Now that the Local Election is over, we can see from this report in the Sidmouth Herald:
that potential sites for new villages in support of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) have been found and are due to be unveiled shortly.
A whopping 57,000 new properties cross the four council areas adjoining Exeter will have to be built to satisfy Exeter’s growth aspirations.
Quite soon, therefore, we can expect that the newly elected Councillors who represent us on the GESP, Councillor Susie Bond and Councillor Philip Skinner, will have to decide how many new villages East Devon will take and where they will be sited. Obviously close proximity to Exeter will be a significant factor and places like Lympstone, Woodbury, Clyst St Mary, Farringdon and West Hill must be in the frame.
To give an example of the impact to expect. A tiny community between Broadclyst and Pinhoe – Westclyst, has had a whopping 1200 houses imposed upon it. Where the highest quality agricultural land lay four years ago, bounded by about 30 bungalows, there are now sprawling housing estates.
In the past these decision have been kept a closely guarded secret. Will the new regime now act with transparency and openness?
We know from the CPRE study on “Devon’s Housing Needs” that:
•Far too many homes are already being planned for Devon in the next 10 years.
•Two thirds of these will be occupied by inward migration.
•Vacant and second homes are becoming a problem across the County.
•We in East Devon are taking a disproportionate share of development. Our Local Plan annual housing target is the highest in the Greater Exeter Area: 58% higher than Exeter, 53% higher than Teignbridge and nearly three times that of Mid Devon.
•Whilst we are planning too many houses, we are failing to plan for enough homes of the right type in the right location, especially for locally generated households.
Ex Councillor and one time Leader, Paul Diviani boasted in council, just before Christmas, that the high growth policy he advocated for East Devon was justified because “we have the land and we are good at it”.
In the election Paul Diviani was decisively rejected by the electorate, receiving a derisory 319 votes.
On 3rd May the voters clearly voted for change but are they going to get it?