Devon Structure Plan


Question 1: Who is responsible for Planning in Devon?

The Secretary of State for the Environment has central responsibility in England and Wales over all matters relating to Town and Country Planning 'with the duty of securing consistency and continuity in the framing and execution of a national (and european) policy with respect to the use and development of land'. Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPGs), Mineral Planning Guidance Notes (MPGs), and Regional Planning Guidance Notes (RPGs) set out the Government's policies on different aspects of planning which must be taken into account by local planning authorities in preparing their local plans. The Department of the Environment has its Government Office for the South West based in Plymouth and Bristol and its planning inspectorate headquarters in Bristol.

The term Local Planning Authority covers County Council, Unitary Authorities, National Park Authorities and District Councils.

The responsibility for planning in Devon is shared between them as follows:

  1. Devon County Council is responsible for the preparation and review of the Devon Structure Plan jointly with Plymouth City Council, Torbay Council and Dartmoor National Park. The County Council also prepares for its area the Minerals Local Plan and the Waste Disposal Local Plan. As part of its Highway Authority functions it also prepares the Local Transport Plan. The County Council is responsible for determining all planning applications relating to mineral and waste disposal developments within its administrative area and gives strategic planning advice on other applications. It also gives specialist advice on highway issues, archaeology, buildings of special architectural or historic interest, tourism, recreation, ecology, and conservation areas. The County Environment Directorate deals with these tasks at County Hall in Exeter.  
  2. Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council are Unitary Authorities with similar responsibilities to the County Council but are also responsible for the preparation of Local Plans for their areas. They are also statutorily responsible for all development control. All planning applications are sent to the relevant Council for determination. The headquarters of the Plymouth City Council is are based at the Civic Centre in Plymouth and Torbay Council is based at the Civic Offices in Torquay.
  3. Dartmoor National Park Authority operates as a free standing Authority responsible for the preparation of their Structure Plan jointly with Devon, Plymouth and Torbay Councils; a Park-wide Local Plan; a Minerals Local Plan; and a Waste Disposal Local Plan. It also has a statutory duty to produce a management plan, and is statutorily responsible for all development control. All planning applications are sent to the National Park Authority for determination. The Dartmoor National Park covers 47 parishes or parts of parishes lying within South Hams, Teignbridge and West Devon Districts; Mid Devon also has one parish partly within the National Park. The headquarters of the Dartmoor National Park Department is based at Bovey Tracey (Parke, Haytor Road).
  4. Exmoor National Park Authority straddles the Devon-Somerset border and includes 15 Devon parishes, all of which lie within North Devon District. It operates as a free standing Authority responsible for the planning and management of Exmoor National Park. It has the same powers as those of Dartmoor National Park Authority, except that the preparation of the Structure Plan is undertaken jointly with Somerset County Council. As with Dartmoor, within the National Park, all planning applications are submitted direct to the Park Authority. The headquarters of the Exmoor National Park Authority are at Dulverton in Somerset.
  5. District Councils are required to prepare district-wide local plans. All planning applications (except these for Mineral development, waste disposal and applications within the National Parks) have to be made to the District Councils, who decide the great majority. In carrying out both these responsibilities, District Councils are required to bear in mind the general objectives of the County Council's Structure Plan. Anybody with a query about planning in a particular area should normally first contact the appropriate District Planning Department. There are eight District Councils in Devon: East Devon, Exeter, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon. (Links to District Council Websites)

Town and Parish Councils have no powers to determining planning applications, but they are entitled to be consulted by the District Council about planning applications and other planning matters affecting land uses in their area. The procedures for such consultation vary depending on local arrangements. There are about 400 town or parish councils in Devon. (Parish Council addresses)

Interest groups and individuals have a legal right, at their County, Unitary, District or National Park planning office, to inspect the registers of all planning applications received. They can then forward their comments to the appropriate planning authority. That authority must take into account any comments received on time from organisations or individuals when determining an application. There is, however, no legal obligation at present for the local planning authority to inform a neighbour or send plans to anyone affected by an application submitted to the authority. Groups and individuals from time to time are also invited to comment on draft Structure and Local Plans.

Question 2: What is a Structure Plan?

The Structure Plan sets out the overall plan for the development, landuse and the protection of the environment within Devon. It provides the framework for the preparation of Local Plans and investment decisions in Devon. The current plan adopted in February 1999 covers the period between 1995 and 2011. It contains 100 policies covering;

Question 3: How long has Devon had a Structure Plan?

The first Devon Structure Plan was published in 1981 which covered the period 1976 to 1991. Prior to that there was the Devon Development Plan which formed a similar function. The first Development Plan for Devon was published in 1961.

Question 4: Why is a Structure Plan needed?

There is a legal requirement for the Devon Structure Plan to be produced by Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Borough Council and Dartmoor National Park Authority. The Plan ensures that the provision of development is realistic and constant with national and regional policy. It also provides a framework for District Council Local Plans which in turn provide the basis for determining planning applications.
If the Authorities failed to prepare the Structure Plan the Secretary of State has the power to take on the role of preparing the Plan.

Question 5: What is the title of the existing Structure Plan for Devon?

Devon Structure Plan First Review 1995 to 2011

Question 6: Are the Structure Plan policies and proposals available for viewing?

Copies of the Structure Plan can be viewed at main County and District Planning Offices in Devon and in Local Libraries. Information about the Structure Plan is also available on the Devon County Council Website:

Question 7: Where can copies of the Structure Plan be purchased?

Copies of the Structure Plan 1995 - 2011 (Adopted Feb '99) are available for purchase at a cost of £12.00 (plus £2.50 package and postage) from the main planning Offices of Devon County Council, Plymouth City Council, Torbay Borough Council and Dartmoor National Park Authority. Cheques should be made payable to either ‘'Devon County Council’, ‘Plymouth City Council’, ‘Torbay Council’ or ‘Dartmoor National Park Authority’ and sent to the appropriate address (see addresses in Question 8).

To order copies of the Structure Plan please include payment with orders stating documents required: Orders using debit and credit card payments can be made with Devon County Council (Tel: 01392 382091)

Debit and Credit Cards payments to ‘Devon County Council’ please provide the following:
Card number - Issue number (where applicable) - Amount: £ (including postage when appropriate) - Expiry date Cardholder’s name - Cardholder’s signature (when appropriate)

Question 8: Where can further information about the Structure Plan be obtained/discussed?

Website: For information about the Devon Structure Plan see the Devon County Council World Wide Web Site:

Question 9. How much housing is proposed in the adopted Structure Plan from 1995 to 2011 and what is the current situation?

The Structure Plan makes provision for 75,700 houses between 1995 to 2011. Between 1995 and 2002 about 29,400 dwellings were built in Devon. The figure below illustrates that over these first seven years of the Plan the number of houses built in Devon was slightly below the implied provision made in the Structure Plan. Dwelling completions over the period averaged 4,200 dwellings per year compared with an annual average Structure Plan provision of about 4,730 dwellings.

Dwellings built 1995 - 2002 compared with provision in the Structure Plan First Review

An assessment of existing housing commitments at March 2000 as compared to the Structure Plan provision is illustrated in Figure below. This indicates that the overall level of commitments remaining in Local Plans at 2000 is only adequate to accommodate housing demand to about 2004/05. This leaves shortfall of about 28,500 dwellings still to be identified in the Reviews of Local Plans now being undertaken in Devon.

Dwellings built 1995 - 2000, committed at 2000 and shortfall to be identified in Local Plans

Question 10. How much employment land is proposed in the adopted Structure Plan from 1995 to 2011 and what is the current situation?

At this stage it is not possible to give a comprehensive picture of employment land development in the County because of variations in the data available from the District Councils. The latest data available on what has been built and committed, illustrated in the figure below, indicates that about 160 ha still need to be defined in Local Plans for employment purposes.

Employment land developed 1995 to 1999, committed at 1999, and still to be provided in Local Plans

Question 11. Is the Structure Plan being monitored and has a Monitoring Report been published?

The Government requires a range of matters to be kept under review that may be expected to affect the development and planning of Devon. Regard also needs to be had to the 'plan, monitor and manage' approach to housing development.

This Monitoring Report 2000 (published Sept 2001) relates to the Devon Structure Plan First Review 1995 to 2011 (adopted February 1999). This Report has been jointly prepared by Devon County Council, Plymouth Council, Torbay Council, and Dartmoor National Park Authority. The Report contains the main findings from monitoring the implementation of the Structure Plan. It illustrates the patterns of change in Devon in such areas as housing provision, conservation, transport and the economy.

On this occasion it has only been possible to monitor specific aspects of the Plan such as dwelling completions and to comment in general terms on the effectiveness of the Structure Plan Policies. There are a number of areas where there is at present inadequate data to monitor certain aspects of the Plan, but the Structure Plan Authorities are working closely with the District Councils and other organisations to obtain the appropriate data for consideration in subsequent Monitoring Reports.

The Monitoring Report is available on the Devon Structure Plan Website with links to the relevant data sources where available. (See Monitoring Report pdf version). (see Monitoring Report HTML Version). The document can also be purchased at a price of £5.00 (plus £1.50 package and postage) (see Order Form)
A partial update of the Monitoring Report has been published as part of the background papers for the Examination in Public.

Question 12: When is the current Plan going to be reviewed?

The draft programme for the review/alteration of the current Structure Plan (1995 to 2011, adopted in Feb 1999) to 2016 is:

Question 13: What is the title the updated Structure Plan to 2016 called?

Devon Structure Plan 2001 to 2016.

Question 14: Why is the Structure Plan being changed.

The Government requires Structure Plans to be kept up to date. Planning Policy Guidance Note 12 suggests that plans should be reviews in full at least once every five years, and partial reviews may be appropriate (e.g. on particular topic areas) on a more frequent basis. The base date of the current plan is 1995 and therefore is in need of review in addition to which new Regional Planning Guidance for the South West to 2016 (published September 2001), revised Government Planning Policy Guidance, changes in population and household projections the implications of which all need to be considered in rolling the Plan forward to 2016.

Question 15: Will the current housing provisions in the Structure Plan to 2011 be changed?

The Regional Planning Guidance to 2016 (published in Sept 2001) is suggesting an additional 14,500 houses above that provided in the current Structure Plan (71,500 from 1996 to 2011). There will be a need for additional housing.

At this stage it is envisaged that the housing provisions in the current Structure Plan to 2011 (including the proposed new communities) will be taken into account in rolling the Structure Plan forward to 2016.

Question 16: Will the requirement for the proposed new community east of Exeter within East Devon District and the proposed new community east of Plymouth within South Hams District be reconsidered in rolling the plan forward to 2016?

The Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) to 2016 (published in Sept 2001) is suggesting an additional 14,500 houses above that provided in the current Structure Plan (71,500 from 1996 to 2011). It is therefore anticipated that the need for housing and associated employment provision will be increased in some areas of Devon. The new RPG places an even greater emphasis on the Plymouth and Exeter areas as focal points for accommodating new development – both for housing and employment.  

In the Plymouth's case the RPG states in Policy SS17 that 'where it is not possible to accommodate all development needs within the urban area, develop planned extensions adjacent to the existing urban area consisting of mixed developments in sustainable locations well served by public transport'   

In the Exeter's the RPG recognises that in order to support the continuing development of Exeter's sub-regional role it will 'depend on securing adequate land supply particularly for economic development and capitalising on the opportunities offered to the east of the city'.

While it is hoped that additional capacity will be found in both Exeter and Plymouth to help meet some of this increased need it is likely that there will be continuing development pressures in the western parts of both East Devon District and South Hams District up to 2016 and beyond. The new community housing provisions in the current Structure Plan to 2011 are now being carried forward through the Local Plan process and they will have a key role to play in meeting development needs in the period up to 2016. The provision of new communities in these locations was identified as the best and most sustainable option for development in these areas and the new RPG recognises that this approach may be appropriate where there are no other, more sustainable, options available.