Mixed outcomes for gateway sites

Artists impression of how the development at Island Farm could look Artists impression of how the development at Island Farm could look

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
8:30 AM

FARMLAND on the gateway to Ottery St Mary looks set to be transformed into 165 houses and a care home – but residents may have to wait five years for the factory site to be redeveloped.

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It could be years before redevelopment work at the factory site is completed. Pic by Alex WaltonIt could be years before redevelopment work at the factory site is completed. Pic by Alex Walton

Those were the different messages that came from a hearing into the future of the town and the district council’s draft Local Plan in front of a government inspector.

Owners of a 21-acre site at Island Farm said they were ‘hopeful’ of reaching a deal with developers.

Outline planning permission was granted in March 2013 for two possible schemes - 165 homes and a 60-bed care home, or a purely residential option of 185 dwellings.

At a hearing in to the East Devon Local Plan on March 6, Simon Steele-Perkins, representing landowners Prockter Land LLP, confirmed they were in the process of selling the site.

He said: “We are currently in the market and within the next month or so we will hopefully be selling the land to a developer to develop the housing and to a care home operator to develop the care home.

“That will be a relief to the town I’m sure, because that was the preferred option.”

Mr Prockter argued that because the care home option would provide fewer houses, the shortfall would need to be made up with a small development elsewhere in Ottery.

But Inspector Anthony Thickett questioned the need for any extra houses when the care home would be providing 60 rooms.

The session also heard that residents in Ottery may have to wait a further five years before redevelopment work at the town’s factory site is finished.

Planning permission was granted for 100 homes at the Ottermill Switchgear Factory in May 2013, but work has yet to begin.

Linda Renshaw, senior planning officer for East Devon District Council, told the hearing that the project would ‘hopefully be delivered within the next five years’.

The five-storey mill is set to be converted in to 30 apartments, with new homes planned in place of the factory buildings and retirement apartments at the Tumbling Weir car park.

But the expensive regeneration project will offer no affordable housing or public open space money.

Mrs Renshaw said: “That decision was taken because we agreed that the site needed to be developed.

“We have worked very closely with the developer to try to make sure that the factory site is delivered, and there are financial incentives in place to encourage quick delivery.”

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