East Devon councillors stand firm on retention of Exmouth former healthcare site for employment and community uses under Local Plan criteria

On 31 October 2017, East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee considered an application for the construction of ten dwellings on the site of the former Doyle Centre in Exmouth.

The site was previously used as a health and social care facility, as well as office accommodation for health and social care staff by Devon County Council. The Doyle Centre closed in 2013, but as a site formerly used for employment and community uses, it is protected under Strategy 32 of the East Devon Local Plan from being used for other purposes.

The Local Plan requires that sites used for employment and community purposes be retained unless strict criteria are met, which include that options for its retention for employment/community uses have been fully explored without success for at least 12 months and that there is a clear demonstration of surplus supply of land in the locality.

Council officers considered that the site had not been marketed sufficiently to demonstrate that the site could not be viably retained for employment or community purposes, while the need for such spaces in the locality had increased. Officers recommended refusal of the application on this basis.

Cllr Mike Howe, chairman of East Devon District Council’s Development Management Committee, said:

Following a good debate over the report in which councillors considered the views of officers, the community and representations from the applicant, councillors decided to accept the officers’ recommendation. There is an essential need to protect employment and community spaces in our district, which is vital for ensuring that our communities remain vibrant, viable and able to meet the needs of residents in line with the aims of our Local Plan.