Exeter Observer briefing

New Exeter local plan

A consultation on the outline draft version of the new Exeter local plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040, is taking place this autumn.

It begins on 26 September and runs for ten weeks until 5 December.

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.

It is intended to facilitate the Liveable Exeter property development scheme, and the Exeter Development Fund which is intended to deliver it, by providing a scheme-focussed “vision and framework for the future development of the city”.

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

Exeter’s SPDs 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 evidence base also supports and informs local planning policy development.

The timetable for the preparation of the new local plan is set out in the 2021 Local Development Scheme:

  • September 2021: an initial consultation framed the content and scope of the plan
  • September 2022: the resulting outline draft plan is published for a public consultation running for ten weeks from 26 September to 5 December
  • February 2023: a revised detailed draft plan (the “publication” version) will be published for formal comments (“representations”) on its legal compliance and soundness
  • June 2023: the resulting detailed draft final plan will be submitted to the planning inspectorate with formal comments and supporting evidence
  • October 2023: a planning inspector will examine the submissions, hold plan examination hearings, propose changes (which may entail further consultation) then produce a final report
  • June 2024: the final plan will be adopted.

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

Plan preparation progress is set out in annual monitoring reports, while periodic statements set out the city’s five year housing land supply position.


At the same time as Exeter prepares it new local plan, national planning system reform is on the way, based on ideas which survived the failure of Robert Jenrick’s 2020 planning white paper.

The government published its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in May, parts of which it claimed would give “local leaders and communities the tools they need to make better places”.

The Town and County Planning Association disagreed, describing it as a “decisive shift of power to Whitehall” which includes the removal of existing rights in relation to the planning process and new powers for the government to change the system through secondary legislation and override local planning policy in decision-making.

The Local Government Association has published a useful analysis of the bill’s planning provisions.

New detailed design codes are also expected, which can be used to set stringent standards in much greater detail than planning policy documents.

They can cover environmental and energy efficiency standards, walking and cycling infrastructure specifications and public realm requirements, among many other development delivery details, and are expected to come into force before the new Exeter Local Plan is adopted.

The levelling-up bill was expected to reach royal assent in spring 2023, with secondary legislation to follow in 2024 and a transition period to allow “new style local plans” to be “delivered and adopted in waves” scheduled for completion by 2027.

However, the bill’s status is currently unclear, following the election of the new Prime Minister and her appointment of yet another secretary of state, the eighth holder of the post under the current administration.

Nevertheless Simon Clarke, the new secretary of state, is expected to continue with planning system reform, probably with more radical zeal than his immediate predecessors.

The new chancellor’s “growth plan” appears to confirm the government’s intention to turn the planning system upside down after all, or at least alter it so much that the existing new Exeter local plan will need significant revision before it is submitted to the planning inspectorate for examination.

More detail is expected later this autumn, but the government’s new plan makes multiple references to planning system liberalisation intended to accelerate development.


This briefing was last updated on 26 September 2022 and is work in progress. Please get in touch with any corrections or suggestions for additional content.

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