• When will Tory leadership put East Devon before the party? Now local plan falls foul of elections!

    13th February 2015 | News | Claire
  • The information that has been, or will shortly be, received by EDDC will finally give an indication on how many houses should be built in the district, providing an “objectively assessed need”, which takes into account births, deaths, occupancy and affordable housing requirements, among other things.

    It is regarded as a technical assessment, which does not take into account constraints such as flood zones and national designations such as areas of outstanding natural beauty, for example.

    So why is EDDC being so shy about releasing the information – and moving things forward as fast as possible, with a view to getting a sound local plan? 

    Anyone would think the district wasn’t under any threat from speculative development!

    There is no reason whatsoever in my view that the wheels should not start moving on this urgently. In fact there is EVERY reason to get them moving – yet EDDC says in its press release (below) that it won’t be starting any processes until after the elections on 7 May!

    EDDC’s political leadership might well be embarrassed at the spaghetti like mess they have made of our planning system locally (as if central government’s NPPF wasn’t appalling enough) but it really must have a bit of gumption and put politics aside and do the right thing for East Devon – just for once!

    Time to brace up Cllr Diviani!

    Here’s the press release …………………………………………  I will leave you to draw your own conclusions…………….. 

    As part of East Devon District Council’s ongoing commitment to finalise its Local Plan with the East Devon Local Plan Inspector, the council’s service lead for Planning Strategy and Development Management, has written to the Inspector to update him on progress made with the East Devon Local Plan Examination. The correspondence also highlights the fact that further potential delays are inevitable due to the forthcoming local elections.

    The letter confirms that East Devon District Council is expecting to receive – on or before Friday 13 February 2015 – a draft report of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA is a multi-authority commission by East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon and Teignbridge Councils and Dartmoor National Park Authority, with Devon County Council also being a partner), which we commissioned, together with a number of other studies, in order to establish a robust understanding of the objectively assessed housing need in East Devon. At this stage, the SHMA report, which is being produced by our appointed consultants DCA, remains highly confidential as it is still a work in progress, with findings yet to be made conclusive.

    While the SHMA report was being produced, it became clear that housing needs, potentially arising as a result of possible future job growth, warranted particular attention.  As a result, the multi-authority partnership (comprising the five Devon local councils, as well as Dartmoor National Park Authority, as listed above) commissioned Edge Analytics to undertake specific modelling work to establish the relationship between job growth and housing requirements.  In addition, East Devon District Council has also commissioned work by Ash Futures Ltd to specifically advise on future job growth levels in East Devon.  We have received draft reports from both Ash Futures and Edge Analytics and we will be pushing for final speedy conclusion of all reports.

    East Devon District Council’s Leader, Councillor Paul Diviani said: “We welcome the imminent arrival of the SHMA draft report, this week. These three reports are an integral part of the East Devon Local Plan. Their undertaking – involving a significant number of other local authorities – has been an enormously complex process, which has taken longer than would have been desirable.

    “The benefits of undertaking these reports should not be underestimated. It clearly demonstrates that best practice is at the heart of our decision making and confirmed the need for an altogether more substantial and complex end piece of work and has fully justified the need for additional consultancy support.

    “We are very much aware of the need to finalise our Local Plan, but at the same time we have to take the reports with proposed changes to the Plan to our members for consideration and consultation. We had envisaged that the earliest we would have been able to take the reports to our members would be March or early April 2015. The process of consultation would then take around six-weeks.

    “However, because of the forthcoming local and national elections this would not appear to be a viable route to follow, as there is concern that the process could be seen as politically motivated, which would overshadow the soundness of the plan.

    “While mindful of the need to progress quickly, the significance to the process of members consideration and consultation should not be overlooked, and consequently it is unlikely that we will take the report to our members until shortly after the May election.”

    Photo:  View of the field behind Barton Orchard, an area of outstanding natural beauty, but controversially, was granted planning consent for 15 dwellings in 2012.