At this afternoon’s (Tuesday 30th August) meeting, the ‘Local Plan’ (formerly the LDF) Panel sets sights on jobs, homes and open space.
Panel members considered widely ranging estimates on available employment land and resolved to work to distill all available evidence when concluding their assessment of employment land availability.
JOBS for people; homes for people; and open spaces for people. Those were the themes of the latest in a series of meetings looking at a planning blueprint for East Devon up to 2026.
Members studied reports that could help the Council deliver new job opportunities. They also heard from speakers on a range of topics including potential sites for additional housing, including affordable homes, and considered the need for a new public park at the western end of the district near the border with Exeter.
The Panel noted a draft report from EDDC’s Employment Strategy Task and Finish Forum, which set out five business objectives to bear in mind when setting a new planning policy. These were:
– Building on the benefits of the developments in the West End to improve the number and variety of job opportunities elsewhere in the District.
– Providing business support, innovation ideas, networking opportunities and training for small and medium sized businesses
– Prioritising locations and identifying the best opportunities and greatest need for specific projects
– Using East Devon’s natural assets to strengthen and widen the district’s year-round visitor economy, but without damaging its appeal
– Helping to secure the right transport and communication networks to support sustainable agriculture, business and tourism.
The Panel also received an interim report on the availability of employment land as at 31 March 2011. The report looked at existing sites across the district and those that might be expanded. It stressed the need to find additional sites to cater for likely demand and to ensure that the District continues to have a supply of employment land coming on stream.
The Exeter and East Devon Growth Point is the most active part of the District in terms of housing development with Cranbrook – which has now started – and also a number of schemes aimed at boosting jobs.
The Panel received a number of submissions from developers, some arguing that other parts of East Devon should also be considered for housing and employment – not just the Growth Point area.
Afterwards Panel Chairman Councillor Mike Allen said:
“We fully understand the arguments that we should not focus on the West End to the exclusion of other parts of the District. The Draft Employment Strategy favours a district-wide approach.”
“People can rest assured that the Panel will take a holistic approach to meeting the housing and employment challenges we face. Members will ensure that any sites allocated should benefit the whole District”.
The Panel also heard about expansion plans at Exeter Airport.
Finally, Members received a report on the need for extra parkland to cater for the expected increase in population. They accepted recommendations for a district-wide Green Infrastructure Strategy and agreed that land for an open space should be allocated at Clyst Valley Regional Park. This would supplement the new Cranbrook Country Park that is to be part of the new community, where building is now under way.
The aims and the challenges remain the same – to draw up a policy that provides the jobs and homes that people need and supports a thriving local economy, whilst protecting East Devon’s uniquely beautiful environment, much of which is officially labelled as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Next Local Plan Panel Meetings : 6th, 13th and 27th September – starting at 2pm at The Knowle, Sidmouth
The press and public are welcomed to these meetings.