What would EDDC pulling out of GESP mean for the future of the blueprint plan?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan area. Picture: LDRS

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan area. Picture: LDRS - Credit: Archant

The decision by East Devon councillors to recommend pulling out of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) has thrown the blueprint for future development into doubt.

Eleanor Rylance

Eleanor Rylance - Credit: Eleanor Rylance

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) strategic planning committee voted to recommend to full council that East Devon withdraws from the GESP process.

The GESP was designed to provide the overall spatial strategy and level of housing and employment land required across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge until 2040.

The document outlined the policies for how development should take place, as well as 39 sites where major housing or employment land could be allocated, although not all of the sites would have been taken forward to the final version.

But with East Devon on the verge of pulling out, where does that leave the GESP?

EDDC leader Paul Anrott

EDDC leader Paul Anrott - Credit: Archant

What was due to happen?

Subject to the approval from all four councils, an eight-week consultation over the draft policies and site options document was due to run this autumn.

Most Read

Feedback from that would then be collated, with the policies revised and the site options narrowed to produce a final plan, which would have been submitted for examination in 2022.

Why does EDDC want to pull out?

Cllr Eleanor Rylance said that the plan was not fit to be consulted on now or at any point.

She said: “They say a camel is a horse designed by committee and this is what this is.

“We are being asked to send a camel out to consultation, and instead of putting forward this monstrosity of a dead camel, we should withdraw from GESP.

“This plan is not a fit plan and there is nothing about it we should pass to consultation at this point or any point.

“This has self-contradictory polices clearly written by different people and it is unreasonable to put this before anyone.

“We are living in a different world from when this was drawn up and our world has changed and I am bemused that we are sticking doggedly to a timetable drawn up last year.

“This defies common sense, this does nothing for East Devon, and we should not be a member of GESP going forward.

“This document is all about volume house building, is dangerously flawed and contradictory.”

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of the council, seconded her recommendation, and said that the promises in the plan were an illusion, the analysis of economic growth a ‘dangerous fiction’ and doubling what was realistic, and that if the council voted for this, it would legitimise all that has come before.

Is the GESP dead then?

As the initial decision to join the GESP process was a full council decision, it has to be a full council decision for EDDC to withdraw from it, and therefore, the strategic planning committee could only make a recommendation to full council.

No date has yet been set for when full council meets, although a meeting on Thursday, August 20, has been added to the calendar.

Does pulling out of the GESP mean fewer homes will have to be built?

No, regardless of whether councils are part of the GESP or not, the required number of homes that need to be built remains the same.

The housing delivery target of 53,260 homes (2,663 per year) between 2020-2040 to include affordable homes, 5,000 custom and self build homes and 116 for the gypsy and traveller communities remains the same, but rather than being delivered across the four authorities, if councils pull out, then they will have to deliver their allocation solely within their boundary.

East Devon is required to build 900 homes a year up to 2040, with Exeter 638, Mid Devon 364 and Teignbridge 760.

If the GESP goes ahead, the numbers would be spread across the four districts, but if EDDC pulls out, it still has to build 900 homes a year within the district.

Many of the allocated sites will still be put forward through the revision of each of the councils’ Local Plans, with East Devon being recommended to immediately start the revision of its Local Plan if it pulls out of the GESP.