Devon County Council has expressed its deep concern over the changes being proposed by the Government to the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears, published the propo

Devon County Council has expressed its deep concern over the changes being proposed by the Government to the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears, published the proposed changes to the plan for the South West last week, marking the start of a 12 week consultation. The changes now being proposed provide for significant additional levels of development for the Exeter Housing Market Area, including an increase in growth in Exeter by 25 per cent. Major additional growth at Newton Abbot is proposed to double to 8,000.A further increase in growth rates is proposed in Plymouth, although the scale of development planned for Torbay has been reduced from 20,000 to 15,000. Elsewhere in Devon, plans for 10,700 extra homes in the Torridge District have been retained - despite the concerns expressed to the Secretary of State by Devon County Council in January. Councillor Humphrey Temperley, the County Council's Executive Member for Strategic Planning and Regional Affairs, said: "The changes proposed by the Secretary of State represent a major challenge to local authorities and other agencies concerned with the future development of Devon. "The scale of growth proposed for the Torridge area will require a rate of new housing development well in excess of anything achieved in the recent past and, in a relatively remote rural area with few larger towns, it is hard to see how this scale of development can be delivered in a sustainable way - not least in terms of the availability of decent jobs, public transport and accessibility for residents."The County Council, in partnership with the District Councils, is currently undertaking extensive studies of infrastructure needs - particularly in Exeter, East Devon and Teignbridge and it is anticipated that this work will inform any assessments undertaken at the regional level.Over the next few weeks the County Council will liaise closely with other authorities in the area in order to develop its formal response to the changes proposed by the Secretary of State. The deadline for comments is 17 October. Once the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West is approved by Government it will provide the basis for which all local authority development plan documents will need to conform.