Council concerns over regional development

PUBLISHED: 17:40 29 July 2008 | UPDATED: 09:24 10 June 2010

DEVON County Council today (Tue 29 July) expressed its deep concern over the changes being proposed by Government to the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West.

DEVON County Council today (Tue 29 July) expressed its deep concern over the changes being proposed by Government to the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears, published the proposed changes to the plan for the South West last week marking the start of a 12 week consultation.

The changes now being proposed provide for significant additional levels of development for the Exeter Housing Market Area, including an increase in growth in Exeter by 25%. Major additional growth at Newton Abbot is proposed to double to 8,000.

A further increase in growth rates is proposed in Plymouth, although the scale of development planned for Torbay has been reduced from 20,000 to 15,000.

Elsewhere in Devon, 10,700 extra homes proposed for Torridge District after an Examination in Public into the RSS held last summer, have been retained - despite the concerns expressed to the Secretary of State by Devon County Council in January.

Councillor Humphrey Temperley, the County Council's Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Regional Affairs, said: "The changes proposed by the Secretary of State represent a major challenge to local authorities and other agencies concerned with the future development of Devon. While the County Council is fully supportive of the need to improve the supply of affordable housing for Devon's residents, and the need to enhance the area's economic performance, the Government must recognise that these objectives can only be realised if essential supporting infrastructure is put in place.

"I wrote to the Secretary of State earlier this year to express my concern about the failure of the RSS to address the issue of infrastructure delivery. The Secretary of State clearly shares this concern and has now proposed that further urgent work be undertaken to assess infrastructure needs, priorities and funding. I welcome this recognition, but I remain deeply concerned about how the delivery of new development is going to be supported by a phased programme of fully funded infrastructure investment.

"Within Devon, the development proposals for the Exeter and Newton Abbot areas will require major investment in transport and other infrastructure, and the regeneration of the Torbay area is directly linked to the delivery of the South Devon Link Road. Infrastructure is also key to the delivery of the Sherford new community near Plymouth, and the Secretary of State's proposals to add significantly to development within the city only serve to emphasise its importance.

"The scale of growth proposed for the Torridge area will require a rate of new housing development well in excess of anything achieved in the recent past and, in a relatively remote rural area with few larger towns, it is hard to see how this scale of development can be delivered in a sustainable way - not least in terms of the availability of decent jobs, public transport and accessibility for residents."

The County Council, in partnership with the District Councils, is currently undertaking extensive studies of infrastructure needs - particularly in Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge and it is anticipated that this work will inform any assessments undertaken at the regional level.

Over the next few weeks the County Council will liaise closely with other authorities in the area in order to develop its formal response to the changes proposed by the Secretary of State. The deadline for comments is 17 October.

Once the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West is approved by Government it will provide the basis for which all local authority development plan documents will need to conform.

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