New homes have got to go somewhere, but where?

PUBLISHED: 13:38 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 00:51 16 June 2010

COUNCILLOR Graham Brown.

COUNCILLOR Graham Brown.

A MASTERPLAN, mapping out where Honiton and Axminster could expand, by how much and how many jobs can be created by 2026, will be shaped by the views of local people.

A MASTERPLAN, mapping out where Honiton and Axminster could expand, by how much and how many jobs can be created by 2026, will be shaped by the views of local people.

That was the message from council chiefs this week after the unveiling of an exhaustive year-long study - the initial stage of determining just how many new homes and how much employment land will be needed and where.

The population of East Devon is expected to grow by at least 30,000 in 20 years, roughly the population of Exmouth.

The study is the formative stage of what will become the Local Development Framework (LDF), a series of documents that will make up a blueprint for East Devon, which should be completed by the end of the year.

The LDF will also identify what community facilities, like GP surgeries and schools, will be needed and how the environment can be protected and enhanced with a growing population.

The study gave ideas from 478 groups, organisations, politicians, business people and individuals how Honiton and Axminster should look in 20 years' time.

Among the questions asked in Axminster were just how many homes should be built; two-thirds favoured 2-400 new homes (66 per cent). Just under 20 per cent wanted 750 dwellings and seven per cent wanted very high levels of new dwellings, up to 1,000.

And 66 per cent of people said that road improvements were needed and 29 per cent of people want a new bypass.

In Honiton, 39 per cent backed 1,000 new homes or more, with a third favouring 'moderate' development of about 500 homes.

And half of respondents wanted only 'small-scale' commercial developments, like new business parks on greenfield sites, with 36 per cent "favouring significant employment development attracting major inward investment".

By the spring, senior officers will conduct town and village hall meetings, inviting community groups, residents, parishes and businesses to give their views.

Cllr Graham Brown, chairman of the LDF panel, said: "EDDC is open minded about how we may end up meeting the housing and employment needs and other objectives set by the Government.

"During the spring, we will be taking a close look at the latest progress made tackling these challenges, much of it based on results from the previous public consultation."

EDDC's corporate director Karime Hassan admitted growth in Honiton up to 2026 "was more challenging" than in other parts of East Devon, because the scale of growth would be dependent on whether an 'eastern bypass' could be built to alleviate the traffic on the High Street and Kings Road, and that would need to be paid for.

The strategy will also look at whether villages could grow and Cllr Brown added: "It is essential we look at rural areas...stagnation leads to decay.

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