One view of the real purpose of GESP is to dig Exeter City Council out of its hole by moving some of the city’s prescribed housing requirements into other parts of Greater Exeter.
However, regardless of whether councils are part of the GESP or not, the required number of homes that need to be built remains the same
The investigative journal the Exeter Observer reports on the ‘opaque’ planning processes at Exeter:
An assembly of the great and the good described by Exeter City Council’s chief executive, Karime Hassan, as “conscientious, talented people from all backgrounds who want to work in the best interests of the city” has been meeting in private in recent months. Its membership is unelected, it does not publish its discussions or decisions and it is taking responsibility for major policies which will determine Exeter’s future.
The city council has had a predilection for such bodies for some time: recent arrangements have apparently included the Greater Exeter Visioning Board, the Exeter Local Transport Steering Board and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan working group. Each of these other attempts at collaboration, however opaque, have largely been driven and constituted by local authorities. This new initiative goes much further in its scope, its membership and its agenda…
It seems, then, that the same ‘opaque’ processes have been happening with another ‘local authority driven’ initiative – namely the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan.
And as the Exeter Observer reported over a year ago, this is actually all about digging Exeter out of a hole:
The whole idea of GESP was that the participating councils’ local plans would be guided by GESP decisions. The slipping timetable has caused particular difficulties for Exeter, whose local plan does not demonstrate a five year supply of land for housing – a requirement of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework – and is thus highly vulnerable to challenge by developers who want to build what they like where they like.
Indeed, one view of the real purpose of GESP is to dig Exeter City Council out of its hole by moving some of the city’s prescribed housing requirements into other parts of Greater Exeter. This is borne out by a report to the city council’s Executive on 10 July 2018 which stated: “However, there are elements of the Development Delivery Plan which need to follow on from the GESP, in particular the number and broad distribution of new homes and some other forms of development will be a GESP strategic decision.”
Exeter’s partners in the GESP seem to be getting wise to this, with East Devon’s strategic planning committee recommending withdrawal a fortnight ago:
This was followed by rumblings from Exeter’s second partner, Teignbridge, which had earlier voted to go ahead with the GESP:
And late last week, the cabinet of the third partner, Mid Devon District Council, proposed, by seven to one that it pull out of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan:
If GESP goes ahead it will mean Mid Devon will have an unfair share, far more than we are legally required or need to have, of new build homes. These new houses would decimate our rural communities and mean we are just part of a greater Exeter with no characteristics of our own. Lobby your Councillors to support our withdrawal and protect Mid Devon from unrealistic over development.
This has been confirmed on Devon Live:
Whilst Radio Exe asks the obvious question:
The Herald gives a little analysis and some hard truths. with another obvious question:
Does pulling out of the GESP mean fewer homes will have to be built?
No, regardless of whether councils are part of the GESP or not, the required number of homes that need to be built remains the same… If the GESP goes ahead, the numbers would be spread across the four districts, but if EDDC pulls out, it still has to build 900 homes a year within the district.
Many of the allocated sites will still be put forward through the revision of each of the councils’ Local Plans, with East Devon being recommended to immediately start the revision of its Local Plan if it pulls out of the GESP.