***Update 16-04-15 Park & Ride Temporary Consent Extended…***
At the 'chaimans's delegation' meeting of the Development Management Committee yesterday afternoon, the DM Vice Chair, Planning Officer Representative and I discussed the situation of the Sidmouth Road Park & Ride.
The outcome is pretty much in line with what I sought in my consultee comments, and I think appropriate to the circumstances.
Temporary use of the facility has been authorised, but only for a further eighteen months until September 2016. This short term approval will ensure that there is no risk to the economy of Lyme Regis and its businesses as a result of a refusal to allow the continued use of the park & ride over the next two seasons.
What it also recognises is the requirement to protect the rural landscale character and natural beauty of the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within which the site is located, and that the original justification for approval of the facility to compensate for spaces lost in the town due to coastal defence works no longer applies.
The additional temporary consent allows time for Lyme Regis Town Council to produce a comprehensive, evidenced strategy for car parking serving Lyme Regis. I hope that the Town Council will take the opportunity to engage with neighbours Uplyme Parish Council and local Ward Members to ensure a sustainable solution, as it quite specifically stated in a 'Note for Applicant' within the approval that "....further temporary consents are unlikley to be supported..."
The full text of the decision notice is below:
"The Council hereby grants permission to carry out the development described in the application and the plans attached thereto subject to the following conditions :
1. Notwithstanding the time limit to implement planning permission as prescribed by Sections 91 and 92 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), this permission being retrospective as prescribed by Section 63 of the Act shall have been deemed to have been implemented on the 22nd December 2014.
(Reason - To comply with Section 63 of the Act.)
2. The use hereby permitted shall be discontinued and the land restored to its former condition on or before 30th September 2016. These works shall include the reinstatement of the hedge bank removed to create the entrance to the site, details of which shall previously have been submitted to, and approved in writing by, the Local Planning Authority.
(Reason - Temporary permission is granted only on the basis of a special need for the Park and Ride facility. The site lies within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where permanent permission for such a use would not normally be granted, and to comply to Policy EN1 (Development Affecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) of the Adopted East Devon Local Plan, Strategy 46 (Landscape Conservation and Enhancement and AONB's.) of the Emerging East Devon Local Plan, as well as guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework).
3. The use hereby permitted shall be carried on only during the period from Good Friday to 7th September in any calendar year.
(Reason - To restrict the use of the park and ride facility to the peak holiday period in the interests of limiting its impact upon the rural landscape character and natural beauty of the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which the site is located, and to comply to Policy EN1 (Development Affecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) of the Adopted East Devon Local Plan, Strategy 46 (Landscape Conservation and Enhancement and AONB's.) of the Emerging East Devon Local Plan, as well as guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework).
4. No signage relating to the Park and Ride service shall be displayed on the site or on any part of the adjacent highway verge outside of the period referred to in condition 3 above.
(Reason - In the interests of protecting the rural landscape character and natural beauty of the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within which the site is located and to comply to Policy EN1 (Development Affecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) of the Adopted East Devon Local Plan, Strategy 46 (Landscape Conservation and Enhancement and AONB's.) of the Emerging East Devon Local Plan, as well as guidance contained within the National Planning Policy Framework).
NOTE FOR APPLICANT
In accordance with the aims of Article 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 East Devon District Council works proactively with applicants to resolve all relevant planning concerns, however in this case the application was deemed acceptable as submitted.
The applicant is advised that this further grant of a temporary consent recognises the need for a comprehensive and evidenced based strategy for car parking serving Lyme Regis. Due to landscape harm, further temporary consents are unlikely to be supported and the applicants should, therefore, use this opportunity to develop an appropriate strategy."
***Update 10-04-15 Park & Ride reopens – without planning permission…***
The Bridport News carries in its online edition the following quote, attributed to Elliot Herbert, Operations Manager at Lyme Regis Council;
"....The advice from East Devon District Council was that while the planning application was still under consideration, the district council would not seek to prevent the service from operating. Furthermore, the service operator was told by East Devon District Council planners that he could operate.
"We were informed by East Devon District Council that it had been intended to approve the application before the Easter period, but due to the calendar of meetings and the Bank Holiday, the sign-off was delayed and formal approval was only a technicality."
Click here for the full Bridport News article...
I cannot comment on the accuracy or otherwise of the reporting of Elliot's quote, beyond that the first paragraph is absolutely correct and perfectly consistent with the 'So what's the problem' section of my initial report below.
However, the second paragraph is a source of great concern, with wide reaching potential implication, should the quote prove to accurately reflect any such discussion.
It might be read by others as suggesting a practice of determining an application, in the middle of a formal consultation period, that an approval ever can just be a 'technicality', or that 'if your application is submitted, but not yet determined quickly enough for your wishes - then go ahead anyway, all beit at your own risk.
I therefore queried the published record of the conversation with our Senior East Devon Planning Officers. I am reassured that they responded competely in the manner I would have expected, reflecting how a planning application should be managed by a professional planning authority, which I firmly believe East Devon to be.
I understand that Lyme Regis Town Council was advised before Easter that a decision would not be forthcoming, due to the consultation period not having expired. When asked if the Town Council could commence the use of the Park and Ride, the response was that the Authority could not take action against the breach, as an application was under consideration, but if they did commence the use, it was at their own risk.
At no point were they ever advised that approval was just a 'technicality', nor have I ever heard that reference or such a suggestion in any application I have dealt with as a Ward Member.
I expect the application will come to the Development Management Chairman's Delegation meeting on 15th April.
The view of the Uplyme Parish Council remains strongly that the application should be refused. However the suggestions I made in my submission were generally supported, including the view that despite the lack of sensitivity displayed by Lyme Regis Town Council in their recent actions, Uplyme Parish Council should continue to offer co-operaration, and engage District Council Members from both East Devon and West Dorset, to help secure the appropriate long term sustainable provision of Lyme Regis' parking needs, to help local businesses.
My personal view is that the current application should be refused, on the grounds that a further 'Temporary Consent' is not appropriate (see below for full comment).
The Original Article is below...
Disappointed with confirmation this morning that Lyme Regis Town Council has reopened the Sidmouth Road Park & Ride facility in Uplyme – without planning permission.
An application is currently with East Devon District Council for continued temporary use. This has however not been decided and, reflecting consultee comments received, would be considered a contentious application.
The original use was allowed in application 04/P2257 for a period until 31st December 2009.
Justification was to provide additional parking to serve Lyme Regis during the period of significant coastal works primarily to the East of the town, which had resulted in a major loss of parking capacity at Holmbush and Charmouth Road car parks either side of Lyme Regis.
Unfortunately, when the permission lapsed, reinstatement terms were not met. This stimulated an Enforcement case (10/F0008), which in turn prompted application 10/0548/FUL to secure a further extension to the temporary consent.
That application was approved with my 'qualified support' to aid the Lyme Regis economy during the period when, whilst Holmbush Car Park had been reinstated, Charmouth Road was still severely restricted.
The current application...
(14/2981/COU) seeks "Continuation of the temporary consent for a 'park and ride' car park' on the previous site, to retain the existing 200 spaces.
Coastal works to the east of the town have now been completed with Charmouth Road car park reopened. The original justification for the temporary car park consent is now completely fulfilled and therefore no longer relevant.
The planning application is still under consideration, and is expected to be returned to the EDDC Chairman’s Delegations meeting, where I can speak, on the 15th April, once the report has been updated following a second round of consultation.
So what's the problem?...
It is considered that applicants should not commence development until planning permission is received. However, as a Planning Authority EDDC will not take enforcement action against the use prior to a decision being made.
Lyme Regis Town Council has, at its own risk, chosen to commence operation of the Park & Ride, permission for which could ultimately be refused, or approved.
Personally, the more disappointing aspect is the implied disrespect by LRTC to its neighbours Uplyme Parish Council. That council has properly expressed its reasonable concerns but, in response effectively received a ‘metaphorical two-fingers’ with the Park & Ride in Uplyme opened anyway. In most conciliatory mode this might be considered an ‘insensitive gaff’?
The planned application decision date indicated on the East Devon internet planning site has not been achieved. However as the original application was not considered comprehensive, additional information has been sought during the lifetime of the application.
In these circumstances a later decision is sensible. It is much preferable that the appropriate decision is reached for both the applicants and inhabitants of the district, through proper consideration of all necessary information.
Additional Member comment...
I have submitted further comment as Ward Member this morning, following consideration of additional information provided by the applicant and the comments of other consultees. This is detailed below and will be published on the East Devon website within the application file;
“My original comments are still pertinent and not fully satisfied by the additional information provided by the applicant in what remains a very ‘light weight’ application for this important East Devon AONB location.
Views expressed by Uplyme Parish Council, particularly in the context of increasing weight to be given to the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, should be given significant consideration.
The initial change of use was allowed to provide additional parking to serve Lyme Regis during a period of significant coastal works primarily to the East of the town. This had resulted in a major loss of parking facilities in Holmbush and Charmouth Road car parks. That justification does not now apply and so the presumption, in the absence of strong evidence, should be refusal of that continued use.
As Economy Portfolio holder in EDDC, I would not wish to see East Devon being anything other than reasonably supportive of the economy of Lyme Regis and its traders. Usage figures provided are helpful, but neglect the fact that Coastal works were not completed until August 2014, so full year evidence of likely demand is not yet available.
Highways concerns have been raised, but in the context of highways specialist consultee responses I believe that argument for refusal is not strong. I further support the view of the West Dorset County Highways consultee response that;
“…It should be recognised that while Lyme Regis town centre car parks are able to meet the demand at most times during out of season periods, they are not designed to cater with the influx of visitors during the summer season, especially at weekends. The Town Council are trying to minimise the impact of heavy traffic and congestion in such a picturesque small town where there is a significant pedestrian movement and therefore they are rightly looking to capture the motorist on the outskirts of the town and bus them in.…”
If a single Eastern facility in Dorset near the A35 junction cannot satisfy the totality of peak demand, the current site for a seasonal Western facility may ultimately be judged appropriate for a ‘permanent’ facility.
On balance I suggest that this application be determined either at Chairman’s Delegation or full Development Management Committee at the earliest opportunity, with the recommendation that it be refused, until a more compelling application for a longer term solution is received
The current circumstances where Lyme Regis Town Council has resolved to commence operation in a neighbouring authority without consent, make it tempting to request the immediate involvement of the Enforcement Officer should the application be refused.
However we must resist this instinct, rather I believe a more practical and positive approach would be one where East Devon residents continue to demonstrate their spirit of willingness to cooperation with our neighbours, through the mechanism of a one year extension to the existing permission, on the same terms if that is possible?
During this time window, I would like to see an undertaking to establish a cross border group of Local Members of District Authorities, Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council. With the aim of developing an appropriately assessed and articulated shared vision of parking requirements which, with the agreement of both communities, I would be pleased to chair.
Such a model of co-operation might sensibly learn from the approach employed in the development of the East Devon draft Local Plan, with an appropriate and, if justified, more permanent park & ride provision logically incorporated within respective Neighbourhood Plans. This would reflect the projected future needs of Lyme Regis, whilst not compromising the conservation and enhancement of the East Devon AONB.
Without an approach of this style, I believe a sustainable solution will never be secured. We rather risk a regular repeat of the unsatisfactory current experience.
Should a shared vision not be secured within the year, then my inclination would be that the use of the current site should cease, with the land reverting to its previous agricultural use”
Click here to view full application details...