Town Planning and Conservation Areas

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This section deals with dubious practices in town planning, including felling of trees in a designated Conservation Area to help make way for housing or commercial car parking on a flood plain. Trees in a Conservation Area are generally protected to the same extent as trees covered by specific Tree Protection Orders - but the schemes are so riddled with bureaucracy and expensive to enforce that little real protection may be afforded to trees if they stand in the way of a determined property developer.

Related topics are discussed in the Gardening and Sustainability Section including discussion of Sidmouth's long running dispute between the author and Britain in Bloom. Threatened prosecutions under the Town and Country Planning Act (section 215) for growing a 'wild' garden will also be found there.

Examples are given of abuses (or attempted or pending abuses) of the planning system. The first case to be documented relates to land close to the author's home, in the area controlled by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

EDDC has been heavily criticised for many years for its poor environmental record. The Planning Department has been singled out for particular censure for poor performance. The Chairman of the Planning Committee had to remind Councillors that they should both bother to read papers prior to meetings, and turn up to vote. The Council is heavily dominated by Conservatives who have run a 'one party state' for so long they know that they can get away with just about anything. It is claimed by some local people that the entire system is a waste of public money because all the important decisions are taken behind closed doors.

A long established system of 'regional' planning committees within the EDDC area (which worked about as well as could be expected in the circumstances) was replaced by a single Development Control committee on which councillors have to determine planning applications despite possibly having little local knowledge. This change was presented as a move towards providing a 'quality service' - whatever that means when translated into English - and to their credit, some councillors objected strongly to the change.

Quite apart form the huge profits to be made out of planning permission being granted in cases where arguably it should have been withheld, the fact that the whole system is no longer held in much respect should be a cause for local concern. If specific cases of abuse are known or suspected - for example cases where 'who owns the property' having an undue influence on a planning decision, then there is no longer any reason to expect ordinary people to respect any part of the planning system - and especially not their local councillors.

Using recent local history as a guide, one possible outcome of the planning application in respect of 'Village End' is that all objections will be ignored (if they are even read by more than one or two councillors) and the scheme nodded through after a few tame members have voiced minor reservations - just enough to avoid any possible accusation that they were all asleep, or that they did not give the application their fullest consideration. Details will be reported on this website.

Index for this section

Examples of dubious town planning - do you know of any similar cases?

Proposed building at Hamilton Garage and Village End: letter to the Environment Agency

Proposed building at Hamilton Garage and Village End: letter to EDDC

Proposed building at Hamilton Garage and Village End: letter of objection sent to EDDC

Trees felled in a Conservation Area - photos.

Aerial photographs - their use in planning applications

Ownership of the land at Village End, Sidford.

EDDC confirms their view of illegal tree felling - email of 17 March

Letters from the EA dated 19 March

Letter from EDDC dated 7 April (in reply to my letter of 15 March)

Email sent to EDDC and Sidmouth Herald 8 April

Flood risk assessments (FRAs) and inadequacies of PPG 25

Planning applications refused at Hamilton Garage - but work continued on site.

Planning granted for building works - but what about altering the flood plain?

Transcripts of telephone conversations with EDDC and the EA

Letter from the EA 8 May 2006 - feeble and pathetic?

Notification to the EA of requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

Tree felling in Cumbria causes local outrage - but what can or will the Council do?

Sidmouth Town Council - its effectiveness as a planning advisor to EDDC

Conservative council leader jailed for attempted planning scam (press report 3 April ????)

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