Plans for a protected greenspace about half the size of Exeter have received support from East Devon Councillors.

Yesterday at East Devon District Council’s Strategic Planning Committee, Councillors unanimously gave their backing in support of the Clyst Valley Regional Park, located in the west of the district.

With ambitious plans to provide benefits for people, nature, climate, water, soils, jobs, education, landscape, and the historic environment, this impressive initiative can now guide partners towards a shared vision and values through the newly-approved 25-year masterplan.

Following a public consultation from Monday 9th November 2020 until 18th January 2021, support for the project has been positive. More than 240 consultation responses were received and more than 750 people are signed up as friends of the Clyst Valley and will receive updates as they happen. Visit clystvalleypark.org.uk to sign up to be a friend of the Park, or contact sbates@eastdevon.gov.uk.

Many responses (88%) supported the proposed funding strategy, where money to provide the Park will come from developer contributions, grants from Government, public bodies and charities such as the National Heritage Lottery Fund. The idea of creating a charitable organisation was welcomed with more than half of responses indicating a willingness to pay up to £50 per annum to become a ‘member’ so that more green projects can be delivered.

The majority of responses (90%) agreed with the aims of the masterplan. By listening to feedback in the consultation, the masterplan has been updated, responding to strong calls for outdoor education. Requests for the boundary to be extended will form part of the process of producing a new Local Plan for East Devon.

Mark Williams, Chief Executive of East Devon District Council, said:

I am delighted by the level of engagement with this consultation exercise.  The publication of the masterplan for the Clyst Valley Regional Park is a significant milestone in terms of turning the concept in to reality.  The Council has declared a climate emergency and the delivery of the Park goes to the heart of how we can start to reduce our carbon emissions – from increasing tree planting and canopy cover to bringing forward a major new cycling trail.  The Park will also bring other wider benefits including supporting the local economy and boosting biodiversity.  I hope that it will be enjoyed by local residents for generations to come.

Next steps include securing funding to take forward a variety of aims for the Clyst Valley Regional Park over the next 25 years:

  • Clyst Valley Trail linking the Exe Estuary Trail to the Exe Valley Way – opening up the possibility of an Exmoor to Exmouth national trail in future
  • Land-based learning centre and café at Heathfield Farm, Broadclyst
  • A new cycle trail linking Cranbrook to Exeter along a quiet route
  • Renaturalising the River Clyst between Clyst Honiton and Cranbrook
  • Clyst Canopy – 20% increase in trees through both planting and natural regeneration
  • Crystal Clear Clyst – restoring good water quality in the river
  • A new visitor hub at Ashclyst Farm and cycle/pedestrian links into the Forest from Cranbrook, Broadclyst and Killerton

For more information visit clystvalleypark.org.uk