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People across northern Devon are being urged to get involved in an important and exciting project that will determine the longer term future of the area.

'People and Place' is a joint North Devon and Torridge venture to review the Local Plan which looks at how the area should take shape over the next 20+ years. It will look at what needs to be done around housing, the environment, sustainability, jobs, access to transport and health and wellbeing.

The launch of the project is an opportunity for local people to outline what their priorities are for their local area and for the wider northern Devon as a whole, and what it's like to live where they live now. The councils are also seeking views  on their proposals for how the community can get involved with the project moving forward.

Alongside this, the project team is starting the exercise of finding potential development sites and is looking for specialists to join a panel to look at the methodology that will be used to assess the suitability of the sites that come forward. This exercise is known as the Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA). Development could be for housing or other uses such as retail, manufacturing or warehousing. Both councils would like to hear from people about land that they know about that could provide a development opportunity in the future. The councils are particularly keen to see the reuse of sites on previously developed ‘brownfield’ land where there is an opportunity for redevelopment or to regenerate derelict sites.

Chair of the Joint Local Plan Committee Cllr Malcolm Prowse says: "Northern Devon is such a special place to live, work and visit. It is vitally important that we plan to meet the needs for development without detriment to our wonderful natural and historic environment. Many of us are worried about change but it is inevitable and with land such a finite resource we must plan positively for growth but growth that sensitively and carefully meets the needs and demands of the area."

Vice Chair of the Joint Local Plan Committee Cllr Robert Hicks says: "The significance of the People and Place project cannot be overstated. Many residents are not aware of the importance of the Local Plan in setting out sites and policies for development and only get involved when planning applications are submitted. The community and stakeholders are being encouraged to recognise that the Local Plan is a material factor in determining these applications so it is vital that we get it right. To achieve the best outcome we need the assistance of our residents in this project as they know the areas where they live and work better than anyone else. Tapping into this knowledge will be a key aim of the consultation phase."

Information on these initial consultations plus the timetable for the entire process can be found at: www.northdevon.gov.uk/peopleandplace and www.torridge.gov.uk/peopleandplace

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