New homes under construction

Council now has housing evidence it needs to help move forward the East Devon local plan

The results of the independent Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report, which was commissioned jointly by the planning authorities of Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge, and Dartmoor National Park, have now been made public. #

The key finding of the report is that the correct amount of housing stock that East Devon District Council should be providing (in line with the local plan inspector’s recommendation) is 950 homes per year, which will be spread over 18 years.

This figure has been influenced by independent job projections, which showed that the projected job growth for East Devon averaged out at an extra 549 jobs per year.

Manageable growth

Councillor Paul Diviani , Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

Although I recognise that the new homes figure of 950 dwellings is higher than our original projection of 750 homes (which we had felt was appropriate for our future needs), the increase is in fact relatively modest.

We have always made the case for moderate and manageable housing growth that the district needs and can welcome.  That was the case we argued for with our previous figures but now, based on the SHMA, we must follow the evidence provided and make growth in new homes work for our communities

The strategy for our previous Local Plan was to focus on development in the Growth Point and specifically at Cranbrook and over the past two years we have promoted development in that part of East Devon. It is our intention to continue this approach with our new Local Plan.

Councillors will be considering the revisions to the Local Plan at Development Management Committee on the 23 March and then full council on the 26 March. The revisions to the Local Plan will seek to ensure that suitable housing allocations will be made to meet the needs identified in the SHMA and will ensure that we provide for our five-year housing land supply needs for the plan period.

One of our biggest priorities has been to head off unnecessary development in the villages and to focus on granting planning for sustainable development only. We place great emphasis on 'getting the balance right' and this has been borne out by our highly successful refusal rate for planning appeals. In the last quarter of 2014 we saw 91% of appeals dismissed and we are justifiably proud that East Devon ranks in the top 15 nationally (out of 468 local authorities) as having the best record for winning appeals. We intend to maintain this track record and to defend East Devon from inappropriate development.

Power to decide

In addition, under the neighbourhood planning system, village communities now have the power to decide whether they want more new homes and where they should go. We are encouraging more villages to adopt a neighbourhood plan, which will enable them to put in place planning policies that ultimately give them more control over the types of development they get.

Already we have helped Lympstone residents create a planning blueprint for their village and later this month, on 26 March, we are holding a neighbourhood planning referendum so that residents can come and vote on whether they like the proposed neighbourhood plan for Lympstone. We hope that Lympstone will set an example for the rest of East Devon to follow.

In conclusion, Councillor Diviani said:

It is important that we should encourage all our settlements to make themselves sustainable for the sake of generations to come.