Campaigners are jubilant after an application to build 63 homes in Ottery St Mary was refused planning permission, despite being recommended for approval.

East Devon District Council’s planning committee voted against the proposed development on land off Sidmouth Road after hearing more than two hours of arguments and counter-arguments on Tuesday, October 24.

Sidmouth Herald: Design for the proposed housing development - now refused by East Devon councillorsMuch of the debate centred around serious concerns about road safety along the access route to the site, because of the narrow carriageway, equally narrow pedestrian footpath, and a traffic priority system that objectors said was dangerous. Many people expressed fears for the safety of people walking along a stretch of road so narrow that HGVs have got stuck in it and vehicles sometimes mount the footpath as they pass.

Objectors also said the development would be unsustainable because Ottery’s schools and medical centre are already at full capacity.

A representative of the applicants spoke at the meeting, saying his client had worked very hard to address the planning concerns expressed by consultees, including Devon Highways. He called on the councillors to follow the professional advice of their officers to grant permission.

But in the end, they turned down the application on the grounds they felt would best stand up to a challenge: the scheme is contrary to East Devon's own planning policies because of the ‘overwhelming impact on the local site and surrounding area’, it would lead to the loss of good quality agricultural land, and there is no mechanism in place to secure the provision of affordable housing and public open space, proposed by the developer.

The county councillor for Otter Valley, Jess Bailey, who spoke out strongly against the proposal during the meeting, said afterwards: "It's a massive relief that the EDDC planning committee rejected the application for 63 houses at Sidmouth Road, Ottery - it would have been nothing less than disastrous for Ottery.

"The council committee room was absolutely packed with Ottery residents who felt so strongly about this application that they came to the meeting in Honiton. The decision to turn the application down was definitely the right one and I'm very pleased that the committee listened to the comments made by myself and the other councillors as well as the excellent public speakers."

The MP for East Devon, Simon Jupp, has welcomed the decision, saying ‘common sense has prevailed’. He said: “Huge credit is due to the residents who spoke against the proposal at the meeting today, you have my full support.”