--> /* end of banner manager 1 */

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, February 28, 2007

New for Summer 2007

EDDC and Liatris commission a range of postcards celebrating the beauty spots around Seaton...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The youth of 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.

This evening I went out to them and talked with them. There were 3 girls and 3 boys about 14 years old. I asked them why they were doing such daft stuff. They said they were bored and it was a laugh (it was the boys trying to impress the girls - and failing miserably I might add!). They were quite sheepish and agreed to clear up all the mess.

I asked them what they would rather be doing. The said "Having a rave". That isn't as bad as it sounds - they would like to be somewhere warm and cheerful, indoors, where they can play their own music and lark around a bit.

Now let me think - where could that be? You don't want them too close to people - youngsters do make a lot of noise. You want somewhere in the town centre. You want somewhere they could drop in and enjoy themselves where they might perhaps also come into contact with good role models for their later lives or find information about things they want to know about but are too embarrassed to ask about.

Hang on, that sounds familiar - I think I've just invented something called a "Youth Club". Now where could we put it .......

Oh, this makes me SO ANGRY. These are the young people who would have been at the youth club had we still got one. Instead they are throwing toilet rolls into the Town Hall.

Contributor's poem

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 East Devon, for that is our fate.

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.

In a Dormitory Town things can get quite low

‘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 !

SU4S, Seaton Town Council and Seaton Development Trust write to Liatris

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
East Devon Doesn't Care

The letter states:

Dear Mr Dinham,

You will be aware of the level of opposition to outline planning application 06/3400/MOUT submitted by Liatris Holdings. As at 5th February 2007 there were 713 letters to EDDC opposing the application and 7 in favour, with more letters arriving since.

It has been suggested by Stand Up For Seaton and the Seaton Development Trust who are representative of large numbers in the community, that a meeting be convened between this Town Council, members of those organisations and you, to which East Devon District Council are also invited, to discuss how we can deal with this impasse.

We would be happy to meet with you at any time to discuss the way forward.
Yours sincerely, Cllr J Meakin, Chairman

So, the ball is firmly in Mr Dinham's court. Let's see what he and EDDC REALLY think about public consultation.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Who will look after our roads if 90 lorries use them every day?

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).

Can you imagine what 3-4 years of 90 lorries a day could do to roads already poorly maintained. Accident looking for somewhere to happen? Outside the primary school perhaps.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Audit Commission singles out EDDC Planning Dept as "an area for improvement"

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 East Devon that doesn’t have a youth centre.

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 Seaton Town Hall so disabled people can’t attend council meetings.

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.

The Natural England Objection in full

As promised, the full content of the Natural England objection letter is now available to view and download

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The derelict Youth Centre on the regeneration site

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.

According to an officer of EDDC it was decided that the building was too run down to continue in use so they closed it. There is no money at EDDC to refurbish it or to keep it going. Margaret Rogers (our District Councillor) tried to get money from Devon County Council (DCC). They were supposed to send a surveyor to look at the building before making a decision but he never went. DCC has done nothing further as far as EDDC knows.

All the officer could think of as a way of raising money was for the Scout Hall in Scalwell Lane to be sold off for housing development and the money to be used for a new youth centre. NO NO NO. Once EDDC gets its hands on land in Seaton it uses the money for things like purchasing 250 acres of wetlands on the marshes for itself. There is no way of ring-fencing Section 106 money so that it is spent on replacing lost facilities (we have all seen that). So, forget that. (And, if you are involved with that building at the moment, be afraid, be very afraid).

EDDC Estates thinks it will cost at least £10,000 to get the building in order - possibly more. However, they are reluctant to do this because, if they do, they will have to bear the cost of buildings insurance and they don't want to do that.

Let me just remind you again that EDDC has ear-marked £300,000 plus for a new Honiton Community Centre - which will also get upwards of £500,000 from the developer who wants to build houses near the current Tesco.

I have wondered in the past which EDDC officer(s) live in Honiton as it seems to be rivalling Sidmouth these day with all the new facilities it is attracting!

So, our teenagers kicked in the teeth for the sake of maybe £10,000 to put the building right and (let's say) a couple of thousand pounds a year to keep the place running (no more than that because there would be some money from renting it out to the people who used it in the past and to others wanting meeting facilities).

Sold down the Swannee again, Seaton.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Letter from HRH Prince Charles in Liatris objections file!

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.

One interesting letter is from HRH Prince Charles. He says that whilst he cannot offer his personal opinion on the matter he wishes to draw the Council's attention to a letter of objection which he has received and noted.

Also long, interesting letter from Natural England giving their comments on the scheme. As soon as I have time to type it out, I will put it on the blog.

Under 30s - what do you think of the Regeneration Scheme?

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.

This is a group that will be very much affected by what goes on. You will be the ones who have very little affordable housing, you will be the ones who have to live with it for the next 50-75 years.

Are there any people in that age group who want to have a say?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sustainability and SWRDA

What is the sustainability challenge for the South West?
The South West’s ‘eco-footprint’ shows that if the region’s consumption patterns were the
worldwide norm we’d need two extra planets to sustain us!
Our sustainability challenge is to reduce inequalities (in education, health, income and
access) and manage our growing and ageing population and economy in ways that use
natural resources efficiently, minimise the emissions that are increasing climate change and
protect the diversity of our unique environment.
What role does the RES have in achieving sustainable development?
Government guidance states that:
‘The RES is a primary mechanism for the delivery of sustainable economic development.
Sustainable development should underpin the actions and decisions taken in pursuance of its
objectives. RDAs should work towards the objectives in the UK sustainable development
strategy in terms that reflect regional distinctiveness or specific regional issues’.


OK, this is from the SWRDA website, these are the boys somehow getting tied up in the maze about holding back £1.25 million or not, over the visitor centre...while they're in that one, they should read the above...and while they do deals over the visitor centre, the question is: Does the Liatris plan overall get anywhere near the target of sustainable development, 386 houses (for kick off) plus 2 retail sheds trucking stuff in, limited affordable housing and no real community facilities...all built on a floodplain so we have to have infill trucked in all over our unique environment on the jurassic coast?

So the second question is for SWRDA...come on here and explicitly state whether you think the Liatris plan meets the paragraph above or not and how? We don't have James Naughtie so a straightforward answer will suffice.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

How much Section 106 money and what for and who decides?

I asked this question of EDDC under the Freedom of Information Act. I got the following reply:

"Your request is refused because the information does not yet exist.

Though the planning application has been submitted the application has not reached a stage where any information can be given on Section 106 agreements. The issue of what will be covered under such agreement will be the subject of the committee report and will therefore become public information once the report is presented to the Development Control Committee."

Well, it's good news that the information will one day become public.

But bad news when you think that EDDC officers are only a couple of months away from presenting a report to the Development Control Committee yet they still have no idea what OUR Section 106 money will be spent on and how much on each of their favoured projects (NONE OF THEM HAVING BEEN THE SUBJECT OF PUBLIC CONSULTATION).

Isn't there supposed to be public consultation before these sorts of things are decided? Have a look at the entry below - of course there is. We await it with bated breath!

Where is the public consultation, EDDC?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Government policy halted due to inadequate consultation

This is from today's Guardian about the government's wish to build nuclear power stations. This was challenged at judicial review by Greenpeace.

"The Chair of the All Party group said there was a predisposition within government to accept new nuclear and that any review would have only one outcome. ..... There [was] a widespread perception that the government had made its mind up. ..... There was increasing disquiet once the consultation process opened. ..... The all-party chairman of one committee said, "If doors have been closed on objections ... the government should say so, then we could have an honest debate and not one which is merely about modifying public opinion." ... Individuals and groups were forced to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract materials from the government about its real intentions. ... The government put nothing in the public domain that could be challenged. ... As a consultation it was manifestly inadequate. There was no consultation. Therefore it was procedurally unfair."

Mr Justic Sulllivan said that the consultation exercise was "seriously flawed" and the process "manifestly inadequate and unfair". He said something had gone "clearly and radically wrong" with the report the government produced. "The 2006 consultation document contained no information of any substance or any of the issues identified as being of crucial importance. It gave every appearance of being simply an "issues" paper. it contained no actual proposals and, even if it had, the information given to consultees was "wholly insufficient for them to make an intelligent response". The judge said the document lacked information of any substnce on the two crucially important issues - the financial cost of the new build and the disposal of radioactive waste. The information given on waste was "not merely inadequate but also misleading. There could be no proper consultation, let alone the fullest consultation, if the substance of these two issues was not consulted on before a decision was made".

Now, substitute the words EDDC for government and the Liatris proposal for the nuclear indsutry. For the two crucially important issues, take your pick: building on the flood plain, raising it with a million tons of infill, not consulting us about the Visitor Centre, not giving us adequate infrastructure or community facilities, the amount of affordable housing or purchase of 250 acres of wetland with our Section 106 money.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

An Alternative to the Liatris development

For those of you interested in other ways of regeneration have a look at
this information which is a summary of a talk given by the head of the Co-operative Housing Society about Community Land Trusts. One has already started in Devon so there is no reason why it couldn't be done here - only backward thinking.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Natural England's response to the planning application

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?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Holiday Village

Looking back over some past posts it seems some people are confused about whether we would like to keep the holiday village or not.

Time and again we have said that we want to keep THE SITE that the holiday village is on as overnight tourist accommodation. However, the current owners of the holiday village (Hollybush Hotels) are tied into a very complicated situation with Liatris which means that there can be no long-term investment in it so, with no long-term investment, it would be foolish to think that things can stay as they are (even though the holiday village operates at 80% capacity all year round).

In its Local Plan EDDC has said specifically that the site of the holiday village should remain zoned for overnight tourist accommodation. However, Liatris uses the excuse that, because they have to raise the land on the site with a million tons of infill, they can't afford to put anything on it but lots of houses and 2 massive supermarket sheds.

EDDC appearsto take this at face value even though,in their objection, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England points out that this is a well-used tactic of developers and EDDC would be naive if they fell for it (I am paraphrasing here but you can see their objection on EDDCs web pages).

What we do say is:

1. It is not inconceivable that you could upgrade the holiday village in such a way as to make it attractive to modern eco-tourists (with eco-lodges) as part of a water compatible development (see post below).

2. Were you to do this you could probably keep the two large buildings and refurbish them to look attractive. The one at the back would remain a swimming pool and gym. The one at the front could house community facilities, tourist facilities, the SUSTRANS cycle way, etc, with no difficulty.

However, unless EDDC puts the needs of the people of Seaton community before the needs of the developer community this cannot happen.

"Water compatible development"

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).

WHY does Seaton have to have a "non water compatible development" on a flood plain?

Because it makes a LOT of money for the developer (it must do if he can afford to bring in 1 million tons of infill to start with), gives EDDC chance to wash its hands of Seaton once again, and means that EDDC gets lots of council-tax paying houses (which it doesn't have to build elsewhere) and a revenue-producing marshland. Not to mention that the nasty supermarket can be put in EDDC's least favourite town (which then protects its most favourite town from such a nasty thing).

And watch out - once EDDC has got its hands on 250 acres of marshland it can do anything it likes with it. Although, of course, rising sea levels might mean that there is no marshland left in 50 years time and only the "Island" with its supermarket, with its shallow draft boats or sea tractors will survive! (By the way, the Environment Agency objects to my using the word "island" but what else can it be if it is described as being "surrounded by at least of 3 ft of water" after extreme weather?).

Will the use of Section 106 money to purchase the long-gone marshes look such a good buy then?

Monday, February 12, 2007

The fight is going on - and on, and on!

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.

EDDC officers have intimated that they will put their recommendation before a Development Control Committee meeting in around 4 months. This takes us up to the time of local government elections so the Committee which decides on Seaton's fate will either be made up of current members (no member for Seaton) or new members. Either way, of course, EDDC officers are probably hoping it will work in their favour - old members can just take an unpopular decision and move on, new members maybe intimidated by their new roles and just feel it is safer to take officers' advice. Well, it's not quite that simple.

All councillors have to be aware that what happens in Seaton today could happen in their constituency tomorrow (in fact, in Exmouth you could argue that what has already happened in Exmouth then happened in Seaton since they are facing similar though not quite as great problems).

So, councillors, you may well find that decisions made about Seaton will reverberate in your own wards one day. If you are seen to be ignoring council tax payers - wherever they live - people in your own towns may well wonder whether this is the right kind of representative for them.

The same with our (current) MP. He may think that, because his new constituency will not include Seaton at the next general election, he can afford to ignore the town since our votes will not count for him. But rest assured, if it all does go pear-shaped, people will have long memories. And, again, constituents will ask themselves whether their MP represents their interests or not.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Martyn Harrison, a profile by an (ex) co-director

If you want to know how Martyn Harrison (owner of Lyme Bay Holiday
village) does business, click here - and just be careful if he makes you an offer you can't refuse!

I have to share this with you!

Before it was called Hollybush Hotels, the business had a different name:
Ex-Cowboy Limited

Honestly, you can check it for yourself at Companies House

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The planning objection letters - some interesting things

Against the application: 713 letters representing approximately 1,000 people and/or organisations (see below).
For the application: 8 letters - including one which should be in the "against" file as it has only one "for" point and several "against" points. One of the remaining letters of support has as its main item that there might be a barber in the new development who will wash and cut hair instead of current barbers who only cut and one of them has as many objections as it has supporting items. Number of letters completely in favour: 6. The number of letters received does not reflect the number of people objecting as many letters are from two or more people - some of them have up to 19 names on them and others a list of organisations they represent. We took one of the files which had 146 letters and found that it related to 220 objectors - an increase of 36%. If this is similar for each of the files this would bring the number of objections to around 977 (with more letters coming in every day).
Specific points from the files (the first ten should also be on the EDDC website as they are from major consultees) others can be seen by the public in the files which are open to inspection (as long as you phone first so they have them available):

1. An email from the Environment Agency to Nick Wright (EDDC) copied to Lesley Rodway saying:
Hi Nick,

Please find attached our formal response to the above application following your letter of 11th December 06.I want to flag our response following your letter of 11th December 06 since with the advent of PPS25 (Development and Flood Risk) there is a big sticking point about the principle of acceptability of the proposed development that needs to be resolved. Until this has been done, we cannot comment further on the application details.
I’m not sure who the officer is that is dealing with this application at your end? I am including Andy Carmichael as a recipient of this email in case it is him given the “contact” name at the top of your letter …). Whoever it is, I’d be grateful if you could draw our comments to the officer’s attention please. I’d be happy/would like to have a chat with the officer to explain a little more about our concerns so if they would like to call me that’d be great (I’m in the office this afternoon, tomorrow pm and Friday pm.
On another matter, I’m acutely aware that I’ve not been in contact lately regarding how you are getting on with applying our Standard Advice … I just wanted to “touch base” with you on this and make sure you are not experiencing any problems? (I’m v.happy to come over and spend some time guiding staff if you wish?). Kind regards, J. L. Clarke, Devon Area Planning Liaison.

2.Streetscene – part of EDDC – has asked: who will own the car park? They have noted a loss of open space. They have noted that there is no specific flood protection for the car park and children’s play area and that the drain at the top of the site is too narrow and has a break in it for the tramway They ask why the flood channel cannot be east to west and discharge into the estuary and why the monsoon drain cannot be a covered culvert to be adopted by South West Water. They ask who is going to maintain the monsoon drain and who is going to pay for it. They ask for Section 106 money to bring the children’s play area up to date and say that perhaps too much Section 106 money is being given to the Wetlands project. They note that there are no public conveniences shown whereas some already exist on the site. They point out that the skateboard park will be near homes and it is likely that the homeowners will complain about the children using this amenity. They note the lack of public open space and ask who will be responsible for trees on the site.

3. South West Water were told in September 2005 by Jubb (the consulting engineers for the developers) that the developer was planning to build 400 houses, a SMALL supermarket and a visitors centre. Apparently no-one then told Jubb that this site alone was going to have up to 500 houses, an enormous supermarket, a large non-food store and a visitors centre and also that there would be another planning application for another part of the site that would have up to 150 houses and possibly a restaurant and small hotel.

4. One of the doctor’s surgeries asked whether, with Section 106 money, they could relocate to the Regeneration area and also build a gym. They were told that this would not be possible due to the “massive exceptional costs” of raising the floodplain and the surgery would have to approach the developer for a market price site.

5. EDDC keep saying that no-one has asked for a revised Transport Assessment. However, Peter Martin of Devon County Council asked for it.

6. There is an email from someone in EDDC’s building control office to the planning department which says “Thanks for the information on the outline planning application for Harbour Road, this flags up potential contacts for us, etc If you get the chance to pass knowledge of our service onto developers/applicants it all helps to show that we provide joined up services!...
Here is a general list of areas that may be of interest to developers,they are contacts and consultants we need to carry out and areas of work we control (it is also worth noting that the Building Control Surveyors have a great depth of knowledge of all things relating to construction, everything from Structural stability, through to Accessibility and of course all matters connected with Energy Conservation and Carbon Emissions.
Consultants we undertake and areas where we give advice are ….. [and here he goes on to list 18 areas in which they can give advice].
What’s interesting here is that a department of the council is bending over backwards to give useful information to a developer yet when we, as council tax payers, try to get some advice we are told that either we have to pay for it or they are too busy.

7. The Countryside section of EDDC says it is concerned about the landscape characteristics of the development where it is adjacent to the proposed Wetlands area saying they would want to see a gradual landscape between the two areas and not a line of properties on the boundary.

8. The Devon archaeologist makes the point that a lot of historical artefacts may have been preserved in the mud of the flood plain and says that excavation along scrapes, ponds and water channels could be archaeologically damaging and contrary to the Local Plan’s requirement of protecting the historical environment.

9. English Nature complain that they had not received the Environmental Impact Assessment and could not download stuff from the EDDC site – they kept being timed out. They asked for a CD (which I think they eventually got) but have asked for an extension due to the Napoli crisis (the World Heritage Coast team has also asked for an extension for this reason).

10. The Campaign for Rural England doubts that the degree of public consultation required by the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act has taken place and without this the planning application must be ultra vires. They say the cost of raising the flood plain should be assessed by independent surveyors in a report that should be made available to the public. They have the impression that Section 106 money for the Wetlands project might be illegal as they do not have a practical and definitive plan.
And now a few bits and pieces from the letters of local people:

11. A letter which goes into graphic detail of the “tidal surge” that hit Seaton in February 1979. The writer mentions seeing his children in their bedroom which had 4 feet of water in it - one on the top of a wardrobe floating on top of the water, the other frantically trying to keep afloat in the water.

12. A letter from a Master Mariner saying that flood water is restricted by the railway line in the east, the Borrow Pit embankment to the north and the Underfleet to the west. He says this is a finite area with no means of quickly dispersing water over the high water period. He says that the new sea wall will not stop this happening again [as we saw last year when the flood gates were left open during a tidal swell] and that the infill would make the problem greater not less. He also mentions light and sound pollution from the development on the marshes.

13. Someone who belongs to the organisation which has fishing rights on much of the River Axe up to Forde Abbey. He makes the point that salmon are returning to the river and that waste water with impurities will cause problems.

14. A member of the Royal Town Planning Institute who says the supermarket is excessively large. The developers have not applied the sequential test to determine whether such a supermarket is required. That loss of the holiday camp is contrary to Section 6.6 of the Local Plan and there is a conflict with Policy TO3 which prevents the loss of holiday accommodation. He goes on to say that the Heritage Centre is too small, few jobs are likely to be created and the Centre should not be seen as a substitute for the holiday village.

15. A letter from a resident in Axmouth which states:…. “in Church Street Axmouth, not only is the road less than 4.5 metres wid but the village brook is conveyed in a large diamenter cementation pipe just 200 mm below the surface and running lengthways continuously along the roadway. Electrical services straddle this pipeline just 150 mm under the road surface.

16. A local businessman who says that his business will be destroyed if this plan goes ahead (and with a lovely alternative sketched out by an architect who was astonished when she saw the Liatris plan!).

17. A letter pointed out that walkers and cyclists will be endangered where there are no footpaths if up to 90 lories use the local roads to bring infill to the site.

18. Several people make the point that the “non-food” retail may not ever be a DIY store and, if not, what will it be.

19. Someone currently living in Axminster who says that he had been planning to move to Seaton but having seen the Liatris plans will now definitely not move.

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"

How many letters of objection/support so far?

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).

Letters of support: 8. Well, not exactly 8 - one of them should be in the objections file as it has several objections and one item it supports and one of them has as many objections as it has supporting items. So let's be fair and say 7 and a bit - or perhaps 6 and a bit. So much for the Liatris wrap-round advertisement to the View from Seaton urging people to write letters of support.

Letters still coming in so if you haven't sent yours SEND IT NOW!

Will print some highlights from these letters (not using names of people who have sent them in, simply the points they have raised) later.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Unprofessional? Tesco?

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?
It seems that the supermarket chain in the land is not above it's own devious methods (yeah ok I'm already aware of some of the stripey ones less-than-nice moves but bear with me)...and these are particularly stunning in exposing the rapaciousness...
here and here


Saturday, February 03, 2007

What happens when Tesco comes to town?

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?

I can't understand the traders who say, "It won't affect me if they build a big supermarket in Seaton". I know some of them say, "Ah, we have a superior product and people prefer that so we will be OK". I am sure many people will continue to shop with the independents, but all of them? Surely it needs only a small proportion of their customers to defect to make a difference to the profitability of their businesses? And we all know how principles can waver when we have run out of something and the supermarket just happens to be the nearest shop and time is tight. And what about "predatory pricing" (big supermarkets offering things at below cost price to entice people in). In one town Tesco were offering £10 off your shopping if you spend £50 here in the first months of their opening. Does everyone refuse these offers and stick with the smaller stores?

In today's Guardian the owner of a small convenience store in Norfolk says "The 1,400 sq m Tesco now dominates the entrance to the [town]. ... In the first week of the superstore's opening the Stalham Shopper's turnover fell by 60% and stayed there. .... Several other shops and most of the old market have now disappeared from Stalham High Street and, worryingly, Tesco has now applied for permission to double the size of the store".

Bear in mind that the superstore offered by the developers is 5,000 square metres (six times the size of the current Co-op, not four times as reported in the Midweek Herald this week).

Liatris - more info

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.

A common director in some of the companies involved with all three of these companies is someone called Ian Nigel Davis. Try googling it and you get some interesting information about the company's dealings in Israel. The company in Israel is called 3i (not the same as the 3i in this country) and another director is Aviv Algor.

Unfortunately, we can't find out what happened after November 2005. Can anyone else?

East Devon District Council's casino policy

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.

The Policy: East Devon District Council's Local Policy on Casinos from "Statement of Licensing Policy for the period 31 January 2007 to January 2010", Article 4.1 (although this is mislabelled Article 1.4 in the document), page 17:

East Devon District Council has not passed a "no casino" resolution under Section 166 of the Gambling Act 2005, but it is aware that it has the power to do so".

So that's it - EDDC's casino policy. There is a little more - if they do decide to have a casino, they will have competitive bidding for it, they will await further guidance from the government on licence considerations and they will take the size of the premises into account when deciding on how many betting machines there should be and they will take into account the ability of staff to monitor the use of machines by young persons.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Letter from Chief Executive of EDDC re consultation

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).

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?)

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: "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)

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.)

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)

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!).

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).

Yours sincerely,
By email
M R Williams
Chief Executive

Can anyone at EDDC do maths - and, if not, should we be worried?

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.

It has puzzled me where they got the figure from and today I can reveal it - they got it from the developer's planning application (I have this in an email from Karime Hassan himself).

So, it seems the developer's planning application is what EDDC uses when it quotes figures to the public about the viability of Lyme Bay Holiday Village.

Does this seem just a little strange to you?

Friday conundrum

This is one to ponder on while you enjoy the sunshine....

Seaton has a thriving tourist base (let's leave the holiday camp "viability" question aside, it should not appear in any EDDC report - the fact that it does raises some bias/prejudice issues.). It is proposed to remove the large majority of overnight beds here and put them elsewhere in the region...thereby allegedly getting the SW Tourism people off respective backs. So the town, as I see it, becomes a residential backwater with (and no disrespect to them) birdwatchers as the long term tourism revenue stream.
The tourist who brings money to the town is the one who can't be bothered with bringing his/her own flask of coffee and sandwiches, the one we should be after is the one that brings his suitcase for a few days and lives in the town for food etc. Won't be possible if this plan goes ahead, this to me, throws doubt on the viability of having a visitors centre anyway (I'm a resident, I might go ooh, once).
It seems we're having a proposal to give something to the town to encourage tourism, but removing the facility of the town that will generate money, and as local traders would rather see money staying in town as long as possible, they get a whammy by a supersize store that whips a lot of that off to city boardrooms.

OK, I've soapboxed this enough, the thing to think about is this...
Hollybush Hotels own the holiday camp, their core business is Hotels eg The Prince Regent in Weymouth. If the visitor's centre (and town) relies on thousands of visitors and there is no overnight accommodation, how come there is no plan to include a hotel in this application from day one?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Signs & Portents II

Sign at nuSeaton superstore