Taking a look at the implications of the census data

From a correspondent:

Thank you, Owl, for highlighting this census material.

 It is as many of us have suspected in East Devon. 

We have had this enormous increase in population of 18,343 in the period 2012-2021, our  population now 150,800 in 2021. 

To accommodate this increase we have also had 7342 dwelling completions in 8 years. It is an amazing accomplishment as we live in an area with 2/3rds designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty meaning only 1/3rd is available for large scale development, a large area of which is/was high-grade agricultural land. 

England has seen a 6.6% population growth from 2011- 2021 yet East Devon has seen growth of more than double – 13.8%.  

We are 13th in the national growth table.  

East Devon had population numbers of 132.457 in 2011. The highest of any of the Devon districts. West Devon in comparison had 53,553 and South Hams 83,140. Arguably East Devon did not need the highest population increase in the County. 

How come Exeter has had population growth of 11.1% and nearby Dorset with just AONB coverage of 40% has only 4%? Is it because Dorset County values its people and landscape? 

The Local Authority Health Profile predicted a 14% growth profile between 2011 and 2026 for East Devon. At this rate we will supersede this. I hope that Devon NHS are aware of these figures and cater accordingly. 

Tourism plays an important part in our economy, and we are rapidly losing our landscape drawing power with more and more large developments. 

We are rapidly losing Grade 1 agricultural land. 

As Owl asks- what are the benefits of all these new inhabitants and the dwellings to house them? 

The reason sold to us was that the country needed “social housing” and housing developments would provide them. In March 2021, 2618, households registered as being in need of social housing in East Devon. 

I looked at Exmouth. Estate after large estate has been / or is being built/ or will be built.  Goodmores Farm being the latest. It lies in a green wedge where Local Plan policies  require new developments to provide 49% or 88 affordable dwellings.

 What is being built? Just 5 % or 16 houses now agreed, due to the developer pleading non-viability. How many of Exmouth’s outstanding needs of 607 affordable homes have been provided? Will the 5 remaining sites provide these? 

(Non-viability is a worrying “increase developers’ profit” concept. If a developer has a plan accepted surely this has been costed and should be carried out. Perhaps the directors have excessive salaries?) 

We also were told that this increased population would produce economic growth in our area. We have not seen this but perhaps Exeter has been the recipient? 

Other benefits? Only to landowning farmers and developers. Why has the population not seen them?   

Disadvantages? I am sure I don’t need to list them. 

What has gone wrong with our housing in the district? Why can’t local people buy or rent houses? Does the number of second homes/holiday- lets play a part in this? The government admits it only has a limited picture of how many properties across England are second homes and holiday-lets, particularly given the growth of online marketplaces such as Airbnb and Vrbo.  

Are second homes the reason John Hart, the Leader of Devon County Council, said after all this increase in Devon population growth and dwellings 

“Hospitality businesses in coastal areas can’t get staff because they can’t find anywhere to live and that is stifling our strong economic recovery, 

But we’ve also heard from one Devon business which employs around 300 people which is considering re-locating some of its operations to Bristol because of the housing situation here.” 

Finally, does the Tory Party think we are an easy option? After all, East Devon has always had a Tory MP. Perhaps these figures and the gradual erosion of our way of life will drive the electorate to make a different choice. 

I hope Simon Jupp takes note of these figures and draws Michael Gove’s attention to them. Or better still I hope Michael reads East Devon Watch regularly and will release us from this growth tyranny.