“Fears Greater Exeter Plan is being ‘dumped on us’ raised at consultation event”

“Concern has been raised about whether a new strategic plan that will affect half a million people is being dumped on them against their wishes. Mid Devon, East Devon, Teignbridge and Exeter City Council, in partnership with Devon County Council, are teaming up to create a Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) which focuses on the creation of jobs and housing until 2040. …

… Peter Finch, chairman of Teignbridge Campaign to Protect Rural England, raised concerns that overdevelopment could diminish the area as a tourist attraction.

Mr Finch said: “I don’t see any evidence of the need for this amount of development in the Greater Exeter area. I think it is undermining the work that people have done in their communities in getting together their local plans.

“We need to protect the rural environment from overdevelopment, as that is what attracts people to come here. If we lose that rural environment then there is less of a reason for tourists to visit.

“There is also nothing about affordable housing here. There is a need for housing around Exeter but there are sites that could be developed already rather than building in the countryside around Exeter.”

Elaine Cawthaw, from the Bishopsteignton Residents Association, said: “Lots of people are concerned that there is already lots of development but the infrastructure is not in place, and I am concerned that this could be repeated with future development.” …

… However the plans have raised fears that councils are “sleepwalking” into becoming unitary authorities. Liberal Councillor Jenny Roach who represents Silverton said: “We’re looking like we could be ceding power to this planning partnership, and I know people will shake their heads and say no, but there are several points which worry me.

“Exeter needs land and you can imagine where I sit in my ward, Exeter City Council could be looking at developing the swathe of land that is between Silverton and Exeter and similarly between Thorverton and Newton St Cyres.. It worries me that it’s being done by degree and almost by stealth. When we went to the public to talk about the sort of governance the district wanted, they didn’t like the cabinet, but unfortunately we didn’t get the 3000 signatures we needed in that period of time.

“There are a tremendous amount of people who were not happy with the governance of this authority as it is now, they don’t like the cabinet system, and it is the cabinet system that is sleepwalking us into a unitary authority.” …