Building work will start in ‘late spring’ on a controversial plan to build 130 homes in Ottery after it was approved on appeal.

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The council failed to prove it had enough housing sites across the district to block Redrow Homes plan for housing on land behind Butts Road.

The developer took its case to the planning inspectorate after the original application was rejected in April.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) planners were confident they could prove a five-year land supply and argue there was no justification for building outside Ottery’s development boundary.

But after a public inquiry last month the inspector disagreed on both points, citing a recent appeal in Feniton where the council had failed to demonstrate enough ‘deliverable’ sites.

Redrow say it plans to commence infrastructure work in late spring 2013, with the first properties being available in the early autumn.

There were almost 300 letters of objection when the scheme first arose, and campaign group Protect Ottery St Mary was formed to fight the plans.

The inspector Neil Pope acknowledged the weight of local opposition to the scheme, but said it was not in itself sufficient to withhold permission.

Redrow’s proposals will entail the permanent loss of more than four hectares of Grade 2 agricultural land, which is normally protected from development.

But Mr Pope said although losing the land would be unfortunate, the fact the scheme would provide 50 affordable homes was ‘an important consideration’, concluding there is an ‘over-riding need for development on the appeal site’.

He said his findings would ‘disappoint many residents’, but added: “There is a compelling case for releasing this site for housing and there are no adverse impacts that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the scheme.”

The new development will include a contribution towards education provision at The King’s School, and money to improve recreational facilities in Ottery

The inspector also placed conditions on the scheme, such as improving the local sewage treatment works, putting in measures to avoid land drainage problems, and protecting the slow worms, hazel dormice and bats who live in the site’s hedgerows.

Lee Hawker, land director for Redrow, said he was delighted with the inspector’s decision, and was looking forward to getting approval on a ‘Reserved Matters Application’ so their new homes ‘can quickly make a vital contribution to the District’s housing land supply’.

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