BRIEFINGS PLANNING & PLACE

City council holds consultation on full draft of new Exeter Local Plan, set to guide development to 2040

Second major consultation begins as government introduces sweeping national planning system reforms including transfer of powers to Whitehall and changes to scope of local plans and local plan-making processes.

Exeter city council Exeter local plan Liveable exeter Planning policy Public consultation

, updated

Exeter City Council is holding a public consultation on the full draft version of the new Exeter Local Plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040.

It follows an initial “issues” consultation held in autumn 2021, and a longer consultation on the outline draft version of the plan which took place at the end of last year.

Responses were invited via a dedicated website which encourages respondents to use emoticons and choose from pre-selected options to express their views, alongside per-policy text boxes.

The council received just under 4,000 responses to this consultation. Emma Morse, the city councillor responsible for the new local plan, says the responses were “integral” to developing the full draft version of the plan, which contains twice as many policies as the outline draft version.

It includes what the council describes as “the vision for the city”, alongside planning policies and potential development sites.

The council is inviting responses to the current draft of the plan by the same methods.

It is also possible to upload PDF and image responses, enabling residents and businesses to address the SPD as a whole, or in selective parts, as well as the submission of comments or ideas that do not fit into the council’s framework.

The council says it would prefer people to follow its prescriptive approach, which encourages simple feedback and addresses one policy at a time. A printable consultation response form is also provided which reflects the same structure.

The plan is accompanied by an evidence base comprising several dozen documents which address plan-related issues including the city’s carbon footprint, local housing and employment needs, the availability of development land and landscape sensitivity.

These vary widely in relevance and quality. A September 2017 retail study and some design sketches dating back to 2011 are both included while Exeter City Futures’ Net Zero Exeter plan is presented alongside a University of Exeter study that largely discredits it.

Consultation response options New Exeter Local Plan consultation response options

Feedback is also being invited on an updated sustainability appraisal and a revised habitats regulation assessment, both of which replace a similar reports produced for last year’s outline draft plan consultation.

These attempt to evaluate the plan’s social, economic and environmental impact on Exeter and its impact on internationally important biodiversity sites in and around the city, such as the River Exe estuary.

There are other additions to the new local plan evidence base since the outline draft consultation.

These include University of Exeter studies of heat networks and renewable energy generation potential and a note on energy and carbon standards.

They also include interim and final area economic development needs assessments, a “Liveable Water Lane” development design proposals summary and a playing pitch strategy that was adopted by the council at the end of last year.

There have been some amendments to the development sites proposed in the plan between the outline and full draft versions.

Planning permission has since been granted on two of the sites, and two of the council’s Liveable Exeter brownfield sites have been withdrawn: Sandy Gate and the West Gate site at Exe Bridges. Some residential site boundaries have also been revised.

Employment sites have been added at the university’s St Luke’s campus, the Toby Carvery at Middlemoor and two sites in Newcourt. None were included in the outline draft of the plan.

High-resolution maps that show the proposed site designations are also provided. These show citywide and city centre land allocations in detail.

New Exeter Local Plan full draft citywide proposals map

The council is holding a series of public exhibitions at which planning officers are available to answer questions on the plan.

It ran fourteen such events, covering every electoral ward in the city, during last year’s outline draft consultation and has so far announced nine this time.

These run until 12 December, although the full draft plan consultation remains open through the holidays until 15 January next year.

The council has simultaneously opened consultations on two other new planning policy documents, a Water Lane Supplementary Planning Documentand a domestic extension and alterations Supplementary Planning Document.

Both these consultations run until 4 December. A single additional public exhibition dedicated to the Water Lane proposals is being held from 1-7pm on Monday 6 November at Exeter Custom House on Exeter Quay.

However council officers are available to answer questions about all aspects of local planning policy at all the public exhibitions below.

Printed copies of all the council’s planning policy consultation documents can be viewed in the reception area at the Civic Centre and in libraries across the city.

Any queries can be directed to the council planning policy team at [email protected] or on 01392 265080.

The new Exeter local plan will replace the city’s 2012 Core Strategy and the policies saved from the 1995-2011 Exeter Local Plan First Review when it is adopted.

County mineral and waste plans also form part of Exeter’s existing planning policy framework, as do Supplementary Planning Documents which provide additional guidance.

Exeter’s Supplementary Planning Documents will be reviewed in the context of emerging Exeter local plan policies as well as ongoing changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, but not directly as part of the new local plan development process.

Neighbourhood plans, produced by local groups, also form part of planning policy frameworks. Exeter’s includes one such plan which covers the St James area.

An existing evidence base also supports and informs current local planning policy development.

New Exeter Local Plan full draft city centre proposals map

The timetable for the preparation of the new local plan is set out in the Local Development Scheme, which was last updated in June this year.

Plan preparation progress is set out in annual monitoring reports (one covering 2022-23 is due by the end of this year) while periodic statements set out the city’s five year housing land supply position.

Only those who submit formal comments at the revised detailed draft plan publication stage can attend and take part in plan examination hearings.

New Exeter local plan graphic The council says the “Exeter Plan” is “the new name” for the new Exeter Local Plan. This appears to imply it will provide an overarching strategy for the city when adopted. This is not the case.

National planning system reforms based on ideas which survived the 2020 planning white paper have been on their way via the government’s 2022 Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill at the same time as the council has been drafting the new Exeter Local Plan.

The bill received Royal Assent yesterday after extensive parliamentary ping-pong over its final content, and is now an Act of Parliament.

This means that a host of new laws affecting the planning system have just come into force, three days after the council consultation opened, and the government is now expected to make sweeping changes to the National Planning Policy Framework in the near future.

Mandatory authority-wide design codes are to be introduced, a new approach to developer contributions is to replace the current Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy regimes, and “environmental outcomes reports” will take the place of EU environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments.

The “duty to co-operate” has been removed, compulsory purchase order and development corporation powers have been extended and local councils which have a local plan that is less than five years old will no longer have to maintain a five-year supply of housing land.

Prospective changes also include the replacement of neighbourhood plan-making with more accessible community “neighbourhood priorities” powers and the introduction of a “street votes” system.

But they limit the scope of local plans to “locally specific” matters and give government much greater powers in local planning decisions via National Development Management Policies which will not be subject to advance scrutiny in Parliament and which local councillors will have to follow in making individual planning decisions.

Dozens of other local planning authorities around the country have been putting local plan development on hold until the government’s planning system overhaul, which also includes major changes to local plan-making itself, is complete.

Three weeks ago a report to a meeting of Exeter City Council’s Executive committee identified “significant changes to the planning system” which “could affect the scope of the Exeter Plan” but simply said they would be “taken into consideration in the emerging plan”.

Major changes have already been made between the outline draft and full draft versions of the new Exeter Local Plan.

Whether the version that is now out for consultation will require further significant revision to conform with national planning system reforms before its publication version is produced and submitted for inspection, and how many of those reforms will actually take place, is not yet clear.


Exeter Observer will examine the full draft of the new Exeter Local Plan as the consultation takes place.

We’ll cover the plan’s evidence base, the policies it proposes and also look at what’s not in the plan but should be.

Subscribe to The Exeter Digest, our essential free email newsletter, to make sure you don’t miss our new Exeter Local Plan coverage.



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