartoons - we have geniuses working for us!


This post is "sticky" (always at the top of the blog) until 17 January 2007 - scroll down for latest news.
Wednesday 17 January 2007 (11 am) - demonstration about the loss of overnight tourism, the nursery and community facilities - outside the Holiday Village, Harbour Road 11 am (please be in place by 10.45 for press coverage). Mums, dads, toddlers, gym users, swimmers, people with tourism interests - and EVERYONE ELSE who cares about Seaton enough to Stand Up for it! Fancy Dress optional: for those wanting cheap and cheerful fancy dress: warm clothes with nighwear and dressing gowns over, placards: 2012 - Seaton Tourist - Nowhere to Stay (or similar, please keep all placards dignified).

Before Friday 26 January 2007 - get those objections in! And your children's objections, and your children's children's objections - they will be the ones left with the liability and not the legacy if this development is allowed to go ahead.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't you just hate it when .....

Apparently Hugo Swire says he wants to be the peacemaker between Stand Up For Seaton and the developers saying that, as far as he is concerned, we are not a million miles apart and we just need to compromise.

Mr Swire, a million miles is the least distance between us. The problem: Liatris wants to change Seaton so that it is like everywhere else; we want to change Seaton so that it completely different to everywhere else. REAL regeneration - something that will get people flocking in to see what we have done and marvelling at it, not something that gets them dashing out and moaning because of what we didn't do.

We want to go down the green route and work WITH the flood plain, Liatris wants to go down the grey concrete route and try to pretend that flooding doesn't exist.

We want a low energy, low carbon answer; Liatris wants a high-energy, high carbon answer.

I thought David Cameron wanted the same things that we want.

And as for Liatris: if they won't even answer a letter of concern that Seaton Town Council sent them in July, what chance has anyone else got?

And as for Mr Green (there's an oxymoron if ever there was one) - the Beer councillor: did you come to Seaton in the last week and see what we proposed as an alternative? If not, then perhaps you should - we will show you the 5 minute slide show (you and your colleague councillors) any time you like.

Development Control Committee

For those who wish to email the committee below, (and I urge you to do so), to save working your way through the list, we have a shortcut email that will email them all for you.

Sandra on BBC Devon tomorrow (Wednesday)

Sandra live on BBC Radio Devon around 8.10 am tomorrow, Wednesday 17 January 2007.
Stand Up For Seaton article in Western Morning News either today or tomorrow.

What next? The alternatives

A number of people have asked: what next? after the demo tomorrow at 11 am outside the holiday village. This is the situation as I understand it. Please be aware I am not a professional (far from it) so if I am wrong, please point it out.

We now have to turn our attention to East Devon District Councillors, and particularly those on the development control committee - the small committee that will make the decision about whether to accept or reject the planning application. There are no members from Seaton on this committee.

East Devon District Council officers (Mr Hassan, Ms Little and their employees at the Planning Department) make a recommendation to the councillors which they can accept or reject. Of course, officers are supposed to be professional, wise and sensible - that's why they are employed, so very often councillors "rubber stamp" their suggestions.

We do not know, of course, what the recommendation will be from the EDDC officers!!!!!!!!!!

The Development Control Committee will decide whether this is such a big application they need to make a site visit. If they do, we are not allowed to speak to them when they visit, but we can make our feelings known in other ways i.e. placards, etc. After that, there is a meeting at which each interested party (Stand up for Seaton should be one) has 2 minutes to address the committee - a bit like Call my Bluff, as you are not supposed to repeat anything anyone has said before you even though you don't know what the people ahead of you will be saying! You go in a particular order - big shots first, little shots last (I think it should be the other way round!).

After that they meet to make their decision - the public is allowed to be there but is not allowed to speak. And that's that. They can say YES, or YES WITH CONDITIONS or NO. If they say no the developer is allowed to appeal - we are NOT allowed to appeal (I know, it isn't fair, but this is the law, not justice or fairness - they are different).

But just remember our plan of action is to persuade them that our course is the most sensible and we are not out to "get them" and alienate them - just to show them that there is only one reasonable decision in this case. It isn't their fault they are in this position and they just have to be given the correct information by us so that they can do the right thing - what they have been elected to do - serve the best interests of the people of East Devon.

We can make a request to have the application "called in" by the Government Office for the South West. They can also say yes or no - if no EDDC's decision stands, if they say yes, they can look at it and they also have the power to say yes or no.

There could be a public inquiry - lots of people called as witnesses and an inspector making a decision. Very expensive - say around £10,000 - £20,000 if we want to employ a barrister to put our case. We can put our own but someone I know likens it to self-dentistry - can work but is bloody and better done by a professional!

Even if the planning inspector says yes, we have a further route - judicial review (of which there are 2 kinds but it isn't important here to have details). Sometimes this can be done by someone on legal aid, sometimes by an organisation. Legal aid is hard to get and you still have to make some contribution - say £1,000 - £2,000. If you have to field the judicial review yourselves and if you lose the other side can be awarded costs so you need about £50,000 in the pot to go down that route. Not impossible - tiny councils or local organisations have raised much more than that for things they found important. And the nearer you get to judicial review, the more likely you are to win.

So, here for information, are the contact details of the EDDC development control committee:

Cllr Mrs M J Boote (Chairman) (Dunkeswell) mboote@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr A W J Reed (Vice Chairman) (Sidmouth Rural)areed@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Miss V Ash (Honiton St Pauls) vash@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr D G Button (Broadclyst) dbutton@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr G P Chamberlain(Exmouth) gchamberlain@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr A E J Dinnis (Whimple) adinnis@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Lt Col A J M Drake (Newbridges) adrake@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr R G Franklin (Budleigh) rfranklin@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr K W George Trinity (Exmouth) kgeorge@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr D R A Key (Otterhead) dkey@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Mrs A E Liverton (Raleigh)aliverton@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Ms S M Merritt (Newton Poppleford) smerritt@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr R Mudge (Exmouth) rmudge@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr Mrs H E Parr (Coly Valley) hparr@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr C H Wale (Sidford) cwale@members.eastdevon.gov.uk
Cllr S C Wragg (Exmouth) swragg@members.eastdevon.gov.uk

Monday, January 15, 2007

A few quick things

320 people at the town meeting this evening. EVERY SINGLE ONE AGAINST THE LIATRIS PLANNING APPLICATION - NOT ONE PERSON WISHING TO SPEAK FOR IT. Well, the Town Council should get THAT message! But lots of constructive reasons (which is what they need). However, bear in mind a Town Council can give advice about a planning application but the District Council can ignore it.

Had pic taken for an article in the Western Morning News, possibly tomorrow - no idea what it will say but here's hoping they get at least some of it right! I'm live on Radio Devon on Wednesday 17 January 2007 at around 8.10 am (just before our demo at 11 am). I have to dash down to their studios to be there around 8 and then dash back for the demo.

Do please try to attend the demo(and I am so sorry working people that I didn't arrange it for a weekend - I quite rightly got my knuckles rapped on this one - my excuse I've never done anything like this before and I made a mistake - honest guv! Will know better next time). We are hoping that one of the local TV news channels will be there. And we have some GREAT fancy dress outfits. I gather the weather will not be good so bring your umbrellas and dress warmly!

Until then - my big big thanks to everyone who offered support to us tonight - including a lot of "old" Setonians as well as new ones - it's great to know we have your backing.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Our developers, casinos, East Devon District Council and our MP

One of the few things that we know about Liatris Holdings Ltd is that one of its associated companies (R J Bown) has had (or still has) casino interests. R J Bown sold some or all of its casino interests (including the second largest in the country at Westcliff on Sea – a small seaside town - and one in Bristol) for £30 million in January 2006.

We also know that, until recently, it seemed that East Devon District Council was minded NOT to allow super casinos in the district. However, we gather that at a council meeting last year at least one of the district’s councillors said that he had been very impressed by a visit he had made to see a casino in Bristol and the council decided to think about the matter a bit longer before making a decision. Unfortunately, we can’t at the moment give exact information on this nor whether the Council actually has made a decision on this because East Devon District Council’s website has been out of operation since at least last Friday, but details will follow.

UPDATE: taking a morning constitutional and passing the Town Hall we found a public notice which says (in part): From April 2007 current licensing arrangements for gambling activities will be replaced by a new system .... responsibility will be shared between the Gambling Commission and Local Authorities ..... East Devon's gambling policy will be published on 19 January 2007 and will come into effect on 31 January 2007. It can be seen on the EDDC website: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/index/council_services/licensing.htm or at the Knowle.

Today, in the Observer newspaper, there is an article about how there has been a report by a senior police officer (dated March 2006 but not made public until today) which says that super-casinos would risk:

- increasing antisocial behaviour and diverting police resources

- increasing organised crime and money laundering and

- increasing access to gambling for children and vulnerable groups

The report’s author is particularly concerned that gambling and drinking will be taking place at the same venues for extremely long periods [typically a casino operates from 1 pm in the afternoon to 6 am the following morning] and offering cheap drinks as incentives to stay and gamble.

The author goes on to say that " “destination casinos” are offering other family oriented activities and children will be taken to a gambling resort even if they are kept 50 yards away in another type of play room until they graduate at 18”. He also goes on to say that he is worried that “sex-based activities will be used to lure gamblers in". He continues, “When market forces are placed on an industry there are real concerns that the industry will not maintain its undertakings”. He criticises the current industry for using employees from eastern Europe:
“ ….. a body of employees whose history cannot be checked further back than the day they entered the

To be fair, the author gives super casinos a “cautious welcome” And the government says “Keeping out crime and protecting children and vulnerable people are central principles of the Gambling Act … All casinos will be subject to strict controls and their impact will be closely monitored”.

Fortunately, we have a saviour: none other than our own MP Hugo Swire who, in his position as Shadow Culture Secretary says: “It seems extraordinary that such dire warnings from police experts should have seemingly been swept under the carpet”.

So, we’ve no need to worry then – we can trust East Devon District Council to make sensible decisions on our behalf and we will see that on 19 January 2007 when their policy is published, we can trust the Government to monitor the situation and we know that Hugo Swire is on the case. Ah, that’s better – we can rest easy in our beds.

We know Mr Dinham says that Seaton has to reinvent itself to keep up with the times, but we do hope we don’t have to go too far …..

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Reports back from consultees - and just when do the responses have to be back with EDDC?

With itss usual efficiency EDDC appears to have two dates for the final submissions of letters of support or objection for the Liatris planning application. Letters sent to everyone in Seaton say 26 January 2007. Official notices published in local newspapers this week say 31 January 2007. We have queried this. Unfortunately, the EDDC website has been out of operation since at least Friday afternoon and you can't download documents or see what is there at the moment.

Our view on the dates: both are much too soon. We need MUCH longer than 8 weeks to go into the documents - bearing that part of that time was between Christmas and New Year, the full documentation wasn't on the site for several days and now the EDDC problem with its web site. Also several of the documents have been updated at the request of consultees (particularly the Environment Agency which has formally asked for an extension of the consultation period because it appears that latest guidance has not been followed by the developers) and South West Water (which had not been informed of the TOTAL size of the development and had been doing calculations based only on the Liatris submission). They have asked that the developers make further reports - especially as it seems that a large water main goes through the site. Heaven knows the thought of digging through another 2 metres of infill to find it must be making them a little annoyed.

Even more worrying is that it also appears that some of the documents have already been updated at the request of consultees (we gather that the transport assessment has already been the focus of amendment) and although we have requested to have these documents as soon as they appear, nothing has come through so far.

We have said to EDDC that the fairest thing is to wait until all documents are revised and resubmitted and sent to consultees and THEN start counting a further 8 weeks so that we can see what changes have been made and what difference it makes to our submissions. We await their reply with interest.

We are therefore making our responses with incomplete information - surely not the point of the exercise and not best practice.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Seaton Regeneration: The Alternative

Many of you will have seen the Seaton Sustainable Living and Environment Group’s slide presentation at our open days. Following that, we have refined our vision (Stand Up For Seaton) of how we think the site could work.

Homes: build them on the Axe Riverside site (this needs raising only 9 inches as it has already been raised once). Super-luxury homes facing the river, affordable housing facing the town. Public board walk along the river to the mega-marsh (see below). As a town we now need to provide only about 150-200 homes to fulfil our quota according to the Local Plan. These can go there – and on the Commercial Zone – see below. There is still space for a small hotel and other facilities.

The Holiday Village/Long Stay tourism/Short Stay tourism/SUSTRANS/Megamarsh/TIC/Vistors Centre: knock down the chalets, keep the two large buildings fronting Harbour Road. Build a stunning “eco-tourism village” – on boardwalks so that if there is flooding it goes UNDER the lodges. There are many good examples of this type of holiday accommodation. Clad the two large buildings in wood to soften them and make them look better. Keep the swimming pool, the gym and the nursery (if you must demolish the nursery, build another one, locate it the most suitable part of the site). The SUSTRANS route goes along the top of the site, down to the tourist hub. It remains a flood plain. In the front building (which is huge) put all the tourist facilities – Visitor Centre, Tourist Information Centre, SUSTRANS terminus – everything. Include tourist parking here. If you are worried the tourists won’t walk to town, get your (proposed) land train to ferry them all over town from wherever the Tramway decides to locate (see below).

In the middle section: (roughly where the derelict caravan park is now): open space of all kinds: park, gardens, outdoor sports, children’s play area, skateboard park, bandstand – you name it. PLUS a community centre also raised off the ground like the eco village. This area also remains flood plain – if it floods , it dries out.

Commercial/Retail/Live-Work Units/some further housing: If you must have the commercial and retail area put it where where the current car park, TIC and derelict Youth Centre are - adjacent to the "old town". A supermarket suitably sized for Seaton (and not for the rest of the world) and other shops, live/work units, etc. This might need to be raised but the tarmac is there already to make a start. Here you can also have homes above shops and live/work units. There will be no need for a monsoon drain – water from here will drain on to the flood plain directly down a slope.

Tramway: can go between any of the three zones (Eco village/open space/commercial). Comes three-quarters of the way down the site then stops short (so that people can cross from one zone to the other easily) but has a frontage on Harbour Road (or the Underfleet if it prefers to go there).

Sustainability: awesome - we are re-using and recycling buildings, working with nature, leaving a light carbon footprint. Of course, the site would have the whole array of renewables - tidal power, wind power, ground source heat, photovoltaics - you name it. Kind to people, kind to wildlife, wary of water.

Remainder of Section 106 money: Invest in the “old town” and pretty up the seafront.

This way we WORK WITH THE FLOODPLAIN and not against it.

How do we finance it: Section 106 money, Community Land Trust, Housing Association(s), Commercial Developers and Builders.

Result: The nightmare turns into a dream.

Only problem: the developers make less money – some money but not the mega-bucks they make from their proposal.

HOWEVER, they come out with brownie points and perhaps knighthoods and Seaton is happy.

The two information days -WOW

What can I say? What a fantastic two days! 724 Seatonians came to talk to us, see the developer's plans and make up their minds what they thought about it.

Where do we start with the thanks? Mel, Wendy, James, Sue, Lizzie, Brian and Brian, Margret, Sheila and the girls, Nick, Betty, Anne, Chris, Dave, Penny, Julia, Paul - and everyone else you were absolutely wonderful - what a team.

Our photocopying bill as we kept up the constant stream of information was astronomical but people dug in their pockets and we continued to keep ahead of the game.

Now, we gear ourselves up for the next couple of weeks - a presence at the Seaton Development Trust meeting on the afternoon of Monda 15 January 2007 (2-6pm), just as they had a presence at ours this week. And then the Town Meeting - who would want to miss that, at 7pm.

Next big event after that - the demonstration about the loss of overnight tourism and community facilities outside the holiday village at 11 am on Wednesday 17 January 2007. There are some cracking fancy dress costumes going to be on display there (if you want to know about a cheap one that anyone can wear from stuff they already own, contact me on: axevalleyrocks@yahoo.co.uk).

Then, make sure you get your objections in BEFORE 26 January 2007.

Now, I'm going to have a lie down ....... (but not for long!).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Planning Objection - Information and Advice Days 9 and 10 January 2007 Town Hall, Seaton

*Note- this post is sticky until 10th Jan for new posts between 5th December and 10th Jan please scroll down etc*

There will be two days of advice and information about how to put in your planning objections to the Seaton Regeneration Area at Seaton Town Hall on

Tuesday 9 January 2007 10 am - 10 pm
Wednesday 10 January 2007 10 am - 10 pm

There will be a demonstration outside the Lyme Bay Holiday Village to protest at the loss of community facilities and tourist accommodation when it closes. This will take place at
11 am on

fancy dress optional!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stand Up For Seaton on Gemini Radio Tuesday 9 January pm

Listen to Stand Up For Seaton on Gemini radio tomorrow - 9 January 2007 - in the afternoon news bulletins.

South West Tourism say the Visitors Centre and the Megamarsh are good for "the south west and for Seaton". Of course they are good for the south west - all visitors are good for the southwest. But for Seaton - why is it good for Seaton to replace regular, year round, long stay visitors with people who can stay only 3 hours because they have to park in a supermarket car park and visit a tiny visitors centre (max 1500 sq m probably less) dwarfed by a supermarket. (5000 sq m and probably more) and a DIY store (2000 sq m and probably more) - and when Seaton loses a day nursery, swimming pool, gym and meeting facilities to be replaced by - what exactly - the promise of a "room" in the Visitors Centre - which as of this moment is not funded.

Would you bring your kids to such a place (after 5 years of it being a building site)? Would you go across to the "old town" to visit shops that sell the same things as the supermarket? Would you come to a seaside town whose main claim to fame is "shopping for leisure". Why would 250,000 people come to the tiny Visitor's Centre (go to the Town Hall and look at the scale map of the site and see just how small it is)? Perhaps there will be a "ball park" so you can leave your kids whilst shopping!

Just remember - there is no funding - as far as we know (except developer money) for the marshes (unless EDDC is keeping something secret from us), there is SOME money for a Visitors Centre but only if it is matched by outside funding - e.g. another lottery bid and no such bid has yet been made - indeed cannot be made until East Devon District Council sells its land to the developers.

You cannot be sure that we will have a Visitors Centre, if we do have one you cannot be sure how big it will be. But you can be certain we will have a supermarket and a DIY store 200m from the river, town and beach - an area which we should be celebrating as World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.

We will have more than 630 houses with probably more than 1,000 adults and less than 350 jobs (and that's the developer's optimistic figure). Roll in second-homers and retirees yet again.

Where do you think tourists will be choosing to vist: Lyme Regis, Seaton, Sidmouth or Budleigh Salterton and where will they stay when we lose our 400 beds a night.? All in the South West of course so South West Tourism is happy.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Flooding stories

Flooding in a time of global warming is a real issue. In the new development, flood water which used to drain straight to the marshes is now supposed to flow along Harbour Road, go down the enormous monsoon drain which will be opposite Burrow Road and run the length of the development. In theory (and only in theory as global warming will put many theories to the test) this would keep the "island" development above flood water, although it would be isolated and the developers themselves say in the Environmental Impact Assessment that it would become a self-contained island surrounded by at least 3 ft of water and suggest two refuges with first aid equipment and possibly shallow draft boats or sea tractors to evacuate people. Good for them for thinking this through.

But where will the flood water go when we have this raised self-contained island protected by the monsoon drain (which, by the way also doubles as a "cycle route" and "public amenity space" because when it isn't raining you will be able to walk or cycle down it - not that the views will be up to much!)?

Does anyone remember the tidal surge of February 1979 which carried cars into gardens and down Beach Road, for example (very similar to the "mini-tsunami" late last year) and which had some people retreating to the higher floors of Harbour Road properties? A garage where Swallow Court is now was worst hit by it - I've seen the newspaper articles of the time.

Nasty experience but because the water found its way quickly to the marshes via the land which is now derelict, it was over relatively quickly, although clearing up after it took weeks. The houses in Blue Water Close were inundated with water (a minibus from All Hallowes Boarding School, which used to be at Rousdon, turned up and took everyone's carpets back to the school where they were dried in the school hall).

One scary thing was that the force of the surge dammed up the river mouth with shingle and effectively created a lake behind the dam which added to the problems of water coming along the seafront.

This was, of course, before the sea wall was built. Now that the sea wall is built the lowest point for a sea surge is by the Yacht club slipway, though Blue Waters Close is still the lowest point of Harbour Road. So what happens if there is such a big surge again now - what would happen for example if the sea wall is breached (remember at the time of last year's trunami the flood gates were open)? The water will no longer be able to run straight on to the marshes - it will run round the island, along Harbour Road, to the monsoon drain. Now that the sea wall is built the lowest point for a sea surge which does not breach the sea wall is by the Yacht club slipway so presumably some of the risk is now moved to the eastern end of Harbour Road, though the western end will still be the lowest point.

Where does this leave the properties on Harbour Road? Vulnerable. And what about their insurance risk? Well, OK for those people who are here currently and who have insurance that covers flood risk, but what about people who come here in future? The Association of British Insurers is so worried it held a Climate Change Conference in London in November 2006 and has launched research on coastal flooding which "stresses the significant expected rise in flood risk by 2040". You can read more at their web site: http://www.abi.org.uk/

In the meantime I leave you with this:

On 15 November 2006, Gregory Barker MP tabled the following EDM on Development in Flood Risk Areas (No 94). It has been signed by 99 MPs so far.

"That this House notes the findings of the research by the Environment Agency which shows that around five million people in two million properties live in flood risk areas in England and Wales; warns that the risk of both inland and coastal flooding in these areas will increase as a result of increases in the frequency of extreme weather events and sea levels rising due to climate change which could increase the number of properties at risk from flooding to 3.5 million; highlights the fact that claims for storm and flood damage in the UK have doubled to over £6 billion over the period 1998 to 2003; is concerned that more new developments are being situated in floodplains; and calls on the Government to take a more strategic and holistic approach to flood management and water supply by strengthening existing legislation concerning developments on flood plains, avoiding building new developments in high flood risk areas, ensuring that no new development goes ahead in at-risk areas unless it incorporates measures to mitigate the impact of flooding and devolving power over flood defences as closely as possible to community level".

I wonder if Hugo Swire has signed it?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Three miscellaneous bits

1. The Sidmouth lifeboat dummies (complaint received that they are available for fundraising all year but others don't have that opportunity). EDDC Corporate Overview Committee voted unanimously for them last night to stay and will recommend this to the Licensing Committee and a final decision will be made at a FULL COUNCIL MEETING OF EDDC. Just remember that the decision about the Liatris development can be made by the 14 or 16 EDDC Councillors on the Development Control Committee (on the advice of unelected EDDC officers) who do not (as far as I am aware) have to refer it to a full council meeting. That's democracy.

2. A correspondent has suggested that people might want to write to Prince Charles about what is happening in Seaton, given how interested he is in town design. Well, you all know his address: HRH Prince Charles, c/o Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA.

3. Some of you might also want to remind our local MP - Hugo Swire - just how many of us are against this development - we have spoken to him but he may have forgotten us as he doesn't get to Seaton these days, Sidmouth being as far as he will go. His address is similar: House of Commons, London SW1A 1AA (pity the poor postman who has this postcode's delivery run). However, as we are now not officially in his constituency (only until the next election but not during it) we should be writing to Angela Browning (same address) whose constituency we will be in - but who is retiring at the next election. Take your pick - perhaps send letters to them both.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


(Do have a look at the transport post below, it sort of goes with this).

I've been thinking about Sidmouth (I do this a lot!). The population figures I see for it put the population around 14,000 - 15,000. Seaton has a population of around 7,000.

And yet .... Sidmouth has no superstore. It has a small Tesco Metro, a small Lidl and a small Waitrose.

Now, we are being told that we must have a superstore because shopping is being done out of town. And we have to have a large DIY store because shopping is being done out of town.

Why doesn't Sidmouth have a superstore and a DIY store?

Transporting infill and construction materials into Seaton

Well, all leaflets in process of being delivered (contact me if you don't get yours before Tuesday: axevalleyrocks@yahoo.co.uk). So back to normal well, what passes for normal in Seaton these days! Already I have had a lot of feedback from people - my phone is hot, hot hot. However, I'm not going to reveal what people are talking about in this blog - I don't see why I should work for the developers, do you!

One thing that recently crossed my mind was about the lorries bringing in the spoil (remember 60-90 lorries per day, 120-180 journeys a day, six days a week for 2-3 years, the lorries bringing the pilings and then the construction material lorries. What I had forgotten is that presumably the Axe Riverside development will also be taking place at the same time as well as the construction of the superstore, so in fact we are talking about even more lorries (though I gather their site will not need as much raising up as it was raised when the railway was built so theirs will mostly be construction traffic I presume). And the superstore expects to be up and running within 12-18 months so we can add traffic from delivery lorries and shoppers. No tourists, of course, because there will be nothing for them to see - unless we run tours to see the building of a self-contained island of shops and houses on a flood plain on the World Heritage Coast .....

Now, let's think about this infill and construction traffic. What are the routes into Seaton?

First of all, mention is made of it coming from "the north" in the planning application. Now to me that says either it will come through Honiton or through Axminster and down through Musbury. If it comes from the west not via Honiton it would have to come through Sidford - no the lorries just couldn't get up that hill fully loaded surely (better hope not Sidford!) or along the minor road from Honiton to Seaton with its almost single line traffic on the Seaton side - love to see the lorries passing there! If it comes from the east and not on the dual carriageway it will come through Rousdon or Musbury. If it comes in from the south it comes in from the sea.

OK so now we've got it somewhere near Seaton having come in from north, south or east. Let's think of all the routes into Seaton and pick the most likely.

1. Though Axmouth. No surely they wouldn't use that route, there is that awful pinch point where the 2 pubs are.

2. Along the Colyford Road. No surely not - if they are coming from the Axminster direction - there's the bridge by the White Hart and the narrow road from Colyford to Seaton.

3. Down Harepath Lane. No surely not - that would bring it along past the primary school and the two doctors' surgeries (on different sides of the road) and to the pinch point at the traffic lights where Harepath Road meets Manor Road.

5. Down Seaton Hill. No surely not - first the loaded lorries would have had to go up to the Water Tower fully laden and then they would have two pinch points: Seaton Down Road where it turns into Harepath Road and then the same pinch point at the traffic lights where Harepath Road meets Manor Road.

6. Well, only one road left - from Beer. No surely not ..... surely not!

7. There has been mention of it coming from the sea. Now exactly where would you park a boat full of infill on the beach in Seaton. How would you transfer it from the boats to the lorries. What would the effect be on the sea, marine life and on the beach - a very, very vulnerable area when it comes to storms and tidal swells as we saw with the recent "mini-tsunami". And remember Lyme for the last two years - that's nothing compared to this.

And that's it folks - take your pick. Perhaps they will come in one way and out the other?

So - increased traffic, increased pollution, increased particulates, increased noise. increased damage to the roads. It's amazing what a council will foist on a town in the name of regeneration isn't it. Perhaps they are hoping to kill of the least healthy 20% of us or run us out of town so that when we get the 20% increase in population the net result will be zero!

Whatever happens they end up on Harbour Road. Now there's another problem - turning into the site. That's going to be interesting. Perhaps they will have to queue up sometimes. Nice! Especially opposite the bus garage with the school double deckers trying to get in or out.

Monday, January 01, 2007


All the information below was found from Companies House or the internet and is in the public domain.

The planning application for the Seaton Regeneration area has been put in by Liatris Holdings Ltd. This company is apparently also known as JJ Portfolio Ltd. This is confirmed in the following East Devon District Council Document – the Local Plan enquiry of Autumn 2005 see:


In this document (pages 15 and 16) the JJ Portfolio/Liatris Holdings Ltd (formerly Liatris) requested that “the affordable housing requirement for [the Harbour Road regeneration area] should be reduced to 75”.

According to Companies House, JJ Portfolio is owned by a company called Silver 2004 Ltd. Between them these two companies own many other companies. One such company is R J Bown Ltd. Until January 2006 R J Bown owned the second largest casino in the country (and the largest provincial casino) at Westcliff on Sea (a small Kent seaside town) but they sold this to Stanley Leisure plc that month for £30 million. The casino’s web site is


R J Bown also floated the idea of changing Olympia in London into a mega-casino at one time. R J Bown also apparently had a partnership with MGM (the American movie people) in a joint venture in a casino in Bristol – the Triangle


although they also seem to have sold this business to the people who are also the new owners of the Westcliff Casino (perhaps in the £30 million package mentioned above). According to Wikipedia:


the Westcliff on Sea site started as an open air swimming pool and was then a leisure centre. It became a casino in 1987.

The opening hours of the two casinos are shown as 7pm to 6 am in Bristol (except on Saturday/Sunday when it closes at 4 am) and the Westcliff Casino is open from 1 pm – 4 am daily.

This is what R J Bown say about themselves on the home page of their web site:


R J Bown Ltd holds interests in casinos, holiday villages and restaurants.
We are currently expanding our casino operations and are looking for further leisure market opportunities.The Westcliff Casino in Southend is one of the largest provincial casinos in the
UK. Spielers Casino in Southend is a contemporary casino with modern music, lights and plasma screens as well as traditional and electronic gaming. The Triangle Casino in Bristol is a stylish, elegantly designed modern casino, launched in February 2004.

Renowned Holiday Villages Limited is said to operate two holiday villages in Hayling Island and the Isle of Wight. The Beefeater of St Catherine’s Dock is a medieval themed restaurant. The Seashell of Lisson Grove is London’s best known fish and chip restaurant.”

Here, however, it gets a little confusing. Googling “Renowned Holiday Villages” brings up a link to the “2005 group travel awards” which shows that Renowned Holiday Villages were finalists for an award for their Mill Rythe (Hayling Island) holiday village (as was Sand Bay in Weston super Mare, owned by Hollybush Hotels which owns Lyme Bay Holiday Village). So far, so good. But then if you google “Mill Rythe Holiday Village” you find that the web page comes up showing that it is currently being run by Hollybush Hotels.


Google “Renowned Holiday Village and “Isle of Wight

you get a link to:


but the web link on the site is broken.
However, there is an address for the holiday village: Puckpool Hill, and a postcode which equates to the

Harcourt Sands Holiday Village”.

When this is googled one of the posts:


which says (in May 2006) the reviewer thinks The Harcourt Sands holiday village is being knocked down

and further googling brings up a new site where this is confirmed:

Pegasus Planning - redevelopment of the site:


for Tameview Properties (the people who were shown as the owners of the Seaton regeneration area before Liatris). Pegasus Planning is a company that drew up the plans of the site for Liatris and Tameview Properties was the name of the company that owned the Seaton Regeneration area site before Liatris, so presumably there is some sort of connection between them. Pegasus say in their web brochure (above) that with the
Isle of Wight holiday village they are working on "concept proposals for the development of the site to deliver regeneration and renewal in an important coastal location".

And now it gets more complicated! It seems that Tameview Properties is also now owned by the company that bought the casinos - Stanley Leisure:


So, to recap, Tameview Properties – which used to own the Seaton Regeneration site before Liatris (which is now – or was at one time - called JJ Portfolio Ltd according to EDDC) are all linked and are connected to a company called R J Bown Ltd which has (or had)many leisure interests includes or included casinos (though this year (2006) it sold some – or perhaps all - of its casino interests to another company for £30 million - Stanley Leisure which now also owns Tameview Properties. Tameview had been (or is still is) planning to knock down and redevelop a holiday village on the
Isle of Wight once owned by Renowned Holiday Villages (owned, according to the company’s web site, by R J Bown). The other holiday village linked to Renowned Holiday Villages – on Hayling Island – seems to be run by Hollybush Hotels which also leases Lyme Bay Holiday Village from (presumably) Liatris or one of the other companies in this group.

Googling “R J Bown” shows that it also has international interests.

There is probably a very simple explanation for all of the above ....