The appeals were lost because both planning inspectors ruled that EDDC could not demonstrate a five year land supply for housing across the district.

A controversial paper will now be considered by EDDC’s planning committee (development management committee) on Tuesday, 5 February, which proposes in future, that the committee approves most future housing applications, including those outside built-up area boundaries, unless the reasons for refusal are overwhelming.

This policy, if endorsed by the committee, would be in place for an indeterminate length of time.

Officers say that they are worried that if they don’t reach a five year housing land supply position they will lose appeals which will cost public money.

Equally controversially, EDDC planning officers are also recommending that housing numbers in East Devon’s Local Plan, are increased from a minimum of 15,000 to a minimum of 17,100, until 2026.

But EDDC’s Local Plan has already been through its public consultation phases – as well as it being agreed (not by everyone) at full council.  Any significant change such as an increase in housing numbers will mean that the plan should go out to public consultation once again…. and where will the extra 2,000 houses be proposed to be built?

A penalty introduced by the National Planning Policy Framework for councils that cannot demonstrate a five year land supply, makes it even harder. 

EDDC will now have to demonstrate a SIX year’s supply of housing instead, which Mr Dickins, planning policy manager and author of the paper says, equates to somewhere between 2,100 and 9,000 houses – needing to be given planning permission over five years, because not all houses approved will be built.  And it is completed developments that carry more weight with planning inspectors.

But prior to the recession, EDDC was only managing to average a build-rate of around 350 houses per year, so how can it hope to achieve such a high rate of house-building in a potential triple dip recession?

In his paper, Mr Dickins states: “There is the very real possibility of significant numbers of planning applications being submitted in the near future with applicants presenting a case that we do not have a five year land supply.”

Adding:  “It is suggested that if very high levels of permissions were granted a possible outcome could be that developers would not built out schemes, or would only partly complete them, with a view to developing permitted sites over very much longer time periods (so called ‘land-banking).”

Myself and Cllr Roger Giles are very worried indeed about this paper, which will make it extremely hard for the development management committee or planning officers to reject future housing applications whether they are inside or outside the built-up area boundary, unless the reasons for refusal are utterly overwhelming.

We intend to write to the committee, outlining our concerns.

The development management committee is on Tuesday 5 February and starts at 2pm.  It is held in the council chamber, EDDC’s offices, Knowle, Sidmouth.  Please come along.

View the paper here from page 35. http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_dmc_agenda_050213.pdf