The first joint North Devon and Torridge Local Plan has been adopted after nearly a decade in the making.

At a special joint full council meeting of both North Devon Council and Torridge District Council last night (Monday), councillors from both authorities agreed to adopt the document.

The local plan sets out development to meet the needs of both districts up to 2031 – including housing and employment, and allocates land where sustainable development can be provided.

It was labelled ‘sound’ by inspector Wendy Burden, subject to recommended modifications, last month.

The local plan has been produced by officers and councillors from both authorities working together and involved extensive public consultation.

In brief the plan aims to allow 85 hectares of employment land to create job opportunities; support opportunities to improve education; and deliver 17,220 new homes.

It also hopes to improve transport, provide community facilities, and protect and enhance the natural and built environment, coast and countryside that makes the area unique.

The main areas affected by the plan are Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton and Wrafton, Fremington and Yelland, Great Torrington, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Northam and South Molton.

An individual strategy has been prepared for each of these areas, as well as more than 50 villages across the districts.

Lead member for the Local Plan at North Devon Council, Councillor Jeremy Yabsley, said: “Last night’s meeting marks the end of nine years hard work.

“It’s been a long journey where we’ve had to be adaptable to changes in government and their policies, all of which has been taken into consideration when producing the plan.

“I would like to sincerely thank all the officers and councillors involved as well as the public for getting involved and having their say during our consultations, helping to make it what it is today.”

Lead member for planning at Torridge District Council, Councillor Pete Watson, said: “This is fantastic news that the process of adopting a new local plan has now been concluded.

“It will be the blueprint for how development across our two districts is delivered for many years to come.

“As well as facilitating the building of much needed housing it will also protect the wonderful landscape we have in northern Devon.

“This has been an enormous undertaking for both councils but also a great example of collaboration and everyone involved from councillors to officers and members of the public, all should be proud of what has been achieved.”

Now that the local plan has been adopted, both councils will be using the policies in the plan to determine planning applications.