East Devon Local Plan ‘needs revision’ after change in housing targets

Are the Tories going into reverse after decades of “build, build, build”? – Owl

There are calls for East Devon’s plans for building new homes to be revised following the Government’s relaxation of its housing targets. 

Philippa Davies www.exmouthjournal.co.uk 

In early December the Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove announced that councils would be allowed to build fewer homes than the number originally allocated to them. Rather than facing mandatory targets based on national algorithms, local planning authorities will have more flexibility to decide what is right for their areas. 

East Devon District Council had been told to build more than 900 new homes every year, and the Local Plan currently under public consultation is based upon this number. 

But the chairman of the council’s scrutiny committee, Cllr Mike Allen, has called in the Local Plan for review at the meeting of the committee in February. 

He said: “Michael Gove’s announcement changes everything. Our population is declining, so the only reason we’re supposed to build new houses is to allow people to come into the East Devon area. 

“If we don’t have to because the rules have changed, we need to look at the Local Plan again.” 

Cllr Allen (Conservative, Honiton St Michael’s) said East Devon, with its larger-than-average population of over-65s, needs many more homes that are suitable for elderly people, and more wheelchair-friendly houses for people of all ages. A review of the Local Plan would enable East Devon District Council to make sure the right number, and the right type, of houses are built, where they are most needed. 

And he emphasised that it is ‘critical’ that parish and town councils, and members of the public, should have their voices heard in this decision-making process. 

He said that, while many people have been finding it difficult to submit their comments to the district council’s online consultation which closes on January 15, anyone can make their views known to February’s Scrutiny Committee meeting where the review of the Local Plan will be discussed. They can contact the committee through their own district councillor, contact any member of the committee, or contact Cllr Allen directly by writing to him at the council’s HQ or emailing mallen@eastdevon.gov.uk 

The Scrutiny Committee meeting will discuss what changes are needed to the Local Plan and how these could be made, and its recommendation will go before the full council at a later stage.