‘Linked villages’ idea for East Devon in plan to build 57,000 homes in Greater Exeter area

A ‘network of linked villages’ could be created in East Devon after the idea was backed by council strategy chiefs. 

Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon could all form part of the concept – and £50,000 has been set aside to progress it.

The notion for the north-west of the district, referred to as Clyst Villages, will be explored as part of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP).

As part of this, East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Strategic Planning Committee this week unanimously recommended to cabinet that Exeter and East Devon Garden Communities status should be supported.

The GESP, set for adoption in 2022, will lay out where housing developments of 500 homes or more could go.

A target of 57,000 new properties across the Exeter City, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge district council areas by 2040 has been set.

Across the Greater Exeter area, 2,661 new homes a year will need to be built – with 885 in East Devon, 777 in Teignbridge, 636 in Exeter and 363 in Mid Devon.

Potential locations for large developments are due to be earmarked by June 2020.

EDDC’s Strategic Planning Committee backed principles for growth in the area to the north of Exmouth and to the west of Ottery St Mary in September last year.

No decision has been taken as to whether a new town, a series of new villages, or expanding existing villages would be the preferred option.

‘Garden communities’ status makes the area eligible for Government funding. In May, £750,000 was awarded to explore development opportunities, with around £50,000 granted to East Devon.

Cllr Mike Allen said: “With the Exeter and East Devon Garden Communities bid, Exeter is getting 12,000 homes, but, between the rest of us, we have to divvy up 8,000 homes.

“It is important to look at where the Clyst Villages development will go, as I am very concerned about what is an excellent idea doesn’t get hijacked into allocation of land into places where we don’t want it. “

Cllr Philip Skinner added: “We are going to have the housing numbers whether we like it or not, and we cannot put off and delay this as there is a much bigger vision than just focusing on that.

“This is a really exciting project and I hope people grasp it with the enthusiasm that I have so we get the good things for the area that we live in.

“This is an extremely important document that we should be signing up to this now and I am bang up for seeing this comes forward in the right way.”

Cllr Mike Howe, chairman of EDDC’s development management committee, said that the eventual GESP would have to be agreed by the full council.

He added: “If we don’t like it then we can reject it. It will throw chaos into our planning system, but it is our choice when we see the documents to say yes or no as a council.

“If we don’t do the GESP, we will have to do the allocations for the new housing in the Local Plan. The GESP brings it together across the district and we can work together on joint infrastructure.

“The work has to be done anyway, so let us try and get the best for the area as if we don’t do it then we probably won’t get the funds for the area, as much as I don’t like this.”

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