Harvey Gavin and Stephen Sumner
Monday, May 19, 2014
A controversial development in Newton Poppleford has been given the go-ahead by district council planners - for a second time - despite strong opposition from village residents.
The 40-home scheme at King Alfred Way was approved by members of East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) development management committee when they met last week.
The planning consent comes just weeks after campaigners in the village successfuly lodged a legal challenge against a previous EDDC decision to allow the development to go ahead.
Some villagers blasted advice given by planning officers as ‘poor’, ‘incompetent’ and ‘demonstrably unsound’ - and urged the development management committee to reject the application, or at least delay its decision until after the outcome of an appeal at Badger Close is published.
Throughout the planning process, residents have expressed concern that a doctors’ surgery promised by the applicant, Clinton Devon Estates, would never be built because EDDC is unable to secure it in a legal agreement.
Addressing the committee on Thursday last week, resident Matt Coppell said: “It is highly unlikely it will ever be built because it can’t be secured.
“It is clear the surgery remains in the application in an attempt to buy the favour of the committee.
“Without the surgery, all you are left with is an application for 40 houses in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).”
Councillor Mike Howe said the concerns from the public were understandable, but added: “Whether or not the doctors’ surgery happens, this still delivers affordable housing which is badly needed in Newton Poppleford.”
The committee voted unanimously in favour of the application.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Coppell said that campaigners were considering launching a second legal challenge against the decision.
“Whatever happens, it won’t be dropped,” he said.
And Newton Poppleford could end up with more than 80 new homes if a Government planning boss overturns the refusal of a second application.
District chiefs have approved plans for 40 dwellings at King Alfred Way – but an appeal to permit the building of 46 houses at Badger Close is still being considered.
A hearing was held on Tuesday but a decision from the Planning Inspectorate is not expected until June.
The village has only been allocated 40 more homes in the draft Local Plan, but with EDDC’s planning blueprint for the next 12 years incomplete, national policies carry more weight.
The Badger Close plans include 17 affordable homes, but drew criticism for being on agricultural land within the AONB and outside of Newton Poppleford’s built-up area boundary.
In its refusal decision, EDDC flagged up the fact that the ‘need’ for affordable housing in the village ‘has been met’.
The application received just 11 letters of objection, compared to more than 400 against plans for King Alfred Way.