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Council Blamed for Unnecessary Planning Costs

Sidmouth Herald published 17 December 2013

Plans to build a shed and garden room on Sidmouth’s prominent croquet lawns have been panned as ‘deficient and wrong’.

A neighbouring resident said an application that ‘understates’ the development’s impact and fails to comply with requirements ‘should never have passed’ initial checks.

Jo Frith, director of the Fortfield Terrace Building Preservation Association, said that it left many unanswered questions, which the planning authority should have asked.

“This application should never have passed by the East Devon District Council (EDDC) initial checks,” she said.

“It should have been returned to the applicant for proper completion.”

She complained that, contrary to planning rules, the application mixes metric and imperial measurements, gives sizing that is ‘obviously wrong’, and is missing essential paperwork.

Jo said EDDC is ‘guilty of a real waste of public funds’ as the plans will now have to be considered by a number of agencies, including Devon County Council’s highways department, English Heritage and Sidmouth Town Council.

“We deserve a better service from the EDDC planning office to avoid such a waste of public funds and the applicant’s money,” she added.

The contents of the application have also drawn criticism.

Qualified architect Gita Rae said that the proposed garden room, on the corner of Fortfield Terrace and Station Road, would cause an ‘unacceptable visual intrusion’ and have a detrimental effect on the conservation area.

She also questioned the need for further storage after plans to extend the croquet club by a third were approved in February this year.

Sidmouth Town Council was unable to support the development, saying it would be out of keeping with the conservation area and would have a detrimental effect on the grade II listed building.

An East Devon District Council spokesman said new regulations mean the paperwork in question is not needed due to the size.

He said a replacement drawing will be requested with metric measurements.

The spokesman added: “Pre-application advice is routinely available for a fee, but advice on submitting an application (drawings required, filling in the form, etc.) is available free of charge.

“Administration fees to consider planning applications generally cover a proportion of the costs, with any extra covered by council revenues.”

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