Honiton needs more than shelf stacking jobs for young

Town council puts jobs top of the agenda during an extraordinary meeting to discuss draft local plan.

The development of 15 hectares of employment land proved to be a sticking point when Honiton Town Council held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the draft local plan.

Councillors met on Monday night to agree its amendments to a draft response to East Devon District Council’s proposals.

Councillors agreed: “The town council supports the district council’s vision for Honiton of an economy-led agenda, improving the skills base and providing higher value jobs.”

However, councillors questioned the evidence justifying the allocation of 15 hectares of employment land west of Hayne Lane.

Councillor Peter Halse said he felt it should be welcomed for the town.

But former mayor Councillor Vivienne Ash felt the district council had not provided enough evidence to justify the allocation.

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She said: “An independent assessment says it is not feasible and certainly does not support 15 hectares.”

Councillor Nick Cornwell said: “I am torn - I want Honiton to grow for young people and I want them to have a future with better jobs, higher pay and be able to stay if they want to and not feel they have to leave Honiton.

“Fifteen hectares is pretty radical.”

Problems with the existing infrastructure within the town, which have not been resolved, were also highlighted.

Councillor Cornwell added: “We have no assurances that the infrastructure will come with this development.

“I’ve got to object to this.

“We would be concreting over 15 hectares of the countryside.”

Councillor Les Baylis felt the development could “overshadow the town” and that he was mindful of the number of units still available on Heathpark Industrial Estate.

However, Councillor Peter Corke said, if the council moved forward on this, Honiton would have the possibility for development in the future.

The town council was also keen to enhance higher paid jobs, especially for young people.

Councillor Liz Tirard said: “We need more blue collar jobs.

“We have supermarkets that provide quite a lot of part-time low paid jobs and we need to raise the bar and attract the sort of businesses into the town which will bring in skills.

“We need to provide a future for young people in the town, not just shelf stacking.”

The council’s main concerns were the allocation of housing at Ottery Moor Lane, together with the possibility of housing allocations being re-instated west of Hayne Lane if there is insufficient housing allocations within the town.

In its submission, the town council agreed to include the re-location of car dealerships from Monkton Road to Heathpark to allow for housing development.

It was also agreed to insert Councillor Ron Farnham’s suggestion of a slip road from the A376 to the bypass.

The council was also opposed to any development on green field sites and wanted to ensure these areas were safeguarded.

It also expressed concerns that strategic sites put forward had been ignored by the district council.

The town council resolved to write a neighbourhood plan.

Consultations on the local plan are ongoing until the end of the month.