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Could new towns be built in East Devon?

Thursday, 24 June 2021 14:16

By Daniel Clark, local democracy reporter

New settlements suggested in East Devon

'Greenbrook' near Crealy amongst proposals

More than 350 sites have been put forward for potential development across East Devon, including three potential new towns or villages.

Among the submissions are three proposals for new settlements, in the west end of the district – a Clyst Valley Garden village on land south of Clyst St Mary and Clyst St George, land around Denbow Farm between the A30 and the A3052, and a site between Crealy Adventure Park and Greendale Business Park known as ‘Greenbrook’.

East Devon District Council received 359 site submissions as part of the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) process ahead of the review of the Local Plan which is underway.

Of the 359, 194 of those are new sites, while 165 were previously submitted to the council in 2017 when a call for sites as part of the now defunct Greater Exeter Strategic Plan process.

The call for locations provided the opportunity for individuals and organisations to submit sites they think have the potential to be developed for housing, economic or other uses.

East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committee has heard heard that residents across East Devon are split over how development should take place, the number and location of new homes to be built, and if another ‘Cranbrook-style new town’ should be built, leaving no consensus.

Ed Freeman, service lead for planning strategy and development management, told the committee that a more ‘West End’ focused approach to new housing development was the most popular with residents.

He added: “Those settlements with a higher population, a greater range and number of jobs, community facilities and shops, better connectivity, and serving a wide area, will be placed at the top of the settlement hierarchy. Other, smaller settlements have fewer jobs and facilities, and therefore perform a more local but still important role – these settlements will be grouped lower down the hierarchy."

Councillors had previously heard that the north-west quadrant of the district, between the north of Exmouth and west of Ottery St Mary, was the least constrained part of the district for accommodating growth and would be the ‘logical’ location for development to take place.

No decision as to whether a new town, a series of new villages, or expanding existing villages would be the preferred option for development has yet been taken, with the villages of Poltimore, Huxham, Clyst St Mary, Clyst St George, Ebford, West Hill, Woodbury​, Woodbury Salterton, Exton and Farringdon most likely to be expanded further, based on them being close to existing infrastructure.


The first potential new town would be for a new ‘garden village’ on land around Clyst St Mary and Clyst St George. The site has been submitted as part of the HELAA process, extending north of the existing Clyst St George settlement to around Winslade Park, before expanding to the east towards Crealy Adventure Park.

The second proposal for a new town is at Denbow Farm. It covers an area of 660 hectares largely of rolling farmland extending from the A30 to the A3052, before adjoining the Hill Barton industrial area to the south.

It covers the parishes of Clyst Honiton, Sowton, Farringdon, Aylesbeare and could see 10,000 homes built, as well as employment land provided, and could deliver a new route connecting the A30 to the A3052, a self-sufficient, mixed-use garden community and a regional hub for sports.

The third is on land south of the A3052 between the Greendale Business Park and Crealy Adventure Park – the proposed ‘Greenbrook’ development. The map shows that the entirety of the land between the two sites is included, with it also stretching slightly further south towards the edge of Woodbury Salterton.

As part of the Local Plan consultation, suggestions had also been made that one or more new towns should be developed, including land at Axehayes, west of Hill Barton Business Park, Clyst Valley Garden Village in vicinity of Clyst St George, at Denbow Farm, and along the M5 between Cullompton and Cranbrook all being mentioned, as well as a whole new town redevelopment on the Smeatharpe Airfield site.

But other responses said Cranbrook shows that the new town approach does not work as the promised amenities have not happened, and that a joint plan with Exeter should be produced covering Cranbrook and the West End with numbers kept separate from the remainder of East Devon, to reflect that this area is meeting Exeter’s housing need.


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