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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.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

SU4S latest...

Stand Up for Seaton founders Sandra Semple and Mel Greenyer - in their new roles as councillors and, in Sandra's case as town Chairman - will be meeting Kate Little Head of Planning, East Devon District Council (EDDC) and other council officers early next week to be briefed about the "secret" technical meeting that was called last month to discuss the infill problem (up to 90 lorries a day, 6 days a week, 10 hours a day for up to four years).

Readers may recall from the local press that members of the Seaton community were banned from the meeting (called by EDDC as developer/landowner) because it would be "too technical" for them. The resulting summary of the meeting (eventually received thanks to a Freedom of Information request from Seaton Development Trust) proved to be very non-technical indeed and gave much credence to the community's alternative, the "Seaton Eye" (see right) as a viable option.

A few days after this meeting four members of Seaton Town Council (including Sandra Semple and Mel Greenyer) will meet with developer's agent, Terry Dinham, to try to find out exactly what has been going on over the last six months and why there has been a deafening silence from developers and no community consultation in spite of EDDC having received more than 900 objections and only 8 letters of support for the planning application. The meeting was called by the community and not by the developer.

In the meantime, Sandra and Sophie O'Connell (Stand Up for Seaton's youngest councillor at 20) have featured in two widely distributed press articles. Sandra appears as an "elderly first-time protestor" (not sure she will like that one!) in Age Concern's new magazine "Heyday" and Sandra and Sophie feature in an article in "New Start" magazine here which is about the use of blogs and My Space as the way forward for campaigners.

Well done Sandra, Mel, Sophie and the other Stand Up For Seaton councillors: Graham Jones (head of Seaton Town Council Finance and General Purposes Committee), Pepita Collins (its Vice-Chair), Claire Wise, Julia Roebuck and Bob Palacio - all making their mark on environmental issues, youth facilities and the town's asset management.

Keep up the good work!

From Regeneration and Renewal

House prices lower in coast towns.

Although some coastal towns (particularly in Scotland) are seeing
rapidly increasing house prices, 61 towns in the UK have lower house
prices than their county average (Sidmouth is shown as having above
average growth with the average house price being 8th highest at
£267,101. Seaton is not included in the published list.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From Regeneration and Renewal

The British countryside will become a "theme park for the rich" without
urgent action to tackle rural housing shortages. Analysis found that
house prices have risen 11 times average local earnings in areas such as
north Cornwall and Berwick on Tweed. Measures such as releasing
surplus public land for affordable housing has been slow to be
implemented. The National Housing Federation is calling for the
right-to-buy to be restricted in rural areas.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Regeneration and Renewal 22 June 2007:

The agency that manages flood risk could bring most of England's
defences up to the required standards by using its resources more
efficiently, the government public spending watchdog has reported. The
Environment Agency has estimated that it needs a further £150 million
... but in a report ... the National Audit Office says that the agency
could reduce the need for extra funding by improving the
cost-effectiveness of its work. It says that the Environment Agency has
railed to meet its goal to ensure that 63% of England's flood defences
are kept in their required condition - in March only 57% were in this state.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

MPs attack role of Regional Development Agencies

MPs attack role of Regional Development Agencies in use of funds
destined for coastal towns:

Money earmarked for the regeneration of former fishing ports has been
spent in areas nowhere near the coast, an MP has claimed. Cleethorpoes
MP Shona McIsaac said government cash, which was allocated to the
regional development agencies, has been "divvied up almost equally across
the RDAs, including London. ... In one region, we discovered that it was
used to put new lampposts somewhere not remotely near the seaside, she said.

Let's hope our Regional Development Agency isn't one of the guilty parties.

Monday, June 18, 2007

From "New Start" magazine 15 June 2007:

"Minister makes pledge on town centre planning tests:
A government minister this week reassured MPs that retail planning
reforms would not weaken the package of policies credited with reviving
Britain's high streets over the past decade. Planning Minister Yvette
Cooper ruled out a return to the "destructive" policies of the 1980s and
1990s which were blamed for the decline of Britain's town and city
centres. ..... [She] insisted that any replacement for the "needs test"
would continue to support complex town centre redevelopment projects."

In a later article on the same subject, Rynd Smith of the Royal Town
Planning Institute says, "You really have to ask why we might suddenly
risk the rash of bypass sheds and allow the sustainable travel cat out
of the bag at the same time. I hope common sense prevails".

The Liatris planning application does not, of course, support complex
town centre redevelopment - it encourages "retail bypass sheds" and it
means the death of Fore Street, Queen Street and Cross Street shops and
the movement of the "town centre" from the range of small, independent
shops there to a "clone town" centre based on two enormous shopping sheds.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

From New Start regeneration magazine 25 May 2007

Watchdog tells government to focus on more than just homes:

The government has been told its flagship policy for sustainable
communities puts too much emphasis on housing and not enough on economic
development to regenerate rundown areas. .... The Sustainable
Development Commission (SDC) said there was a "perverse incentive" for
the housing market to opt for new homes rather than refurbishing older
ones building new homes meant that the developer could avoid VAT which
would have been payable on a refurbishment of an older property.

Friday, June 15, 2007

From "New Start" regeneration magazine 1 June 2007

Town extensions do little for sustainability, research finds

A researcher claims new extension to existing urban areas contribute
less to sustainable development than many believe. The researcher says
that Poundbury, for example, has a higher proportion of people driving
to work than the national average or that of the local area.

He goes on to say that many of these extensions have not met the aim of
reduced car use or their sustainability appraisals carried out at the
planning stage.

Monday, June 11, 2007

First zero emission home unveiled

A new house design that will be the first to meet the environmental standards all new UK homes must achieve by 2016 is being unveiled later.
Kingspan Off-Site's Lighthouse design is the first to achieve level six of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

The two-bedroom house is insulated to lose two-thirds less heat than a standard new home.

It features solar panels, a biomass boiler and water efficiency devices such as rainwater harvesting.

Full story: BBC

Monday, June 04, 2007

An Example of a good development ?

Eco homes offer green template
A development of 35 eco-friendly homes in South Molton has won plaudits as a model for sustainable housing. But despite concerns about climate change, the Oak Meadow scheme is a rare example of green house building.

Oak Meadow is a neighbourhood of 35 cutting-edge eco-homes which it's hoped will become a template for rural social housing.

The Devon and Cornwall Housing Association's development in South Molton has won several national awards for its innovative design.

Oak Meadow is part of the association’s long term plans to develop green and affordable homes that are light and airy to live in, but also low maintenance and very energy efficient.

The houses we live in are responsible for over a quarter of the country's carbon dioxide emissions - that's a massive proportion of the gas that causes climate change.

In the South West of England there are around two million homes. The vast majority - including most of the 16,000 built last year - are leaking energy.

That has a serious impact, both on the environment and the pockets of the people who live in them.

Homes that require less energy and can be heated efficiently are less harmful to the planet.

That's where the Oak Meadow development scores highly.

Each home is fitted with energy saving devices
The homes, built for local people, are fitted with the latest heat and energy saving devices together with the ultimate in water recycling. They have also been built using materials from renewable sources.

The Smiles family have lived on the small estate since it was built and rarely need to switch on the central heating.

That's because their home is incredibly energy efficient. The timber frame houses are stuffed full of insulation from floor to walls.

"When you're talking about saving, the bills are much less," said Candy Smiles.

"It recently went down to minus seven outside but it was 18 degrees in our living room. We don't put the heating on every day and we're just in short sleeves most of the time.

"They are definitely the houses of the future and it would be nice to see many more of these sort of homes around."

Architect David Gale has applied the latest eco thinking to these properties. They were designed to face south and south-west to make the best use of their position to maximise energy from the sun and alleviate cold winds.

"In the private courtyards we've positioned the outside sheds so that they stop cold north easterly winds coming through," explained David.

"So just by positioning the buildings carefully we can create a much more energy efficient space."

The homes are triple glazed
The list of environmentally friendly features is extensive - from triple glazing, solar panels and special cool larders to heat buffer zones and rain water toilets.

An ingenious design of ventilated cool larder almost replaces the family fridge. The larder uses circulating cold air all year round, taken from the soil in the summer and the outside in winter.

Even the landscape has been designed to high ecological standards, with corridors for wild animals and the creation of wildlife friendly habitats.

Sounds to me like a development which works with the environment, rather than taking over the environment... maybe Liatris could visit for much needed inspiration ?

Full story from BBC: How we built Britain

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Leeds trust in bid to buy school:

From Regeneration and Renewal (Funding and Finance section) of 1 June 2007:

A development trust in Leeds is seeking to raise money towards the
purchase of an empty primary school by selling shares to local residents
and businesses. Headingley Development Trust is trying to persuade
Leeds City Council to sell it the school at less than market value so
that it can develop the building into an enterprise and arts centre.

The share issue (shares of £1 - minimum investment £100) will be
non-transferable meaning they can only be sold back to the development
trust. This would give residents a stake in their own community. The
return for investors would be "quite small" but there would be a
dividend fixed at a certain rate each year though there would probably
not be a dividend for the first few years.

This chimes in with the "Quirk report" which recommends that local
authorities sell assets to the community at a nominal sum (which could
be as low as £1). A special lottery fund will be set up to help some
buyers of these assets to set themselves up with new facilities.