URGENT ACTION NEEDED to stop harm to the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Update: Court Action September 2020
It is the tail end of summer with lots of people having visited this beautiful area with its fantastic walks, views, beaches and water sports. The roads have been busy, the beaches and car parks packed, the paths and roads thronging with people from near and far.
At CARA, our team dealing with the legal case involving Parkdean and North Devon District Council are focussing on the latest developments with the court case. A Judge has now looked at the papers and has ordered that there be a "Rolled Up" hearing regarding our claim to quash the unlawful and erroneous planning decision made in January 2014 that poses such a threat to the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the environment.
This means that there will be a full court hearing before a High Court Judge with all the parties making oral representations.The Judge's decision on that hearing will determine if our claim succeeds or fails. This is the hearing where the future of the AONB in Croyde will be decided.
Thank you for all the support that has helped us get this far. Please share the link below to our funding page and spread the word among anyone you know, to help us fund this vital legal action to stop harm to the AONB.
If you could share this with 5 friends/family who are not members of CARA that would be fantastic.
We are now onto the next stage of the case and the second stage of fundraising. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us or speak to one of us. We have also updated our Frequently Asked Questions and web page so please read on.
Watch this space for the date of the court hearing...
Overview of the Campaign
Parkdean (the owner of RUDA holiday park) is using a legal loophole to enable them to put caravans on undeveloped land within the red line. The piece of land at immediate risk is referred to as “the Service Field” by Parkdean. It is a large green field to the right of Lundy House which runs along the boundary of the existing caravan park up towards the Northern Ridges of the Crydda Valley. You may remember our petition objecting to this last year whichover 1500 people signed.
The Planning inspector in February 2020 agreed, on a simple point of law, that Parkdean could lawfully put an unspecified number of caravans on that piece of land. This includes statics/lodges. This is an unconditional right. There are no requirements regarding spacing of caravans, drainage/sewage, or landscaping. So in addition to the obvious visual impact on the AONB, there are environmental impacts on water quality, run off, sewage removal, etc.
In addition to concern about the harm to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that this represents there is further concern that Parkdean can use this same legal loophole in the future to put caravans on other undeveloped green areas inside the red line. This would apply to other undeveloped land they have inside the red line now. Further, it could be applied to any land they may acquire inside the red line in the future. The land on the right hand side of the blue line is currently thought to be under Parkdean’s ownership but no one knows what other land they may acquire within the red line in the future.
We are appealing to people who care about this beautiful natural landscape and the environment to help us raise funds to get the source of this loophole removed and prevent the risk of development of green areas near to Croyde Bay and the northern ridges.
If nothing is done the size of RUDA Holiday Park could increase markedly and impact on the natural landscape and environment of this area of Croyde Bay.
Please donate what you can afford – every £1 helps
To donate follow this link to our crowd funding page:
Tax payers please remember to tick the box for gift aid on the crowd funding page
as we receive 25p for every £1 you donate and every penny counts.
In January 2014, Parkdean applied to the Local Planning Authority for an extension of time for RUDA holiday park to be open. The application submitted by Parkdean also included their incorrect plan of the holiday park. The red line on the photograph gives an illustration of the area included in that plan. The planning application was granted and this incorrect plan was approved as part of that decision.
In 2016/2017, Parkdean met widespread objections from the AONB officer, National Trust, Parish Council, visitors, residents and others to a planning application to put 50 static caravans on a green field it owned next to RUDA holiday park, (the Service Field). The AONB Officer said it would cause harm to the protected landscape of the AONB. Environmental Consultees expressed concern about the impact on water quality and the need for a proper drainage system. The static caravans proposed were to be placed on concrete bases. The application was altered to putting 22 static caravans on the field. Objections were again received. The application did not proceed any further.
Onex Corporation, a Canadian private equity investment firm, reportedly acquired Parkdean around this time.
Later in 2017 Parkdean applied for a Certificate of Lawful Development for putting caravans on the Service Field. They claimed that legal interpretation of the 2014 decision which permitted extended opening hours for the holiday park in fact also permitted them to put an unspecified number of caravans on this field already. Therefore, no planning permission was needed, the 2014 decision had granted them a legal right to do this already. The green field was within the red line of the incorrect holiday park plan which had been approved as part of that decision.
North Devon District Council ("NDDC") refused to issue the Certificate of Lawful Development, Parkdean appealed this decision and in February 2020 the Planning Inspector agreed that Parkdean’s interpretation of the 2014 extended opening hours decision was correct in law.
It follows that if Parkdean are entitled to put unspecified numbers of caravans on this green field they can use this same reasoning to do the same for other undeveloped green areas within the red line.
Urgent action is needed to resolve this situation, otherwise Parkdean may place unspecified numbers of caravans in green undeveloped areas of this beautiful and sensitive natural landscape that lie within the red line.
Development carried out under a Certificate of Lawful Development is not the same as applying for development under a planning application. There is no opportunity for assessment of environmental impacts on the AONB and on the existing infrastructure, which is already under strain and does not have capacity to cope with the demands on it in the high season. There would be no opportunity for the Local Planning Authority to consider imposing conditions on such development to address water quality issues arising from run off from fields as a result of concrete bases being built on the fields for the static caravans or to ensure adequate drains and sewage provision to meet the extra impact of more people in more caravans.
Whilst legally Parkdean may be able to do this:
placing caravans in the undeveloped areas will cause harm to the AONB and have adverse environmental impacts;
they will be profiting from their submission of an incorrect plan of the holiday park;
their legal advisors acknowledged to the Planning Inspector that the legal interpretation of the 2014 planning decision provides them with permission to develop the land in this way, which is something they didn’t apply for. They had applied for an extension of time to open the holiday park – they did not apply for planning permission to change the use of the land - but this is what the wording of the decision had granted them.
We have put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help shed more light on the situation. Please do get in touch if you have further questions that we can answer and add to the list.
We are urgently appealing to you, your family, friends and colleagues for donations to the crowd fund to make sure this matter is resolved properly. The overall total needed if it goes to a full court hearing is estimated at £40k to £50k. However if we don’t take action now, the cost to the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be incalculable .
Please donate what you can afford using this link to our crowd funding page
CARA is a charity and if you are a tax payer your donation can be gift aided by
ticking the relevant box on the website. We will receive 25p for every £1 you donate.
Tax relief can be claimed on donations by higher rate tax payers in their tax returns.
Many many thanks for your help and support!