Sunset towards Branscombe. Picture: East Devon District Council
East Devon walks can keep you active in the festive season - What's on - Sidmouth Herald
Indeed, the county of Devon is a very happy place to live:
Revealed: The happiest districts to live in Devon - Home - Sidmouth Herald
In fact, East Devon comes third in a list of places to move to within the UK:
The top 10 places here people most want to live in the UK are revealed | Daily Mail Online
In which case, if it is already "a place where people want to live and work, as well as a top destination for visitors to come and enjoy", the District Council does not need to 'make' it such a place - as laid out in the council Leader's New Year message:
“Our ambition is to be an outstanding council, which works together with local people to create great value services and an outstanding community, economy and environment for East Devon, both now and for future generations.
Everything we do is aimed at making East Devon a place where people want to live and work, as well as a top destination for visitors to come and enjoy.”
New Year message from East Devon District Council leader Councillor Paul Divani - View News
The District Council's Local Plan opens thus:
"We all know and love the outstanding environment of East Devon and this is one of the reasons so many of us choose to live here. From the spectacular Jurassic Coast, through the rural landscapes of our Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we are truly blessed with wonderful surroundings. The stunning landscapes of East Devon support a diverse range of wildlife habitats and species and sites of national and international wildlife importance. These natural features are complemented by a rich heritage of fine historic buildings that define our towns and villages.
The plan sets out how we will conserve and enhance these outstanding assets."
The key to this is of course what 'enhance' exactly means.
The introduction to the Local Plan continues:
"The environmental qualities of East Devon are, however, only one part of the story. Our District is, and must remain, a living and working area and one where visitors and residents can enjoy our open spaces. We therefore need to plan for new jobs and homes. Our plan shows where development should take place, how many homes are to be built and the sites where new jobs can be created to help our local communities thrive and prosper. We need to deliver a sustainable working legacy for future generations.
"In many parts of East Devon future growth will be modest in scale, but we are not shying away from big initiatives. In East Devon’s West End we are planning for major strategic world-class development. Development at Cranbrook is now underway and efforts in delivering this selfsufficient, low-carbon new town, the first stand-alone settlement in Devon since the Middle Ages, have won national acclaim. A sustainable community located close to real employment opportunities, among them a significant number of highly-skilled jobs, will be an exemplar for green travel. Other major initiatives that we are tackling include the expansive regeneration of the coastal resorts of Exmouth and Seaton and promoting housing and commercial development in other towns."
One year on and this is not very convincing.
"major strategic world-class development: selfsufficient, low-carbon new town":
There are questions around the promise that is Cranbrook:
Futures Forum: What makes an eco-town?
Axminster and Cranbrook – slums of the future says Councillor Hull whilst Councillor Moulding says – nothing | East Devon Watch
"the expansive regeneration of the coastal resort of Exmouth":
There is the disaster unfolding on the Exmouth seafront:
EDDC majority turn their backs on the public yet again | Save Our Sidmouth
Exmouthians and the recent full council meeting – not happy … | East Devon Watch
Bay FM interview: Skinner (EDDC) v MacAllister (SES) | East Devon Watch
"promoting commercial development in other towns":
Recent threads on Streetlife show that Sidmouth is not impressed with the employment land provision for Sidford in the Local Plan:
Streetlife | What will we end up with?
Streetlife | Can they really get away with it?
Streetlife | Sidford Fields
These are clearly not 'enhancements'.
Having said that, the District Council is right to say that "We need to plan for new jobs and homes. We need to deliver a sustainable working legacy for future generations."
The problem is how to get there - and the District's towns and communities are currently putting together their own neighbourhood plans to put flesh on the aspirations set out in the Local Plan:
"Our plan shows where development should take place, how many homes are to be built and the sites where new jobs can be created to help our local communities thrive and prosper."
And to finish on a positive note, the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan, working within the framework of the Local Plan, should help the Town and District Councils in its desire to "conserve and enhance these outstanding assets" of East Devon:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: New survey for the Valley's youth >>> how to keep young people in the Sid Valley