MP Swire: completion of homes plan must be a priority

Hugo Swire MP

Hugo Swire MP - Credit: Archant

MP Hugo Swire sought to underline his credentials as both pro-housing and as a countryside champion last week by urging district bosses to make the completion of their development blueprint an ‘absolute priority’.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) is drawing up a Local Plan - of how many homes and employment sites should be built over the next decade and where.

But it has been delayed because Whitehall chiefs said that the first draft did not have enough evidence.

Now, this week, the East Devon MP took a swipe at ‘anti-development’ campaigners and branded them ‘irresponsible’.

He said: “Unlike some, I have never taken the rather irresponsible position of being anti-development.

“It is absolutely vital that we build more affordable houses, especially for young people in East Devon trying to get on the housing ladder.”

He said a balance needed to be struck and that East Devon’s landscape was unspoilt.

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“Many of my constituents feel that EDDC’s lack of a Local Plan is allowing developers free rein, which is leading to over-development,” he said. “I call on EDDC to make the completion of its Local Plan an absolute priority and, in the meantime, ensure that the green light is not automatically given to developers.”

The draft East Devon Local Plan earmarks 150 new houses for Sidmouth and 300 for Ottery St Mary until 2026.

However, because the plan is not yet in place, approval has already been granted for more than 450 homes in Ottery.

An EDDC spokesman said that the completion of the Local Plan was ‘already’ an absolute priority.

He said: “We have undertaken an extensive consultation so we can fully understand what our communities want for the future of their towns and villages.

“But that has to be supported by solid evidence, if we are to satisfy the Local Plan inspector.”

He said they were ‘working hard’ to gather the necessary data.

“While this work is going on, it is clearly vital that we continue to reject inappropriate development.

“We still have the adopted East Devon Local Plan 2006 and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) defend our communities against inappropriate development.”

The spokesman added: “We will continue to robustly defend our communities against inappropriate development, and we will enable good development where it is the right thing for East Devon.”