A DISTRICT councillor has said that Lyme Regis Town Council “failed to address the requirements” in its latest planning application for continued use of the Sidmouth Road park and ride site, which has now been recommended for refusal.
The town council has submitted an application for temporary continued use of the Sidmouth Road park and ride, from March 30 to September 30 2018, to East Devon District Council, as the site is just across the county border in the parish of Uplyme.
The planning application was accepted by the district on March 19 2018 and it is expected it will be several weeks before a decision is made, missing the Easter holidays.
Councillor Ian Thomas, East Devon district councillor for the Trinity ward, which includes Uplyme, said that the council had “made no material progress” since previous applications for temporary use of the site were made, despite East Devon requesting additional information, including a full traffic survey.
He said that the current application had “yet again failed to address the requirements identified” in advice offered by East Devon when a previous application was made in 2014.
Councillor Thomas has now recommended that the new application be refused, with his reasons including “continued failure of the applicant to address identified issues in a timely manner”.
‘No attempt to arrange meeting’
Referring to last year’s application, Councillor Thomas said: “Rather than see refusal of that application, I secured agreement to yet another further temporary approval in the interest of the residents, businesses and visitors to Lyme Regis.
“I was only able to achieve this by arguing the justification for this approach was to allow the newly formed working group, including representatives from Devon and Dorset County Councils, East Devon and West Dorset District Councils, Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council, to use such information in the development of a strategic approach to the management of traffic and parking requirements (including differential pricing strategies as a tool) in Lyme Regis and the surrounding areas of both Devon and Dorset.
“There has been no serious attempt by the applicant to arrange even a single meeting of this willing and supportive group of local members, in almost twelve months. As a consequence, the applicant has made no material progress and it would not be reasonable to support yet another temporary consent on those same grounds.”
Councillor Thomas also expressed surprise that the current planning application did not include traffic count figures collected in summer 2017.
He said these showed that the western entrance to the town via Sidmouth Road had the lowest traffic use – only 56 per cent of that from the eastern approach on Charmouth Road – but had the largest provision of car parking.
Concluding his comments, Councillor Thomas said: “Planning policy, the continued failure of the applicant to address identified issues in a timely manner and the recent provision of the extra permanent parking to the east [Charmouth Road park and ride] strongly indicate that this application should be refused.”
Speaking at this week’s town council meeting, Lyme Regis resident Nigel Ball pointed out that this was the sixth temporary application that had been submitted.
“You keep blaming East Devon District Council but it’s not been submitted in the right way. You can’t keep asking for a temporary park and ride, it’s a full planning application or nothing,” he said.
Uplyme council recommends refusal
Councillor Steve Miller, chairman of the town’s Strategy & Finance Committee, agreed there had been too many temporary applications, but said the town council was currently working “extremely closely” with East Devon District Council and had actually been asked to submit a temporary application this time to allow full traffic review of the town to be undertaken, after which East Devon would again consider the viability of a park and ride at Sidmouth Road.
Councillor Miller reported that he had just attended a planning meeting at Uplyme Parish Council, where members had “unfortunately” recommended refusal of the current application following advice received in an email from Councillor Thomas.
Councillor Miller said Councillor Thomas’ commented had not been made available to him prior to the meeting.
Interrupting from the public forum, Mr Ball’s son, Ashley, said the email had been made public as he had read it online that day.
Councillor Brian Larcombe asked if the town council was actively engaged with all interested parties and other authorities in order to co-operatively get a resolution on the matter. Councillor Miller said that they were in consultation with all of them.
Councillor Owen Lovell then asked if anyone had met with Councillor Thomas to discuss the matter since he held a meeting with him in May 2017. Councillor Miller said they had not.
Councillor Lovell replied: “Well what do you expect from an individual who has, in some aspects, gone out of his way to get us planning permission in the past, and in other aspects is a very dedicated individual? If you’re going to ignore him, do you really expect him to change his mind? Why have you not spoken to him?”
Councillor Cheryl Reynolds said Councillor Thomas had been invited to a number of meetings but had not been able to attend any of them.
The planning application for temporary use of Sidmouth Road park and ride will now be considered by East Devon District Council. The planning application can be viewed at https://bit.ly/2GDeCTi
Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted to extend the use of the Charmouth Road park and ride site – usually only open for the summer holidays – from the end of March to the end of October. However, the town council has said it will not be in operation over the Easter weekend because the ground is too wet.