As the country quietly celebrates annual economic growth of 2%, it is worth reminding ourselves that our housing and employment land allocations were based upon an expectation of a 3% annual economic growth rate over the entire length of the East Devon Local Plan. This is because Plans must be “evidence-based”.
The problem with East Devon’s various plans is that the evidence was hopelessly optimistic and pre-dated the recession, based on consistent “high growth”. When the recession came along, the powers that be just ignored its implications and carried on with their highly optimistic projections.
So today, Britain’s economy has shown only 8% growth since 2007, when the numbers for our Plan were first formulated. But according to our Plan we should be 34.5% ahead of where we were then.
No wonder that Skypark and the Science Park are windswept desolate areas festooned with tumbleweed, and Sidford is looking like complete economic nonsense.
Even if the incredibly unlikely happens, and we see 3% growth until the end of the plan period, we will never fulfil the assumptions that gave us these huge allocations. And when – not if – we fail to reach those optimistic figures, no doubt the government will fine us by telling us our plans must be MORE optimistic next time – and probably will say we have no five-year land supply, so it will be a developer free-for-all again.
So much for evidenced-based Plans: stick your finger in the air, check which way the wind is blowing, make a complete guess (that favours developers) and stick with it, regardless.
Diviani has “withdrawn” his plan to continue as a DCC councillor to “concentrate on being Leader of EDDC” – and a board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership. Owl wonders where the Leader is leading us – by the nose.