Apology over site ‘nightmare’

Building site at Old Convent, Broad Street in Ottery St Mary

Building site at Old Convent, Broad Street in Ottery St Mary - Credit: Archant

Developers have apologised for long delays and obstructions that have created a ‘nightmare’ situation at a site in the heart of Ottery.

Residents and business owners have voiced their frustrations at disruption and ‘danger’ caused by an ongoing development of 12 homes at the Old Convent site in Broad Street – that is now more than 18 months behind schedule.

The situation came to a head this week at a town council meeting, where members heard how staff from the Citizens Advice Bureau – that use offices at the site – could not get into work.

Mayor Glyn Dobson spoke of his frustration over what he called a ‘crazy situation’ and described how police had been forced to park their vehicles at the fire station - because the site has been blocked off.

He told councillors the project – that was initially meant to take 48 weeks - has now been ongoing for two-and-a-half years.

The site is also home to the town council offices and police station.

Councillor Dobson said: “I have constant discussions with the owner of the site.

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“It is very frustrating. It’s a complete nightmare and we cannot legally do anything.

“There’s a lady in our offices who was on crutches because she fell over. We have a duty of care as a landlord to let people get in safely.”

Cllr Dobson told the Herald the temporary footpath for pedestrians to use is ‘completely unsafe’.

Cllr Roger Giles raised the matter after receiving complaints from a resident, who said the building site is an ‘eyesore’ in the middle of the town.

Cllr Giles said: “Another issue is with the danger of it.”

He asked if East Devon District Council could be called on to put pressure on the developer.

But David Cutler, managing director of building firm Feniton Park Ltd, has held his hands up and apologised for the ‘significant time delay’ in progressing the development.

In a letter addressing complaints, he said: “At Feniton Park, we take very seriously the impact our developments have on a local community.”

Speaking on behalf of Mr Cutler, Colin Bentley said: “We cannot argue because the points made are pretty good and it is quite right.

“It is down to circumstances outside of Feniton Park’s control, as the development was delayed for 18 months by Openreach BT.

“All that one can say is yes, it had been a mess.

“It is certainly not the intention of Feniton Park to cause any nuisance of this nature.

“We want to fit in and work with the community.”

However, he disputed one complaint that described the development as an eyesore and said, when complete, the buildings will fit with the character of the town.

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