A Council’s Local Plan is used to help decide on planning applications and other planning related decisions. In effect, as here in East Devon, it is the local guide to what can be built where, shaping infrastructure investments and determining the future pattern of development across the District Council’s area.
As the existing East Devon Local Plan has now become increasingly dated, East Devon District Council (EDDC) is preparing a new Local Plan that is expected to ultimately replace the existing Local Plan, that covered the period 2013 to 2031.
EDDC’s work on a new Local Plan started last year with consultation on an Issues and Options document that, looking forward, summarised some key issues facing East Devon and some options for how it might address these.
At the same time EDDC, as part of a Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HEELA), also undertook a Call for Sites which allowed people to identify land that they consider suitable for development within East Devon.
The development of the new East Devon Local Plan is being undertaken within EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee which has set out a framework timetable for the development of the Local Plan. The timetable currently is to produce a Draft Plan for public consultation in early summer 2022. Ultimately, the agreed Draft Plan has to be submitted to a Planning Inspector, and this is timetabled to take place in July 2023, with the new Local Plan being adopted by EDDC in February 2024.
The Call for Sites, is important to local communities as the sites that EDDC accepts for future development can have significant implications for residents. A good local example of this is that under a previous Conservative Administration, after much local disquiet, the land east Of Two Bridges Road was included as employment land in what is the current Local Plan. This is now progressing, against residents’ wishes, as the Sidford Business Park. This is a local example why getting the sites included in the Local Plan are so important to get right.
As a result of the Call for Sites many were submitted to EDDC for inclusion in the new Local Plan. These sites have all been evaluated and graded according to a set of criteria set out by the Strategic Planning Committee. These sites were considered at the Strategic Planning Committee on 14 December. In Sidbury two sites were put forward for consideration.
The proposed two Sidbury sites are included in a report considered by December’s Strategic Planning Committee and are on pages 56 and 57 of this report –
Page 56 shows the location of both proposed sites. The first site (Sidm_10) is a sloping agricultural field adjoining the northerly edge of Furzehill and has the A375 as its eastern boundary. The proposal would be for about 38 properties to be built here.
The second site (Sidm_25) is a field which is situated on the right-hand side of Roncombe Lane not far up from its junction with the A375. This site abuts not only Roncombe Lane, but also the A375 and Cotford Close. The proposal would be for about 39 properties to be built here.
Page 57 has the initial assessment of both sites, with only the first site being identified, at this stage, as being one that might be included in the new Local Plan.
The Strategic Planning Committee has invited landowners/developers whose site have been put forward in the Call for Sites to give outline presentations to its Members. So far presentations have taken place on 25 and 26 January, and others may follow.
Sidbury’s first site (Sidm_10) is owned by Sidbury Manor Estate, and its representatives, along with a commercial adviser Land Value Associates, gave an outline presentation on 26 January.
Unfortunately, the Estate’s presentation went beyond the site that had been submitted in the Call for Sites. The Estate’s presentation, rather than covering proposals for the one field identified as Sidm_10, also included proposals for development on two additional adjoining fields, both abutting the A375. This broader proposal would provide for development from the edge of Hillside all the way across to the edge of Furzehill, skirting around the Grade 2 listed Furzehill Farm. The presentation envisaged not the potential 38 properties on Sidm_10, but rather a total of 40 to 50 properties.
At this stage the Estate’s proposal across these three fields cannot be considered as it goes beyond what was set out in the Call for Sites. I am advised by EDDC Officers that only proposals for the original site submitted as Sidm_10 can be considered for inclusion in the new Local Plan.
It seems that the future of Sidm_10, as a site for inclusion in the Local Plan, is up in the air. Certainly, the Estate has lost an opportunity to explain how it would develop that single field by trying to “sell” its bigger vision across three fields. I am taking a great deal of interest in how this matter progresses, assuming that it does.
A number of sites in both Sidford and Sidmouth have also been submitted under the Call for Sites.
The locations of all of these sites are included in a map on page 34 of the report presented to December’s Strategic Planning Committee and the initial assessment of each site is given across pages 35 to 38 of this report –
I would draw attention to site Sidm_06 which is located to the left of Ottery Lane and which abuts the A375, and is virtually opposite the Sidford Business Park site. The landowner believes that about 300 properties could be built here. The initial evaluation of this site indicates that it could be considered for inclusion in the Local Plan, although with only enough of the site that could house about 30 properties, being deemed acceptable. This site isn’t located in my Ward but the Sidford Ward.
Elsewhere in my Sidmouth Rural Ward there are three sites that were submitted for consideration and in the map at page 34 these are referred to as Sidm_12, Sidm_13 and Sidm_14. The initial evaluation of these sites is set out on pages 37 and 38 of the report. These initial assessments are that none of these three sites would be recommended for inclusion in the Local Plan.
The process of considering and evaluating sites continues, as does the development of the Local Plan. As I know more about the sites that have been proposed I will give an update.