Villages Plan at crucial stage as it nears the end of its journey

The East Devon Villages Plan is nearing the end of its production and has reached a crucial stage in preparation with its submission for formal examination by an independent Inspector.

The plan has been produced by East Devon District Council to help guide decisions on where new development should be directed in selected villages – including Beer, Broadclyst, Clyst St. Mary, East Budleigh, Feniton, Kilmington, Musbury, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury, Uplyme, West Hill, Whimple, Woodbury and the town of Colyton. The Villages Plan also includes maps of the Greendale and Hill Barton Business Parks to show the extent of land authorised for business purposes.

The plan has undergone several rounds of consultation, giving people plenty of opportunity to have their say on it. During the final round of consultation, which finished in May, the council received 147 comments. Around 90 objections to the plan were made. These included 48 standard letters from residents of Clyst St. Mary, who criticised the approach taken to Winslade Park, part of which was allocated for mixed use redevelopment in 2016 in the East Devon Local Plan.

Of the 45 comments received in support of the plan, around 30 of these related to the approach taken to Greendale Business Park.

The proposed Villages Plan is available to view on the East Devon Council website  as well as in the council offices in Sidmouth. Copies of all the comments received are also available, together with the supporting documents that have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration.

The Planning Inspectorate has appointed Beverley Doward BSc BTP MRTPI to undertake an independent examination of the East Devon Villages Plan. The Inspector’s task is to consider the soundness of the submitted Plan, based on the criteria set out in paragraph 182 of the National Planning Policy Framework (the Framework). The Inspector will take into account the representations submitted in as far as they relate to soundness considerations.

A number of informal debates, known as Hearing Sessions, will take place on the principal matters identified by the Inspector. Following the closure of the Examination, the Inspector will prepare a report to the council with precise recommendations.

Any queries people may have regarding the Examination process should be directed to Ian Kemp, who has been appointed as the Programme Officer for the Examination. Mr Kemp will deal with all procedural, administrative and programming matters, and is happy to assist with enquiries. He is independent from the council and reports directly to the Inspector.  Mr Kemp can be contacted at: 16 Cross Furlong, Wychbold, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire WR9 7TA. Telephone: 01527 861711Mobile: 07723 009166 Email: idkemp@icloud.com

All other enquiries relating to the preparation and content of the Villages Plan should be made to planningpolicy@eastdevon.gov.uk or telephone 01395 571683. The proposed venue for the hearing sessions is the Council Chamber, East Devon District Council offices in Sidmouth. This will be confirmed as soon as hearing dates have been confirmed by the Inspector. All sessions are open to the public to observe.

Councillor Phil Twiss, Deputy Leader of East Devon District Council and portfolio holder for Strategic Development and Partnerships, said:

The Villages Plan seeks to protect East Devon’s outstanding environment, whilst enabling small scale infill development in some larger villages and the town of Colyton. The plan is based on the strategy set out in the East Devon Local Plan, which was successfully examined and adopted in 2016.

The Inspector is currently considering whether the plan is sound, based on set Government criteria – as part of her examination of the plan, she will also consider all the representations that we received during the last round of consultation relating to the Villages Plan. We currently expect oral hearing sessions for the plan to take place during the autumn, but will be able to confirm that nearer the time.