Eyebrows have raised after a request for North Devon to take on an extra 500 new homes from Somerset.

Deputy leader Councillor Rodney Cann said he was ‘staggered’ after a letter from Exmoor National Park (ENP) asked North Devon Council (NDC) if it would like to take the housing allocation from Somerset’s side of the border for its local plan.

It is part of meeting Government targets and NDC has been asked to include 193 new homes in the North Devon area of the national park, but Mr Cann said 524 from Somerset was a bit of a shock.

“I don’t blame the park, they are just the messenger,” he said.

“We have all had difficulties identifying sufficient land in North Devon, trying to find space for 16,000 houses already.

“There is a duty to honour co-operation, but the reality is we have struggled to meet targets, though we have been able to slightly exceed them.”

A spokesman for ENP said it was working on a new plan for the next 15 years to provide opportunities for a range of housing.

They allayed fears by adding: “The ‘Duty to Co-operate’ is a technical exercise all planning authorities need to undertake, and does not impose additional housing on authorities where it cannot reasonably be accommodated.”

They clarified the situation further by adding: “Exmoor National Park Authority has made the request to both West Somerset Council and North Devon Council. WSC responded that they are not able to meet the request, which is why the request to NDC included the figures for both the North Devon and West Somerset parts of the National Park.

“Primarily, the request to NDC is in relation to the North Devon figure of 193, but ENPA has to also ask regarding the West Somerset figure of 524 in order to demonstrate to the Planning Inspector (when we get to the examination of our Local Plan) that all options have been explored.”