Council support Ottery factory plans despite concerns

An artist

An artist's impression of what the renovated factory and Ottery Town Mill could look like if new plans are approved.

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Plans to regenerate the factory and create 100 homes were supported by Ottery Town Council this week despite concerns over a lack of community benefits.

Councillors agreed they were in favour of the principle of developing the ‘town’s largest eyesore’, but raised a number of issues with the proposals by Churchill Property Group South West.

Chief among them was a failure by the developer to offer any educational contribution, there is no Section 106 agreement in the current application, where money is given to the town for recreational facilities in exchange for the additional burden on services, and the plans include no affordable housing.

There is an offer to spend money increasing the town’s sewage treatment capacity, and 12 car parking spaces, valued at £100,000, could be handed over to the district council.

Councillor Roger Giles criticised this offer though, instead suggesting they should be turned over directly to the Town Council to either rent out or sell.

But at Monday’s planning meeting Deputy Mayor Ian Holmes said: “For nine years, we have been waiting for the factory to be developed, and we have an opportunity here.

“It may not be the best plan, but it’s a plan.

“We have to look at it and say, this has to go, or we’ll sit here with a derelict factory for another 10 years.”

Cllr Holmes warned against the council failing to support individual aspects of the plan, which is separated into seven separate applications, saying they whole scheme was ‘inter-linked’, and they needed to give their backing to the whole lot, ‘or not bother at all’.

A proposal was then agreed to support the scheme in principle, but the council made several recommendations based on their concerns, including making sure the ground floor of the Town Mill is given over to community use and better pedestrian access is created.

East Devon District Council will make the final decision on the plans later this year.

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