In total disbelief that regulations would allow such unsympathetic and inappropriate development, local residents embarked on establishing the facts for themselves. They concluded that both policy and EIA regulations, if correctly applied, would not support such development.
The leader of the campaigners, our own Teresa Sienkiewicz (she may be small but she certainly packs a punch) had clearly been on the red meat when she commented: "The granting of permission for industrial development in a beautiful area of Somerset visible for miles around is one thing, especially as the permission was bulldozed through in the teeth of opposition from, among others, the Planning Inspectorate and Somerset County Council. But failing to provide adequate screening of factory buildings in this prominent hilltop site and breaching Environmental Impact Assessment regulations, as required by law, is quite another".
One of Teresa's better "Miss Piggy moments", I think you'll agree.
The press release is equally in-your-face and concludes: "Despite strong policy objections against the site's allocation from the Planning Inspectorate, the Government Office for the South West, the county council, Lopen Parish Council and SSDC's own planning policy team, the site was allocated following the determined efforts of a handful of district councillors and planning officers. It is little wonder that even the mention of new development often sparks an emotive response from many communities when bitter experience such as Lopen's leaves them totally distrusting of their council and local planners".
My congratulations to Teresa and her doughty team at Lopen. As I said to her in an e-mail, John (Sienkiewicz, Teresa's husband, and the late-great-daddy of all strategic planners) could not have done it better himself, had he still been with us. But one is left wondering whether those looking for evidence of the vicissitudes of neighbourhood planning will be citing Lopenhead in case law.
After all, the government has embarked on one hell of an experiment here, and this case just goes to show that we will need very well defined rules of engagement...
And talking of absent friends...as a postscript to my blog on the sad loss of David Chippendale last Friday I received a lovely message (among many others) from Alistair Subba Row of Farebrother. I am feeling very guilty as I should have mentioned David's long association with Farebrother in that last post, and I am feeling a bit remiss about that, but I don't think Alistair is cross.
His note reads "I'm currently in Hong Kong but I just read your great piece on David Chipps. I worked with him for over 15 years and he was a good friend as well as our wonderful researcher for our quarterly figures. He was part of the firm and always came to our Christmas party as one of us. Loved the craic and the dancing! We all miss him terribly. His death came as a great shock, especially having seen him in Dingle last November looking so well. I know that Malcolm Brackley here at Farebrother is talking to David Carr at HSC about a London event to celebrate his life which we will do to the limit!"
Well, Alistair, you can rest assured that I, along with many others we all know, will drink to that when the time comes.