West Hill leaders fear ‘urban sprawl’ over blueprints

COMMUNITY representatives in West Hill have called a public meeting over fears a blueprint for East Devon’s future will see the village swallowed up in an “urban sprawl”.

Residents in the village have been urged to have their say on East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) local development framework draft core strategy in West Hill Village Hall on October 8.

Civic leaders are anxious over proposals that could see up to 19,400 East Devon homes.

Fifty new homes have been allocated for West Hill in the strategy, but a ‘flexible boundary’ policy could see many more built, according to Councillor Claire Wright, who fears a flurry of large-scale, “speculative”, planning applications.

“We believe these proposals would cause communities to creep closer together, and one of the most beautiful districts in the entire country could resemble an urban sprawl,” said Cllr Wright.

“Provision of one hectare of employment land for every 250 homes will lead to business parks and industrial estates springing up, even in communities like West Hill.”

Mrs Wright has been joined by Councillors Roger Giles, Ray Bloxham, David Cox, and Jo Talbot to produce a flyer aimed at every West Hill home. They warn the strategy doesn’t give communities “freedom” to decide their own futures, could “water down” landscape protection policies leaving beauty spots open to development, and could see an increase in roads and traffic.

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A three-month public consultation over blueprints for the region for the next 15 years began earlier this month.