Work to begin on new Local Plan for East Devon

Work on a new Local Plan for East Devon is set to begin shortly with an issues and options report set to be consulted on from January 2021.

Daniel Clark

The existing East Devon local plan, covering the 18-year period from 2013 to 2031, was adopted in January 2016 and needs to be reviewed within five years.

Following the decision in August by the council to withdraw from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan, officers were tasked with bringing forward the review of the Local Plan.

East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday agreed to progress with the production of a new Local Plan but called for a further report to come back to their December meeting over the timescales.

While two options had been presented – one that would see the new Local Plan adopted in December 2023 and one in November 2024 – the committee called for a hybrid option to be explored, in which the timescale of the first option but with the consultation of the second option.

Cllr Susie Bond called for the “speediest option” to be taken to get a new Local Plan in place, saying that previously when there wasn’t one “it was truly dire and a miserable time for all the community”.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that there needed to be community engagement from those that will be affected, and called for the timescale of the first option but to consult more and to shrink the windows for consultation.

Cllr Philip Skinner added: “We need to move with speed, but need to ensure with the speed, we get things right. We can’t keep talking and talking and asking the public about everything, as we’ll end up with slippage.”

But Cllr Olly Davey said: “It feels as though we are looking and a straight choice between consultation and speed and I am wary of dichotomies like that.

“If you schedule a meeting and send out dates, people either respond if the first few days or not at all, and if you ask the right questions in the right way, then they will engage.”

Cllr Mike Howe added the length of time for consultation periods could be shortened, while Cllr Andrew Moulding said there was no need for engagement to take months of time.

The committee agreed to recommend to the Cabinet that the staffing budget for the Planning Policy Team be increased to enable the recruitment of two additional Planning Officers and to endorse production of a local plan issues and options report to come back to committee in December 2020 with a view to consultation starting in January 2021.

That December 2020 meeting will also see a further report brought forward around timescales for the Local Plan production to see if the amount of consultation in option 2 can be carried out with the option 1 timescale.