Officer “naked amidst the rubble” of EDDC’s Local Plan?

Some thoughts sent to EDA from a local correspondent:

‘Information gradually drips from EDDC regarding the Local Plan and the details of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment ( SHMA ). It seems that the SHMA is recommending a more modest housing allocation for East Devon. Many commentators at the time of the Local Plan Panel advocated lower housing numbers, as did EDDC’s consultants. Those commentators appear to have been vindicated by the draft recommendations of the SHMA.

Whilst, everyone told EDDC at the Local Plan Panel that their housing provision was excessive, particular opprobrium was directed at the employment land allocation, which all agreed was absurdly high. And, of course, based in part upon hopelessly miscalculated commuting numbers, and the inexplicable exclusion from the employment numbers of the Inter Modal Freight Facility, since purchased by Sainsburys.

We are now told, bizarrely, that EDDC is arguing for an increase in the SHMA housing allocation to reflect the huge employment land allocations that they have made. Workers will have to be housed. Previously they argued the reverse: that a huge employment allocation was necessary to employ the workforce generated by their housing numbers! An absurdly spiralling argument that will only serve to devastate the countryside of East Devon, and place enormous strain upon our infrastructure and services.

Clearly, the whole edifice of the Plan has collapsed, and Matt Dickins is standing naked amidst the rubble.

The solution is obvious: the employment allocation within the Plan has to be substantially reduced. This can be easily achieved by incorporating the Sainsburys site into the calculations, and by correcting the commuting errors. Such a move would transform the Plan, making sense of the housing numbers, and providing a way forward that would be acceptable to all sides.

In particular, this would ensure the removal of the highly controversial Sidford allocation, which has attracted more opposition than any other component of the Plan.

The need to remove Sidford from the Plan is greater than ever, given the warped logic with which EDDC has responded to the SHMA. If more housing is needed to ‘feed’ the District’s employment sites, then Sidmouth is threatened with a big increase in its housing allocation. After all, we have only 70 unemployed, and Sidford is intended to accommodate 1400 jobs. Where are the workers to be housed? ‘