How top-down Government housing targets are distorting development in Devon – my first column in the new style ‘Devonshire’ magazine

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In my first bimonthly column for the new online-only Devonshire magazine, I take up the debate started by CPRE Devon’s excellent reports on Devon’s housing needs.

You’ll find the magazine here – my column, We Need To Talk About Devon, is on pages 94 and 95.

CPRE Devon director, Penny Mills, also writes on page 32.

Disappointing response by DCC Cabinet to @cpredevon reports on housing need, but the issue will go to Council on 21st February

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The County Council’s leadership agreed an unhelpful recommendation on my motion to look at the implication of the Council for Preservation of Rural England’s recent reports for the Council’s policies relating to future development. Taking cover behind the fact that local planning authorities (like EDDC) are responsible for housing numbers, the Cabinet merely noted that the County’s role ‘is to ensure the necessary infrastructure is planned for’. This is a very narrow view of the DCC role as elsewhere it is made quite clear that we are a strategic partner in ventures like the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan. The recommendation is that ‘it is not necessary for DCC to commission work on the CPRE reports’ but I and others will challenge this at Council on 21st February.

I reminded Cabinet that this has cross-party support, with Hugo Swire having helped launch it and presented it to Government. The only other speaker was Labour leader, Rob Hannaford, who was under the mistaken impression that the CPRE is only concerned with rural areas and wants to prevent building of affordable housing in towns. I explained to him that nothing could be further from the truth – the reports advocate more social housing, concentrated in or near urban areas, but want to end the indiscriminate building of more houses for sale than are warranted by the growth in households, and government targets which encourage this.

The reports can be ordered by emailing info@cpredevon.org.uk

@cpredevon’s reports on housing need in Devon are probably the most important reports on the county in the last decade – it is essential they have wider circulation and are made available online

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The Devon branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England has published Devon’s Housing Need Evidence Report and A Review of Government Housing Policy & Its Impacts on DevonCPRE says of the first:

‘Launched at a packed seminar in Tiverton on 12th October 2018, this independent report by Opinion Research Services (ORS) provides the real facts about Devon’s housing needs. The comprehensive data includes housing projections, targets, costs and tenure, numbers planned and population trends across the entire County. This brand new CPRE Devon commissioned research cuts a swathe through official figures and, for the first time, reveals the truth about Devon’s REAL housing needs. It should be a valuable resource to anyone interested in housing throughout the County.’

The second report, by Dr Philip Bratby, is an equally crucial, evidence-based challenge to government policy as it affects Devon. Together, these reports show that centrally imposed targets grossly overstate need and are driving excessive and inappropriate development. We need to change course.

Hard copies are available here, for £36 and £10 respectively, or free if you join CPRE before 31st October (£36 per year). I understand that CPRE needs to recoup its costs, but I think (1) that copies should be supplied to all County and district councillors and parish councils, and (2) that they need to be made available online for the public to read.

Devon’s Real Housing Needs – How many new homes are REALLY needed in Devon? Important report by @cpredevon to be launched at Tiverton meeting on 12th October

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housingCPRE Devon says: Have you noticed how many new houses are being built everywhere in Devon? Do we need so many? What is the REAL underlying need? Brand new CPRE Devon commissioned research, cuts a swathe through official figures and, for the first time, reveals the truth about Devon’s real housing needs.

How many new homes are planned for your community and where? How many have already been built? How many are genuinely affordable? Who are the planned new houses actually for?

To objectively assess the situation, we commissioned an independent study undertaken by a leading research firm, ORS, (Opinion Research Services) and the evidence based findings are produced in a comprehensive report, to be launched at our seminar. The data includes housing projections, targets, costs and tenure, numbers planned and population trends across the entire county. The data should prove invaluable to anybody faced with an unwanted proposal in their community.

Please join us for this important opportunity to find out what the evidence says – How many new homes are really needed in Devon?


‘Why Government Housing Policy is Wrong for Devon’ – Dr Phillip Bratby

Devon Housing Needs Evidence – Report of Findings – Mr Jonathan Lee, ORS

Followed by questions and answers from the floor. Admission by ticket only. £5, to include refreshments. Book your place here (by the way, no need to pay £5 upfront, you can choose ‘pay at the door’ option)

CPRE Devon to produce report on housing needs, to help challenges to major development proposals

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CPRE (Council for Preservation of Rural England) Devon has commissioned an independent research firm to analyse all the statistics, facts and figures to help us understand what Devon’s housing needs really are.  This comprehensive report will be completed later this Spring.  They believe that the information which it will provide will be invaluable to those who may wish to challenge major new housing proposals in their communities. I will report when it’s published.