Economic Development

6.16    In line with the experience seen elsewhere in the British countryside, the Parish has seen significant socio-economic changes as a result of increasing affluence, the rise in car ownership and the movement of population from town to country. To further illustrate this change, although the land is still farmed, the number of farmers has reduced and, as the population ages, the number of care homes has increased.

6.17    The limited availability of jobs in rural communities encourages local people of working age to leave the area, and prevent people of working age from moving in thereby increasing the proportion of retired residents in the Parish. This loss of the working age population has social as well as economic consequences. Communities where there is a daily exodus of people of working age can also struggle to provide the viable conditions for many community services and facilities.

6.18    Given the Parish’s demographics, economic development needs to be aware of the target market for goods and services. Within the Parish there are five elements to the local economy; farming, retail, light industrial, hotel and recreational services and self employment (home working).  The majority of undeveloped land within the Parish is farmed by a well established farming community. Almost all of the retail outlets are in Yelverton (there is only one other shop (in Crapstone and which is highly valued by local residents), almost all light industrial business is conducted from the business park at Crapstone, hotel services (including care homes and B&Bs) are distributed throughout the Parish, as is home working where 10% of those who responded to the questionnaire stated that they worked from home.
6.19    Almost all of those living in the Parish make use of the shops at Yelverton yet few regularly visit the business park. The Neighbourhood Plan seeks to maintain and support the local economy by encouraging local businesses and enterprise in the Parish, rural tourism and leisure facilities that benefit local businesses, residents and visitors, and which respects the character of the countryside.

6.20    Two sources provided evidence; the questionnaire and a specific study looking at a proposal within WDBC’s draft ‘Our Plan’ to encourage the Business Park at Crapstone to expand into an adjacent field.  

6.21    Firstly, the majority of respondents to the questionnaire (96%) valued and sup-ported the shops at Yelverton and listed a range of additional services they would wish to see provided. Their only reservations were over the provision of adequate parking adjacent to the shops. WDBC's 'Our Plan' proposal, to expand the Business Park at Crapstone was unknown at the time the questionnaire was completed alt-hough locally, it was clear that there was very little enthusiasm for such expansion. This led to the NP Group funding a specific study to analyse the need and planning issues surrounding such expansion. The study’s report is at Annex H and concluded that although there was some evidence supporting the need for expansion, as it constituted a ‘Major Development within the AONB’, adopted Local Plan policies would only consider permitting it provided exceptional circumstances were presented and to date, no such presentation had been made. It is accepted that a balance needed to be struck between the needs of those seeking to add to the economic well-being of the Parish and the protection of the landscape within an AONB and the NP Economic De-velopment Policies have been drafted accordingly and any proposal (including the Business Park expansion) would need to be tested against them. While the proposal is no longer a WD Local Plan draft policy (as Our Plan has been withdrawn), it is considered important for the NP to cover potential expansion as applications may be presented in the future and NP Policies need to be able to cope with such circumstances.   
6.22    Secondly, during the course of the Plan’s development, a concept of additional development around Yelverton (Leg of Mutton) emerged in discussions between the Parish Council and Maristow Estates. This would probably involve a mixed develop-ment; part commercial, part residential and part community although at this time no formal proposals have been submitted and so no assessment of whether this would be in the interest of the Parish can be made. However, the Neighbourhood Planning Team recognised that this could make a useful contribution to housing numbers, economic and community development, and that development around Yelverton was more appropriate than in many other areas within the Parish where services are scarce. As with the Business Park, it was considered that such development should be covered by policies should, at some future time, they become planning proposals.

6.23    Other issues raised by the questionnaire were:

77% of businesses within the Parish who responded to the questionnaire thought that they would expand over the next 5 years indicating that some economic development would be warranted. This data was updated by the special survey conducted and which is available at the Download section.

When asked whether parking at Yelverton should be improved for Leg of Mutton and St Paul’s Church car parks, 71% were prepared to pay an addition to the precept to be able to park without charge at Yelverton. As a result, discussions with the Landowner (Maristow Estates) has led to an agreement to sus-pend the charges at both car parks until a longer term plan is agreed.

6.24    The following Economic Development Policies were agreed.

Economic Development Policy 1: ED1 - Meeting the Economic Development need

Economic Development will be supported provided it meets the following criteria:

(a) it can demonstrate an ability to provide local employment opportunities.

(b) it does not constitute Major Development within the AONB unless supported by Exceptional Circumstances tests as set out in para 116 of the NPPF.

(c) it is subject to a satisfactory traffic assessment

(e) the proposed business use is appropriate to a rural location

(f) it complies with the other Policies in the NP

Economic Development Policy 2: ED2 - Broadband

New development will only be permitted where provisions are made for High Speed Broadband (in excess of 24Mb/s) to each premises (business or residential) unless this is demonstrated to being unviable.

Economic Development Policy 3: ED3 - Redevelopment of employment to non-employment use

Proposals for the redevelopment or change of use of land or buildings from employment to non-employment uses will only be supported where:

(a) It can be demonstrated that the existing use is no longer economically viable AND

(b) The site has been marketed at a reasonable price for at least 12 months and in an appropriate manner and no other suitable employment or service trade uses or interest has been expressed OR

(c) It can be demonstrated that employment use of the site is detrimental to the living conditions of residents or unacceptable in terms of impact on the built or landscape character of the Parish OR

(d) Permitted Development Rights allow for such changes

Economic Development Policy 4: ED4 - Brownfield Sites

Development on land previously developed to stimulate the economy will be supported ahead of similar proposals for green field sites.