THE NEW Local Plan for East Devon public review has now closed.
The Local Plan Panel will be meeting in March to look at the Public feedback and to complete this plan ready to submit to the Planning Inspectorate.
Individual comments were welcomed and many Town and Parish Councils have put their final views forward – some after public meetings held at the beginning of January.
The main themes of the East Devon Local Plan are providing growth in jobs and homes whilst preserving and enhancing East Devon’s unique environmental assets.
Councillor Mike Allen, Chairman of the Local Plan Panel for East Devon, acknowledged that the Local Plan will not be able to deliver everybody’s wish list. But he added: “We want to aim for jobs and suitable housing for young and elderly residents, as well as the broad range of working age people. Although we aim for about 15,000 new dwellings, we have an expectation that initial delivery of homes and office space will be slow until 2013 and that more development will only come with improved economic growth and especially growth in incomes.
He said green wedges will separate towns from each other and every attempt to preserve AONB and Agricultural Land is written into the plan.
Councillor Allen continued: “We have protected East Devon’s outstanding natural assets – its beauty, quality of life and special landscapes, which are obvious strengths, and which our tourist industry is built on – while ensuring higher paid jobs and more affordable homes are central to the plan”.
He added: “Government wants us to identify where change and growth can happen so that social and physical infrastructure can be planned to support it. For January, we are still in evidence-gathering mode for our locality. We have continually sought more information about the dynamics of the economy and population in towns before any decisions are made.
“We have listened carefully to representations about the need for road, health and education infrastructure and expect that Devon County Council will continue to meet its responsibility for these areas whilst we co-operate on the use of land and planning issues. We have collaborated with Exeter City and Exeter University to promote plans for a specialised Science park to complement the Cranbrook development, where most new homes will go”.
Axminster Town Council presented its proposals early on through the Axminster Community Plan, with detailed evidence. This resulted in the Local Plan proposing the central redevelopment and expansion requested along with emphasis on the North-South relief road.
Plans for Axmouth and the Axe valley are out for consultation
Active discussion over Budleigh Salterton took place to resolve the conflict between a need for lower priced housing with protecting the AONB. The small-scale results are now out for consultation.
Exmouth Town Council submitted a comprehensive argument against the use of St John’s Wood for any development to EDDC Local Plan Forum. As a result, the St John’s Wood area has now been removed from the LDF proposal. There is ongoing debate over the proposal for Maer Valley, but the Local Plan draft opted for the lower numbers submitted by Exmouth Town Council and Maer Valley residents. It also includes green wedges to protect Lympstone
Honiton Town Council and Gittisham objected to development of housing to the West of town, and this was accepted. There remains disagreement about where the amount of office space needed should be allocated. The latest version of the Local Plan includes mention of the town’s aspirations for an Eastern by-pass, but reduced the housing allocation from 1,000 to 450 after consultation. The Local Plan Panel voted to protect most of the open green spaces in the town.
Ottery Town Council has consistently said no more than 300 dwellings should be built in their town. Councillors wanted to see 90 dwellings at the Ottermill factory site – with 40 per cent designated ‘affordable’ housing. Representatives also asked for a sewerage system upgrade and questioned the need for 3 hectares of employment Land. The Local Plan recommendation for Ottery St Mary now stands at 450 new houses, including a ‘strategic allocation for 350 houses to the West with more focus on upgrading The King’s School.
Mike Allen continued: “I visited Ottery Town Council among others to specifically ask for evidence for their proposition in view of the number of young people wishing to leave Ottery and the virtual lack of affordable housing or modern office space”. Controversial plans to build new homes in Tipton St John have failed to win the backing of Ottery St Mary civic leaders and are still being debated.
Seaton is planned to develop according to its Town Council’s recommendations, with a major regeneration put into effect.
Sidmouth Town Council asked for a new health centre, conference facilities, and a possible new educational campus north of the A3052. Councillors also asked EDDC to uphold the town’s tourism policy and to provide balanced housing provision. They also said any relocation of EDDC from Knowle must ensure new use of the site will enhance and benefit Sidmouth.
As a result, Sidmouth’s housing growth is to be chopped by 40 per cent in the new Local Plan review. Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce have thanked the Panel for listening to their concerns about the town centre and have welcomed the proposed priority given to this in the Local Plan. The Plan also shows protection for the Sid Valley and AONB.
One of the most remarkable results of the public consultations is the expression of a wish by many villages to grow in small ways and this is summarised in the early part of the Plan
Mike Allen wanted to make one final comment on our farmers. He said: “They face huge challenges as the European CAP funding alters in 2013 and we have recognised the essential need to encourage local food production. We have also proposed new policies that enable generations to part-retire onsite and allow new dwellings to accommodate the needs of these working generations”.