Leader doesn't think formula is right or fair
Teignbridge District Council has become the second of four administrations in the Greater Exeter area to sign up to consult on a blueprint for the region. Exeter has already signed up for consultation.
The plans are mired in controversy, with Teignbridge's leader saying the government's plans are not right, just or fair, and others believing that even more people will want to move to the area after the covid crisis.
The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan will provide the overall strategy and level of housing and employment land required across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge up to 2040.A minimum target of 2,663 homes per year, or 53,260 homes over the 20 year period, is required,
As well as outlining policies for how development should take place, it includes 39 sites where major housing or employment land could be allocated, although not all of the sites will be taken forward to the final version of the GESP.
Teignbridge's leaders heard that irrespective of whether Teignbridge was part of the GESP or not, the government housing targets require 760 new homes a year to be built, although being part of the GESP could reduce the numbers in Teignbridge with the other districts providing a greater share.
Cllr Gary Taylor, portfolio holder for planning, proposing that the council does agree to the consultation, said: “The numbers are significant but there is no additional burden placed on Teignbridge above the 760 mandated by the government formula.”
Leader of the council Cllr Gordon Hook, added: “I would ask everyone to face reality. This authority is restricted by government dictate. No one in the room believes that the housing formula is right, just, fair, or what we need locally, and I have made my position manifestly clear. We do not like the formula and the numbers imposed on us and would have it differently, but reality is we cannot do anything about it. We don’t like the idea of using good agricultural land and are looking for good brownfield site exploitation.”
He added that the numbers of houses required to be built in the region is set down by Central Government, and referring to the Conservatives General Election win last year, said: “In December, the public voted overwhelmingly for mass building.”
Newton Says No councillor Richard Daws though called on the Liberal Democrat administration to press the pause button on the GESP. He said: “We have voiced our concerns over housing numbers which are overstated, and the other major concern I have with GESP, is that we are entering a post-covid world with a pre-covid plan. I want to be a matter of public record than when the debris from covid is still flying in the air, I think it is reckless to proceed rather than pause as things will change in a way we can’t get our heads around and the council is responding as if things are normal.”
However Cllr Andrew McGregor said the post-covid world could lead to even more people wanting to live in the district if more people work from home, and so the demand for houses could be greater, not lower, in a post-covid world.
The executive unanimously agreed to put the GESP Draft Policies and Site Options consultation document out for consultation, and subject to approval by East Devon, and Mid Devon councils, the eight week consultation will take place between September 21 and November 16, with the responses feeding into a recommendations over which sites to take forward.
The GESP allocates 39 sites for development, although not all sites will be included in the final document. While 63,912 homes are required over the life of the plan, existing planning commitments – either unbuilt homes with planning permission or sites in local plans – amount to about 33,390 homes