Clock ticking on Local Plan consultation

Consultation ends later this month. Help for farmers proposed.

Time is running out, if you want to comment on draft proposals for the new local plan.

The consultation period finishes at the end of the month.

East Devon district council is reminding residents that their views are welcome.

Town and parish councils are putting their final views forward – some after public meetings.

The main themes of the East Devon Local Plan are providing growth in jobs and homes, whilst preserving and enhancing East Devon’s unique environmental assets.

Councillor Mike Allen, chairman of the Local Plan Panel, has acknowledged that the vision will not be able to deliver everybody’s wish list.

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But he said: “We want to aim for jobs and suitable housing for young and elderly residents, as well as the broad range of working age people.

“Although we aim for about 15,000 new dwellings, we have an expectation that initial delivery of homes and office space will be slow until 2013 and that more development will only come with improved economic growth and especially growth in incomes.”

He says “green wedges” will separate towns from each other and every attempt to preserve AONB and agricultural land is written into the plan.

Councillor Allen told the Midweek Herald: “We have protected East Devon’s outstanding natural assets – its beauty, quality of life and special landscapes, which are obvious strengths, and which our tourist industry is built on – while ensuring higher paid jobs and more affordable homes are central to the plan.

“Government wants us to identify where change and growth can happen so that social and physical infrastructure can be planned to support it. For January, we are still in evidence-gathering mode for our locality. We have continually sought more information about the dynamics of the economy and population in towns before any decisions are made.

“We have listened carefully to representations about the need for road, health and education infrastructure and expect that Devon County Council will continue to meet its responsibility for these areas whilst we co-operate on the use of land and planning issues. We have collaborated with Exeter City Council and Exeter University to promote plans for a specialised science park to complement the Cranbrook development, where most new homes will go.”

Axminster Town Council presented its proposals early on through the Axminster Community Plan, with detailed evidence. This resulted in the Local Plan proposing the central redevelopment and expansion requested - along with emphasis on a north-south relief road.

Plans for Axmouth and the Axe Valley are out for consultation.

Honiton Town Council and Gittisham objected to development of housing to the west of town, and this was accepted.

There remains disagreement about where the amount of office space needed should be allocated. The latest version of the Local Plan includes mention of the town’s aspirations for an eastern by-pass, but reduced the housing allocation from 1,000 to 450 after consultation.

The Local Plan Panel voted to protect most of the open green spaces in the town.

Seaton is planned to develop according to its town council’s recommendations, with a major regeneration put into effect.

One of the most remarkable results of the public consultations is the expression of a wish by many villages to grow in small ways and Councillor Allen had a final comment about farmers. He said: “They face huge challenges as the European CAP funding alters in 2013 and we have recognised the essential need to encourage local food production.

“We have also proposed new policies that enable generations to part-retire onsite and allow new dwellings to accommodate the needs of these working generations.”

The Local Plan Forum will be meeting in late February or March to look at the public feedback and to complete this plan ready to submit to the Planning Inspectorate.