21 October 2017
Consultation on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan  will be wholly inadequate if the participating councils stick to their present plans. In a letter  to Councillor Daniel Gottschalk, chair of Exeter’s planning committee, Green Party Councillor Chris Musgrave argues that the whole process has been designed as a top-down one for minimum participation by non-experts.
Chris Musgrave said:
“The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan presents new opportunities for whole communities to get involved in those vital planning decisions which will eventually affect their lives. One of the major failings in the present strategic planning system is that it engages planners, politicians, developers and big business, while at the same excluding local communities who don’t realise what’s going on until it’s too late. Having serious conversations with people before producing draft plans is the right way to proceed.
“Instead we are being presented with another top-down so-called consultation, with documents drawn up in secret, overseen by a committee of councillors which itself meets in secret. People are to be given a mere 6 weeks to respond to the first consultation draft, which will be accompanied by volumes of consultant-written studies to back up its proposals. Who but well-resourced professionals will be able to engage with this?
“Planning should be the servant of communities, not a way to alienate them. As a first step, the next consultation period should be extended to 12 weeks. Exeter Green Party will continue to campaign for greater openness and planning and all other aspects of local government.”
 The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan aims to set a planning framework for Exeter City and the surrounding areas. The first consultation draft is expected in early 2018. See www.gesp.org.uk
 The text of the letter is [here].
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