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Slapton Parish

Slapton, Devon

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SHDC Press release - The People’s Plan To Shape Better Lives for All

23 September 2021

South Hams District Council Councillors today agreed to adopt a 20-year vision for the District that will help businesses and residents to thrive. Developed through an ongoing consultation with local residents and businesses, the strategy identifies six local priority themes to achieve ‘Better Lives for All.’

The six priority themes for the next 20 years are:

  • Adapting and mitigating climate change and increasing biodiversity
  • Improving homes
  • Protecting, conserving and enhancing our built and natural environment
  • Stimulating a thriving economy
  • Strengthening community wellbeing
  • Delivering quality Council services

What difference will this strategy make for local people and business?

The strategy has people and place at its heart. It acknowledges the challenges faced by communities and recognises the unique landscapes that need to be protected. The projects and schemes outlined in the document will make the South Hams a better place to live and work. These include:

  • Projects to tackle climate change and improve local biodiversity
  • Outdoor community projects such as skate parks and games areas
  • Town centre improvement plans
  • A cycle network

In addition to this, the document pledges ongoing lobbying of the Government to close a loophole which enables second home and holiday let owners to avoid paying council tax and business rates. It also supports a Freezone to encourage economic growth.

Inviting public comment has ensured that the priority areas match with local opinion and core areas of concern can be tackled. The consultation took many forms, to encourage as wide a response as possible. This included face-to-face interviews, online surveys and a photo competition, which asked communities to share a visual personal record of what is important about the South Hams to them.

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council said: “With our priorities adopted by our local Councillors and supported by our residents and businesses, we can now confidently move forward to deliver actions that meet the diverse needs of our communities. From addressing the need for housing that is truly affordable for local people, to taking action now to combat climate change, creating Better Lives for All will be at the heart of everything we do.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has got involved to help us shape this document. District, Town and Parish Councillors gave their knowledge on the individual situation in their local areas. Local residents, businesses and visitors told us what matters to them. Talented photographers have captured on film the landscapes and people that make the South Hams unique. Your input has ensured that this document focuses on addressing the real challenges and opportunities faced every day by all of us who call the South Hams home.”

Cllr Hilary Bastone, Deputy Leader of South Hams District Council added: “Local people have spoken and shown us what is important to them to give us a solid basis for our vision. It’s really important to emphasise that we are listening. Your feedback is noted and will inform our ongoing decisions to respond to the evolving needs of our communities.

“It is heartening to know that 70% of the businesses that responded felt optimistic about the future, despite the difficult last year and a half. But we’re also listening to business owners who tell us that the ability to hire the right people was amongst the largest areas of concern. This is partly due to the lack of affordable housing – an area of key concern to our residents too. Poor transport and low paying jobs are also noted as major issues for local people.

“The next step is to put our plans into action to address the issues highlighted. The overall vision is supported by a detailed delivery plan, which will measure success and identify where more needs to be done.”

A snapshot of what you told us:

  • We asked if the challenges set out in the Better Lives for All Strategy were recognised, with 88% saying that they were
  • 80% of respondents were concerned about their carbon footprint
  • 38% of respondents have already, or are currently thinking about moving to an electric vehicle
  • 85% of people feel that poor broadband or digital connectivity impacts on their ability to stay in touch or run a business
  • 88% of respondents felt that their local outdoor recreation spaces didn’t currently meet the needs of their community
  • We asked people how often on average they visit their local high street. 46% visited once a week but 23% hardly ever visited their local high street (with the rest falling somewhere in between)
  • 77% of respondents felt that there wasn’t a good level of community sports facilities across the district
  • 44% of people felt that it could be easier to access Council services online than it currently is (vs 35% who felt it was easy to engage with the Council online)
  • 92% felt that we should do more to encourage people to use our environment more respectfully
  • 97% of respondents (with 150 people completing this poll), are worried about the affordability of buying a home in the District
  • We also asked if our residents are worried about being able to afford their rent or mortgage payment in the coming months. This question was answered by 160 people. 86% said yes, they were worried about being able to afford their rent or mortgage
  • 84% supported improving Cycle / Active travel across the district

Over 100 photographers took part in the competition this summer to depict the South Hams. Many of the stunning images are included in the strategy document, to now bring it to life and show the District through the eyes of residents.

Voted for by Councillors, the overall winner of the photography competition, who receives a hamper of local goods, was Sophie Rennie. Judges felt that her image of ‘The Gate’ captured a sense of both the past, present and future for the South Hams.

To read the adopted Better Lives For All strategy, go to: https://www.engagement.southhams.gov.uk/betterlivesforall

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