Backing given for joint strategy to cover the Greater Exeter area

    The first stage of support for an alternative plan for how development across the Greater Exeter Area at a strategic level has been agreed. The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan was due to the be formal planning framework for development across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge, but following East Devon and then Mid Devon pulling out last summer, the GESP collapsed.


    The first stage of support for an alternative plan for how development across the Greater Exeter Area at a strategic level has been agreed.
    The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan was due to the be formal planning framework for development across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge, but following East Devon and then Mid Devon pulling out last summer, the GESP collapsed.

    However, the four councils did all agree that in place of the statutory GESP, there should be a non-statutory Joint Strategy covering strategy and infrastructure matters that affect the four areas.

    Mid Devon District Council’s cabinet – the first of the authorities to consider the new proposals – unanimously recommended to full council, when they met on Tuesday morning, to support the scope, resourcing, timetable and governance arrangements.

    The meeting heard that while the Joint Strategy would not be a formal planning document, nor would be setting policy, it was considered to be the most effective way of addressing the shared and inter-linked planning concerns that affect the four authorities, will help to fulfil legal Duty to Cooperate requirements, and will demonstrate continued joint-working by the authorities on planning matters, which is vital to help lever in funding to the area to support delivery, particularly for critical strategic infrastructure.

    It would also help to establish a recognisable ‘brand’ for the area, which may assist when making bids for Government (or other) infrastructure and delivery funding and will enable the local authorities to continue to share expertise and jointly commission relevant evidence to support their Local Plans, with potential cost saving and consistency benefits, councillors were told.

    Cllr Richard Chesterton, cabinet member for planning and economic regeneration, said: “This will provide an overarching framework to allow strategic planning and infrastructure issues to be considered, but won’t be a statutory document and won’t set the policies. This should not be a one off document but should be updated over time to reflect the content of local plans as they are adopted or infrastructure projects as they come forward.”
    The proposed timetable for preparing the first version of the Joint Strategy, subject to agreement by the four authorities, would see a consultation to prepare the strategy engaged this summer, member and stakeholder engagement in the early part of 2022, finalising the draft strategy by May/June 2022, consultation on the strategy in August 2022, before formal adopted in the Autumn of 2022.
    There are sufficient funds available in the previously agreed but unused GESP budget to take the Joint Strategy through the stages set out in the timetable, including public consultation, councillors were told.
    Tristan Peat, forward planning team leader, in his report, added: “The proposed arrangements are considered to offer the most appropriate means to deliver a non-statutory Joint Strategy in a timely manner, thereby helping to demonstrate and ensure continued successful joint planning across the sub-region.

    “The Joint Strategy could be prepared with an alternative scope and different timetable, resourcing and governance arrangements, however, in each case, the proposals are considered to offer the best option for demonstrating and delivering a shared approach to strategic planning matters such as economic and housing development, carbon reduction, digital connectivity, infrastructure delivery and habitats mitigation across the sub-region, whilst enabling each local planning authority to retain control over the scope and timetable of statutory Local Plans.”

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