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EDDC refutes campaigners’ Local Plan criticism

PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 April 2014

The Knowle council chambers at Sidmouth. Picture by Terry Ife. Ref mhv 2232-10-07TI

The Knowle council chambers at Sidmouth. Picture by Terry Ife. Ref mhv 2232-10-07TI

Archant

District council bosses have refuted claims their Local Plan was not ready to be submitted last August – or the continuing delay in confirming the blueprint means East Devon is set for a developers’ free-for-all.

Campaigners last week branded the authority ‘shambolic’ and called for a ‘root and branch reform’.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, East Devon District Council (EDDC) cabinet member for strategic development and partnerships, said: “The inspector’s response to our plan was one that has been replicated across the country.

“A paper produced last month by consultancy Nathaniel Litchfield & Partners (NLP) found that local plans are taking longer to get through the examination process and more are being delayed because of problems over housing assessment.

“Their review of 109 local plans that had been examined since the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came into force two years ago found that many have effectively stalled because of the NPPF’s requirement for authorities to meet ‘objectively assessed needs’ for housing. The consultancy reported that just 40 of the 109 plans have been found sound, while a quarter of these are subject to immediate or early review, chiefly because of housing issues. Some 15 plans have been withdrawn, with the main reason being the provision of housing. The consultancy also noted that more plans were in difficulty after failing to meet the ‘duty to cooperate’ requirement.

“More than 50 per cent of English local planning authorities outside London have yet to formally publish local plans since the introduction of the NPPF.

“Inspectors want to avoid future challenges and potential judicial reviews and therefore look for objectively assessed information contained in local plans.”

Cllr Moulding said warnings of a developers’ free-for-all were ‘scaremongering by those who have an agenda of belittling the council’s efforts’.

He claimed the council has an ‘enviable record’ when it comes to defending and winning planning appeals.

“Experience shows that our policy of saying ‘yes’ to sustainable development and ‘no’ to over-development is standing us in good stead,” he added.

“We remain confident that the latest version of the plan is not too far off being a document that finds favour with the planning inspector, once we have completed the extra work he has requested. In this, we are in the company of a good number of other English local authorities that are working hard to find the right balance between housing demand and quality of life.”

l What do you think? Email us your thoughts at sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk.

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