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White paper response

Council responds to Government’s proposals on planning reform

Exeter City Council has formally responded to the Government’s White Paper on planning reform.

The Government has promised ‘the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War’. 

While the Council is well positioned, through its Liveable Exeter Garden City Programme, to work with whatever changes the Government introduces, it has highlighted elements of the proposals that are not in the best interests of the city.

The Liveable Exeter Garden City programme gives the Council a strong platform to deliver an inclusive, healthy and sustainable city. The programme would see 12,000 homes built on largely brownfield sites and supported by community infrastructure. The vision is not just to build new homes, but to create great neighbourhoods, to address the congestion we see in the city and to deliver the net zero carbon agenda.

Cllr Emma Morse, Lead Councillor for City Development, said:

“Local residents, communities and elected members need to be involved in making the planning decisions that affect them locally. But the Government proposes to ‘streamline’ the planning application process, reducing community consultation. This is not in the interests of our community or of delivering neighbourhoods where people want to live.”

Cllr Morse said community infrastructure and infrastructure that addresses congestion in the city, is key to delivering the Exeter 2040 vision.

There is concern that the new proposed ‘Infrastructure Levy’ would actually reduce the money available to deliver necessary infrastructure. If Infrastructure Levy revenue does not rise, there is little hope of delivering the sustainable communities that the Government promotes.

Cllr Morse added:

“The Government is also proposing to stop Council’s from delivering affordable housing on smaller development sites.  In an area where affordable homes are much needed this can’t be right. 

“Exeter has declared a Climate Emergency and is focusing its efforts on addressing this.  However, you will find little mention of this in the Government’s consultation. The proposals lack ambition in relation to reduction of carbon emissions and do not fit with Exeter’s ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“Furthermore, the proposals could also weaken environmental protections, will not reverse nature’s decline and fail to integrate nature into people’s lives.  This consultation appears to miss an important opportunity to identify ways in which Council’s and the Government can respond effectively to the climate and ecological crises.” 

The Government is encouraged to take on board the issues raised in the Council’s consultation response and to ensure that the final changes to the planning system will result in good, well designed, sustainable development which will provide for the needs of the local community. 

Exeter City Council’s full consultation response is available to view in the following documents:

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Last updated 8 November 2022