Council counters criticism over Local Plan

PUBLISHED: 15:00 08 May 2013

Archant

A Sidmouth businessman hopes the parkland at Knowle will be removed from the Local Plan's housing allocation - after claiming that it was added without 'explanation or consultation'.

Richard Eley said there was no record of the meeting which resulted in the inclusion of the open space, and it happened at the last minute.

But council bosses said residents had been consulted and informed every step of the way, and now the fate of the Local Plan will be decided by an independent official.

“I don’t like the idea of officers making decisions without explanation or consultation,” Mr Eley told Sidmouth Town Council’s annual assembly last Monday.

“It should be a community effort, not just one or two people working behind closed doors.”

An EDDC spokesman explained that the next stage in developing the Local Plan is a public examination - in the coming months - which resembles a court case in that those for and against the proposals present their arguments.

A member of the Planning Inspectorate will give a verdict on the draft Local Plan based on the evidence presented and on national planning policy.

The spokesman said: “The draft Local Plan has been seven years in the making.

“Since 2006 there have been a total of seven consultation exercises - each time we receive public feedback we fine-tune the document a bit more.

“Any further delay in finalising and adopting the Local Plan could make East Devon vulnerable to speculative planning applications – a situation any council would want to avoid.”

But he added that if the planning inspector called for it to go back to consultation, the council would comply.

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