Mark Wilson CEO Aviva – Let’s be clear, no defences, no development Continue reading
The abandoned Winslade Park site at Clyst St Mary is a sad reflection of a once vibrant employment site
Why would the Insurance Group abandon to dereliction, dilapidation, disrepair and deterioration what (until recently) would have been considered, by many, to be one of the most sought after idyllic, rural employment sites in this area? The answer lies in the Group’s future vision for a substantial re-development of the entire site primarily for residential purposes. What better way to grab everyone’s attention than to let the area “go to rack and ruin” so that ultimately a decision must be made on the future of the site.
In and around 2013, there were initial discussions that 500 houses could be accommodated on this large site, on both green open parkland and sports fields and previously developed areas, known in planning terms as ‘brownfield sites’. However, such inappropriate proposals resulted in extensive objections from the residents who successfully protected the green open parkland and fields from inclusion in East Devon’s Development Plan to 2031. It could be foreseen that their small rural village with the limited services of a small school, one shop with post office, a pub and a garage could metamorphose into a town which would not only lose the special identity and character of the village but such disproportionate growth would detrimentally affect the social cohesion of the community, which was valued by all of the existing residents. Furthermore, such expansion would be considered unsustainable and inappropriate under national and local planning legislation and policies.
Planning Applications for around 300 houses were refused permission but East Devon Planning Authority had allocated up to 150 dwellings on the brownfield areas in their Development Plan to 2031 because they needed to prove sufficient future housing quotas over a five year period for the whole of East Devon to validate the Local Plan for adoption and the allocation of 150 dwellings at Clyst St Mary certainly assisted in reaching the required target figure!
Normally, under good planning practice, such excessive numbers would never be contemplated for a small village; but East Devon Planners created a proviso under Strategy 26B in the Local Plan that Winslade Park “formed an exception to policy for development at villages in East Devon as otherwise set out in the Plan”; leaving the village disadvantaged and outside of the protection of planning laws and guidelines specifically in place to safeguard its future.
The residents are not NIMBYs and the community is socially inclusive, being aware that people need somewhere to live. Consequently Clyst St Mary has already approved nearly 100 new dwellings with 80 houses currently under construction by Cavanna Homes plus a smaller development at Bridge House in the old village centre. However, currently the cumulative figure for approved and allocated new housing now totals almost 250 dwellings, when other villages and towns have more proportionate allocations and some have no allocations whatsoever!
The current planning application is provisionally scheduled for presentation to East Devon Development Management Committee on Monday 2nd October 2017, although many residents feel arbitration is necessary. They intend to make their voices heard on the unsuitability of both the hybrid application and the continuing emphasis by the Authority that a Development Plan cannot be adapted and modified to secure sustainable development for this community.
Consequently, the abandonment is not solely restricted to the Winslade Park redundant office complex because the residents of Clyst St Mary also feel they and their village have been abandoned in favour of proposals for unsustainable over-development. They fear that this current application will be the precursor to encroachment on to the open parkland and sports fields and once that is secured the village of Clyst St Mary will cease to exist. Could there be a more inspired, desirable vision for the future of this abandoned site at Winslade Park? Those people who actually live in this village truly hope for one.
Village Fears Future Flooding
The latest planning proposals for the village of Clyst St Mary from the Development Agents, Jones Lang LaSalle, (who represent the previous and present linked companies of Friends Provident/ Friends Life/F & C Reit/BMO Real Estate and Aviva) have been submitted to East Devon District Council for consideration under Planning Application 16/2460/MOUT. However, the development proposals include 150 residential dwellings plus employment and community units on areas of the decommissioned Aviva Insurance headquarters at Winslade Park that lie within a flood zone!
The Developers recently held a Public Consultation in the Clyst St Mary Village Hall displaying their future plans for consideration and requesting comments by the residents to enable these to be incorporated into their overall masterplan. The photographs below were forwarded to them showing the extensive flooding that was experienced in this area when the Grindle Brook burst its banks at this time last year on 30th December 2015 and it was emphasised that certain zones, in this vicinity, flood frequently and these areas were, therefore, not considered to be suitable for residential, workplace or community development.
The link below identifies the current flood risk and shows the vulnerability of the Winslade Park site, proving that substantial future flood defences are essential, although the Environment Agency website states that “flood defences do not completely remove the chance of flooding and can fail in extreme weather conditions.”
Sadly, the Developers have chosen not to take local representations from the Public Consultation into consideration and have continued with their development proposals on areas of land subject to High Risk (Flood Zone 3) classification by the Environment Agency.
At present the East Devon Villages Plan 2016 is also in the process of Public Consultation to consider new built-up area boundaries for certain villages (including Clyst St Mary), with a Planning Inspector determining where such future development boundaries should be defined. However, the Developers’ inappropriate planning applications for development on flood plains at Winslade Park could now be considered for a decision by the East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee before the residents of Clyst St Mary have the opportunity to put forward their comments on this site to the Government Inspector. This seems to be totally undemocratic and certainly not fully representational, being not in accordance with the main principles directing the devolution of decision-making to local people in the Localism Act.
Mark Wilson is the Group Chief Executive of Aviva. This huge company is one of the linked companies associated with this proposed development at Winslade Park. Wilson was named in 2016 as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people who have made a difference to British society. He was noted for finalising the £5.6 billion acquisition of Friends Life with the resulting merger turning Aviva into one of the UK’s largest investors managing £300 billion plus assets.
Writing in The Telegraph in 2014, Mark Wilson emphasised that there should be a halt on building on “defenceless” flood plains. He stated that “As a nation we need to build more homes, but the cost of development must include the cost of defences.” His mantra continued “Let’s be crystal clear: no defences, no development. We can’t stop the weather, but we can act in unison to minimise the impact of extreme events and we know that the threat is only going to increase, with scientists predicting greater flood frequency and extreme weather as a result of climate change. Although the current focus for us all is coastal and river flooding, surface water flooding is a major concern. More homes, driveways and car parks all contribute to more water flowing into the system, and flowing quickly.”
He acknowledged that flooding is one of the most traumatic events that any householder or business can face, with families forced out of their homes, valuable and much-loved possessions being ruined and businesses struggling to trade. He was aware that it can be many months before the drying-out process is completed and subsequent repairs can commence and that being the Chief Executive of Aviva, the UK’s largest insurers, he understood the emotional cost, trauma and feeling of vulnerability that comes with flooding.
Even with the Flood Re scheme which guarantees affordable insurance for households in flood-prone areas, surely it would be prudent not to create the problem by developing on areas at risk of flooding, thus sparing the necessity for future flood insurance claims on those same areas. Specific localities of the village of Clyst St Mary have a history of flooding with the images below showing the areas outside The Half Moon public house and Frog Lane in 1946.
Consequently, the residents of Clyst St Mary applaud the views of Mark Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Aviva, and hope that his strong opinions on flooding and huge influence will have a direct effect on the development proposals by the Insurance Group incorporating Aviva for the residential, workplace and community areas at Winslade Park, Clyst St Mary that lie within a flood zone!
Let’s be crystal clear: no defences, no development
Photographs of recent flooding
You may be aware that East Devon District Council (EDDC)are in the process of putting together the final elements of their Local Plan. Our Neighbourhood Plan is progressing well and once both are adopted, should safeguard our village boundaries that we have recently fought so hard to protect.
As part of the process EDDC have a public consultation out at the moment (ie before the aforementioned Plans are adopted) giving the opportunity for the public and developers to ask for changes on village boundaries.http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1249785/buab-consult-doc-final-august-2015.pdf
If you are happy with Clyst St Mary’s current boundaries, as outlined in our Neighbourhood and Local Plans and do not wish for them to be changed (for example, the field behind the football ground, currently owned by the Plymouth Brethren, could be re-designated as an area on which to build) please add your name and address to the letter we have prepared for you CLICK HERE to pen and forward it to email@example.com or please print off a copy and post it through our letter box: 11 Clyst Valley Road (which we will deliver by hand).
If possible, please send a letter per household member (over 18) rather than per household.
If you know of anyone in this area without access to a computer, please alert the contents of this email. We will happily provide a printed copy of the letter to be signed if they call .
As you will be aware, today was the day the Development Management Committee met at EDDC to discuss the Local Plan.
This had great significance for Clyst St Mary, given that it had been proposed that both the Winslade Park area and the green field owned by the Plymouth Brethren would be used for the village’s allocation of an additional 200 houses.
22 members of our group met last Monday and discussed our key arguments against this which were to be delivered at today’s meeting.
We are thrilled to announce that, following today’s Committee meeting, it was unanimously agreed by the 15 councillors present to reject the green field proposal and reduce the housing allocation for Winslade Park to 150 in total.
A massive thank you to everyone who attended last Monday’s meeting, including the seven brave souls who spoke so passionately and articulately today, as well as all those local residents who turned up simply to offer moral support. It really was greatly appreciated.
Whilst this was only a hearing for the Local Plan – not a hearing for the specific applications to which we have all objected – it does give us hope for the future. Things certainly appear now to be less bleak than they did ten days ago!
Rest assured, with your support, we will continue to fight in a dignified, professional and open manner to unite and preserve our village community.
For more information and interviews on this post please contact Peter Simmonds at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting article from the Times brought to our attention by a local CSM resident….read more here
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