The South Hams Society's Vision for SHDC's Next Local Plan 

The government's National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in draft in 2011 and in final form in 2012, requires us to have in place a wide-ranging plan for the district. Most of our neighbouring authorities are now well advanced with their plans and have consulted their residents (voters) on published drafts which contain their proposed policies and a good deal of detail. The NPPF requires that this be done:

'Local Plans are the key to delivering sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities';

'Early and meaningful engagement and collaboration with neighbourhoods, local organisations and businesses is essential'.

SHDC expects to have a fifteen-year plan in place by the end of 2016, but is making only slow progress and the South Hams Society is concerned at the very limited amount of time that will be available for meaningful consultation if that target date were actually to be met. The only consultation so far has been on headings rather than content. The comments that the Society submitted on it are here.

To get the debate started the Society has drafted its own entirely unofficial vision, together with some of the measures that it thinks will be needed (both in the black section below). Local organisations and residents are invited to submit comments and suggestions for inclusion on this page. They should be e-mailed to and should show the name of the sender.


A Vision for the South Hams in 2031

In 2031 the South Hams will be a place in which genuinely sustainable development has improved the lives of its current residents while protecting its natural assets for future generations. A prosperous economy, strong communities and an outstanding visitor experience will sustain its culture, wildlife and unique landscape.

We will see the following outcomes:

A more prosperous economy

A more prosperous economy will have been fostered by good transport and communications and an excellent quality of life which will have attracted highly-qualified entrepreneurs to the area.

More land will be farmed with a strong focus on sustainable, low energy methods. Local produce will be celebrated and widely available. Fishing, shell fish farming and low-impact marine businesses will thrive in Dartmouth, Salcombe and other coastal communities.

More vibrant communities

People living in the South Hams will have been able to find work with an adequate income and high quality accommodation within a short journey to work. Town high streets and local shops will be supported by good facilities for car parking and access by public transport, cycling and walking.

More effective town and parish councils, which will be the predominant influence in shaping communities. This will be assisted by de-centralising services and decisions from the district council to town and parish councils where possible.

Carbon reduction

Emissions will have been reduced by greatly enhanced public transport between Plymouth, Torbay and South Hams towns and outlying communities, and by measures to encourage walking, the use of bicycles and the use of environmentally friendly vehicles.

The district will be producing its full share of energy from renewable sources, from a variety of installations which are accepted by adjacent communities, show a net public benefit and do not harm appreciation of the landscape in the AONB. The district will have benefited from welcoming innovative methods of generation which meet these requirements.

An improved natural environment

The beauty and wildlife of the South Devon will have been improved to attract visitors seeking outstanding landscapes which remain more natural and unspoiled than is available elsewhere. Water quality in rivers and on beaches will be of the highest standard. The movement to Green Tourism will have grown and tourists will be encouraged to participate in local activities with low environmental impact.


In many cases these are outside the control of the district council, so will be matters on which it has to obtain a result from the County Authority, central government or some other body.


Council-led drive for fast broadband using support from all local community groups.

Policies to protect agricultural land from development or non-agricultural use.

Policies to concentrate heavy vehicular transport in areas close to the A38.


Compulsory purchase of derelict brownfield sites after safeguards to the owner.

50% of new housing developments over ten units to be either affordable and restricted to local residents or to provide sites for self-build.

Planning applications to be firstly made to the town or parish council which will forward the proposal to the district council with its comments.

Parish-led suggestions for housing to be fast-tracked.

All developers' schemes above a certain size to be subject to an independent viability assessment, with findings published.

Carbon reduction

Extend the network of footpaths and cycleways, particularly where useful for journeys to work or school.

Impose an area-wide speed limit of 40 mph on all local roads in rural areas and 20 mph in towns and villages. Police it effectively.

Council car parks to have a scheme for refunding fees when shopping in the high street.

District council to secure improved frequency of bus services and reduce interchange waiting times.


All developments in rural areas including those used for farming to produce a justification for usage and a landscape impact statement.

Controls to prevent agricultural practices which cause soil erosion into watercourses.

Strengthened monitoring of watercourses and enforcement to prevent pollution.

Chris Klee writes:

Firstly well done its a brilliant idea and I hope it leads to the Council modifying their official draft plan. One small personal complaint. I hate the use of the adjective "sustainable" when applied without some indication of what sort of sustainability is meant. In environmental circles the term was widely used 20, perhaps 30 years ago to mean environmentally sustainable. We also used ecologically sustainable which is slightly different and applies to biological processes and ultimately should result in maintaining biodiversity. The term was then hijacked by politicians and the world of finance, and generally they meant financially sustainable. So when sustainable is applied to development, it can imply environmentally friendly to one audience but the writer may be meaning financially sound. Sorry to be pedantic but I'm sure you see what I mean. The answer is to add another word eg environmentally sustainable development or maybe socially sustainable development etc.
To suggestions:

Under A Vision for the South Hams in 2031,,,,,,A more prosperous economy, second para...

Instead of More of the land will be farmed with a strong focus... I would prefer...More of the farmed land will be managed with a strong...
Under More vibrant communities.....could an adequate income be replaced by ...the living wage..
Under Reduction of climate change......second para...insert words a net public benefit..
so it reads... show a net financial and quality of life public benefit...
 Under ..An improved natural environment, I make no suggestion for exact new text but say the following. (Biodiversity is declining nationally and nothing S Hams DC do on their own will reverse that. Much better is to make clear an intention to value highly those landscape and habitat features which are known to benefit biodiversity and ecosystem services). Thus for example, woodland should be preserved and hedges connecting woodland too as these provide wildlife corridors and prevent populations of plants or animals being isolated and vulnerable. West Alvington wood is great for wildlife and people, but development must not cut it off by severing either hedges or the connection to the stream running just west of it. This corridor runs right into Kingsbridge and should be preserved. All watercourses and their margins should be allowed to grow wild and pesticide free. Upland catchments here are steep which is a recipe for flash flooding under climate change predictions. All developments on high ground near settlements must avoid covering ground with tarmac or paving but use permeable surfaces to allow rain to be absorbed into the ground. Attenuation ponds can be constructed down steep streams to lessen flood risk and become wildlife havens.
Not sure how this could be fitted in, perhaps under the next section.....measures...
Under your Measures to obtain the vision. Environment.. second bullet point...change to...Controls to prevent agricultural practices which cause soil erosion and those which increase soil compaction. The first pollutes watercourses, the second exacerbates flash floods.
Hope at least some of this is useful.
Best wishes
Chris Klee,
The Old School House, 2 Hillside, Ebrington Street, Kingsbridge. TQ7 1DF.