Campaigning councillor critical of ‘Local Plan’

Planned development in East Devon is ‘excessive’ according to a campaigning district councillor on the committee which has drawn up the ‘Local Plan’.

Claire Wright, who joined the Local Development Framework panel after she was elected to East Devon District Council (EDDC) last May, has heavily criticised the draft plan, the public consultation on which finished this week.

Councillor Wright, who represents Ottery Rural, said although the current ‘Local Plan’ is an improvement on the 2010 draft, the level of development ‘remains excessive and not evidence-based’.

She added: “In particular, consultant reports commissioned at great cost to the taxpayer seem to have been disregarded.

“Instead the views of local landowners and developers appear to have carried more influence, particularly in relation to industrial and commercial land.”

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Cllr Wright has campaigned against overdevelopment, especially in rural areas, and said the level of housing growth projected is far too high, as is employment land, used for offices, shops or industrial use, saying there is a ‘vast amount of strong evidence to the contrary’.

She added: “The concept of industrial development in villages is a significant change in local planning policy and if plans are endorsed they are likely to destroy village attractiveness and distinctiveness.

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“Why would we wish to pave the way for industrial estates on the edges of villages?”

The councillor, who lives in West Hill and is also an Ottery Town Councillor, said there are around 400 empty commercial and industrial units in East Devon, so there should be a new policy in the plan redevelop existing industrial sites before building on greenfield sites.

She also said there should be greater emphasis on encouraging green tourism, such as cycleways, adding: “These sorts of projects complement East Devon’s rural nature as well as providing economic benefit to a wide range of businesses.”

The draft plan, which will be looked at again by Cllr Wright’s committee before a final version is created, sets out (EDDC) policy on housing, industry, employment, tourism and planning until 2026.

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