Wednesday, May 21, 2014
A developer building new homes in the centre of Ottery St Mary could be let off having to pay nearly £30,000 in community cash – after district council officers advised the company it was contributing too much.
Feniton Park Ltd, which is in the process of building 12 homes behind the town council offices in Broad Street, agreed to pay £36,920 towards improving public open space in the town when it was granted permission in 2011.
But this week it emerged that East Devon District Council (EDDC) planners have recommended a change in the legal agreement - which could see the developer contribute just £8,075.
This was blasted as ‘deplorable’ by Councillor Roger Giles at a meeting on Monday, when he informed town council colleagues about the proposal.
He said: “The EDDC planning section is proposing to reduce the amount Ottery gets in public open space money.
“I think the way this is being done is quite wrong, and I have argued that this is dealt with in the right way.”
Cllr Giles said he had requested the final say be taken in a public meeting of the district council’s planning committee.
But EDDC says the original application – including the agreed contribution of £36,920 – was calculated before an ‘open space study’ for the region was carried out in 2011.
In the report, Ottery is identified as one of six towns and villages in East Devon with enough parks and outdoor sports pitches.
A district council spokesman said that, because the town has since been deemed to have sufficient open space, and because a request by the developer to alter the layout of the site required a fresh application, it was not fair to expect the same contribution.
“All the council’s dealings with developers must be fair and should stand up to scrutiny,” the spokesman added. “It is, therefore, necessary for us to comply with the latest policies – and to be seen to do so.”
Cllr Martin Thurgood said he was ‘amazed and flabbergasted’ by the district council position.
“There is no reason for a reduction,” he added. “It may well be that there is sufficient green space, but the quality of equipment on that green space falls short of that standard.”
“We deserve [the money] to bring our facilities up to the required standard.”
The recommendation is expected to be considered by the council’s development management committee on June 3.