Exeter to rethink traveller pitches as core strategy approved

Exeter City Council has become the latest local authority to have its core strategy planning document approved by an inspector, despite having to make changes to its policy on gypsy and traveller sites.

The blueprint, which will guide planning decisions until 2026, proposes up to 60 hectares of additional employment land in the city and more than 12,000 additional homes.

The majority of the additional housing would be located on the eastern side of Exeter at Monkerton/Hill Barton and Newcourt. Another 500 homes are also planned to the south of Alphington.

But the location and need for planned gypsy and traveller sites at Monkerton and Newcourt became a hotly contested topic at the core strategy inquiry.

The council has been searching for suitable gypsy and traveller sites over recent years without any success and had outlined the strategic location of Newcourt and Monkerton/Hill Barton for such sites.

But inspector Jill Kingaby noted that this proved very unpopular with developers and local people and said that there should be additional public consultation and scrutiny to select the most appropriate sites.

She deleted the reference to provision of 25 gypsy and traveller pitches relating to Monkerton and Newcourt and said this should give the council’s forthcoming gypsy and traveller site allocations development plan document "a stronger role in looking in greater detail at local need and identifying suitable sites over a wider area".

"More collaborative working and engagement of the stakeholders, including the local gypsy and traveller community, is needed to ensure that an appropriate level of provision is achieved on the best sites," she stated.

Council leader Pete Edwards said: "The issue of gypsy and traveller sites has caused considerable controversy. I will ask the council to accept the inspector's recommendation that there should be further consultation.

"The existing two preferred sites that are presently identified for gypsy and traveller pitches in the Monkerton/Hill Barton and Newcourt masterplans will no longer be safeguarded and can be released for other uses."

The inspector also recommended two other changes to the strategy. She called for the need to review the document should housing land not come forward quickly enough and the removal of a specific employment allocation at Ibstock Brickworks in Pinhoe, which she thought was too specific a location for such a strategic level plan.

Exeter’s lead councillor for sustainable development and transport Rachel Sutton said: "This report is very good news for the city. It reaffirms the council's belief that the provisions of the core strategy represent a sound and practical basis for the planning of Exeter for the next fifteen years. This will ensure a carefully planned future for the city rather than an ad hoc response to development proposals."

The council intends to formally adopt the core strategy in February, joining the 30 per cent of local authorities in England who have an adopted core strategy.

The inspector's report and core strategy can be viewed here

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Join the conversation with PlanningResource on social media

Follow Us:
Planning Jobs