Posted: 22.10.19 at 14:13 by Joseph Bulmer
House prices in East Devon could rise ‘considerably’ if proposals for a new ‘Jurassic’ national park covering East Devon and Dorset are successful, warns the former leader of East Devon District Council.
According to councillor Ian Thomas the creation of a national park spanning Devon and Dorset could have a ‘massive effect on the Jurassic Coast area’.
The proposals to create the national park come after the publication of an independent review undertaken last year into National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Glover review of protected landscapes in England is set to be discussed by East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee this evening (October 22).
Council officers have recommended councillors endorse all of the recommendations of the Glover report on protected landscapes in England but await a response from the Government.
Referring to the area, the review states: “Dorset and East Devon have some of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity in Britain and opportunities for enjoyment. It includes the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site as well as farmed areas inland where development pressures are less strong and support for a change in status may be less established.
“We heard from opponents as well as supporters of a new status. Both the Cotswolds and the Dorset/East Devon proposals are strong candidates, alongside the Chilterns, to be considered for National Park status. We suggest Natural England and ministers consider the case for each.”
The report’s central proposal is that National Parks and AONB are brought together as one family of national landscapes, to give them a bigger voice. National Parks would keep their titles, at least their current levels of funding and local autonomy, especially over planning.
An article written by Lloyds Banking Group supports Mr Thomas’ concerns about houses prices.
In the article Andrew Mason, Mortgages Director for Lloyds Bank, said: "National parks offer a unique opportunity to live in some of the most desirable parts of the country, and often come with strict rules designed to protect their beauty and heritage for many years to come.
"However, this comes at a cost to home buyers who will need to pay considerably more to put roots down in these locations. With such a significant gap between local earnings and property prices, people who want to live and work locally may face a considerable challenge to buy their own home."
Mr Thomas also has concerns about the way this park would be governed and how that would affect planning decisions here in East Devon, he said: “Dorset and Devon have fundamentally different local government structures. Former West Dorset District Council responsibilities are now within one of two ‘Unitary’ authorities, which work directly with Town/Parish Councils. Devon has indicated no plan to change its current structure.
“Unlike an AONB, a National Park becomes a local authority, the planning authority for its area. The implication for coastal East Devon Towns and Parishes in the current East Devon AONB would be a massive planning authority dominated by Dorset interests.”
The report also does not propose to make National Park authorities democratically elected bodies. So as it stands the proposals could lead to planning decisions being made for East Devon by an un-elected authority based in Dorset.
According to research done by Mr Thomas, the ‘self-selected’ Dorset and East Devon National Park CIC (Community Interest Company), incorporated in 2017, has roots in the Dorset/Purbeck area.
Five Officers are listed at Companies House, aged between 66 and 70, all giving a correspondence address in Wareham, Dorset.
Last year, Devon County Council discussed supporting the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park.
Councillor Martin Shaw, who had proposed supporting the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park, said that the case for it will need to be made and evidence for it will be needed, but that creating a National Park would ensure the area remains as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The council agreed though that any expression of support for the establishment of a Dorset and East Devon National Park should be deferred until the overriding benefit was clearly demonstrated and that it would come from additional funding.
To find out more about the Glover Review’s proposals, click the red button below.