• Local Plan changes include scaled back Knowle plans

    4th July 2013 | News | Claire
  • A NUMBER of minor changes are being proposed to East Devon’s 15-year planning blueprint, following a final round of public consultation at the end of 2012.

    The latest draft of the Local Plan document includes small but important amendments to proposed development boundaries at the Council’s Knowle HQ in Sidmouth, reducing the size pf the proposed development area within the Knowle campus.

    The latest version of the document follows months of analysis and revision in the light of feedback received during the consultation in November and December last year.

    The proposed changes will be presented to the Council’s Development Management Committee (DMC) on Thursday 18 July. The committee will be asked for its recommendations, which will be put before Full Council on Wednesday 24 July.

    At this later meeting, Councillors will decide whether to approve the amendments so that the final draft of the Local Plan can be submitted to the Government for approval. This will involve an independent Public Inquiry held by a Planning Inspector and would be likely to happen in the autumn of this year. The Inquiry will be a further opportunity for the public to comment.

    Concerns

    The highest profile change to the Draft Local Plan is a move which will better protect parts of the Knowle campus from development. The amendment follows the refusal by EDDC’s Development Management Committee of permission for the Council’s own application for 50 homes and a graduated care home on the site earlier this year.

    Reasons for the refusal included concerns about the development of some parkland, impact on the site’s Grade 2 listed gatehouse, and the impact on parking provision.

    The lower parkland (known as Zone E) and the lower car park and parkland (known as Zone A) are now no longer included in the proposed boundary for any future development of Knowle.

    Compliance

    All other changes are very minor text updates or additions to further improve compliance with national planning policy. For example, the Plan now states that EDDC is producing a separate Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document, with other Devon Authorities, and this will identify the level of need in the District and identify sites.

    Under the rules for preparing Local Plans set out by the Government, changes to the draft Plan must be minor or they will require another lengthy round of public consultation and analysis, setting back the process and delaying the completion of the plan.

    EDDC has worked to avoid this as the absence of a final Local Plan leaves the area more vulnerable to speculative planning applications and development in locations that are unacceptable to local people and the Council.

    Importantly, the amendments to the Local Plan must be considered in their entirety, so when combined they should only constitute a minor change, rather than be a raft of minor variations which combine to make a major change to the overall Plan.

    Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said:
    “This Plan is – and always has been – about carefully controlling development around East Devon. This means accepting the reality of the area’s housing shortage and the astronomical gap between average wages and local house prices, but also doing our best to balance the needs of the environment and not creating a developers’ charter.

    It also means creating the right kind of employment to help retain more of our young people in the district, enabling them to live, work and play where they have been raised.

    Emotions

    “The process has not been without controversy and we appreciate that planning issues stir deep and heartfelt emotions in many people. However, we have listened and I think we have responded reasonably to the concerns that have been raised about which parts of Knowle are suited to development.

    “If the Council approves this final draft, then we’ll proceed to the public examination of the Plan by an independent Inspector. This will offer yet another chance for supporters and objectors to present their cases and this time it will be an entirely independent body listening to those views. We will also be giving the Inspector the full, unedited comments presented by local people during our last consultation exercise in November and December”.

    The final draft will be available online via the Council’s website for the public to view as part of the agenda papers for the 18 July DMC meeting.

    The meeting will be open to the public and time has been set aside during the morning session for people to make any comments. The Committee will adjourn for lunch and will discuss the minor changes in the afternoon.

    Speak

    Anyone wanting to speak should note that the committee will only be considering the proposed minor changes to the Local Plan. Members will not be considering policies or allocations that are not affected by those minor changes. Accordingly, anyone wishing to speak to the Committee must limit their comments solely to the minor changes proposed.

    Anyone wishing to speak must pre-register with EDDC’s Democratic Services team by 5.00 p.m. on Monday 15 July and provide, on no more than a single side of A4, the detail or a summary of the representations they wish to make and Chapter(s) of the Local Plan to which they relate.

    To register their wish to speak, people should contact Hannah Whitfield (Democratic Services Officer) on 01395 517 542 or by email to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    • The Local Plan process started in 2007, but over its lifetime has been hampered by many changes in Government policy and requirements. Throughout its preparation there have been seven public consultation events, which have provided opportunities for people to influence the process.

    The most recent was a six-week consultation on the final draft of the Plan, which took place in November 2012 and attracted approximately 950 responses, all of which will be provided to the Inspector if the Plan moves on to that stage following Full Council on 24 July.