planning

I’ve signed a petition by councillors against the Government’s move to allow fracking exploration under permitted development rules

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Here’s the text:

Dear Claire Perry MP (CC James Brokenshire MP, Greg Clarke MP),

The UK government has proposed changes to planning rules that would allow exploratory drilling for shale gas to be considered “permitted development”, removing the need for fracking companies to apply for planning permission.

The current planning framework for shale gas provides an important regulatory process for the industry, offering necessary checks and balances by local authorities who best understand the circumstances in their areas. Crucially, it also allows communities directly affected a say in how, and whether, shale gas exploration proceeds in their neighbourhoods.

We believe that applying permitted development to exploratory shale gas drilling represents a distortion of its intention and is a misuse of the planning system. Permitted Development was originally intended to be used to speed up planning decisions on small developments – like garden sheds or erecting a fence – not drilling for shale gas.

As elected representatives of our communities, we the undersigned call for the withdrawal of this proposal, and respect for the right of communities to make decisions on shale gas activities in their areas through the local planning system.

EDDC approves yet another extension to Seaton’s iconic Check House, after biased photographic display

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3007021_4ebd9eaeEast Devon’s Development Management Committee (DMC) today approved a new extension to the Check House, the iconic house (named after its distinctive brickwork) which is now a care home.

Built by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan and Lady Pauline Trevelyan – the key figures in Seaton’s transformation from fishing village to seaside resort – in 1866, the Check House has a fine clifftop setting overlooking Lyme Bay. Yet this crucial part of Seaton’s heritage has long been compromised by the planners and councillors of East Devon District Council (EDDC). Large extensions were allowed in both its front and rear gardens in 1992 and 2004 respectively to serve its new role as a care home.

Last year a new proposal was approved for both an extension off the earlier rear extension, together with a ‘Victorian’ conservatory and greenhouse along the north side facing Beer Road, on the left hand side of the house in the picture above.

The earlier extensions, while partially spoiling the site and followed by the transformation of much of the garden into car parks, at least had a similar checked pattern to the original building. The small new extension which has been built (just off the right of the picture) onto the earlier rear extension is, however, an eyesore, completely out of keeping with both the Check House and the original extension.

The owners decided, however, not to build the approved conservatory and greenhouse, which – while spoiling one of the unspoilt sides of the original building – did at least nod towards its Victorian character and would have had a lighter impact because of the large amount of glass involved. Instead they asked to put a solid extension, without the original check pattern, where the conservatory would have been. This was to allow yet two more bedrooms so as to maximise income from the site – although of course residents will no longer enjoy a conservatory or greenhouse.

EDDC has now approved this proposal, despite the opposition of ward councillor Jim Knight, the Town Council (which I represented at the DMC) and local residents (represented by Steve Read). Steve and I mentioned, of course, the important fact that the Check House already has completely inadequate car parking and its staff and visitors’ cars spill out on to Beer Road where they cause problems for traffic – so this development will add to the problem.

Most disturbing, Planning Officer Chris Rose’s photographic display which preceded the discussion showed not one photograph of the original house, let alone of the sides affected by the proposal which are shown above. This was truly shameful, as was the lack of care of the committee.