This letter has been sent to the Pullman’s newspapers by a highly-respected planning consultant, in response to an article in the latest edition of View from Axminster:
‘The announcement of further delays to the Local Plan by EDDC’s leader,
Paul Diviani, is quite incredible.
We are told to believe that these delays are “inevitable”, because were
the public to have sight of a housing needs report before the elections
in May the process “could be seen” as being politically motivated.
Could be seen by whom Mr Diviani? The report itself certainly won’t be
seen by anyone except those select few in EDDC, who then take it upon
themselves to decide what the public should know and what they shouldn’t.
When EDDC presented the new Local Plan at the public inquiry a year ago,
last February, they considered that it was in a form acceptable to the
Inspector, who made it clear from Day 1 that it was anything but. A
clearer case of incompetence would be hard to imagine.
We were then assured that revised housing figures could be produced
within a matter of weeks. A year later, still we wait, now to be told,
with much hand wringing, that we must wait even longer because of the
remote possibility that some unspecified, unidentified persons may see
the process as “politically motivated”.
The only reason for withholding the housing needs report is that it is
likely that housing needs will be shown to be higher than the figures
presented by EDDC a year ago. The consequence of this is that villages
and communities in East Devon will be allocated higher housing figures
than previously. This is highly unlikely to go down to well with the
vast majority of communities in East Devon, some of which have already
seen proposals by developers to hugely increase housing on greenfield
sites (think of Feniton, Gittisham, and more recently Clyst St Mary).
If there is political motivation behind delaying the release of these
reports that can only come from the Tory majority on EDDC.
Finally, who benefits from this further delay? An unholy trinity of
landowners and developers, who stand to profit massively in the interim
period before a new Local Plan is in place, and last, but not least,
their chums on EDDC.