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New town in Culm Valley could meet demand for homes

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 24, 2013

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A NEW town could be created in Mid Devon under proposals set out in the latest draft of the Local Plan.

The district council last week published a report outlining possible sites for future development up to 2033.

One of two suggested for a new settlement of 3,000 homes is land to the east of Cullompton and east of Junction 28 of the M5, dubbed the East Cullompton Urban Extension.

An alternative area has been put forward in the plan, also in the M5 corridor. The site to the north of Willand, close to Junction 27 of the M5, could potentially accommodate 2,650 homes.

However, if approved, the new town would not be built for a 15 years.

The report sets out Mid Devon’s aim of meeting the district’s housing and employment requirements by providing 8,400 homes, or 420 a year over the period covered by the plan, from this year to 2033.

Around half of this number is already allocated in the existing Local Plan which runs to 2026, so the provision of a new town with a population of 3,000 could go a long way to meeting these targets.

Future employment will be provided around the Kingsmill Industrial Estate.

And the possible re-opening of Cullompton railway station is also addressed in the report, with a site south of Station Road also identified.

Building a new town would mark a departure from the council’s policy to this point of concentrating the majority of development in the three major towns of the district, Tiverton, Cullompton and Crediton.

Only one of the options will be taken forward in the final draft of the Local Plan, to be published in late 2014.

The council is set to begin consulting in January and February to hear the views of parish councils and local residents about the possible long-term sites which have been identified in the plan.

Considering the potential impact of a new town on Mid Devon, the report states: “Later in the plan period, due to land availability and environmental constraints, it becomes problematic to continue with a strategy that focuses the majority of development in the three main towns according to the current hierarchy of Tiverton-Cullompton-Crediton.

“A solution may be to direct long-term growth to a new community and there are two broad locations under consideration, each in close proximity to a motorway junction. “

Forward planners say the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment, compiled earlier this year, found these sites to be achievable in principle, while other potential large housing sites have been discounted.

However, they caution that this does not indicate that either the J27/Willand or J28/Cullompton will be considered “suitable for allocation in their present form”. The options in the plan are subject to change in light of the response from consultation.

Statistics show Mid Devon’s population has grown at a much faster rate over the past 20 years than England, the South West or Devon. According to the report, the population is also forecast to grow by 15,000 people between 2006 and 2031.

Cllr Richard Chesterton, who holds the planning and economic development portfolio on Mid Devon council’s ruling cabinet, said: “Far more sites have been identified in the report than will ever be allocated or come forward. We want to hear the views of local authorities and residents in Mid Devon on whether they want a new town for the district and if so, where it might be.”

Ray Ursell, chairman of Willand Parish Council, said the authority had not yet had an opportunity to fully consider the Local Plan document but the next meeting would take place in the first week of January.

The district council’s cabinet will discuss the Local Plan review options and are likely to approve the document for public consultation during February and March.

The council’s forward planning team say many sites will not be included in the next submission of the Local Plan which will be prepared and consulted on in October, 2014, to be followed by a public examination in early 2015.

Documents from the Local Plan can be viewed online at middevon.gov.uk and consultation on

the plans is due to take place in the New Year.

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