New bullet-proof policies
Anita Jennings letter last week about the Longboat development highlighted new legislation from Whitehall, giving East Devon District Council planners and elected members a material planning reason for refusing the proposal.
Anita Jennings' letter last week about the Longboat development highlighted new legislation from Whitehall, giving East Devon District Council planners and elected members a material planning reason for refusing the proposal.
Here is another reason: on July 24, 2009, the Department for Communities and Local Government for Culture Media and Sport issued a 'Circular on the Protection of World Heritage Sites' (WHS) to update planning guidance on the level of protection and management required.
The paper states that it "fulfilled a commitment in a white paper in March 2007 to issue a planning circular which will recognise in national policy the need to protect WHS as sites of outstanding universal value".
The foreshore and cliffs of East Devon's Jurassic coast are one of only 24 WHSs in England, (along with Stonehenge, Blenheim Palace, Avebury etc). They are recognised officially by UNESCO as one of the "wonders of the natural world" and they have the unique designation of being England's First Natural World Heritage Site.
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So the contentious Longboat development proposal is a sensitive issue, not only in the context of local and national planning policy, but also in the context of the internationally acclaimed world significance of its backdrop.
Crucially, the paper goes on to state: "Policies should respect the fact that all these sites have been designated for their outstanding universal value, and those policies should place due weight on the need to protect WHS for the benefit of future generations as well as our own", yet future generations will gasp with incredulity at our scant regard for the protection of this universally recognised Heritage Site and will wonder why the district's public servants rode roughshod over what should be bullet-proof policies to prevent the legacy of this unique landscape from being tainted by over-development.
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At its most simplistic and superficial, the Longboat proposal is seductive: a few people can enjoy some good food and wine while viewing the beach - a nice idea in an area which is not a WHS, is not an AONB, is not a SSSI and is not the Jurassic Coast.
The Journal's front page report last week explained that EDDC's development management committee (DMC) was merely 'minded"... "to accept the principle of the redevelopment of the Longboat Caf� and the scale, mass and design of the proposed scheme" - this does not mean it was approved.
Now that the DMC can see from the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment mentioned in the Journal two weeks ago, that the scale, mass and design of the enlarged Longboat Restaurant will dominate the natural landscape and obscure views from all directions of our WHS, EDDC has a duty to comply with policy issued from Whitehall to ensure the protection of World Heritage Sites, and they must now refuse the Longboat proposal and make their mark for posterity.