The big problem in strategic plan making is failure to consult on strategic options. All the wind about ‘democracy’ in the current debate is worthless if seen on a house by house basis. The elephant in the room is the lack of housing, and on that those opining on the Planning White Paper are silent on that.
The leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC) has called on councillors to come together to ‘re-make’ the region’s local plan after pulling out of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP).
At its Full Council meeting on Thursday (August 20), EDDC agreed to withdraw from GESP, following a recommendation from the Strategic Planning Committee.
The council approved the committee’s recommendation to:
• Notify our district partners that we are withdrawing from the GESP;
• In that letter, written by council leader Paul Arnott, the district council offers assurance that it will fulfil its duty to co-operate in an ongoing and positive partnership;
• That this council immediately begins the process to renew our local plan and that the Strategic Planning Committee meets as soon as possible to explore and define the processes involved.
A recorded vote was taken and 33 councillors voted in favour, with 22 against and 1 abstention.
Cllr Arnott has called for the 22 councillors who voted to stary in the GESP process to work with other ward members to improve the existing East Devon Local Plan.
He said: “It is a central commitment of this council to work for sustainable economic growth and attainable homes and where this involves cross-district collaboration we will embrace this enthusiastically.
“Sadly, the GESP envelope placed the cart before the horse.
“What was needed was a genuine consultation on what our residents want and need in terms of transport infrastructure, green homes, economic initiatives and so on in a post-pandemic Devon.
“The consultation that had been prepared paid lip service to these but was mainly an alarming push to ‘consult’ on vast new tracts of green fields going under concrete with promises of infrastructure gains that were plainly mere aspirations.
“Yet again, many councillors described GESP as a ‘developer’s charter’.
“Crucially, of the 60 members of East Devon council just 22 were prepared to back staying in the GESP.
“It is to be hoped that the 22 can now move on to work with the great majority of democratically elected councillors who wish to defend our district against the government’s ill-conceived ideas for the Planning system and to help us re-make a better and more sustainable Local Plan.”