County fears over provision of employment land

Official response to East Devon District Council draft plan includes some criticisms.

A DRAFT blueprint for the future development of East Devon has attracted criticism from Devon County Council.

Campaigners, who are opposing elements of East Devon District Council’s preferred approach to the Local Development Framework, say the pressure is now on for the plan to be “dramatically amended”.

Around 2,000 are said to have raised objections to the core strategy.

Dr Ian Harrison, of the strategic planning department at County Hall, said in a formal response: “The county council does have concerns about the justification for the overall scale of housing and employment land provision anticipated in the plan.

“In the case of employment land, particularly, there is a risk that the plan may not be considered sound.

“The core strategy will need to establish and justify the scale of growth proposed in the absence of any robust statutory framework.”

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The county council wants to work in partnership with EDDC to establish an agreed assessment of future housing demand in the area.

Dr Harrison said the scale of proposed additional employment land “is likely to result in a significant level of over provision”.

However, he admits that the county council fears the development of further employment land in East Devon could “undermine the viability and deliverability of key strategic development sites already identified at Skypark and Exeter Science Park”.

Fairmile resident Paul Johnston, of campaigning group Communities Before Developers, said: “The pressure is really on now.

“Not only has EDDC’s Local Development Framework had around 2,000 objections from local people, but one of its most influential consultees (Devon County Council) has now joined the ranks of those who want the plans dramatically amended.

“EDDC’s Local Devemopment Framwork Panel and the planners have a duty to present residents and other consultees with a revised version we will all find acceptable.”

Campaigner Claire Wright said: “Devon County Council has given EDDC a clear message that their over-scaled, environmentally damaging plans for artificial growth are unacceptable.

“It supports much of what we have been saying up until now.”

Although the county council broadly welcomed some aspects of the strategy, it says it needs to “set out a wider ranging and more comprehensive expression of how the plan sees the future of the area”.

The county is supporting, in principle, a 30 per cent increase in housing stock in Axminster over the next 20 years, but says a north/south relief road “is not a commitment”.

It says the granting of planning permission for new homes at Cloakham Lawns means “the opportunity for pursuing a relief road is substantially diminished during this plan period”.

The council is also concerned that options for making improvements using traffic management schemes in Axminster are limited because of the constrained highway network.