Sidmouth Road Park and ride to close?….
You may have seen recent headlines in the View From Lyme Regis newspaper about the refusal, by East Devon District Council, of a planning application by Lyme Regis Town Council for an extension of planning permission for the use of Land north of Sidmouth Road in Uplyme as a park and ride facility.
Why is the park and ride there?
The initial change of use from agricultural land was allowed to provide temporary additional parking to serve Lyme Regis during a period of significant coastal works, primarily to the East of the town, in application 04/P2257. Works resulted in a significant loss of parking spaces in Holmbush and Charmouth Road car parks.
What has happened since?
Since the initial application, there has been an unsatisfactory sequence of applications and events. Application 10/0548/FUL belatedly sought a continuation of use for a temporary period. A hurried extension in application 14/2981/COU followed with further temporary approval granted to normalise a position where Lyme Regis Town Council was operating the park and ride without planning consent.
When can ‘temporary’ planning consent be given, instead of ‘full’ consent?
Temporary permission can be granted in limited circumstances where perhaps a trail run is necessary to see the effect of a development on an area, or it is expected planning circumstances would change at the end of a period. This was the case with the original park and ride application in 2004, where coastal works meant a temporary loss of parking spaces.
That justification does not now apply, as works have been completed.
It will rarely be justifiable to grant a second temporary permission. Further temporary consent should normally be granted permanently, or refused where there is clear justification to do so. There is no presumption that a temporary planning permission should subsequently be granted permanently.
In the case of the park and ride, initial temporary permission was granted in 2004. Further temporary permissions followed in 2010 and again in 2015. Despite pressure at the time, I supported the extension of temporary approval. Had pressure for refusal been successful at that time, it could have meant that the use of the park and ride would cease at the beginning of a summer season.
However, applicant Lyme Regis Town Council was advised, in the decision notice to application 14/2981/COU dated 16th April 2015;
"…this further grant of a temporary consent recognises the need for a comprehensive and evidenced based strategy for car parking serving Lyme Regis. Due to landscape harm, further temporary consents are unlikely to be supported and the applicants should, therefore, use this opportunity to develop an appropriate strategy?"
So what happened?
Unfortunately, Lyme Regis Town Council did not note advice given in 2015. Rather, in application 16/1558/VAR it sought yet another temporary extension of use of the park and ride site, this time for a further three years.
Whilst simple usage figures for the Sidmouth Road and Charmouth Road sites were included with the application, they did not suggest a compelling need for approval. No comprehensive capacity review of Charmouth Road or any other car parks in and around Lyme Regis or nearby, outside the AONB, was offered, nor a strategic approach to Lyme Regis parking management.
Where might we go from here?
After the refusal, initial press reports suggested that Lyme Regis Town Council intended to appeal the EDDC decision. This is an option to all applicants. With that in mind, Planning Authorities consider whether or not their decision would be likely to be upheld, in the event of an appeal, at the time of determining a planning application.
I am not clear what grounds for appeal the Town Council had in mind, but am pleased at the time of writing to note that more recent press reports now suggest the council has changed its mind. It will be completing a strategic review of Lyme Regis parking management, prior to a possible application for permanent consent to use the site as a seasonal park and ride facility.
If a single Eastern park and ride, in Dorset near the A35 junction, or another alternative outside the AONB cannot satisfy peak demand, within a properly evidenced strategy, the current site to the west may be judged appropriate for a permanent seasonal location to help meet peak Lyme Regis requirements.
As local ward member, I would not wish to see East Devon District Council continuing to be anything other than reasonably supportive of the economy of Lyme Regis and its traders. However, in the context of the advice previously given to Lyme Regis Town Council, I believe recent application for further temporary consent could logically only be refused.
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Cllr Ian Thomas – Trinity Ward, East Devon District Council
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