Save Clyst St Mary – update

“Following the message that we received asking us to remove our banner from the fence backing onto A3052, I thought that I should write to you to let you know we are still here and continuing the fight for sustainable development in Clyst St Mary. There has been numerous items in the press regarding development in and around Exeter known as the ‘Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (G.E.S.P)’ and I have attached a copy of our latest press release which might help to explain matters a little more.

Over five years ago when we formed the Save Clyst St Mary Campaign we never expected to have received so much overwhelming support, for so many years. It really goes to show how uniting the different areas of the village can lead to a continued great outcome for everyone.

If you know someone who wants to get involved either just as a member or actively helping please let me know.”

PRESS RELEASE

“Village Life -v- Future Development

Many people favour living in a picturesque, rural village nestled in surrounding countryside with only the amenities of a village shop, post office, school, pub, hall and church. Clyst St Mary is a village where some historic areas have barely changed since late-medieval times but the settlement has expanded and progressed to incorporate the demands of the 21st century.

It is often described as a rural idyll, offering a different lifestyle than that experienced in the nearby urban City of Exeter. The old village is portrayed as charming and rustic but new contemporary designs show a progressive quality that coexists with the more traditional standards of the settlement. It remains unpretentious but with a modern, caring and vibrant neighbourhood.

This community has recently embraced considerable, sustainable housing development with the building of almost 100 new residences (a substantial quantity for a modest-sized village) to support East Devon Local Plan growth policies to 2031. However, the Local Plan also includes a further 150 dwellings allocated on brownfield land at Winslade Park awaiting planning approval, which totals approximately 250 new homes. Although it is appreciated that people need somewhere to live, such high numbers in one village go beyond growth recommendations in the Local, Villages and Neighbourhood Plans.

Crucially, there are also fears that proposals in the Draft Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) for substantial future development along the A3052 around Westpoint at Clyst St Mary will sound the death knell for this historic Devon village, with the creation of, perhaps, another new town similar to Cranbrook or building a large suburb of Exeter or a sizeable extension to the existing settlement, all of which could result in the destruction of the village identity.

The entire GESP area incorporates Exeter City, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and East Devon with a vision for the provision of new homes, jobs and infrastructure for existing and future generations while protecting and enhancing the environment. Ideally, each area would share growth, avoiding one locality being burdened by substantial, unsustainable over-development.

However, concerns are not alleviated by recent comments made by East Devon planners declaring that some communities will be detrimentally impacted by proposed GESP large scale growth recommendations, e.g. ‘…in most cases growth would have to be quite substantial to make it viable to deliver the required services and facilities to make the settlement suitably sustainable for growth and in the process could harm the character of the village and the existing community.’

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2581497/040918strategicplanningcombinedagenda.pdf – (Strategic Planning Committee report – 4th September 2018, page 24, Item 9.1).

Furthermore, at the full Council meeting in October 2018 in answer to a question as to why East Devon is taking a disproportionate share of development (58% more than Exeter, 53% more than Teignbridge and nearly three times that of Mid Devon according to independent analysis conducted by CPRE), a local politician replied: “Because we have the land and we are good at it.”

Exeter City Council has just unveiled their 20-year vision for the city, which includes 12,000 new homes, cultural centres, ‘a garden bridge’ across the Exe and the creation of a comprehensive cycle and pedestrian network to tackle traffic congestion.

However, with a target of 53,200 homes proposed for the Greater Exeter areas and the propulsion for substantial business growth, surely the communities within East Devon should equally have sight of the development proposals for their localities? For example, the present Exeter Sowton Park and Ride site appears to show future development – so where will the new replacement Park and Ride facilities be located to serve Exeter?

To date, representatives from East Devon local authority, business communities and growth partnerships have maintained exclusivity regarding the proposals for the GESP large allocation sites offered by landowners for future major development. Will there be a general release to the public of this restricted information before the Local Elections in May 2019? The electorate may be reluctant to vote for expansive commercial and housing proposals that would destroy or detrimentally alter their community.

Consequently, it might be thought unwise to acquaint the populace at this time with extensive GESP growth recommendations for fear that they would be judged undesirable. Although, there will, of course, be statutory public consultation on such vast development proposals under GESP but not until after the Local Elections!

In reality, Clyst St Mary’s portrayal as an idealised village is not entirely accurate and the images below bear testimony to the daily traffic congestion which reaches unacceptable levels, where the A376 and A3052 converge at the bottleneck that is the Clyst St Mary roundabout.

At present, large volumes of HGVs serving the extensive business expansions at Hill Barton and Greendale Industrial Estates, together with huge tractors and trailers importing and exporting to an ever-increasing sized anaerobic digester, thunder through the village! Coupled with significant large levels of commuter and tourist traffic they create safety issues for residents (especially young children) accessing the village primary school, shop, village hall and play park via the toucan crossing on the A3052. Regrettably, the pedestrian footbridge is unsuitable for many users and is generally in a state of disrepair!

Only last year a resident sustained serious injuries crossing the A3052 in the village after being knocked down by a speeding car during daylight hours! Fortunately, there appears to be current medium-sized road improvements planned around the Clyst St Mary roundabout and Junction 30 of the M5 in the near future.

However, it is considered that the crucial, major road network advancement necessary in this area at present and for any future development expansion may not be forthcoming in the current uncertain and fragile financial climate. It is unacceptable for developers to build sizeable residential and business developments that access a substandard, mediocre road network. There is gridlock with the present peak time traffic let alone any future requirements. Planning cycle tracks and park and ride facilities are positive approaches but may be inadequate ‘band-aid solutions’ that will not sufficiently tackle the root causes.”

[Pictures with press release not shown here]

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – Exeter leaks its “vision”*

“But not yet in East Devon until July 2019 (see below). It seems East Devon is the only council keeping ALL its plans secret until after the 2 May 2019 district council elections.

Fishy? You bet!

Anyway, here’s what we currently know:

Interesting proposals for changes to Sidmouth Road and Junction 30 of the M5. The Motorway Services and Sowton Park and Ride being developed as a “Mixed Neighbourhood” (see image above).

The Governments require the Greater Exeter Housing target to be 53,200 new homes over the next 20 years. That is for the combined area governed by East Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and Exeter.

Exeter’s housing ambitions

Karime Hassan, chief executive and growth director of Exeter City Council revealed this week a proposal for 12,000 new homes in the City of Exeter over the next 20 years. His vision of “Liveable Exeter”, for delivering a transformational housing programme for Exeter from 2020 to 2040. involves the creation of 8 new neighbourhoods.

Exeter’s published Vision

Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in new neighbourhood, including new work space, on both sides of the railway around St David’s Station.

Water Lane (close to Exe Valley Park) – 1,567 homes. A space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections.

Marsh Barton – 5,544 homes in a new neighbourhood. It will remain an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working, to make better use of riverside location. Development linked to the new proposed train station. Creation of new types of work space, including light industrial, workshops, office and shared work space.

East Gate (Heavitree Road) – 962 new homes, an enhanced approach to the city centre from the east, reduced traffic on Heavitree Road and a greater provision for public transport, walking and cycling. New places to live close to the city centre will exist alongside existing neighbourhoods.

West Gate (Western Way) – 617 new homes, opening up access to the river and canal from the city centre, a new cultural destination, an expanded and connected park at the heart of the city, a “Green Bridge” promoting active travel across the river.

South Gate (Holloway Street/South Street linked via Topsham Road) – 300 new homes, establishing an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, with a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay.

North Gate (North Street) – 308 new homes, a new approach to the city from St David’s, uncovering the medieval city wall.
Sandy Gate (land off Sandygate roundabout) – 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well-connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the proposed Clyst Valley Park.

Mid Devon’s published ambitions.

Mid Devon’s Local Plan is almost complete with a Planning Inspectors hearing due in the next few weeks to consult on their final draft.

Culm Valley on the South side of the M5 opposite Cullumpton create a new community of up to 5,000, with a new Motorway junction and railway Station.

Junction 27. A landmark project for a leisure and tourism development involving Tim Smit from the Edan Project
Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension will cover 153ha, to the east of Tiverton.

Teignbridge future ambitions.

Teignbridge has just started a review of their Local Plan and therefore their plans are in the infancy.

Brownfield Their preferred option to develop brownfield land for development however, the required number of homes the government require Teignbridge to build, is not possible to meet the housing needs from brownfield land only. Therefore, open countryside will need to be considered for development to meet the housing needs.

Garden village is being considered with the new settlement proposal to be between 1500-10,000 homes.

So – What are East Devon’s Ambitions?

Hard to say.

Although the other 3 Authorities are keeping their residents well informed on their sections of the GESP proposals, East Devon has been an almost total blackout! There has been a Local Plan in place since 2016 with most of new development being built in an area known as the West End. That is an area close to Exeter’s border plus the new Town of Cranbrook.

At East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday 29th January it was hoped that Agenda item 12 would be able to explain more on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan strategy and provide councillors some clarity on the East Devon Local Plan, plus the East Devon Villages Plan only agreed last year which most councillors only learned the previous week, would be jettisoned and replaced with a brand new East Devon Local Plan by 2023.

Local Plan to be replaced

At the meeting last week, the Head of Planning Ed Freeman explained that the present Local Plan was in 2 parts, with the section on Policies would require total re-writing because the Policies would be “substantially superseded” by the emerging GESP Policies. He also explained that the Villages Plan policies, will be merged into the new Local Plan.

Tory Councillor Philip Skinner who along with Tory Councillor Paul Diviani who are the only 2 East Devon`s elected representatives on the GESP “steering group committee” along with 2 elected members from the 3 other Authorities gave only a few hints on some of the latest thoughts for the GESP Strategy for East Devon.

Higher Density Housing for Exeter proposed for GESP

Regarding a question on Housing, he explained that it had been decided by the steering group, that each authority had a certain quota of dwellings proposed and it was not correct that if one Authority was unable to provide the housing numbers, other Authorities were required to build extra dwellings to offset the shortfall. He also explained that Exeter City Council had to return to the drawing board to enable extra dwelling numbers through “much higher density” within the confines of the City.

East Devon will take on most of the Industrial and commercial development for the GESP

Councillor Skinner also told the meeting regarding business development that he aimed to “Get the best for East Devon” and explained that to “Our strength and Exeter’s demise, they do not have the capacity, but we do!” and claimed most of the commercial and industrial development “will be in our patch”

After 2 years of joint secret meetings.

Exeter’s residents know what to expect with “Liveable Exeter”, Teignbridge residents are being told that their local plan is being re-assessed and are having public consultations, and Mid Devon residents have been through their public consultations and an agreed local plan about to be approved.

However, the residents of East Devon only know that their local plan is now being superseded by a new plan with substantial more housing and more industrial, commercial and business development.

All will be revealed in July 2019 after the District Council Elections. Who will you trust to steer East Devon through the next few years of obtaining the most appropriate and suitable Planning Policies. Leave it to the Tory Councillors who have kept everyone in the dark?

Or choose an Independent who are the major opposition for East Devon?

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – where are we? In trouble!

All change on the Planning Front for East Devon.

Ever since David Cameron’s coalition government’s efforts to provide local communities with a say in local planning decisions with the “Localism Act” in 2011 (giving communities the power to draft “Neighbourhood Plans,” designed to provide a degree of self-determination to how local communities could be developed in the future) the powerful developers and landowners lobby has been active to reclaim their powerful grip on developing our communities.

First was the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in 2012 which threw out the old planning regulations and provided a “developer-driven” new planning policy, with just a “nod” to the Localism Act, Neighboured Plans and District wide plans.

The new NPPF introduced a policy that if the District or Neighbourhood Plan was not “up to date” then there would be a presumption of allowing any proposed development from a developer. Therefore, Councils and local communities quickly set about drawing up their Neighbourhood Plans and District Plans to plug the gap created by the new 2012 NPPF policies.

East Devon District Council who had been dragging their feet for years to complete their Local Plan, finally managed to obtain the approval of the Planning Inspectorate in January 2016 to cover the period up to 2031. Lympstone had got its Neighbourhood Plan approved in 2015 and since then over 30 Neighbourhood Plans are either approved or in the process of being drafted by community groups within East Devon.

It was therefore thought that East Devon and its communities had substantial protection from greedy landowners and developers up to 2031 and with the extra protection of the East Devon Villages Plan, approved in July 2018 (which gave further defined policies for larger Villages and some large Business Parks) residents and developers appeared to understand where development would or would not be allowed.

However, in late 2016 Exeter City Council, whose Chief Executive Karime Hassan (previously East Devon’s District Council officer who created and developed the concept of the new town of Cranbrook) proposed a joint “Strategic Plan”, along with neighbouring councils East Devon, Teignbridge, and Mid Devon.

The four councils then started a joint over-riding masterplan for Exeter and the surrounding area known as the GESP (the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan).

It was clear that Exeter was almost completely built-out and the infrastructure in roads and transport required for further city centre and commercial growth was urgently required if the continued success known as the “Exeter Growth Point” was to continue. Without a joint plan for infrastructure, the commute into the City would become intolerable and hinder the targeted housebuilding requirements set by the Government for each of the 4 separate councils.

In October 2018 the Government draw up yet another updated version of the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) very much on the lines of the 2012 Policies, but with various tweaks to assist in the over-riding government strategy of encouraging developers to build many more dwellings.

The new 2018 NPPF provided clearer guidance that if an individual Council was unable to provide enough development land for extra dwellings required by the government’s growth targets, neighbouring councils may be allowed to build out extra housing for their partner and other neighbouring authorities.

According to East Devon District Councils Strategic Planning Committees agenda item 12 for discussion on the 29th January 2019:

“Timetable for production of a new East Devon Local Plan”

Within the introduction to the agenda item it states:

…given changing circumstances and other factors, that a “light touch” review of the currently adopted local plan is unlikely to be a practical option for a new local plan.”

What the changing circumstances and other factors are, is not explained but it is clear from the report it is clearly in relation to GESP.

Because the GESP Strategic Plan policies will over-ride the East Devon Local Plan policies, the report seems to suggests that the “changing circumstances and other factors” relate to the new GESP policies which override the Local Plan, Village Plan and probably most Neighbourhood Plans – affecting a large area of East Devon! So much so that, rather than the GESP plan dovetailing into the 3-year-old approved East Devon Local Plan and 1-year-old Villages Plan with all the years of public consulting, Council debate and literally years of work by the planning team, it will be jettisoned for a brand-new Local Plan to dovetail into the strategies of the GESP plan!

Although the GESP plan has been in preparation for 2 years, no formal discussion or meeting has been held at any Council Chamber at any of the four Councils involved. Meetings have taken place to consider the 700 plus sites throughout the Greater Exeter area submitted for assessment by what is known as the “Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) panel” The Panel is made up of “key stakeholders”, with a recognised interest in the development of land for housing and employment, and housing and economic development sector, including housebuilders, social landlords, local property agents and other related professionals together with local community representatives and other agencies. The membership of these meeting has been confidential and there has there been no publication of their deliberations or recommendations.

To be clear: meetings between two lead councillors from each Authority, plus officers have kept the draft policies and site options totally under lock and key – with none of the meetings been reported or minuted.

However, all is to be revealed AFTER the local council elections in May 2019 – consultation has always been scheduled to begin no earlier than June 2019.

This suggests that the draft policies and site options affecting East Devon will be so radical and so totally at variance to the East Devon Local Plan and Villages Plan that they will all require total re-writing, with a brand-new Local Plan (subsidiary to GESP) and all the costs and uncertainties this will bring.

Why have these Councils been so secretive on the GESP proposed development site considerations for proposed strategies for commercial and housing development for this part of Devon? Could it be that Tory controlled East Devon, Teignbridge, and Mid Devon Councils have elections on May 2nd this year (Labour Exeter elects only one-third of its council this year) and a brand new super-growth plan – superseding their Local Plans – will not be considered much of vote-grabber?

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

Greater Exeter – city council plans and housing need

Now that Exeter is planning (at least) 450 homes on sites adjacent to Exeter bus station (and possibly even more), is this 450 fewer homes that the rest of Greater Exeter has to supply to “meet Exeter’s needs”?

https://www.devonlive.com/news/business/new-300million-exeter-bus-station-2236936

Teignbridge District Council Tory majority down to 1 – implications for Greater Exeter

Owl says: The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan must be approved by all linked authorities. EDDC has already refused to sign up to the latest draft and now Teignbridge can no longer rely on whipped Tories. 1 vacancy, 23 Tories, 6 Independents and 16 Lib Dems – so Independents now VERY powerful ….

“The ruling Conservative party have seen their majority on Teignbridge District Council slashed to a wafer-thin one after the resignation of a councillor.

Cllr Amanda Ford, the previous ward member for the Teign Valley, quit the council earlier this month.

No reason for her departure has officially been stated, but just weeks before she left, she had threatened to quit as a result of ‘allegations of bullying by senior council officers’, an accusation the council has strongly refuted. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/tory-majority-slashed-one-after-2238257

“Fewer households will ‘reduce need for new homes’ “

Will the number of extra houses predicated for the Greater Exeter area (57,000] be reduced in line with these new findings? Of course not – develipers rule, OK!

“There are likely to be 1.4 million fewer households in England by 2041 than the government originally thought, a forecast that economists warned yesterday could have a big impact on housebuilding targets.

The Office for National Statistics said that the number of households in England was projected to grow by 159,000 a year, from 22.9 million in 2016 to 26.9 million by 2041.

The figures are used by the government to work out future housing needs and have been a key reason for its target of building 250,000 to 300,000 homes a year.

This is the first year that the projections have been calculated by the ONS rather than by a government department.

A large proportion of the growth will come from the rising elderly population. Households headed by someone aged 65 years and over are set to account for 88 per cent of total growth between 2016 and 2041. The highest growth is set to take place in London and the lowest in the northeast.

However, while this overall 17 per cent increase in households may seem large, it is significantly smaller than the projection made in 2014. Then, the government said that there would be an extra 210,000 households a year in England, resulting in 28 million homes by 2041.

Bidwells, a property consultancy, said that the latest projections would lead to a dramatic drop in the required number of homes in England.

Ian Mulheirn, director of consulting at Oxford Economics, said that the drop in projections demonstrated that there were several myths around Britain’s housing shortage and argued that it was not necessary to build 300,000 homes a year.

“Over the last 20 years, the various housing departments have used a methodology to predict household need that was flawed,” he said. “It predicted that a significantly higher number of households would form and it was consistently shown to be incorrect at each census point.

“The ONS has changed the methodology and if we had used their figures over the last 20 years we wouldn’t have this figure of extremely high housing need being quoted everywhere.”

Previous projections made by the government were based on census data starting in 1971, which showed household sizes steadily shrinking as more people chose to live alone or to have smaller families. But this trend stopped around 2001, which is when the ONS is now basing its projections from.

The latest figures were disputed, however. Matthew Spry, senior director at Lichfields, a property consultancy, said: “The number of households that have formed can only ever match the number of dwellings that there are for people to live in. Statistically a household cannot form if it doesn’t have an extra house to form into.”

The ONS has also made a new assumption for net migration. It is now projected to be 152,000 a year from mid-2023 onwards. The 2014 projection had assumed 170,500 a year.

Joanna Harkrader, of the Office for National Statistics, said that the slower growth reflected “lower projections of the population — notably assumptions around future births, how long we will live and migration — and more up-to-date figures about living arrangements, such as living with parents or cohabiting.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Another blow to a new Cranbrook town centre?

A large shopping centre development at Sowton was recently turned down by Exeter City Council because it did not fit in with their vision for local centres in the large new housing developments springing up in that area. The scheme called for an out-of-town shopping centre with the likes of Next, Boots, etc.

The developer, rather than appealing the decision, has swiftly withdrawn the original plans and submitted a revised application, thus avoiding the hefty cost of submitting new plans.

They now say they will (possibly) include a post office, pharmacy and gym and maybe other smaller retail elements. This, they feel, fulfills the requirement for a more local feel to the plans.

Whether Exeter City Council agrees with this, or if an appeal is successful if they still reject it remains to be seen.

But it certainly puts a damper on those retail ventures willing to open up in secondary, nearby areas such as Cranbrook and those developers willing to take a chance on anything but (highly profitable) housing.