Neighbourhood Plans are being rolled out right across the South Hams in places such as Malborough, South Huish and Stoke Fleming.

They empower local areas to influence planning decisions but also shape the future of their communities.

The plan for Staverton and Landscove, in the countryside between Totnes and Buckfastleigh is about to go live.

Chair of the Staverton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group Cllr Alison Alexander explained the (very lengthy) process to bring it into being:

“It started in August 2014 and a group of interested people came together and it emerged from there.

“There was obviously a planning element but it was looking at life in the village, how it is now and to the future.”

Staverton and Landscove is a parish with two villages, two churches, two pubs and there were two shops, both of which have shut.

Cllr Alexander continued:

“There was a school in each village but in the 1950s they decided to rationalise and they shut Staverton and transferred the pupils to Landscove.

“We do have St Christopher’s which is a private prep school.”

L to R: Andrew Mogford, Ian Catherall, Michael Loverock, Alison Alexander,  Ed Vidler and Cheryl Loverock
L to R: Andrew Mogford, Ian Catherall, Michael Loverock, Alison Alexander, Ed Vidler and Cheryl Loverock (Staverton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group)

South Hams District Council Planning Department were the ones who first got in touch, as they do across the district, and it had to fit in with the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.

Cllr Alexander explains how it evolved: “It was all quite vague in the early days but it became more set and also changed quite a bit.”

“We were looking at housing and asking what people wanted but also looking at business in the parish and asking what makes a healthy community like shops and community societies.

“The Housing Needs Survey, which was carried out, has told us about who is living here and who would like to live here.

“Business-wise we’ve got Riverford Dairy and Idverde (grounds maintenance and landscape creation) but we’d like to have a bit more business.

“Coming with that is housing and where they’re going to live as it is all tied up.”

The Sea Trout Inn
The Sea Trout Inn (Richard Harding)

The green agenda is also very important as Cllr Alexander says:

“It is a beautiful area and we would like to retain that beauty and the views.”

“We’ve got a playing field in Staverton and a wooded area, a boardwalk and a riverside park.

“There’s Woolston Green which is at the centre of Landscove with a playground and another area we’ve looked at is dark skies.

“Where we are at the moment there are no street lights so you can clearly see the stars but up towards the pub there are and some people think they should be switched off say at 10pm.

“Energy and being carbon neutral is a big part of the plan, considering the design of houses to make them as carbon neutral as possible.”

The plan, which was designed to last for an initial 20 years, is still awaiting final approval (called ‘being made’) from SHDC, almost 10 years into its official duration but the group hope it will make a positive difference to the parish.