Hope for partial regime change
PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 February 2010 | UPDATED: 12:50 10 June 2010
LAST week s Journal contained the 100th letter about the Longboat Cafe. Since the plans hit the headlines on October 2, 2008, you have also printed 26 articles, many on the Budleigh front page. There are 601 comments on East Devon District Council s w
LAST week's Journal contained the 100th letter about the Longboat Cafe. Since the plans hit the headlines on October 2, 2008, you have also printed 26 articles, many on the Budleigh front page. There are 601 "comments" on East Devon District Council's website (letters and emails). These are noteworthy landmarks.
Mr Crear's letter (February 11) summarizes the verdict from English Heritage. He points out that the Longboat House is clearly part of the group of coastguard buildings, adds 'group value' and "so acts as a link into the history of the Coastguard Station". I agree.
Moreover, Harry Lane's painstaking researches into Clinton Devon Estates' archives and Devon Record Office confirmed that an earlier Coastguard Station with a "Lifeboat House" existed in 1819. A footnote to this effect appears on his version of the 1842 Tithe Map published in 2000. The l890 Ordnance Survey Map (25 inches to the mile) shows the whole complex of the more recent Coastguards Buildings, labelling the Longboat House as "Lifeboat House".
Planning chief Kate Little insists that, in the absence of "material planning considerations", all applications must be approved (currently 94% are). Had the Longboat been included in the group of buildings listed by English Heritage, EDDC would have had a reason for refusal, ie a specific box for the officers to tick.
Civic pride and local history are not accepted as material planning issues. The opinions, however fervently felt, of local people and their elected town/parish councils, do not count. Some 50 formal complaints were lodged in 2009 about planning procedures and l5 on councillors' Code of Conduct. Who cares? We have a complaints officer and a three-tier system of dealing with the complaints has been set up.
According to Peter Bashford (February 11), EDDC looks intent to approve demolition of the Longboat "come hell or highwater". The removal of Cllr Hall from the Development Management Committee - without telling the public why - has done little for the claimed transparency and open-mindedness of EDDC's planning process.
Mr Bashford asks: "Is this not another good reason for the scrapping of local authorities such as EDDC and the implementation of one unitary council?" His outcry comes too late. EDDC is scheduled to survive, and to share numerous senior officers with South Somerset District Council. Let us hope that this partnership could result in a partial regime change.