Greater Exeter Functional Economic Market Area Assessment

As part of HJA’s work delivering the Greater Exeter Economic Development Needs Assessment, we established the evidence base underpinning the grouping of Exeter, East Devon, Teignbridge, and Mid Devon Councils as a FEMA.


Exeter City, East Devon, Teignbridge, and Mid Devon Councils


HJA was appointed to deliver the Greater Exeter Economic Development Needs Assessment (EDNA) on behalf of four local authorities – Exeter, East Devon, Teignbridge, and Mid Devon Councils – which together form Greater Exeter (as well as Dartmoor National Park Authority). The authorities needed to understand the future economic profile of the Greater Exeter area in order to deliver a Joint Strategic Plan (JSP).

The EDNA was a wide ranging piece of work which covered numerous aspects of economic development. The first task in developing the EDNA was to establish the Functional Economic Market Area (FEMA) for Greater Exeter. We considered a broad range of additional data to test the boundaries of the Greater Exeter FEMA including:

  • Local travel to work areas
  • Additional commuting data
  • Property market assessments
  • Qualitative and quantitative data on retail
  • Local administrative boundaries
  • Catchment areas for local media
  • Transport networks

As well as the evidence review, we conducted in-depth consultations with local stakeholders to gauge an understanding of the FEMA.

To develop a picture of the Greater Exeter economy, we analysed a wide range of socio economic data, ranging from employment by sector, business data to GVA and population data. The socio economic baseline was conducted for each local authority area, then grouped together to form a view of the performance of Greater Exeter compared with regional and national benchmarks.

Following the socio economic baseline, we conducted a review of local economic growth plans and aspirations to ensure our work reflected the policy pathways for each local authority.

In addition to these local authorities developing a shared planning policy, the Dartmoor National Park (DNP) Authority’s own strategy review also needed to be considered in the assessment given the national park’s presence within the boundary of the Greater Exeter area. This required an additional level of collaboration to ensure that the DNP was fully included in the process.

The final report that we delivered provided a sound evidence base for the four local authorities to proceed with their JSP as a collective entity, underpinned by evidence supporting their grouping as a FEMA. It ensures they have a strong foundation of economic evidence to deliver an appropriate policy context to deliver their desired outcomes for the provision of new homes, jobs and infrastructure for existing and future generations.

HJA have since been commissioned to deliver an updated EDNA for Greater Exeter, which commenced in Spring 2022.

Project Lead

Gareth Jones