Work on an alternative plan for how development across the Greater Exeter Area is set to continue, despite the end of the GESP.

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan was due to the be formal planning framework for development across Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon and Teignbridge, but following East Devon and then Mid Devon pulling out over the summer, work has ceased.

Teignbridge District Council’s executive on Tuesday (November 3) recommended to full council that they formally withdraw the process as well, but that in principle, support is still given for a joint non-statutory plan, to include joint strategy and infrastructure matters between the four authorities.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Gary Taylor, executive member for planning, said that while this ends the ‘lockstep partnership’ between the councils, there were still vital issues that affect the whole area and therefore can be effectively considered in a strategic, cross-boundary manner.

He said that these issues included that the collective authorities comprise a functional economic area and form an extensive housing and travel to work area, and that the wider area also faces common issues such as the need to deliver greater numbers of homes, constraints on infrastructure, the need to respond to the climate emergency, achieve net zero carbon development and increase habitat creation; and the need to improve accessibility for urban and rural areas by widening digital connectivity.

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The proposals would provide a co-ordinated response to the area’s strategic economic, climate, housing, environmental and infrastructure issues and help to secure central government investment, but as a non-statutory plan, it would not be subject to statutory consultation or examination and therefore would be faster to prepare and more able to respond to changing circumstances.

Cllr Taylor added that this would still be better than purely acting independently, and that much of the effort and expenditure for the GESP process would still be relevant for the review of Teignbridge’s Local Plan that has begun.

Agreement of details of the scope of the plan, a timetable for its production, the resources required, and governance arrangements, will be agreed at a later date.