Mid Devon District Council

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Mid Devon District Council's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Mid Devon District Council is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

www.middevon.gov.uk

THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
44 | MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
CEO Stephen Walford
Mid Devon
Serving a rural location, Mid Devon District Council faces
a range of distinctive challenges. While it is the 26th-
largest district council in England by area, it is also the
28th-smallest by population. Its sparsity and rurality means that
infrastructure and connectivity, both physically and digitally, are
big issues within the district. Its offices lie to the north of the
city of Exeter, one of the most rapidly expanding economies in
the country, and it has sought to maximise this opportunity by
delivering quality growth in a high-quality environment. CEO
Stephen Walford elaborates.
In 2016, the council published its new corporate plan with a focus on driving
economic growth encapsulated within a new economy theme. Following this, the
organisation was restructured to merge the economic development and planning
functions, creating a new growth and economic delivery team which encompasses
economic development and funding experts, alongside planning advisers and
major project delivery officers. This ensured we had a team in place with a remit to
deliver, not just plan.
Working with our neighbours across four councils in the Greater Exeter area, we
produced a joint economic strategy that saw shared ownership of thematic leads
across this wider geography. This maximises the strengths and skills of individuals
as well as the combined effectiveness of our efforts across the whole sub-region.
This innovative approach saw us win the Institute of Economic Development’s
Most Innovative Strategy Award in 2017. At this point our journey was also
being recognised by the Local Government Association’s peer review process,
FACTS ABOUT
MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
»CEO: Stephen Walford
»Council Leader: Bob Deed
»Based in Mid Devon, Devon
»Services: Local government
»No. of employees: 420
Mid Devon District
Council
45MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL |
CIVIL SOCIETY
which highlighted our “radically
improved organisation” and the
new leadership team and cabinet’s
commitment to a “bold and ambitious
programme which aims to deliver
economicprosperity”.
Delivery focus
Of course, for many areas the biggest
challenge lies not in formulating a
plan, but in delivering sustainable
outcomes. Having previously
worked closely with the owners of
Hitchcock’s Business Park, in 2018
we helped them develop a credible
and comprehensive plan for delivering
high-quality commercial growth. This
project subsequently won the Royal
Institute of Chartered Surveyors award
for Best Commercial Development in
the southwest. This, alongside many
other examples, points to our record of
achievement in driving economic and
commercial growth. It is our efforts
to impact the local housing market,
however, that have perhaps been even
more notable.
After a number of years of stagnating
growth in the local housing market
during which we were occasionally
held ransom by local property
developers, we took the decision to
create our own development company
and directly deliver market housing
commercially. This project ran in
addition to the social housing that we
deliver through our internal housing
revenue account – we are a stock-
retaining authority with around 3,000
houses on our books.
Within months of creating the
company in 2017, we initiated
a national architectural design
competition for our first development
site. It was vital to us that we set the
bar high in terms of design quality
and product offering. As a result of
this competition, we selected the
London-based architects Mikhail
Riches and have since secured detailed
consent for the first scheme, as well
as winning a National Design Award
for a riverside development in Tiverton
that is currently under construction.
St George’s Court,
Tiverton
For many
areas the
biggest
challenge lies
not in
formulating a
plan, but in
delivering
sustainable
outcomes
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
44 | MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
CEO Stephen Walford
Mid Devon
Serving a rural location, Mid Devon District Council faces
a range of distinctive challenges. While it is the 26th-
largest district council in England by area, it is also the
28th-smallest by population. Its sparsity and rurality means that
infrastructure and connectivity, both physically and digitally, are
big issues within the district. Its offices lie to the north of the
city of Exeter, one of the most rapidly expanding economies in
the country, and it has sought to maximise this opportunity by
delivering quality growth in a high-quality environment. CEO
Stephen Walford elaborates.
In 2016, the council published its new corporate plan with a focus on driving
economic growth encapsulated within a new economy theme. Following this, the
organisation was restructured to merge the economic development and planning
functions, creating a new growth and economic delivery team which encompasses
economic development and funding experts, alongside planning advisers and
major project delivery officers. This ensured we had a team in place with a remit to
deliver, not just plan.
Working with our neighbours across four councils in the Greater Exeter area, we
produced a joint economic strategy that saw shared ownership of thematic leads
across this wider geography. This maximises the strengths and skills of individuals
as well as the combined effectiveness of our efforts across the whole sub-region.
This innovative approach saw us win the Institute of Economic Development’s
Most Innovative Strategy Award in 2017. At this point our journey was also
being recognised by the Local Government Association’s peer review process,
FACTS ABOUT
MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
»CEO: Stephen Walford
»Council Leader: Bob Deed
»Based in Mid Devon, Devon
»Services: Local government
»No. of employees: 420
Mid Devon District
Council
45MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL |
CIVIL SOCIETY
which highlighted our “radically
improved organisation” and the
new leadership team and cabinet’s
commitment to a “bold and ambitious
programme which aims to deliver
economicprosperity”.
Delivery focus
Of course, for many areas the biggest
challenge lies not in formulating a
plan, but in delivering sustainable
outcomes. Having previously
worked closely with the owners of
Hitchcock’s Business Park, in 2018
we helped them develop a credible
and comprehensive plan for delivering
high-quality commercial growth. This
project subsequently won the Royal
Institute of Chartered Surveyors award
for Best Commercial Development in
the southwest. This, alongside many
other examples, points to our record of
achievement in driving economic and
commercial growth. It is our efforts
to impact the local housing market,
however, that have perhaps been even
more notable.
After a number of years of stagnating
growth in the local housing market
during which we were occasionally
held ransom by local property
developers, we took the decision to
create our own development company
and directly deliver market housing
commercially. This project ran in
addition to the social housing that we
deliver through our internal housing
revenue account – we are a stock-
retaining authority with around 3,000
houses on our books.
Within months of creating the
company in 2017, we initiated
a national architectural design
competition for our first development
site. It was vital to us that we set the
bar high in terms of design quality
and product offering. As a result of
this competition, we selected the
London-based architects Mikhail
Riches and have since secured detailed
consent for the first scheme, as well
as winning a National Design Award
for a riverside development in Tiverton
that is currently under construction.
St George’s Court,
Tiverton
For many
areas the
biggest
challenge lies
not in
formulating a
plan, but in
delivering
sustainable
outcomes
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
46 | MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL
Breaking ground in late 2018,
construction is well underway on our
town centre regeneration site, which
had been lying derelict for decades
following a number of unsuccessful
attempts by the private sector to
redevelop it. Following the approval
for a number of other projects that
are now under construction or in the
pipeline, approximately ten per cent
of local housing development under
construction during 2019 has been
built through our own development
company, with sales and marketing
now underway.
Continuous building
The future for growth delivery in Mid
Devon is looking extremely bright.
With a government-approved garden
village helping to shape strategic
housing and economic growth to the
east of Cullompton, two successful
Housing Infrastructure Fund bids to
deliver much-needed infrastructure
unlocking growth and a local plan
being finalised that includes the largest
tourism and economic development
allocation the council has ever sought
to promote, we are showing no sign of
stopping our progress.
Our sustained activity in this area
also resulted in us being shortlisted
for the 2019 Local Government
Chronicle award for driving growth.
Thisisanother example of how our
hard work has been recognised, and
this will continue to drive us on as a
part of future projects too.
All of our sustained effort and focus
on driving growth has ensured a
sea-change in delivery. From award-
winning strategies to peer-recognised
progress and commitment, we
are helping our local market to
deliver outstanding commercial
growth and stepping in to prevent
housing market failure by delivering
nationally recognised quality. We
have been bold about reshaping our
organisational resources for maximum
effectiveness too. We now own
and lead on nationally designated
growth programmes using our own
assets and balance sheet to unlock
regeneration and growth and to
deliver vitalinfrastructure.
Our effort and approach has driven
levels of economic inactivity at the end
of 2017 to a 13-year low of just 2.3
per cent and in turn pushed housing
delivery numbers in 2018 to their best
rate in 12 years. While the results of
our work are vindicating for those
of us involved, there remains more
work to come in the future. We are
confident we can successfully drive the
agenda for quality economic growth in
our local area as a result.
From award-
winning
strategies to
peer-
recognised
progress and
commitment,
we are
helping our
local market
to deliver
outstanding
commercial
growth
Hitchcocks Business Park
47EASTERN IFCA |
CIVIL SOCIETY
CEO Julian Gregory (foreground)
and Chair of the Authority
Councillor Paul Skinner
(background)
Brown crab (
Cancer pagurus
)
in Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds
Marine Conservation Zone
With a district stretching from Haile Sand Fort in
Lincolnshire to Felixstowe in Suffolk and out to six
nautical miles at sea, Eastern Inshore Fisheries and
Conservation Authority is one of the largest of its kind. Ten
IFCAs were created by virtue of the Marine and Coastal Access
Act 2009; this expanded upon the role of the previous Sea
Fisheries Committees and provided the mechanism to help
ensure clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse
oceans. CEO Julian Gregory tells
The Parliamentary Review
more
about his team’s work.
Since 2011, IFCAs have been reforming inshore fisheries management in pursuit
of their vision to lead, champion and manage a sustainable marine environment
and inshore fisheries, by successfully securing the right balance between social,
environmental and economic benefits to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries
and a viable industry.
Overseen by an authority comprised of county councillors and appointed members,
we work to balance the management of a sustainable and viable inshore fishing
industry with the need to protect the environment.
An understanding of national policy and local context combined with research that
informs environmental assessments enables us to develop relevant management
measures. This approach reflects our diverse marine environment while also
ensuring we are well positioned to help deliver on national policies such as the 25
Year Environment Plan.
FACTS ABOUT
EASTERN IFCA
»CEO: Julian Gregory
»Established in 2011,
predecessor organisation in
1894
»Based in King’s Lynn, Norfolk
»Services: Inshore fisheries and
conservation management
»No. of employees: 25
»East coast waters have the
most concentrated and diverse
activity in the country, are
home to over half of the UK’s
offshore wind capacity and
are covered by an extensive
network of Marine Protected
Areas, or MPAs
»www.eastern-ifca.gov.uk
Eastern IFCA

www.middevon.gov.uk

The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster