Masterplan for AllocationRA3
Bonfire Hill, Salcombe.
Report by P.Stratton Steering group member.
3rd June 2013
The developers have filed their Masterplan for RA3, with the planning authority, without further reference to the steering group.
I therefore submit my report as follows:
The process has not been a success and the standard of community engagement, has by their own admission, been disappointing and certainly not to the standards the District Council say they require.
The drop-in held January 19th/20th created initial interest and curiosity, much as one would expect, however the follow up to this was cancelled by the developer (less than 5 having expressed an interest in attending) and they appealed to the group for suggestions as to why the response was so poor and how to proceed.
I reproduce here my e-mail reply to Jeff Bishop (the developers facilitator) dated 29th Jan 2013, which is self-explanatory.
Ok, this is disappointing to find we are in this position but I can only say that I am not totally surprised, I have tried from the outset to highlight some of these issues.
But to answer your questions:
• There is concern about the conduct of the process.
• With the Town Council not able to fully engage you are pushing ahead too fast.
• You are correct to say that there is an important section of the community absent from Salcombe at this time of the year.
• And yes there are and will be many other concerns which will need to be addressed during a properly conducted consultation with the Salcombe community.
• You, your clients and the Town Council need to take on Board that the development of this site is a ”big deal” for Salcombe.
• The site is sensitive.
• The site is protected by policy
• The site is at the gateway to the Town.
• The site is situated in Batson on the doorstep of the Conservation Area.
• Development of this site is seen by many as a mistake, by others as a necessary sacrifice in order to achieve “affordable housing” for locals.
• Community involvement must be conducted in an honest, transparent and comprehensive manner. I am sure that if you trust this community a sensible outcome can be found.
• Finally I would suggest that this new process starts with an open public meeting in Salcombe at which the Developer and Town Council apprise the community of their proposals. We then go from there using the guidance issued by the District Council on Masterplanning as our starting point.
29th Jan 2013
I received no reply!
I was concerned from the beginning that far too much control was being afforded to the developer and that some steering group members seemed to lack the necessary knowledge or will to act independently, I therefore tried very hard to ensure that the process followed the SPD published guidance and repeatedly asked for a planning officer to attend and brief the group on their role. Additionally, as this sensitive site lies within the AONB and is subject to considerable written policy, a representative from AONB should have been included in the steering group or at least should have been in attendance at key meetings.
These important first steps were never taken and the developer’s appointed facilitator relentlessly drove the process forward to their own agenda and timescale.
The fact that the Salcombe Town Council were not properly engaged in the process was and remains a major problem, after all this was a masterplanning exercise which included the Town Council land, and so despite repeated attempts early on to elicit their intentions it was not until February that I received a statement from them which I now reproduce for your benefit:
History and status of Salcombe Town Council Park & Ride related to the RA3 Masterplan site – February 2013
On confirmation of the DPD by South Hams District Council (SHDC) in late 2010, Salcombe Town Council (STC) started the process of trying to create a further space for affordable housing in Salcombe using the current Park &Ride (P&R).
The first step was researching and calculating a reasonable amount of space in order to extend the Cemetery. The primary purpose of the P&R is actually a Cemetery extension field which we are in the meantime using as a Park and Ride. After suitable research an appropriate segment was earmarked as an extension. The land would accommodate between 48 and 62 years of Salcombe deaths depending on whether the current trend towards cremation continued at a linear rate.
Further effort was also made to find an alternative P&R site, the major problem envisaged was that of planning permission, so Forward Planning at SHDC was informally consulted and two possibilities were selected, both of these issues and solutions were then taken to public consultation and approved by the Salcombe Community.
At this point the land owner of fields in RA3 put forward a Masterplan for the whole of RA3 that Salcombe Town Council found wholly unacceptable, as the P&R segment was mainly used for commercial space and car parking. STC therefore opposed this Masterplan. Bloor Homes then came onto the scene and flatly rejected a co-ordinated approach together with STC. The reason given was that because we had not done all of the necessary surveys (Environmental etc.) and we were effectively one year behind them in our ability to "deliver" the site. Also the chosen alternative P&R site was not yet available, which was the main reason for delay.
STC reps held meetings with SHDC to try and progress the site, including the required surveys etc.
Moving a field to a "deliverable" housing site involves a considerable (for STC using community money) investment. The best (and community preferred) P&R site has since been rejected by the land owner. We are therefore looking at alternatives which are few and far between, we feel the Town cannot afford to lose the P&R facility and so if we are unable to find another field which can be approved by the landowner, SHDC planning and Salcombe community we will reach an impasse.
However we are in the meantime investigating an option of some affordable housing on our part of RA3. At a recent SHDC meeting, Tor Homes kindly agreed to undertake a formal survey of our available land and have an Architect prepare a housing proposal for STC and the community all free of charge. They will also tailor their proposal to current Government funding possibilities which are virtually non-existent at this time.
The process is obviously slow to the outside observer, but local government and town councils cannot move at the speed of either businesses or the individual, largely due to the bureaucracy of public money and the public assets involved.
We have moral support from SHDC for this site, and currently with Tor Homes will continue to pursue an option that will suit Salcombe after full public consultation has taken place.
It should also be remembered that we will need to spend about £20,000 to £30,000 on some form of surfacing, landscaping and building work on a safe entrance to any new Park & Ride. At the moment STC will have to fund this.
The above précis is the result of many meetings and phone calls some productive and some not.
We have been asked to clarify Salcombe Town Councils current position with regard to our owned section of the RA3 land. After much negotiation and searching, it has proved difficult to find an alternate site for the park-and-ride. Because of this the site cannot be considered for development of affordable housing, in the timeframe of the Masterplanning process for the present development proposals.
As Salcombe Town Council is not in a position to ‘deliver’ the present P&R site, our site should not be included in any affordability Housing matrix discussions on the allocation for the RA3 site.
Salcombe Town Council - February 2013.
So there we have it
• a flat refusal by Bloors to develop a co-ordinated approach
• And an admission by the Town Council that they were unable to work within the timetable dictated by the developer.
However it should be mentioned that Salcombe Town Council has been in a considerable state of flux in recent times culminating in mass resignations some of which have extended into the Steering Group. The re-siting of the Park and Ride will need to be re-visited as Town Council figures show that at times we are seriously underprovided. With new officials in place and with goodwill restored negotiations could be restarted I am sure.
With a DPD allocation for 2016 and beyond there is time available.
It must be both unacceptable and unwise for the developer to adopt such an intransigent attitude.
There remain major issues to be resolved:
Site Access for example, the developers claim there is an agreed access, although more recently have accepted this remains to be determined at application stage. It is a widely held view that to allow another access directly onto the A381, so close to those already in existence, would be unwise and ultimately the alternative for access may have to come through collaboration with the Town Council.
Sewage Despite the box ticked by SWW we all know there is no spare capacity in the current system. The evidence for this is manifold.
Flooding from surface run off. A properly designed scheme is necessary. The developer’s current proposal is so obviously inadequate
Affordable Housing the developer’s proposals only meet current SHDC policy requirements if the developer is allowed to include the numbers from the previous development known as Ember Close, which of course was an exceptions site. The need for Affordable housing was that which gave rise to the DPD allocation and I fail to see how this type of manipulation can be allowed. Do we have up to -date evidence that indicates a reduced need for Salcombe?
We must also remember that the current indication of provision from the developer is subject to viability negotiations.
Skyline development is proposed and must be unacceptable when considered against the considerable written policy, which applies to this site. Ember Close development was clearly designed to deal with this problem and in so doing has established a precedent to set development back to allow it to nestle into it’s surroundings.
Employment Land Before we plan any commercial development on this site, we must surely have dealt with the RA4 allocation, which is for development by 2016. There has certainly been no development so far and I am unaware of any proposals.
There must also be doubts as to the advisability of increasing traffic flows by adding commercial activity to RA3.
The developer’s proposals indicate an employment building of 270sq m. or 2895 sq ft. with parking can be accommodated on 0.1ha of land and within phase 2. Does this mean they propose 5 times this to satisfy the DPD allocation or is the DPD Allocation adjustable at will or according to evidence?
I really have doubts about any proposal for commercial premises at this location, as I am unaware of any background work including data capture to guide us. The type of premises proposed by the developers, in close proximity to residential housing, is immediately suggestive of small modern office/studio businesses heavily depenpendant on high- speed broadband connections which we do not have.
In summary I would say that the developers proposal could only be viewed as a proposal for the development of the land in which they have a commercial interest. It seeks to justify itself as a Masterplan by including token elements of modification to the current Park and Ride site, none of which represents anything of real value to the local community.
I am aware of the pressures that exist today in connection with development but we surely cannot be asked to accept such hopelessly inadequate and untimely proposals.
To accept these proposals as a valid masterplan would be to deny the community their democratic representation by elected representatives.