ECA helps to protect Exmouth's last piece of employment land
The Planning Inspectorate dismissed the McCarthy and Stone appeal against the rejection of their plans to build a 59-bed care home complex on the land near Tesco’s in Exmouth this month. This piece of land is important as it is the last piece of land designated for employment in Exmouth and is of a sufficient size for a large office building.
Recognising that the Neighbourhood Plan was about to be voted on by Exmouth residents and on behalf of the Exmouth Civic Society and ECA, the opportunity was extended to Ian and Roy (do visit our About page for more information on who they are) by the Inspector to fully engage in the proceeding, rather than just making a statement. Ian and Roy explained that employment land had to be protected from any change of use, in order that jobs for the future for the community of Exmouth could be created and so encouraging the youth of Exmouth to stay in the area. They made it clear to the Inspector that the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan also insisted on the provision of maximum affordable housing in order to encourage young families to stay in the town, to give Exmouth a more balanced demography.
The hearing took some six hours and Roy and Ian were involved throughout. The Inspector very much took their comments on board and so they played a significant role in the Inspector’s final judgement, which was to refuse the appeal. The appeal was refused on the basis that it was not proven that the development sufficiently protected job opportunities and that the land was not properly marketed as employment land prior to its purchase. The land is now on the market again as employment land.
Since this decision, the Exmouth Neighbourhood Plan has been voted in by residents and finally “made” by East Devon District Council (EDDC). Now that we have a formally adopted vision for the town, the question that developers, the town council and EDDC will have to ask themselves is “does this fit with the Neighbourhood Plan?” So the community has the basis to press, as we did at the hearing, on specific points that will make a real difference.
We will certainly be keeping a close eye on how this land is marketed and any future development plans. We hope that this will show anyone interested in joining us the impact that we can have and will continue to have as long as we receive enough support from the community.