Futurehoods: Lympstone, East Devon
We’re taking you on the neighbourhood planning journey from the initial conversations right through area planning, community consultation, draft plans, examiners reports and the final referendum.
Discover the challenges, the unexpected issues and what makes a successful neighbourhood plan.
Located in the county of Devon, with a population of 2,046, is the village and parish centre of Lympstone. With a harbour on the River Exe, Lympstone is well known for its iconic Italianate clock tower, built in 1885 by W.H. Peters as a memorial to his wife. The parish is protected by the Green Wedge and Coastal Protection status of its southern boundary to maintain separation from Exmouth.
The decision to create a neighbourhood plan for the parish of Lympstone came out of the preparation for the Courtlands Cross Inquiry in January 2012. An inquiry was launched into a plan to build 154 homes in Lympstone following an appeal launched by developers Strategic Land Partnerships, who said that East Devon District Council failed to give notice of their decision on time.
There were particular concerns around urban sprawl and the encroaching housing spread from the larger town of Exmouth, whose population is 30,000+.
It was then that the neighbourhood planning working party determined that little guidance was able to be extracted from the current parish plan, and that a neighbourhood plan could give them the opportunity to establish their own policies and objectives for the parish of Lympstone.
The working party kept five points in mind through the planning process:
- Speed: the need to have a neighbourhood plan in place
- Community involvement: through focus groups and meeting
- Audit: the need to ensure that all objectives and policies can be substantiated by an audit trail
- Robustness: in putting forward an objective, policy or action, they questioned its legality
- Stakeholder interest: Identifying who the stakeholders are and what are their requirements.
The working team were careful to consider their neighbours: Exton, Woodbury, Brixington, Hulham and Exmouth, as well as the nearby Commando Training Centre Royal Marines – CTCRM. CTCRM are a major employer of civilian labour and many ex-Royal Marines and serving Royal Marines live within their community, with a particular focus on the officers and their families – with their children taking up approximately 1/3 of the total students at the local primary school.The community consultation takes on two stages:
- consultation for the draft plan
- consultation under regulation 14
Some of the communication strategies included:
- Parish Council ‘Public sessions’: where any member of the community can raise a topic for the Chairman or designated councillor to respond to. Minutes are posted on the Parish Council notice boards.
- Lympstone Herald: The Lympstone Herald is a free parish booklet distributed free of charge to every home in the parish.
- Lympstone website: the Parish Council sponsors the website along with a small amount of advertising.
- Lamp posts: There is a long tradition of Lympstone residents, clubs and societies posting their events on village lamp posts.
At the beginning of the process, a launch meeting was held at the Village Hall, which 70 people attended. The Working Party then asked the attendees to volunteer for a series of focus groups, which happened from June – September 2012 around the themes of environment, infrastructure, housing and community. Much of the content from these focus groups made up the content of the plan.
Village Boundary Line Review
In line with the Village Boundary Line Exercise (under EDDC regulations), the Working Party organised an Exhibition in the Village Hall to consult with the community. It covered:
- Any revision of the building boundary line
- Priority sites for the new housing development
- Suggestions for infrastructure development from new development
- The roles of EDDC and the Parish Council
- Further views on the neighbourhood plan.
Over two days, 122 people attended and 94 completed feedback forms. The working party reviewed this feedback and it informed the draft neighbourhood plan. From January – May 2013, the Working Party wrote the draft of the neighbourhood plan.
The six week consultation period commenced on 17 June, during which hard copies of the draft plan were printed and distributed and organisations were contacted and asked for feedback. An exhibition was held on 6 & 7 July to consult with local businesses and residents over a Friday evening and Saturday morning. The group employed an independent person to review all the responses and consolidate them into a report for the steering group.
Several further alterations to the plan followed, including an informal review by Planning Aid England.
Approval by the Parish Council
On 9 September, the draft Lympstone Neighbourhood Plan was presented to the Lympstone Parish Council to review the consultation, the responses and adopt the plan. The plan was adopted, 6 to 3 – however, there was a concern with the reasoning behind the three who voted against the adoption of the plan, as one was the Chairman of the Council. A final public exhibition was held for the plan on 21 & 22 September 2014, enabling visitors to see the changes made through consultation.
The full consultation appendix can be read here.
The Lympstone Neighbourhood Plan considers that good community is “envisaged as a perfect plait – the three strands of community, structure and environment intertwined to form harmony”.
The vision for Lympstone is:
“to maintain the balance and proportion of what we have, growing the strength of our established and interwoven neighbourhood by embracing the gentle and constant interweaving of new and old elements. Whilst accepting and recognising evolution and development, the community wish the parish to retain its unique and special character. Lympstone will remain a community, where people want to live and work, now and in the future. The community will meet the diverse needs of existing and future residents, be sensitive to our environment, and contribute to a high quality of life”.
The Parish intend to support this by:
- Sustainability of the parish and adopt EDDC Sustainability Objectives
- Values, principles, traditions and respect – in all activities by all parish bodies, cherish and promote these attributes
- Responsible development along with enhanced provision of amenities, activities and facilities
- Accessibility for all – maintain and improve transport, affordable housing and infrastructure
- Retention of our rural identity and independence from Exmouth, with no steps towards coalescence
- New development to be in line with the Village Design statement and all Development Management policies.
An informal review was carried out by a representative from Planning Aid England to ensure that the plan would meet ‘basic conditions’.
Examination of the plan will commence on 13 October 2014.
Once the plan successfully passes examination, it will then go to referendum. We will provide an update on the results of the referendum once they are in.
Lympstone’s future is looking bright – with a neighbourhood plan in place, any future changes or developments will be underpinned by a strategy planned with and for the community.