Jed writes about life as a Devon councillor
Wow! We just won one! That’s so unusual I thought I’d tell you about it:
When you are lucky enough to live in a good place, you would like to keep it that way.
Developers, however, make their money by building new things–not by protecting the old. And they make a lot of money doing it, so they tend to be much more persistent than your average resident / protester.
In this part of the world, if the building project doesn’t “fit in” (and most don’t) The Town Council gets first vote–and in this case they refuse it. So it moves up the planning ladder to The District Council–who also refuse it.
The Developer (who wasn’t expecting anything else) now takes the last and most expensive step–he appeals to The Department of The Environment.
Now that’s a wonderful title (“Environment and all..”) but what it really means is “John Prescott” who, in his office of Deputy Prime Minister, is in total control of all local government (stop and think about that for a moment).
Now, continuing the amazing magic trick of our Labour Government being more Conservative than ever the old Conservatives would have dared, John Prescott has decided that if it is a building application, it should not only be approved, it should be encouraged.
So, appeals, though costly to the applicant, mostly lead him to the approval he was seeking.
I have very few arms to fight this. But in this case, I was able to get the hearing moved to our local Town Hall rather than the Inspector’s Offices miles away. Some judiciously planted local Press stories generated a large public turnout (40+ ain’t much to you, but for a planning meeting here, that’s a crowd!)
The Building plans (large block of flats on coast) had been discussed to death but by forcing them to look at the plot and not just the building I was able to show that they intended to tarmac the garden completely and provide parking for twelve cars–which would change completely the street scene from the small town tree-scape it is into an urban parking lot.
I thought we had lost it.
But just this week I got the notification–the appeal (against our refusal to allow building) was dismissed! Jubilation in Budleigh Salterton!
But the builder will, to paraphrase The Governor of California, “be back”. Yes he will, but his next bid will be more in keeping with this funny town.
This material ?Jed Falby 2003