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2014 East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected as “unsound with serious evidential failings”

… and there are serious questions as to how this happened.

The Leader of the District Council does not seem to be too worried by the Inspector’s remarks on the draft Local Plan:

Futures Forum: East Devon draft Local Plan is rejected ….. but the Leader is “relaxed about the extra work” that will have to be done ….. or “operating in purely imaginary worlds” …..

But the initial reaction to the news that the draft is ‘unsound’ was not so easy-going:

Futures Forum: Public Examination of the New East Devon Local Plan … report published today Thurs 3rd April …

Several players are asking “why wasn’t something done sooner?”

“Unsound”: Government inspector’s “disastrous” verdict on East Devon District Council’s Local Plan | Exeter Express and Echo

From the perspective of the Vision Group for Sidmouth, the question must also be asked – why has it taken so long to put together a draft Local Plan?

To quote from the founding mission statement of the VGS, on its home page:

The original local poll in 2005 confirmed that residents wish to maintain the area’s distinctive character while ensuring that future changes will be sustainable and underpinned by a vibrant local economy.  We will commend the residents’ vision to the Local Development Framework and work to enhance and improve the area’s amenities where possible. Vision Group for Sidmouth – Home

In other words, the VGS has shadowed the work of the District Council in determining sound input for the LDF – which was to become the draft Local Plan. This has been over NINE years. Can it really have been so many years and so much ‘consultation’ and so much work – only for the finished article to be so roundly rejected by the Inspector?

The responses have been damning:

In the Thickett of it | East Devon Alliance

East Devon District Council Feniton CPRE Green fields vulnerable after local plan declared unsound | Western Morning News

The Vision Group is part of the umbrella Save Our Sidmouth – which, together with the SVA, Chamber, Hospitality Assn and KRA, has sought to ‘commend the residents’ vision’ to the draft Local Plan. The SOS will continue in these efforts:

Save Our Sidmouth