Changes to planning, being consulted on by the Government, could give the council greater flexibility about the amount of house building needed in East Devon.

Concerns about the impacts the new developments would have on the environment and infrastructure such as roads, schools and hospitals were raised in the ten-week East Devon Local Plan consultation. These issues were acknowledged in this week’s Strategic Planning Committee. The Government may give councils more choice over the number of new homes being built, allowing East Devon District Council (EDDC) to address local concerns that have been raised.

EDDC leader, Councillor Paul Arnott, put forward a motion that no further discussions or decisions on potential sites take place until the Government makes its decision. EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee agreed the motion, which means council officers will only continue technical work needed to support production of the Local Plan, such as water, sewerage and other environmental matters.

Councillor Paul Arnott, leader of the council, said:

“Last year, our council wrote to the Government calling for an urgent re-analysis of inflated housing need numbers imposed on the communities of East Devon.

“Pending any reply, we continued with the Local Plan consultation as required by law.

“This week - at the first opportunity to do so - I proposed that we put the sites aspect of the work on hold until what we hope will be confirmation that our housing numbers will be greatly reduced.

“I was very pleased that this won cross-party support. The ball is now in the Government's court to deliver a new National Planning Policy Framework.”