Resident involvement in shaping communities is a first
EDDC s planning service is reaching out to towns and villages across the district in a ground-breaking scheme to give them a greater say in community facilities funded by developers who are building in their area.
EDDC's planning service is reaching out to towns and villages across the district in a ground-breaking scheme to give them a greater say in community facilities funded by developers who are building in their area.
Communities are routinely involved in the siting and specification of facilities, especially for play and recreation, when the council has new schemes in mind.
Now, they are getting the chance to take an even more active part in helping EDDC's planning service to decide how best to spend funds provided by developers as part of Section 106 agreements - legal agreements attached to planning permissions.
This is where a developer who is building a number of new homes in an area is obliged to make a financial contribution to improving community facilities to make good the impact of the development for local people. This may include play areas, footpaths or other types of access, or even village halls.
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EDDC planning staff have been out and about in the district running road-shows to inform residents and parish councillors about the new initiative.
Some parish councils embraced this opportunity enthusiastically, while others may need further encouragement to participate in the new programme of community involvement - or participatory budgeting as it is known by the Government.
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East Devon is the first district in the UK to offer this new level of Section 106 participation and the EDDC scheme will be a pilot project monitored by the Government's Participatory Budgeting Unit.
Parish councillors and other members of the community will be able to indicate their priorities and influence decision-making.
Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC's portfolio holder communities, said: "This scheme offers communities an unprecedented level of involvement in shaping their future facilities.
"Many parishes took advantage of the invitation to hear about the scheme - but quite a few did not come along.
"They could be missing out on a great opportunity. But it's not too late to take part, so if any town or parish wants to get involved, they should contact our Section 106 monitoring officer in the planning service as soon as possible.
"The scheme is fairly simple in operation. If for example a developer has already agreed to help fund a play area in a specific location, the community will be able to help design the layout and equipment provision.
"It's important for interested residents to speak to their councillor and get any local needs included in the Parish Plan because this will help shape future negotiations with developers."
EDDC is committed to engaging with local communities on village and parish plans so that residents can influence the future shape of the place where they live and help to design the recreational, play and other facilities that are provided.