South Hams Climate Action Network

Here is the reply from the leader of South Hams District Council following the SHCAN open letter to the Council about climate change and the ‘Networks’ follow up reply.

If you had any capacity or time before Christmas there is a full council meeting on 17th December for which you can send in questions via this link (by 14th December)

27/11/2020; Judy Pearce on behalf of SHDC to Barbara Phillips on behalf of SHCAN; by email

Dear Mrs Phillips

Thank you for your email and the attached letter.  I would be grateful if you would pass this reply on to the many signatories.  You are aware that we have  set up a Community Forum and I believe you are a member of it.  The first meeting is now only a couple of weeks away.  The aim for this is to set up a meaningful dialogue with a broad cross section of influential members from all walks of the community.

We have a target to reach net zero by 2050 as a District, but timelines are notoriously difficult calculate even when focussing only on what we can directly  influence. By way of illustration, the graph below is an emissions reduction timeline for the area taken from the Tyndall Centre

Obviously, we have little direct control over achieving this, let alone taking ownership of it ourselves. So theoretically we could include a timeline, but  we’d only be setting ourselves up to fail if we did.

The Devon Carbon Plan will include quantified carbon amounts for action interventions as well as budget intervals. Given the amount of resources thrown behind  the Devon Carbon Plan, to which we are partners, it would make sense to defer to this plan, as the success of the Devon Carbon Plan, along with its aim for the County to become net zero by 2050, will be reliant, in great part, on partner organisations anyway.

Most importantly though, the Committee on Climate Change recently reported to Parliament in June in its ‘Reducing UK Emissions: 2020 progress report to Parliament’.  On page 192, box 6.1, the committee reiterated that:

‘’The Committee previously called for local authorities to draw up low-carbon plans which include a high level ambition for emissions reduction by focusing  on drivers of emissions over which they have influence (e.g. number of homes insulated, car miles travelled). At the time, we recommended that it would not be appropriate for local authorities to set (or be set) binding carbon budgets given the multiple drivers  of emissions, many of which are beyond their control.’’

Within the Committee’s Sixth Carbon Budget report, which is due to be published in a matter of weeks, they are intending to produce an accompanying publication  on local delivery for local authorities. This is expected to include recommendations for local authorities with data and resources to aid decision-making, including early no-regrets actions for the 2020s and timelines for the 2030s. We can have regard to this  advice when it is published and use this as part of a refresh of the strategy once the Interim Devon Carbon Plan is completed and adopted. The main thing though that we wish to re-iterate is that our own Climate Change and Biodiversity Strategy  is a first version to set a baseline and act as a starting point for what we can do as an authority to tackle to Climate Emergency. It will continue to evolve over time.

Our climate change officer recently attend a webinar where the slide below was shown.  It is expected this will form the basis of the advice for local authorities  in the Sixth Carbon Budget Report.

Given what our draft Strategy and Action Plan seeks to do, we are not far off this, but perhaps some more could be done on embedding climate action in decision  making and better project readiness.

You are seeking more meaningful public engagement which is what we hope to achieve through the Community Forum.  We can also through the Forum explore further  options for a wider network across the district independent of the Council to help promote and co-ordinate actions.   We are proposing to get the principles of how the climate change reserve of £400k should be allocated agreed very shortly.

Finally, I need to reiterate that whilst we can provide leadership and provide an example, many actions to achieve carbon neutrality in our district are completely  beyond the scope and control of what a local authority can do.  This will rely on winning hearts and minds, along with many local projects set up and run by local groups.  It is our intention to allocate part of the Climate Change Reserve to such local projects,  so that they can provide an example and inspiration to others in the district.

I hope this goes some way to providing you with reassurance.

Kind regards


Here is the South Hams Climate Change Network’s reply:

Dear Councillor Pearce and the Members of South Hams District Council,

Thank you for your swift response to our open letter. We are heartened by your willingness to engage in an honest and open discussion about the actions that we must take in the South Hams to meet the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency. We also recognise that we cannot expect our elected representatives to solve this problem alone, and that we are all going to have to work together on this and make it a priority to implement the solutions. 

As regards targets and timelines, we accept that it might be counterproductive to make targets and timelines for the reduction of carbon emissions you have no control over. It is essential, however, to provide targets and timelines for the actions that the Council and its partners can take that will lead to some reduction of carbon emissions in our area. The Council needs to be able to evaluate the success of its own Action Plan. Most important is to focus on what actions will be taken by the Council and its partners this year in order to reduce emissions, and those each year thereafter for the next decade, for example, to quantify the number of houses that will be supported to be retrofitted.

We believe that engagement will be key to achieving the aims of the Climate and Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Firstly, the full engagement of the Council members and officers in aligning all its plans, policies and activities.  Secondly, engagement with the public.  We therefore welcome your expressed aim that you “hope to achieve more meaningful public engagement through the Community Forum”. We are unclear how the Community Forum will contribute to public engagement. Will the content or recommendations of its meetings be made public? What opportunities will there be for other South Hams residents, not selected for this forum, to engage with the Council? 

There is a great opportunity here to demonstrate real engagement with the public by each Councillor working with their own communities in local community forums,which are then represented in the district Community Forum. The Council has a role in alerting and educating residents to the challenges of sea level rise, biodiversity loss and food insecurity that climate change will bring. The Council could disseminate information through pop ups in various town shops/village halls/libraries and gather ideas and knowledge from the community, while providing practical information to residents, such as on grants for home retrofitting.

The signatories to our open letter demonstrate the level of concern among many people representing organisations and businesses across the South Hams for the vital work needing to happen now, and who want to see rapid, effective change. We would welcome your views on how the Council will bring in these wider voices and tap into their expertise and skills. The Community Forum does not seem to fulfill this role.  

We offer the open letter and this follow-up in a spirit of constructive engagement. We hope that everyone in the South Hams will realise the danger that lies ahead for us all in the coming years and that we must all work together and with you to face and overcome the difficulties ahead. We have sent out your letter along with a copy of this response letter to those who supported our initial open letter.     

Kind regards

Barbara Phillips (on behalf of SHCAN)

If you have any thoughts you wish to share with us as a result please reply to this email and we will take them on board. But there is no necessity to reply. Also, if you had any capacity or time before Christmas there is a full council meeting on 17th December for which you can send in questions via this link (by 14th December)

Thanks for your continued support.

Kind regards

Peter Scott
07896 276577
on behalf of SHCAN
South Hams Climate Action Network

FOSH © 2021

‘Reviewing the situation’

‘Planning for the Future’ revised after backlash

BBC political correspondent 15/11/2020

Construction workers building a new house

The government is set to revise its proposals for controversial planning reforms in England, after new housing targets prompted a backlash amongst some senior Conservative MPs

Ministers have proposed updating the formula for where to build houses to meet its aim of delivering more homes.

But some said the “mutant algorithm” will fail to “level up” the North and see the South “concreted over”.

Critics of the proposal include former Prime Minister Theresa May.

She said the new formula “does not guarantee a single extra home being built”.

As reported in the Sunday Telegraph, the government is now looking at redesigning the formula so it is “fairer”.

Revised plans are expected to be announced within weeks.

The new formula was proposed as part of wider government planning reforms.

They include a target to build 300,000 new homes across England each year by the mid-2020s, with the formula providing a rough estimate to local councils on how many need to be built in their communities.

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said local authorities would then be expected to come forward with potential sites for new buildings – taking into account constraints, such as areas protected by the green belt.

But several Tory MPs expressed concern that the government’s plan could mean more homes in rural areas and in the South East, rather than the North and Midlands.

Calls for ‘rethink’

While the 300,000 target remains “undiminished”, it is understood the government has listened to the feedback of critical MPs and ministers are now looking to “rebalance” the formula.

There is not much detail at this stage, but it is thought the focus will shift towards building more homes in the North and Midlands, and in urban areas or city centres – where the coronavirus pandemic has potentially accelerated a longer-term drop in demand for office and retail spaces.

It does not mean there will not still be new homes built in the South East.

Former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who met Mr Jenrick this week to raise his concerns about the formula, thanked his colleague on Twitter for “listening to the concerns of me and many other MPs”.

He added: “We support your desire for more houses to help young people get on the housing ladder and will work with you to make sure a revised algorithm achieves that.”

The Tory MP for the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely, who led calls for a change to the plan – and secured a recent Commons debate on the issue – told the BBC he also welcomed the fact the government was willing to listen to the “strength of feeling and depth of concern” backbenchers had.

But he said they now had to work with MPs and “rethink” as the UK needs “levelling up, not concreting out.”

Mr Seely added: “This is not about MPs objecting to development. It is how development is done sensitively. It is also about how we combine commitments made in our manifesto.

“Concreting over large parts of rural and suburban England, with no democratic right of communities to appeal, as the algorithm and White Paper suggest, will undermine much of the good we are intending to do.”

Former Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers also said the change in approach from government was “encouraging”, but “a few tweaks are not enough”.

She said: “We need radical change to the proposal if we’re to ensure that this algorithm doesn’t lead to unacceptable overdevelopment.

“So there’s still a long way to go before the government’s planning reforms will be acceptable to backbench MPs committed to safeguarding the local environment in their constituencies.”

Meanwhile, sources from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have also confirmed the department is looking to move a “proportion” of its operations to the West Midlands, with Wolverhampton understood to be the preferred location.

This would involve moving ministerial offices and senior officials, although ministers would still spend time in Westminster.

Next year has been described as a “ball park” timeline for the move.

For more information, email:

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Green pledges at risk


“What’s the point in investing in new technology to capture carbon when our planning system produces dislocated, car-dependent, land-hungry developments.”

If the prime minister is serious about tackling the climate emergency he needs to start by overhauling his ill-considered planning reforms.

It’s never been clearer: what we build, where we build it and how we move around are some of the biggest causes of carbon emissions. We know from painful experience that the destruction of nature is a common casualty of reckless development. That’s why a robust, locally led planning system is crucial, not the top-down free-for-all proposed by the government earlier this year.

We need to see affordable, well-designed new homes for rural communities. But these homes should be put there by a locally accountable planning system, not one dictated by an algorithm created in Whitehall. They should also be as environmentally sustainable as possible, from the materials used to the standard of insulation.

But the government’s plans fail to deliver any of this. They’re ambiguous about environmental measures and make few if any promises for when objectives will be met. The government’s aim to deliver carbon neutral new homes by 2050 is actually a sign of failure. This target represents 34 lost years, given that a pledge to achieve the same thing by 2016 was dropped by the Conservatives five years ago.

Boris Johnson is expected to outline his ten-point plan to tackle the climate emergency this week. With so much at stake we need clarity of thought and speed of action. But what’s the point in investing in new technology to capture carbon when our planning system produces dislocated, car-dependent, land-hungry developments, further increasing carbon emissions?

Where’s the logic in planting millions more trees when developers are given a free rein to build on precious countryside even though they could build more than a million homes on previously developed brownfield sites at a fraction of the environmental cost?

The planning system, if properly reformed, can come up with solutions to our environmental problems rather than add to them. It needs to recognise that the built environment, transport and energy play a big role in generating greenhouse gases, and act to change that. Above all we must value nature’s capacity to sustain our world. If the prime minister’s ten-point plan for the environment is to amount to anything, it must force a rethink of his damaging, polluting planning reforms.

Richard Simmons is chairman of the policy committee of CPRE, the countryside charity

Richard Simmons 

For more information, email:

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FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Gerston Point Decision

South Hams District Council refuse a retrospective planning application for development built without permission

South Hams District Council turned down plans to screen the development with trees

South Hams District Council have refused approval for the skate bowl, tennis court and garage unlawfully constructed on a Devon beauty spot.

The Professional Planning Officer’s Report to the Council will be of great interest and importance to anyone who wishes to see the South Hams, and in particular the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, protected and enhanced.

Here is the Councill Officer’s full Gerston Point report

In brief:

The applicant had offered to plant 1,000 trees to screen the site but, the offer has been turned down.

The Council said the construction near Salcombe was “detrimental” to the “highly sensitive” local environment.

It said formal enforcement action would begin. The applicant is yet to comment.

The applicant now has six months to appeal against the decision. He may have to remove the development and return the land to its previous condition.

The buildings are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Salcombe, Devon

The applicant built the additions on land adjoining his home in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and alongside the Salcombe to Kingsbridge Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest.

After complaints from residents about the “eyesore” development, a retrospective planning application was refused in 2019.

In April, the applicant submitted mitigation plans to plant more than 1,000 native trees.

Refusing the proposals recently, the council report described the constructions as an “incongruous development in a highly sensitive area of the open countryside“.

The district council report said: “The development has a detrimental impact upon the surrounding landscape… resulting in adverse impacts to the natural beauty, special qualities, distinctive character, landscape and scenic beauty of the South Devon AONB.”


Impact upon AONB/Landscape The development represents an unwelcome and incongruous intrusion into an undeveloped countryside location that is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Undeveloped Coast, introducing inappropriate built form within this highly sensitive rural estuary location, resulting in significant adverse impacts to the natural beauty, special qualities, distinctive character, landscape and scenic beauty of the South Devon AONB.

The development fails to conserve and enhance the natural beauty and special qualities of the South Devon AONB and conflicts with the aims and objectives of policies DEV23, DEV24 and DEV25 of the 2019 Joint Local Plan, is contrary to the guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework including, but not limited to, paragraphs 170 and 172, and is contrary to the South Devon AONB Management Plan including Policies Lan/P1, P2,P3, P4 and P5, LanMan/P1, Mar/P1 and Plan/P2.

Action: Pass to Enforcement Team to commence formal enforcement action and serve notice with regards to returning the land to its former condition (in accordance with details to be agreed with the LPA), including removal of the building and engineering operations undertaken to provide a tennis court and skate ramp facility.

Here is the Council’s full Gerston Point report

Other FOSH Posts about Gerston Point

Gerston Point – Latest

GERSTON POINT – THE HEADLINES The government proposes to strengthen the Local Authority’s enforcement powers and sanctions against intentional unauthorised development, consider higher fines and look at ways of supporting enforcement activity. (See ‘Planning for the Future‘ ) NOT A REGULAR ROOST – MORE A ‘BED AND BREAKFAST’ SHORT STAY Back in September 2019, South Continue reading “Gerston Point – Latest” Posted by Ian Bryan

All Blacks & White Stuff

You may well remember the controversial unauthorised two-storey garage, tennis court and skateboard bowl, built without planning permission at Gerston Point in the heart of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the designated Heritage Coast. This is a case which has attracted local community opposition, some support, some anger and even national interest. Continue reading “All Blacks & White Stuff” Posted by Ian Bryan

Protect and Enhance?

How do we protect and enhance?  How do we protect and enhance what we value in our landscapes whilst planning for sustainable development and managing change? We protect and enhance what we value in our landscapes in the following ways: Landscape designations such as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty aim to protect Continue reading “Protect and Enhance?”

Here is the Council’s full Gerston Point report

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Planning Reform in England – what is the end goal?

Peter Geraghty MCIOB FCABE FRTPI FRSA FAcSS – Executive Director at Hertsmere Borough Council

The consultation period on government’s planning reform proposals is now closed. In launching those proposals the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government eulogised:

“These once in a generation reforms will lay the foundations for a brighter future, providing more homes for young people and creating better quality neighbourhoods and homes across the country. We will cut red tape, but not standards, placing a higher regard on quality, design and the environment than ever before. Planning decisions will be simple and transparent, with local democracy at the heart of the process.”

Given that these reforms were considered to be a once in a generation opportunity – it is of considerable surprise that there is not one single mention of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the White Paper consultation. Following the adoption of the goals the then prime minister, David Cameron, issued a clarion-call to the whole world to “inspire the world with what we want to achieve”.

Given the importance of the UN’s SDGs and the government’s commitment to achieving them, as expressed by the prime minister, it is difficult to comprehend why they weren’t mainstreamed through the proposed planning reforms. A similar ambivalence to the revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) from 2018, resulted in another golden opportunity being missed. The revisions to the NPPF and the White Paper offer the chance to raise awareness amongst planning professionals and to mainstream SDGs into planning practice. For SDG11 not to be even mentioned in the Government’s Planning White Paper, from a practitioner’s perspective, is difficult to comprehend and reinforces the view expressed recently by the Environmental Audit Committee of the House of Commons that:

“the Government has not yet done enough to drive awareness and embed the SDGs across the UK–including within Government itself. We reiterate the recommendation made in our predecessor Committee’s 2017 report that the Government should do everything it can to support partners (government agencies, local government, civil society, business and the public) to contribute towards delivering the Goals. The Government should show leadership …” [3]

Since the adoption of the SDGs on the 1 January 2016, little, if anything, has been done since to mainstream them into planning practice in England. Concern has been expressed from the outset about the lack of awareness of the existence and relevance of SDGs. In 2016, the HoC International Development Committee reported:

“The Government’s response to domestic implementation of the SDGs has so far been insufficient for a country which led on their development as being universal and applicable to all … Engagement of government departments will be central to the success of domestic implementation, which itself has an impact on making progress on the goals globally.”

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has pointed out, that a voice at the top of Government speaking for the long-term aspirations embodied in the SDGs is vitally necessary. The government White Paper was an opportunity to demonstrate that leadership. Many of the issues identified in the White Paper could have been framed in the context of the SDGs. The three pillars could have been used as the basis for demonstrating how the SDGs could have been achieved. If local democracy is to be at the heart of the planning process the SDGs and the accompanying New Urban Agenda need to be fully embraced and implemented.

Decorative image of the SDG Goal colors
17 Goals to Transform Our World

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries – poor, rich and middle-income – to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection. More important than ever, the goals provide a critical framework for COVID-19 recovery. Read more here

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform

United Nations Sustainable Development Group

United to Reform

United Nations homepage

SDG Media Zone

If local authorities are to be ‘inspired’ to adopt the UN’s SDGs they need the Government to provide the lead and set the context for them and the New Urban Agenda. The failure to provide such context makes mainstreaming the SDGs that much more difficult. As the government considers the responses to the consultation it leaves the question unanswered – planning reform in England – what really is the end goal?

Click to access MHCLG-Planning-Consultation.pdf

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, Sustainable Development Goals in the UK follow up: Hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in the UK, Thirteenth Report of Session 2017–19, HC 1491 (10 January 2019), p.p. 3-4

House of Commons International Development Committee, (2016), UK implementation of the sustainable development goals, first report of session 2016–17, HC 103, House of Commons: London, p. 34.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, (2017), Sustainable Development Goals in the UK, 26 HC 596 of session 2016–17, London, p. 3 and 31.

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

‘Another U-turn’


A dramatic government climbdown will protect post-Brexit food quality, delighted campaigners say – after fears that chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef would be allowed in.

Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor 

In another U-turn, Liz Truss has bowed to pressure to give teeth to a new watchdog to prevent trade deals, particularly with the US, watering down food and animal welfare standards.

Now the new Trade and Agriculture Commission will be made properly independent, permanent and given the power to scrutinise each deal for its impact on food, welfare and environmental standards.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) hailed “a landmark moment”, saying: “This significant commitment to primary legislation on food standards is exactly what we have been calling for.”

And Neil Parish, a Tory rebel on the issue, said: “It’s been hard work, but I think we’re in a much better place now. We wanted firm guarantees in legislation and that is what we’ve got.”

Anne McIntosh, a Conservative peer and campaigner, said: “All our farmers ever wanted was fair competition and a level playing field and the government has recognised this and addressed these concerns.”

Ms Truss was forced to concede the setting up of the commission in the summer – but it had no budget, an advisory function only and was due to be wound up after six months.

Once permanent and independent, campaigners believe it will not sanction lower standards, achieving the “same objective” as an outright legal ban on acid-washed chicken, for example.

However, the climbdown is a huge blow for Ms Truss’s hopes of striking a quickfire trade deal with Washington, which has insisted access for its agricultural products is a red line.

Ms Truss had urged MPs and worried groups to simply trust the government when it said it would not cut food standards.

But they feared she did not want her hands tied – noting the UK has already proposed allowing in chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef in the US trade talks, albeit with higher tariffs.

Jamie Oliver had stepped up his warning of an influx of cheap food if ministers are able to prevent “proper parliamentary scrutiny”, saying: “I don’t like the smell of it.”

Announcing the U-turn, Ms Truss, along with environment secretary George Eustice, said, in a newspaper article, that an amendment had been tabled to the Agriculture Bill.

“It will place a duty on the government to report to parliament on the impact of trade agreements on the maintenance of food, welfare and environmental standards,” the pair wrote.

“Also, we have the independent Trade and Agriculture Commission, under the chairmanship of the trusted former Food Standards Agency head Tim Smith.

“Thanks to the commission’s excellent work, we are announcing today that it will be made a statutory body which will give independent advice on trade deals as they go through parliament.”

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Lockdown rules


The Prime Minister has announced a four-week lockdown in England, following weeks of pressure from his own scientific advisers and opposition parties to introduce tougher measures to tackle coronavirus. The full details of the restrictions will be published on Tuesday before a vote in parliament, but this is what we know so far.

When is England going into lockdown?

The measures will come into place at midnight on Thursday after MPs vote on them this coming week. While the lockdown will end on 2 December, it will be replaced with the current tier system and local restrictions will be introduced depending on an area’s infection rate.

Can different households mix indoors?

No, not unless they are part of an “exclusive” support bubble, which allows a single-person household to meet and socialise with another household.

However, people are allowed to meet one other person outside for “recreation” as well as exercise, and parents are allowed to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under.

What can I leave home for?

People can only leave home for the following reasons:

  • Education.
  • To go to work unless it can be done from home.
  • Outdoor exercise either with household members or with one person from another household.
  • For all medical reasons and appointments.
  • To escape injury or harm.
  • To care for the vulnerable or volunteer.
  • To shop for food and essentials.
  • To see people in your support bubble.
  • Children will still be able to move between homes if their parents are separated.

However, people could face fixed penalty notices from police for leaving their home without one of the above excuses.

Can I travel?

Most outbound international travel will be banned.

There is no exemption for staying away from home on holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless for work, education or other legally permitted exemptions.

Overnight stays away from primary residences will not be allowed, except for specific exceptions including for work.

Which businesses will close?

Everything except essential shops and education settings, which include nurseries, schools and universities, will close.

Entertainment venues will also have to close. Pubs and restaurants will have to close their doors once more. Takeaway and delivery services will still be allowed, while construction and manufacturing will stay open.

Parents will still be able to access registered childcare and other childcare activities where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work.

Public services, such as job centres, courts, and civil registration offices will remain open.

There is no exemption for communal worship in places of worship (except funerals and individual prayer), for organised team sports, or for children’s activities.

Elite sports will be allowed to continue behind closed doors as currently, including Premier League football matches.

Should some people be shielding?

The prime minister said that the clinically vulnerable or those aged over 60 should be especially careful and minimise contacts, but there would be no return to the shielding programme used in the first lockdown. Johnson said those in this category should work from home.

Will there be a return to the furlough scheme?

The furlough scheme was set to end on Saturday and be replaced by a less generous package of support for employers and businesses. But that was before the announcement of a second lockdown. The PM said on Saturday that the old scheme – which pays 80% of salaries – would now be extended throughout November. No further details were given.

Why has the decision been made?

Confirmed cases are rising steeply, with an estimated 568,100 people in households infected in the week ending 23 October. Scientists on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have warned that deaths could potentially hit 500 a day within weeks and that coronavirus could kill 85,000 people this winter.

The group has been concerned that the number of infections and hospital admissions is “exceeding the reasonable worst-case scenario planning levels at this time” and they first called for a national lockdown on 21 September.

“We’ve got to be humble in the face of nature,” said Johnson on Saturday. “The virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers.

“Unless we act, we could see deaths in this country running at several thousand a day – a peak of mortality, alas, bigger than the one we saw in April.”

What difference could a lockdown make?

A lockdown can stem the spread of the virus and thus reduce the reinfection rate.

“The idea of a lockdown is to save lives primarily,” Prof John Edmunds, a member of Sage, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday. “I think the only real way that we have a relatively safe Christmas is to get the incidence right down.”

Johnson warned that “Christmas is going to be different this year” but

added that by taking action now, he hoped that families could be together.

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

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This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We fundamentally disagree!


The consultation response from our three Local Authorities is highly critical of the proposals, noting that: “the task force behind the ideas included in the White Paper did not include any local authority representative, which to us seems a glaring omission given that local government will be crucial to the successful implementation of a new planning system”.

‘The Prime Minister’s Foreword that the housing crisis is the fault of planning systems is unfounded.’

The consultation period on the government’s proposed radical changes to the planning system – including a new formula for assessing housing need – has now closed.

The proposals have been attacked by many of the government’s own MPs including former Prime Minister Theresa May. She described the plans as “ill-conceived” and “mechanistic”.

And Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely said the housing numbers algorithm would “hollow out our cities, urbanise our suburbs and suburbanise the countryside”.

The plans have also been criticised by the director of the National Trust. Speaking to the Times, Hilary McGrady said she had “significant concerns” and said it “must not lead to concrete deserts devoid of green space, lacking corridors for nature and sustainable travel”.

In the South Hams, Councillor Jacqi Hodgson, Devon County Council, South Hams District Council and Totnes Town Mayor wrote to the Government saying:

“It is a missed opportunity to address climate change, rebuild ecosystems and to bring forward proven solutions to the housing crisis including investment in local authority house building and a right to green space. The proposal seeks simple answers without understanding the complexity of the problems. It is not based on the evidence available. It should not have been presented as a White Paper as it is nowhere near ready for legislation – it is entirely lacking in the detail in key areas.”

The Chair of SHDC Development Committee, Councillor Julian Brazil, said of the proposals as they stand:

“The effect on the South Hams will be dramatic. If implemented, we will be instructed by Government to build over 12,000 new houses by 2034 — an increase of more than 7000 on present plans. Out will go the pretence of affordable houses on any development of less than 40. All based on the dreaded algorithms related to affordability”.

South Hams District Council noted: “To quote one Conservative MP, we agree
that it is an “imposition of housing numbers handed down by Central
Government and [we] strongly resist this new ‘Stalinist’ approach”.

Analysis box by Alex Forsyth, political correspondent

There is both nervousness and anger among the Tory MPs who oppose these planning reforms.

Nervousness that the government could press on with its new system for determining the number of new homes needed in each area as soon as next month, and anger at the prospect of their concerns being ignored.

The housing secretary was non-committal, saying only that the government would listen to views.

The policy here is crucial; the housing crisis is acute and new homes are needed in the right place at the right price. But the politics matters too.

The government has already burned political capital on its backbenches with the way it’s handled some aspects of the coronavirus crisis.

Pressing on with the proposed new system for local housing targets – as well as the wider planning reforms – will result in another backbench backlash.

Beyond that, there are local elections next year , and nervous Tories in the party’s heartlands fear any public anger at these plans will be felt at the ballot box.

The consultation response from our three Local Authorities is highly critical of the proposals

South Hams District Council Follaton House Plymouth Road Totnes Devon TQ9 5NE

Joint Local Plan Team Strategic Planning & Infrastructure Department Plymouth City Council Ballard House West Hoe Road Plymouth PL1 3BJ

West Devon Borough Council Kilworthy Park Drake Road Tavistock Devon PL19 0BZ

Contact: Jo Lee, Strategic Planning Manager (Joint Local Plan)


Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan submission to the consultation

“This document sets out the joint response from the authorities responsible for the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan; Plymouth City, South Hams District and West Devon Borough Council’s. Whilst there are two responses to this consultation from the JLP Councils, they reflect the impact of the proposed changes, some of which are different in the rural and urban elements of the JLP area. The response from Plymouth City Council is endorsed by South Hams and West Devon Councils and vice versa.”

“We have responded to each question asked in the White Paper, where appropriate. We have also commented upon parts of the White Paper where no specific question was identified. We would be very happy to meet with Ministers and Government officials to help improve and guide the detail of the proposals set out in the White Paper. We note that the task force behind the ideas included in the White Paper did not include any local authority representative, which to us seems a glaring omission given that local government will be crucial to the successful implementation of a new planning system. We can offer the experience many years of high quality engagement with the planning process from a local authority perspective.”

Here is a link to the full response to all the questions asked in the Planning for the Future consultation


Whilst we would agree that some modernisation of the planning system is justified, we strongly disagree with some of the comments and analysis in the White Paper about the faults attributed to the operation of the planning system itself, when in reality it is the behaviours and actions of some vested interests that leads to some of the poor outcomes mentioned in the White Paper.

We consider the suggestion made in the Prime Minister’s Foreword that the housing crisis is the fault of planning systems to be unfounded. This suggests a predetermined view of the planning system and deflects from more fundamental structural reasons about why this nation has been unable to deliver sufficient homes of the right quality over many decades. For example, we are only 6 years into the 20-year plan period of our Joint Local Plan and nearly 90% of the housing requirement of 26,700 dwellings has either been completed, is under construction now, or already has planning permission. Planning is clearly not a barrier to housing delivery in Plymouth, South Hams and West Devon.

 The White Paper (para. 1.3) suggests nine ‘problems’ with the current planning system. We comment on these as follows:

  •  “It is too complex” – we agree with this observation. An effective planning system for the nation has to have effective local political and professional leadership. The system is already more centralised than comparable systems in Europe and elsewhere. We welcome proposals which genuinely will make the planning system simpler to deliver, and would comment that it is the excessive tinkering of successive governments that has made the planning system more complex than it needed to be and created an industry for lawyers and legal challenges. Planners themselves have demonstrated time and time again that they can make whatever system they are working within operate effectively, but what frustrates them, and therefore local communities most, is a continuing shifting of the goal posts.
  •  “Planning decisions are discretionary rather than rules based” – we fundamentally disagree with this criticism of the existing system. It is naïve to think that a planning system could ever function in the benefit of society without the ability for case by case judgments, as circumstances inevitably vary and there can be no effective one-size-fits all. However, we do agree that greater certainty on the principle of development could be delivered through a reformed local plan system. We can see that this opinion of planning arises from a negative perspective that land use planning is merely a ‘form of regulation’ (para. 1.4). The planning system has always been a discretionary system rather than a zonal rules-based system of the type that exists in various forms around the world, allowing decisions on individual proposals to be tested against the policy framework set out usually in a local plan, but ultimately considered on its individual merits. This provides flexibility and quick adaptation to changing economic, social and environmental contexts, which in light of the impact of COVID-19 must be a basis of assessing whether what is put back as a new system is fundamentally better than the one that currently exists. The planning system has, on the whole, enabled England to respond to the various societal, economic and environmental challenges of a changing society over the last 70-odd years. The planning system created by the 1947 Act is inherently locally democratic and acts in the wider public interest. Although the system in England, compared to almost every other liberal democracy has always been heavily centralised, the basis of the system has always been predicated on democratically elected members and professionally qualified planning officers together comprising the local planning authority working with local communities to plan for the future of their areas. However, that is not how the Government sees the planning system in the Planning White Paper, describing it as “a relic” from the 20th century, “outdated, and ineffective”, and “artificially constraining the potential of the country”. Indeed, the White Paper suggests that “thanks to the planning system, we now have nowhere near enough homes in the right places”. While there are clearly planning regulations, we could not disagree with the overall tenet of this statement more. Land use planning is not about regulation, it is about identifying a vision for a place and a strategy for a achieving that vision. There may be elements of land use that need regulating for the sake of the environment etc. but at its core purpose planning is positive and proactive activity to deliver real and lasting change. Good local planning authorities get this and have been practising it for decades and have consistently achieved positive outcomes for local communities.
  •  “It takes too long to adopt a Local Plan” – we agree that this process does take too long and despite numerous reforms since 2004 this has never been addressed in any meaningful way. There needs to be a more proportionate approach to evidence-base requirements, a review of the examination process itself, and overhaul of the failed Duty to Cooperate process which does not effectively address strategic planning issues.
  •  “Assessments of housing need, viability and environmental impacts are too complex and opaque” – we do not agree that environmental considerations should be subservient to a pre-determined view about speed of decision-making. Decisions on developments that impact wildlife and biodiversity will have implications for generations to come and therefore must be properly assessed at the correct stages of the planning application process. We do agree however that the processes could be streamlined so that it properly contributes to more informed decision-making on planning applications. In the absence of a clear alternative proposal, it appears there is an inherent insinuation here that environmental considerations delay developments, yet the Planning White Paper provides little evidence to substantiate this.
  •  “It has lost public trust.” – we do not agree with this. Planning is an inherently democratic, open and transparent process, governed by professional and constitutional codes of conduct. It is not that planning that has lost public trust – it is that when local people realise that the planning system that has been created in recent years is so centrally stifling of local innovation, and subject to so much central dictate by the National Planning Policy Framework, their belief in the system delivering the outcomes they want is severely diminished. No part of the public sector is as heavily consulted upon and scrutinised in public than planning. Good local planning authorities are already creative and innovative in building community trust. Furthermore, the answer to increasing trust cannot be to de-democratise the development management part of the planning process, which is what the White Paper proposals will lead to.
  •  “It is based on 20-centuary technology” – we agree with the objective of modernising and digitising planning, whilst being mindful of issues of digital exclusion. For too long central government has refused to allow local planning authorities to remove inefficient and costly processes such as placing statutory notices in local papers because of a desire to set the requirements centrally.
  • “The process for negotiating developer contributions to affordable housing and infrastructure is complex” – we agree, because it is central government who have made it unnecessarily complex refusing to give local planning authorities the powers and tools to secure an appropriate level of the uplift in the value created by the grant of planning permission for the benefit of the community.
  • “There is not enough focus on design” – we agree, which begs the question why the Commission for Architecture in the Built Environment was abolished in July 2010. If the government are serious about the role of design in the planning system, the National Planning Policy Framework has to be altered to allow local planning authorities to refuse not only obviously poor developments, but also developments that do not address climate change: and be able to do so whether there is a 5-year land supply or not.
  • “It simply does not lead to enough homes being built” – we do not agree with this analysis. The plan and planning system can provide the supply of land but it doesn’t guarantee homes are delivered. The government appears to be wilfully ignoring its own advice in the Letwin view, and the work that preceded it in the Barker and Lyons Reviews as to the real reason why this country is continually failing to deliver the homes its people need. It is a deliberate distraction to lay this at the door of the planning system as opposed to funding a new affordable housing programme and providing local planning authorities with the tools they need to ensure developers build what they have planning permission for. Whatever happened, for instance, to the “lose it or use it” powers previously promised? Will government not only roll out a more creative use of Completion Notices but look seriously at incentivising local plan allocations to turn allocations into planning permission and permissions into much needed homes? Why, for instance, could the government (through Homes England) not work with all local planning authorities and align funding streams in a strategic place-based partnership to drive forward the delivery of housing sites (and for that matter other allocations) to see homes delivered faster rather than imposing centrally devised bureaucratic and procedural devices such as the 5 Year Land Supply and Housing Delivery Test? It is accepted that many local planning authorities can do more to encourage delivery, and be more effective about bringing it forward and building themselves. The data on unimplemented consents and allocations demonstrates that supply through the planning system is not the reason for insufficient homes being built.

 The White Paper (para. 1.12) suggests nine ‘aims’ for a reformed planning system and have the following comments on these:

  •  “To be more ambitious for the places we create, expecting new development to be beautiful and to create a ‘net gain’ not just ‘no net harm” – we agree with this statement, but there will need to be a step-change is resources available to local planning authorities to be able deliver this.
  • “To move democracy forward in the planning” – we disagree profoundly with the rational for this statement because its corollary is to remove democracy for later stages of the planning processes which will severely disenfranchise local communities’ ability to influence developments coming forward in their areas. Front loading the engagement of local communities and other stakeholders is already part of the current local plan system so nothing new in that sense is being proposed – other than electronic and digital methods of engagement.
  •  “To improve the user experience of planning” – we do not agree that the measure of success of any new planning system is just about its user experiences: all citizens should have a positive engagement with the planning system and their rights should be enshrined in primary legislation linked to a clear definition of what the overall statutory purpose of planning is. Having said that, the Councils have already implemented a number of innovations in relation to citizen and user engagement in planning which we can share with government if it wishes to use these to help design any new system.
  • “To support home ownership” – we do not agree with this aim as it is too limited. Government housing policy should support a range of housing types. The White Paper makes several references to the success of other European nations in delivering homes, but they also have reputations for high quality highly desirable social housing.
  • “To increase the supply of housing land” – we do not agree that this should be an objective in its own right because land supply is only one factor in the delivery of the number of homes that the nation needs.
  • “To support innovative developers and housebuilders” – we agree with this objective and we are prepared to assist government in drawing out the lessons from our experience, in helping to design new approaches which will genuinely help small and medium-sized builders.
  • “To help businesses to expand with readier access to commercial space” – we do not support this objective as it is clear the government is seeking to extend permitted development rights limiting the role of the planning system in addressing the location and sustainability of commercial developments.
  • ”To promote the stewardship and improvement of our precious countryside and environment” – we strongly oppose this aim as drafted as the suggestion that this is sufficient to capture the role of planning in tackling the climate emergency is woefully inadequate. The reform of the English planning system is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to place the climate emergency centre stage. Any overall aim of the planning system has to be much more than the status of green spaces and the environment. However, this aim is contradicted by the housing algorithm which priorities housing growth at the expense of the environment and undermines the good design agenda.

Here is a link to the full response to all the questions asked in the Planning for the Future consultation

Here is the Joint Local Plan

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Algorithm blues!


Deadline for responses to the “Planning for the future” White Paper is 23.45 on Thursday 29 October.

Here is the FOSH response to the consultation

Government attempts to reimpose failed Soviet tractor style top-down planning targets on us, using the mutant algorithm, is still under fire.

Deadline for responses to the “Planning for the future” White Paper is 23.45 on Thursday 29 October.

The government’s revised housing formula

The UK government’s proposal to use a mathematical formula to determine where to build 300,000 new homes a year has been criticised by campaigners.

The formula would be used to set a target number of homes to build for each area in England, with the aim of building more housing in less affordable places to increase stock and reduce overall prices.

It represents a change in the existing method of calculating housebuilding targets.

Planning groups voiced concern that using the revised formula, which has been widely described as an algorithm, would mean building more homes in expensive areas in the south while leaving the north underdeveloped.

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) said the formula “does not make sense” and would “risk destroying large areas of countryside”. Local Government Association (LGA) agreed that “algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge”.

“Governing by algorithm doesn’t work”

Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) added “governing by algorithm doesn’t work”, warning “untested changes to local planning could lead to the worst of all possible worlds”.

Government wants to update existing formula

In August this year the UK government published a consultation on its white paper Planning for the Future, which detailed wide-ranging changes that could be made to the planning system to reach a target of 300,000 new homes built every year.

The government currently uses a formula based on predictions of how much growth there will be to determine the number of new homes each of the 343 local authorities is set as a target to build.

Its proposed update to this formula – the consultation document does not use the word algorithm – is one of the changes currently under consultation. It would incorporate affordability of existing homes into the calculations for the first time.

“High house prices indicate a relative imbalance between the supply and demand for new homes, making homes less affordable,” said the consultation paper.

“The affordability of homes is the best evidence that supply is not keeping up with demand.”

Planning groups reject consultation plans

Campaign groups have rejected the formula revisions after running test figures, warning that it could cause uneven distribution of housing targets.

“The new formula would be particularly challenging for places such as London and the south-east where they would be required to build 161 per cent more homes, while the north would actually be required to build 28 per cent fewer homes,” said RTPI head of policy Richard Blyth.

“This simply does not make sense and could risk destroying large areas of countryside in the south, while leaving urban brownfield sites in the north unused,” he added.

LGA said that the new calculation was too prescriptive.

“Under these plans, some parts of the country will have to ramp up housebuilding with existing targets doubled. Others, mainly cities in the north, will be told they need to build less,” said LGA spokesperson David Renard.

“Algorithms and formulas can never be a substitute for local knowledge and decision-making by councils and communities who know their areas best,” added Renard, who is the leader of Swindon council.

“Governing by algorithm doesn’t work”

Using the new formula would force councils in the south to overdevelop the countryside and leave brownfield sites further north undeveloped, argued CPRE.

“It’s clear that governing by algorithm doesn’t work,” said CPRE chief executive Crispin Truman.

“To begin delivering the homes we need at the pace we need them, the government should abandon centralised housing targets and ensure planning remains locally-led with local authorities and communities,” he added.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson heralded the proposed planning system changes as “unlike anything we have seen since the second world war”.

Other potential changes include granting automatic planning permission for developments on land earmarked for growth.

A key factor in England’s housing crisis stems is the gap between the population and available affordable homes. However, a 2019 report from the Centre for Policy Studies highlighted that, on a net basis, every new house built from 2005 to 2015 went to a buy-to-let landlord anyway.

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

‘Coming soon to a green field near you’

A developer led planning system “The market knows best.” Really!

Thank you East Devon Watch for this story – and to Daniel Clark 

“The paved paradise and put up a parking lot” Joni Mitchell Big Yellow Taxi


This East Devon District Council (EDDC) sorry saga tells of what can happen with “hands-off developer-led building proposals” and is a ‘close’ to the South Hams example of what the government has in mind with its “Planning for the Future” White Paper and the proposals to double house numbers in our area – and give the planning lead’ to private developers.

The public consultation on the Governments controversial new planning proposals ends next week on 29 October. See: the guide to responding to the White Paper consultation. If you want ideas on how to answer the key questions, read the excellent brief prepared by EDDC planners  pages 36 to 73.

Remember, not all the consultation questions need answering – and that just e-mailing some general narrative comment would suffice.

Here is the Friends of South Hams response to the ‘Planning for the Future’ consultation.

A cautionary tale of Cranbrook

The proposals for Cranbrook started off with such high hopes and with a dedicated EDDC planning team. They created a viable community plan but, this team was dissolved, on government instruction, with all the time and effort wasted and Cranbrook ended up being a pioneer of “developer-led” community planning.

‘Coming soon to a green field near you!’

Now, an impassioned pleas for councillors to accept a proposal that would kick-start the development of the long awaited town centre have fallen on deaf ears.

East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee were urged to by local members, the town council, and the town’s Minister, to accept the proposals by the East Devon New Community Partners for the town.

Their offer would see development take place sooner rather than late, although would be less ambitious than a proposed masterplan that council officers were in favour of.

But the calls were rejected, with committee members instead voting to continue negotiations with the EDNCp to improve their offer and to that work should continue on a draft Supplementary Planning Document for the town centre.

“Building beautiful”?

Artist impression of Cranbrook Town Centre by the Consortium (Image East Devon New Community Partners)

While the SPD approach would see a more ambitious town centre provided, as the land is not owned by East Devon District Council, it would be uncertain how this could be delivered or funded, and other than when the developer’s existing S106 obligations for reaching 3,450 home occupations were reached.

The proposal from the consortium of developers included:

  • A 2,500 square metres Morrisons supermarket with an additional 1,000 square metres of retail space on Tillhouse Road (around 10 to 12 shops);
  • A town square
  • A nursery
  • Around 350 town centre homes
  • Town hall with café, meeting spaces and around 15 rentable office units (including land and around one-third of the construction costs)
  • Children’s centre, youth centre and library in a single building (including land and the construction costs to the Section 106 value)
  • A skate park
  • Land for extra care facilities delivered by Devon County Council
  • Land for a “blue light” facility to house fire, police and ambulance services
  • Opportunities to provide additional retail outlets
  • Public conveniences, if not built within a commercial building
  • Option to purchase an acre of land to safeguard land for any additional development needs identified in the future, e.g. a leisure centre, workshops or light industrial units.

The masterplan approach seeks to use the EDNCp proposals as a starting point by incorporating their proposals for the town centre, and would see the library, youth centre, children’s centre and blue light services provided.

But the proposal would make the remainder of town centre land available for a mixture of commercial, community and leisure uses to meet the needs of the town in the future rather than for housing, the location of the extra care facility would be changed, while it may make provision for a hotel in the town, and would continue to plan for the proposed leisure centre to be provided.

Cllr Barry Rogers, chairman of Cranbrook town council’s amenities committee, said that this was a choice between a range of facilities being delivered now or more ambitious town centre at some stage in the future, without clarity over what can be delivered, whether it can be funded, and how long it will take to deliver.

Cars at the centre?

Artist impression of Cranbrook Town Centre by the Consortium (Image East Devon New Community Partners)

He said: “Residents are crying out for the delivery of facilities now and not at some stage in the future. Cranbrook is rapidly building out and majority of people no longer live within walking distance of the only convenience store in town. An entire town is being built, but there is little or no urgency that the community desperately needs and is demanding the town centre sooner rather than later.

“No-one knows how long it would take, there is no timescale for delivery, and no guarantee anything would be delivered at all, so the town council, on behalf of the Cranbrook community, urges you to approve the developers proposal for the facilities that we so urgently need.”

Cllr Ray Bloxham, who represents Cranbrook on Devon County Council said that the consortium proposal was the way forward. He said: “Rejecting the proposal will kill off the youth building and the community building ahead of the trigger point.

“This is not a bird in the hand or the bird in the bush, as while the consortiums proposals are the bird in the hand, the chances are the bird will never get into the bush with the SPD and may die before it does. Even with the perceived limitations, it would be a major boost, while the prospect of many more years with no facilities would be so demoralising it could have a desperate impact on the economic development of the town.”

The Rev Lythan Nevard , Minister for Cranbrook, said if we want Cranbrook to be a town rather than a sprawling housing estate, then it does need a town centre sooner rather than later.

She added: “We are at a tipping point and the need for a town centre as soon as possible is critical. We need more community space. The town is growing every day all the time, but the social infrastructure cannot grow at the same pace as new people are arriving. People are disillusioned and they will leave because the dream of the town they were sold isn’t going to come to fruition.

“People are hungry for the facilities now even if smaller than planned, rather than a dream that may come later, as for many people, it is already later. A town without a heart is just an estate, and that was never the plan for Cranbrook.”

Cllr Kim Bloxham urged the committee to support the consortium proposal which will be a huge boost to the community of Cranbrook, saying ‘do what is right for them’, while Cllr Sam Hawkins said: “It is not want we want in an ideal world but we don’t live in an ideal world. I struggle to see how district can provide the town centre from a finance and resources point of view.”

Cllr Kevin Blakey added: “The developers’ proposals are fully funded and deliverable in the short term, so it presents a low risk to the authority. We should take note of what the people in Cranbrook are asking for. We are supposed to represent what they feel and they want.”

Supporting the calls from Cranbrook, Cllr Andrew Moulding said: “I am concerned that the recommendation would mean more delay for the residents of Cranbrook. The Minister made an impassioned plea to get on with it. She knows what the residents of the town feel and on behalf of them made a plea.

“The ward members support it and they know the town. It delivers what I hope it would be able to deliver and what the SPD would mean is yet more delay.”

Cllr Philip Skinner added: “It’s time we got something done. People are crying out for something to be done. It is maybe not delivering on the aspirations but it is time to deliver on what we’ve got, as we need to build communities not just housing estates.”

Cllr Ian Thomas said that there was always going to be an issue with the ‘self-sustainability’ of Cranbrook due to its proximity to Exeter. He said: “To suggest it will have a massive town centre with everything under the sun is just not going to happen. The proposal from the consortium are not radically different from the SPD and if not radically different, where all the other things are going from, as I don’t expect they’ll be in the SPD either?

“It is brave to go against the views of the elected members, 1000 residents in support, the town council, the county council – so from a public perception the support is clearly strong. In the current climate, a bird in the hand is better than a starling hiding in the bushes. We should look to move forward.”

Cllr Mike Howe added that this was a difficult decision, as one hand there is a scheme that will deliver what the residents want, but on the other hand, won’t deliver what the town will need for the next 15-20 years and never will because of the constraints put upon it.

He said: “This is the devil and the deep blue sea. The proposals have merit and should be explored but there are only an opening gambit and they need to do a lot better, or we give officers longer to come up with a scheme, debate it, and see if we can afford it.

“If we accept this, we are committed to a town that will probably never have a cinema, never have a sport centre, and will have to grow more, but we will be stuck as what we have now. It cannot be seen as acceptable and they have to do better, but at speed, as sitting around debating an SPD for many more years is not going to work.”

But Cllr Olly Davey said that the council had to look to the future and that the 2,000 households living there now may want this, questions will be asked when the town is fully built to 8,000 homes why did they accept such a small town centre and why didn’t they stick out for the original vision for the town?

He said: “We should stick with the recommendation and accept the proposal that has been made by officers, and that the negotiations continue.”

Cllr Eleanor Rylance added that there had been ‘little bits of shine’ knocked of the vision for Cranbrook each year. She said: “It would be devastating if we privileged speed over delivering the town of Cranbrook when it is built out. This is not ambitious enough. It is a quick solution to a current problem, but doesn’t address a future problem.”

She added that the proposals ‘looked like the lunch area in an out of town office park and was not a destination that anyone wants to go to with a windy precinct as their town centre’, and said: “We can do better and must think about what we are delivering. We need to think about not just the current residents but future residents.”

Cllr Paul Hayward added: “All I see is houses and putting more strain on infrastructure and services. Cranbrook needs massive investment, but we will deliver it, and we must make a commitment to get the SPD done far faster.”

In his recommendation to the committee, Ed Freeman, the service lead for planning strategy and development management, said in officers opinion, the consortium proposals may deliver what the town needs now in terms of retail facilities but in so doing it precludes the delivery of future commercial and community spaces that the town already requires, and which the need for will continue as the town grows from its current 2100 homes to around 8000 in the future.

He added: “Failure to meet the long term needs of the town as it develops jeopardises the future of Cranbrook as a sustainable and healthy new town. Officers continue to have fundamental concerns with the viability evidence presented which forms the fundamental rationale for the NCp’s proposal for a reduced economic heart for the town centre; the evidence is not transparent and has inconsistencies within it which raise concerns over accuracy.

“The production of an SPD and the proactive delivery of the town centre is therefore considered to be the favoured approach. There would however be major challenges in terms of accessing the land and funding the delivery of the proposals.”

Councillors rejected Cllr Blakey’s recommendation to accept the consortium’s proposals by seven votes to four, with one abstention, before accepting the recommendation of officers by seven votes to three, with two abstentions.

The committee agreed to advise the East Devon New Community Partners that the Council is not minded to enter into the proposed Memorandum of Understanding based on the proposed heads of terms at the present time but is open to further negotiation.

They recommended to Cabinet that funding be made available to support the pro-active delivery of the town centre based on the draft SPD Masterplan, and that work should continue on the draft SPD which alongside a delivery plan be presented to Strategic Planning Committee in December.

Thank you East Devon Watch for this story.

Cranbrook is a new town being developed in East Devon, initially consisting of 2,900 residential properties, rising to up to 6,551 properties by 2027.[1] It is located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) east-north-east of the centre of Exeter, just north-west of the village of Rockbeare, between the B3174 road (London Road) and the West of England Main Line railway. The civil parish was formed on 1.4.2015.[2]

The requirement to build extra housing in this area formed part of Devon‘s 2001–2016 Structure Plan and was included in East Devon’s Local Plan 1995-2001. The first houses as well as St Martin’s Primary school were completed in 2012[3] and at least 500 houses had been occupied by December 2013.[4] In March 2015, Cranbrook’s population was estimated at 2,200, with nearly 1,000 homes occupied.[5]

Local Government Association Healthy New Towns Programme: Cranbrook

For more information, email:

Or write to: FOSH, Rathlyn, Grenville Rd, Salcombe, TQ8 8BJ

FOSH © 2021

This Web site is for those who love the South Hams “The jewel in the crown of Devon” and who wish to protect and enhance the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.