Skip to main content


Volume 472: debated on Monday 3 March 2008


Monday 3 March 2008


Communities and Local Government

Planning and Development (Okehampton)

The Humble Petition of the people of Okehampton and its surrounding area,


That Okehampton is a market town that already suffers from significant traffic congestion and associated pollution, notes that there exists a high level of local demand for primary school places and local healthcare, and is concerned that the current infrastructure is overwhelmed.

Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House impresses upon the Government and the Department for Communities and Local Government the acute strain on Okehampton’s schools, hospital, and roads, and the need for any further development, particularly of housing, to be supported by adequate provision of new infrastructure, so that its problems are resolved, not exacerbated.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c.—[Presented by Mr. Geoffrey Cox, Official Report, 28 November 2007; Vol. 468, c. 399 .] [P000048]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

There is a long established system of Town & Country Planning in England. The 'planning system' is a statutory system based in legislation. The latest piece of legislation is the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, which requires those who exercise statutory planning functions to do so with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development.

The legislative framework for the planning system is supplemented by a number of national Planning Policy Statements (PPS) that are produced by the Government. PPSs advise Local Planning Authorities, in the preparation of plans for their areas and other users of the planning system, of the Government's policies on different aspects of land use planning.

It is the responsibility of the Local Planning Authorities to implement the planning system in order to achieve the appropriate planning for their area. In doing so Local Planning Authorities are required to work proactively with their communities to establish how development and physical change in an area should be accommodated.

PPS 1 (Delivering Sustainable Development) and PPS 12 (Local Development Frameworks) in particular expect that housing and other development should be brought forward taking into account infrastructure provision and that the plan-led system should ensure that the links between infrastructure provision and development are properly investigated as proposals are drawn up. The Government expects that the planning system should be operated so as to coordinate new development with the infrastructure it demands.

Provisions in the Housing and Regeneration Bill, currently before the House of Commons, will establish a new Homes and Communities Agency. One of the main objects of this agency will be

“to support in other ways the creation, regeneration or development of communities in England, or their continued well-being, with a view to meeting the needs of people living in England.”

The Homes and Communities Agency will work in partnership with local authorities and other local agencies to identify the needs of the local communities and this will include determining the need for infrastructure in order to support any housing or regeneration activity. To ensure that this happens the Housing and Regeneration Bill also contains provisions that will allow the agency to facilitate the provision of infrastructure or to provide infrastructure directly if it needs to.

It is the responsibility of West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council, in the exercise of their planning functions to ensure that new development is co-ordinated with the necessary infrastructure that it requires. The development proposals in the Adopted West Devon Borough Local Plan Review for Okehampton include requirements for various infrastructure items, including a primary school, community facilities and transport. The emerging, but yet to be adopted, Core Strategy for West Devon, which will replace the strategic elements of the Local Plan, includes a planning policy requiring new development to be serviced by adequate infrastructure.