East Devon District Council ("EDDC") has launched a consultation on its draft East Devon Villages Plan ('the Draft Plan'), which can be read here. The consultation opened on 3 August, and runs until 28 September 2016.

The Draft Plan, once adopted, will form part of EDDC's development plan, supplementing the East Devon Local Plan 2013 - 2031 that EDDC adopted in January 2016. As the Draft Plan notes, Strategy 6 of the Local Plan provides that development will generally be permitted within defined built up boundaries, subject to compliance with the six tests set out in that strategy. This obviates the need to specifically allocate land in those villages, and presumably leaves some space for communities, ideally via neighbourhood plans, to contribute to how development might take place. The defined boundaries for main towns are included in the Local Plan.

The Draft Plan sets out EDDC's preferred built up boundaries for the following villages (and the town of Colyton, presumably included as it did not qualify as a 'main town'): Beer, Broadclyst, Clyst St Mary, Colyton, East Budleigh, Feniton, Kilmington, Lympstone, Musbury, Newton Poppleford, Sidbury, Uplyme, West Hill, Whimple and Woodbury.

The boundaries have been drawn up applying a set of criteria included in Appendix 3 of the Draft Plan, which involve matters such as: following clearly defined physical features, not seeking expansion to facilitate additional development, including built and extant planning permissions, but excluding recreational or amenity space at the edge of settlements.

Short summaries for each village, and a plan showing the proposed built up boundaries, can be accessed here. These plans show the previously adopted boundaries, EDDC's current preferred approach to the extent of the boundaries, and also 'alternative areas' for inclusion in each case. Each village has its own section in the Draft Plan, and in two cases as well as proposing a built up boundary, planning policies are also put forward for adoption. These are: Beer (village centre vitality) and Colyton (primary shopping frontage).

The interaction of the Draft Plan and emerging neighbourhood plans is an interesting area. The Draft Plan notes that only one of the villages has an adopted neighbourhood plan (Lympstone), albeit thirteen - almost all - villages have defined neighbourhood areas. Happily the Draft Plan accepts the Lympstone neighbourhood plan drawn built up boundary, whilst also explaining that as a more recent document forming part of the development plan, it would trump the Lympstone document if the boundaries differed.

As set out above, the consultation is open until 28 September 2016. Those with land interests in/on the edge of the villages included should review the Draft Plan carefully to see what impact it may have on future development aspirations.