Sidmouth communities to get ‘planning power’

SIDMOUTH, Ottery St Mary and their surrounding areas will have more say than the district council over the building of new homes.

Town and parish councils could decide where a new estate is built, how land is used and even what new homes and buildings look like as part of the Localism Bill - set to become law next month.

They can even refuse applications if they don’t like plans, and also – in principle - grant full or outline planning approval.

The coalition Government wants to give planning powers to local people and is creating a new neighbourhood tier led by the community - not East Devon District Council (EDDC).

It hinges on communities choosing to draw up a neighbourhood development plan which will set out local policies on development and use of land in a parish or ‘neighbourhood area’.

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Once drawn up – with cash help from EDDC – and adopted, it would supersede all other views in the planning process.

While parishes would have the power to rule on the detail, they would not have influence on the ‘big picture’ - EDDC’s strategic approach, which outlines the number of new homes in each parish.

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This information would be in the local plan calling for 15,400 homes in East Devon up to 2026.

If a parish council refused a development of homes earmarked for the area, those homes would still have to built somewhere within the parish.

EDDC portfolio holder for corporate business, Councillor Ray Bloxham, said: “The previous way of doing things was top down - this is bottom up.

“Residents will have a real say on what is built, instead of being told what they will get.

MP Hugo Swire said: “For the first time, communities will be offered real power in planning.”

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