East Devon: Plans to expand the Clyst Valley Park are welcomed to ‘protect the countryside’

Proposals to double the amount of accessible space in Clyst Valley Regional Park will be put before East Devon residents, writes local democracy reporter Bradley Gerrard.

The park, effectively created by the Green Infrastructure Strategy in 2009, provides a buffer between Exeter and the countryside and, crucially, offers residents usable green space from nearby towns and villages in East Devon.

At present, 762 hectares (1,883 acres) is accessible but East Devon District Council has created plans to increase this by a further 740 hectares (1,828 acres) over 25 years – almost doubling the existing amount.

Under the proposals, a range of green spaces will be linked by greenways, or accessible routes through the countryside, for pedestrians and cyclists.

And less accessible areas will also be promoted in a bid to enhance the area’s biodiversity.

A large proportion of the regional park lies within the National Trust’s Killerton Estate, while 40 per cent of it is within a floodplain.

Members of the council’s strategic planning committee voted in favour of the plans going out to consultation, which should happen this month and last for six weeks.

Other key aspects of the proposals include the removal of some areas from the existing regional park boundary, including Cranbrook, Clyst St Mary and the Enterprise Zone where development has been implemented.

However, the proposals take into account the prospective new development south of Clyst Honiton and west of Aylesbeare.

The regional park expansion proposals say that the community between the A3052 and the A30 will include spaces and routes that will ultimately form part of the park, albeit these will be determined through a separate master plan.

A small number of sites within the current boundary are being promoted for development, and these are still being assessed.

Councillor Geoff Jung (Liberal Democrat, Woodbury and Lympstone), the portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, said he was a “great supporter” of the park and welcomed the expansion proposals.

“The park is designed to protect the countryside and improve access to it around the new towns,” he said.

“At the same time as we’re building new houses, we have to provide access to the countryside and this project does exactly that, so I hope Councillors support it.”

The strategic planning committee chair, Olly Davey (Green Party, Exmouth Town), also praised the plan’s inclusion of the new community and its links to the park.

“Given what Mr Freeman was saying about the new community and routes through it that will form part of the regional park, maybe for once we are getting those allocated first before the new development of homes,” he said.

“It looks like for once we’re getting that right, and we’ll make sure we get the other bits of the new community right in the same way.

“This is something members have often called for, and it looks like that will happen, so these plans are to be welcomed.”

Public consultation aims to protect the countryside in East Devon from ‘green wedge’ development