Urban sprawl – Greater Exeter, Lesser East Devon

From a correspondent:

This correspondent had a beautiful sunny autumn drive through the villages of West Hill and Woodbury yesterday morning. Then the enthusiasm of conservative Cllr Philip Skinner for a “network of linked villages being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon” came to mind.

Has not East Devon sacrificed enough Grade 1 agricultural land to build Cranbrook? Were we not told that this sacrifice would be EDDC’s contribution to housing need?

Then we found that Ottery St. Mary was sacrificed.

Feniton was sacrificed.

Exmouth was sacrificed. I could go on.

And now we are told the villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon would be most likely to be sacrificed.

Has the ward councillors of the above villages consulted their constituents? Are the constituents of Ben Ingham and Geoff Jung happy that Woodbury will join Cllr. Skinner’s “bigger vision”?

Why aren’t our independent councillors telling Exeter that East Devon has done their bit, they do not wish urban sprawl and it is now the other surrounding councils turn?

Planning, dogs and tails: another correspondent writes

“The East Devon electorate were, indeed, hoping for a significant change by voting for an Independent Council and, therefore, it is frustrating to read such controlling comments from the Tory Councillor Philip Skinner (he who was responsible for the extending mahogany table fiasco and who lives in the rural village of Talaton which is not one of the proposed GESP Clyst Villages) stating that  ‘this is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm, that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in’!

Who are the ‘we’ he is referring to? Perhaps, not the numerous residents of the 10 rural  village communities of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon who appear to be the prime targets for his exciting large scale development? Living in the small, rural idyll of Talaton, he should be aware that those who have also chosen to live in rural village communities may not wish them to mutate into sprawling suburbs of Exeter and, therefore, many may question Councillor Skinner’s motives?
Yes – we all have to be forward thinking – but aren’t these 10 villages the very essence of the intrinsic nature and indispensable quality of East Devon? Some may be persuaded that the proposed idyllic concept of happy, peaceful, picturesque environments labelled ‘Garden Villages’ would be pure nirvana – but, unfortunately, the vision in planning terms is not always what you get in reality! 
 
Sizeable growth in this North West Quadrant, without adequate road infrastructure improvements in the surrounding districts, already results in the regular gridlock of the entire highway network! ‘The cart before the horse’ approach of continuing large-scale commercial growth and adding more people to the equation before the provision of an appropriate, sustainable transport system is an unsatisfactory method for success.
 
There is no doubt that we must do better with designing new communities than we have in the past and East Devon District Council Planners  are fully aware that there are lessons to be learned from pursuing misguided judgements and courses of action by barking up the wrong tree!
Hopefully, the Independents are canines with character strength and principled, with adequate bite at the sharp end! Dogs can control their tails but often wagging lacks conscious thought!  Canine body language is so much more than just tail movements, so to achieve control, it is very important to pay attention to other factors. Furthermore, excessive tail wagging  can often be associated with fear, insecurity, social challenge or a warning that you may get bitten!

East Devon’s “North West Quadrant” of “linked villages” – or Exeter’s North East suburbs?

“The potential for strategic scale development in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon was identified and a network of linked villages, referred to as Clyst Villages, has been put forward

The concept of a ‘network of linked villages’ being built in the North West Quadrant area of East Devon will be investigated.

East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday morning unanimously recommends to the Cabinet that East Devon supports the Exeter and East Devon garden communities status.

The Exeter bid would see around 12,000 new homes built in the city as part of the Liveable Exeter vision and has already been agreed by their council. …”

“The villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon would be most likely to be included as ones that could be expanded further, based on them being in the quadrant and close to existing infrastructure….”

Cllr Philip Skinner said: “We are going to have the housing numbers whether we like it or not, and we cannot put off and delay this as there is a much bigger vision than just focusing on that. This is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in.

“This is an extremely important document that we should be signing up to this now and I am bang up for seeing this comes forward in the right way.” …

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/east-devon-could-getting-network-3454612

EDDC: Greater Exeter Strategic Plan update – delayed to at earliest April 2023

Highlights:

The Heart of the South West devolution bid highlights a number of challenges facing the LEP area which planning has a key role in addressing. These are:

 Comparative productivity is 29th out of 39 LEP areas
 An aging workforce and major skills shortages reported
 Our performance remains low on key productivity measures: wages, innovation, inward investment exports and global trade
 Disproportionate growth in our older population is placing unsustainable burdens on our services
 Strategic infrastructure has good coverage, but is incomplete
 Insufficient capacity of the road network and motorway junctions
 Uncompetitive travel times to London and the south east
 Incidents and extreme weather threatens transport resilience
 Housing supply not keeping up with demand
 Threats to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Page 5: revised timetable pushes back a GESP agreement to not earlier than April 2022. HOWEVER, this is almost certainly a spelling error, as on page 11 this is contradicted:

Once adopted it will supersede specified strategic parts of the East Devon Local Plan, Exeter Core Strategy, Exeter Local Plan, Mid Devon Local Plan (once adopted), Teignbridge Local Plan Parts 1 and 2 and any other Development Plan Documents as necessary. The preparation timetable is as follows:
 Site Options and Draft Policies – June 2020
 Draft Plan – November 2020
 Publication (Proposed Submission) – February 2022
 Submission – July 2022
 Examination – September 2022
Adpotion : April 2023
(not April 2022)

Page 8: The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will cover the local planning authority areas of East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge (i.e. those Councils’ administrative areas excluding Dartmoor National Park). It will be prepared jointly by those four local planning authorities with the support of Devon County Council under Section 28 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act. It will:

• set an overall vision and strategy for the area in the context of national and other high level policy and in particular climate emergency declarations and the NPPF;
• contain policies and proposals for strategic and cross boundary issues where these are best dealt with at a larger-than-local scale;
• set the overall amount of growth for the period 2020 – 2040;
• promote the Liveable Exeter vision by allocating urban regeneration sites in the city;
• implement the overall vision and strategy by allocating strategic sites of 500 or more
homes which may include urban extensions and new settlements ;
• provide districts’ local plans with targets for non-strategic development

“Stark warning Cranbrook is at risk of becoming an ‘austerity town’ bereft of key services and facilities for residents”

“Cranbrook is in danger of becoming an ‘austerity town’ with its residents deprived of key services and facilities, it has been warned.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) experts say authorities are at the ‘point of no return’ when it comes to delivering vital amenities for the fast-growing community.

They have now called for a task force to be formed to rethink how the new town can secure the assets it needs.

Officers have recommended that the authority’s cabinet approves the setting up of a Strategic Delivery Board when it meets next month.

A report to members says: “The original vision for Cranbrook was as a freestanding new community which would be capable of supporting its own assets and services.

“In a constrained financial environment, there is a need to actively reinvent how these will be delivered on a sustainable basis.

“Without this, there is a significant risk that Cranbrook will become an austerity town, bereft of the facilities and services that the population both expect and demand.

“This paper identifies that the delivery of key assets in the town centre is at a critical stage and puts forward a proposal for charting a clear path forward to ensure their successful delivery.

“The proposed Strategic Delivery Board is considered to be the best means to ensuring the necessary coordination and oversight.”

Some 3,500 homes have been granted planning permission at Cranbrook to date – with 8,000 earmarked. The town’s ultimate population will be around 20,000 people.

Town council offices, a library, and a health and wellbeing hub have been in the pipeline since 2015, according to the report.

The latter would cater for children’s and youth centre, primary care and leisure centre provision.

“The delivery of assets and services in Cranbrook is fundamental to the successful achievement of the vision for the town,” adds the officer.

“We are rapidly approaching the point of no return.

“This should not be seen purely as an issue relating to built facilities.

“Rather, it goes to the heart of how public services are delivered in the town to meet the needs of a young, growing population, including those with particular needs, both now and in the future.”

The report details how Cranbrook is key to the district’s housing growth and EDDC’s finances – through both developer contributions and council tax.

The council raked in £8.8million in government New Homes Bonus cash in 2017 and 2018.

Cranbrook is being delivered through a ‘commercially-driven’ model – with no public sector control of land.

A Section106 agreement – developers’ cash contributions for infrastructure – plays a critical role in the delivery of community facilities.

“It has become clear that certain of the facilities that are set out in the agreement are either no longer fit for purpose,” says the officer.

“Ultimately, there has been no resolution as to what form key facilities should take and how they should be delivered. Nonetheless, we are now at a stage where critical trigger points are being reached.”

The aim of the proposed Strategic Delivery Board would be to ‘focus on the delivery of future assets and services for Cranbrook’.

It would ‘provide oversight and ensure that the three tiers of local government can speak with one voice’ and comprise of two members from the town, district and county councils.

EDDC’s cabinet will consider the report on September 4.”

Stark warning Cranbrook is at risk of becoming an ‘austerity town’ bereft of key services and facilities for residents

“Building more new homes WON’T solve Britain’s housing crisis”

“Britain’s soaring house prices and ‘broken housing market’ have long been put down to a chronic shortage of homes, but new evidence has emerged that building more homes is unlikely to bring prices down.

A paper written by Tony Blair Institute chief economist Ian Mulheirn argues that building 300,000 homes a year wouldn’t make homes in the UK more affordable. Nor, he says, would more homes mean that more people manage to get onto the housing ladder.

The paper, published today by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence, suggests that 160 per cent of the growth in house prices since the late 1990s has had nothing to do with a shortage in housing supply. Instead, Mulheirn claims that rock bottom interest rates for more than a decade have made borrowing so cheap that those able to buy have ratcheted up their borrowing, causing prices to soar.

‘Building 300,000 houses per year will do very little to bring down house prices in Britain, and next to nothing to raise home ownership,’ he wrote.
‘The real culprit for sky-high house prices is low global interest rates that have made it easy for homeowners and investors to take on large amounts of mortgage debt and pay ever more for houses.’

The figure of 300,000 new homes needed a year has been largely undisputed for the past decade.

In 2004, Kate Barker wrote a landmark review on housing supply for the then Labour government, concluding that 245,000 new private-sector homes a year were needed, plus another 17,000 social housing units, to keep house price inflation down to 1.1 per cent annually. She later revised that number up to 300,000 homes a year.

But Mulheirn disagrees. He points to official data showing that since the 1996 nadir of house prices, the English housing stock has grown by 168,000 units per year on average, while growth in the number of households has averaged 147,000 per year. Even in London and the South East, the number of houses has grown faster than the household count.

As a result, while there were 660,000 more dwellings than households in England in 1996, this ‘surplus’ has since grown to over 1.1 million by 2018. Similar trends are also apparent in Scotland and Wales, suggested Mulheirn.
Nevertheless, UK house prices have spiralled from around 4.5 times median household income in 1996 to a multiple of around 8 today.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics showed across Britain, prices rose 0.7 per cent in June to an average of £230,292 – up 0.9 per cent compared to June 2018.

Mulheirn argued cheap mortgage finance is to blame.

‘Since the late 1990s, mortgage rates have tumbled, with inflation-adjusted interest rates on five-year fixed-rate mortgages, for example, falling from 8 per cent to around 2 per cent today,’ he said. ‘Since mortgage interest rates tend to be the dominant element of the cost of capital for home owners, this change can be expected to precipitate a substantial increase in house prices of a similar magnitude to the 160 per cent increase seen since 1996.’

Meanwhile, he said, a shrinking social rented sector, cuts to housing benefit and slow wage growth among young people are making rented housing less affordable for many even as though private sector rents are stable.
He added: ‘Neither our ownership or rental affordability problems will be solved by hitting the 300,000 target.’

According to the paper a 1 per cent increase in the stock of houses tends to lead to a decline in rents and prices of between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent, all else equal. This implies that even building 300,000 houses per year in England would only cut house prices by something in the order of 10 per cent over the course of 20 years. ‘This is an order of magnitude smaller than the price rises of recent decades,’ said Mulheirn.

‘If we are to create more affordable houses to buy and rent, the solutions lie elsewhere.’ …”

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/mortgageshome/article-7378649/Building-new-homes-WONT-solve-Britains-housing-crisis.html?ito=rss-flipboard

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – latest housing needs figures shows East Devon bearing greatest load

As at June 2019, ast Devon to bear the brunt of new housing:

Page 10:

https://mk0partnersdevooxv4n.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2019/05/Local-Housing-Need-Assessment-for-the-Greater-Exeter-Area-1st-Edition-June-2019-web.pdf