East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee are going to discuss:
“Principles for accommodating the future growth needs of East Devon”
on 4 September 2018.
The Committee are being asked to endorse
“The proposed principles for growth” as the basis for future discussion and consultation on accommodating extra growth in the district.”
The document is described as the “start of the debate” for future East Devon growth points for both the GESP (The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan) and the East Devon Local Plan review, which is required to be updated within the next two years.
For the last few years East Devon District Council have achieved their own Local Plan agreed target of 950 dwellings per year. (EDDC Target is 17,100 dwellings between the years of 2013 to 2031).
Recently Central Government decided to calculate each District`s housing requirement targets on a set matrix. East Devon’s build out figure has been set to be 844 homes per year. However, the report suggests that rather than achieve the Government target of 844 new houses per year there is a proposal to build out much higher levels of growth.
The report explains that the objective of higher growth could be achieved by what is called a “Growth Deal” with Central Government where a group of Councils agree to build more housing in return for infrastructure investment from central funds.
This proposed “Growth Deal” is being prepared by the Councils of East Devon, Exeter, Teignbridge and Mid Devon through the “GESP” Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.
It is recognised that Exeter is unable to provide the housing land required to sustain the expected growth of the city, and the rural areas and towns in the rest of the combined area will be required to increase their housing requirements in exchange for the infrastructure improvements for access to and from the city of Exeter.
Improvements to the motorway junctions, new roads, extra park and rides, rail improvements, new stations and an integrated transport system are all identified as priority improvements to overcome the already chronic delays on Exeter`s transport network. There are also aspirations for a “sports hub and concert venue” for Greater Exeter to be included in the GESP infrastructure needs.
The report gives a brief synopsis of the towns in East Devon and concludes that other than the new town of Cranbrook there is limited scope for growth due to the various towns’ proximity to the AONB designated areas, or they are bordering on the coast or close to flood plains.
The conclusion from the report is that the existing towns will only accommodate minimal growth, and with two-thirds of East Devon being included in the AONB of the Pebblebed Heaths or the Blackdown Hills the only area that can accommodate substantial growth is within the North West part of the district.
The report describes this area as the Western most quadrant of this district to the North of Exmouth and West of Ottery St Mary. The land is described to benefit from being relatively flat with no landscape designations. It is also well served by main roads with good vehicle access via the M5, A30, A3052 and A376 and has good existing public transport links with the railway line and existing bus routes.
There are 3 possible ways described as to how development could be achieved in this area.
1. Establish a further new town. Basically, create another Cranbrook. However, the report considers that the creation of another new town in the area could harm the delivery of Cranbrook.
2. Establish a number of new villages. Create a series of modern Devon villages but the report considers that this option would be most damaging in landscape terms.
3. Centre Growth around Existing Villages.
Growth would be required to be substantial with around 400 to 500 extra homes to be added to a number of existing villages (The report does not state how many villages will be required within this area). However, this could harm the character of the village and the existing community.
The new NPPF acknowledges that:
“The supply of a large number of new homes can often be best achieved through planning for larger scale development such as new settlements or significant extensions to existing villages and towns, provided they are well located and designed, and supported by necessary infrastructure and facilities.”
A list of the Parishes within the expansion area for extra housing area
By referring to a map of the area these are the Parishes(villages) which are within the West of the district which could have development of between 400 to 500 extra dwellings, parishes identified could be:
All these Villages are North of Exeter and access is by way of the A377 – which is not listed as one of the featured roads, so it is unlikely these will be included.
These Villages are close to Cranbrook and therefore unlikely to be selected to avoid the villages and town merging.
Clyst St Lawrence
These Parishes are remote from a main road or railway station which probably eliminates them because of their unsustainable location.
This Village is already designated in the report to provide growth for Exmouth.
This leaves the following Parishes most likely to be included for further expansion in the proposals:
Clyst St Mary
Clyst St George (includes the village of Ebford)
Woodbury (includes the village of Woodbury Salterton and Exton)
The “Principles for Growth” which the committee are being asked to agree to:
• A significant proportion of growth to be in the Western part of the district by either a new town or extending a number of villages or building new villages.
• Plus, modest growth in existing towns with strategic growth around Axminster, Exmouth (including Lympstone), Honiton and Ottery St Mary.
• All other Villages to be encouraged to provide modest growth through their Neighbourhood Plans.
• Focus development on main transport corridors if possible.
For the last few years, East Devon has successfully complied with the government`s Housing Strategy, with their current Local Plan and at present build out rates, this will over subscribe the Government Building Target until the year 2031.
The Government is not forcing East Devon to co-operate with Exeter to provide some of their housing needs. This decision is totally at the discretion of the District Council and their leaders.
Yes, Exeter is a thriving growth city, and it is recognised that the road and rail connections are dire, but why destroy the character of a part of East Devon for these improvements?
The very reason people choose to relocate to Exeter, its surrounding towns and villages is the beautiful Devon countryside; the building of a mass of new housing will simply make the area a mirror image of the existing areas the people are wanting to move away from!
So, to satisfy the aspirations and needs of the City of Exeter, the rural west area of East Devon will be required to build many more houses with either another new town or new villages or building an extra 500 houses to a number of existing village communities.
Will the Strategic Planning Committee endorse this proposal or not?