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Council welcomes scrapping of 'impossible' housebuilding targets

By Philippa Davies

5th Jan 2021 | Local News

Hundreds more new homes would have been built in East Devon under the plans. Picture: Pxhere
Hundreds more new homes would have been built in East Devon under the plans. Picture: Pxhere

East Devon District Council has welcomed the shelving of 'illogical' Government plans to increase the number of new homes that must be built in the area.

The proposals involved changes to the housebuilding targets for each district, and would have seen new house numbers rise from 928 to 1,614 every year in East Devon.

Local authorities were consulted about the plans last August, and East Devon councillors said the proposals 'lacked any rhyme or reason'.

They raised concerns that the target would be 'impossible' to achieve without putting protected landscapes and wildlife habitats at risk, and also pointed out the immense pressure the increased population would put on roads, schools, hospitals and other services.

In a report to the strategic planning committee meeting in September, councillors said that there appeared to be 'no logic' to the Government's proposed approach, other than to deliver 300,000 homes nationally per year.

'I am massively relieved', says local councillor

The Government has now published a response to the consultation, saying it has decided to scrap the proposed changes and keep the way it calculates the number of homes that must be built in each area unchanged.

Councillor Dan Ledger, the district council's portfolio holder for strategic planning, said: "This is great news and I am massively relieved that we do not now need to plan for an impossibly high number of new homes in the district for no good reason.

"Instead we can focus on delivering a new Local Plan which delivers an appropriate balance between protecting everything that makes East Devon so special while delivering the new homes and jobs that our communities need."

The Government will however be increasing housing numbers by 35 per cent in the top 20 urban areas in the country in order to deliver more homes on previously developed or brownfield land.

It means only Plymouth and Bristol in the south west will now see an increase in housing numbers as a result of this change.

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