Approval on cards for Weston holiday development

PUBLISHED: 09:47 03 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:06 17 June 2010

ALTHOUGH a departure from the development plan and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, planning officers believe a holiday development at Weston could be approved.

ALTHOUGH a departure from the development plan and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, planning officers believe a holiday development at Weston could be approved.

Some 34 objections have been submitted to East Devon District Council, whose development control committee meets on Tuesday, January 13, to consider an application by M2 Services Ltd to build 17 residential holiday units at Stoneleigh holiday and leisure village.

It occupies a 3.84 hectare site south of Slade Lane and currently hosts 57 holiday bungalows, one residential bungalow and staff accommodation.

There is also a pub/restaurant, leisure facilities; including a skittle alley, gym and swimming pool.

Objectors claim there would be overdevelopment of the site, it would be damaging to the AONB, coastal preservation area and Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, create a loss of valuable vegetation and habitat and cause light pollution interference with Norman Lockyer Observatory.

Other objections relate to increased traffic on inadequate country lanes, unauthorised creation of a second access on to Slade Lane which is considered dangerous, and inadequate car parking for increased staff.

Branscombe Parish Council objects to the plans and believes it is "a high density over-development of the site."

The planning officer's report says amendments put forward have overcome neighbours' objections to the development on the grounds of disturbance and the overall height of the buildings would not cause overlooking problems.

Despite presumption against development in open countryside and the East Devon AONB, the officer concludes: "...the development would be considered to benefit the local rural economy, to present opportunities to enhance the visual impact of the complex within this part of the East Devon AONB and Coastal Preservation Area through lighting control and additional landscape planting and management, and to improve the contribution that the site makes to the biodiversity of the area."

A second, unauthorised entrance made to the site through a Devon bank will be closed.

Three pages, listing 13 conditions should approval be granted, are shown.

Sidmouth Garden Centre, is also in the AONB, but EDDC's planning department has issued it an enforcement notice to close a farm shop there.

Centre owner Ian Barlow wished the Stoneleigh applicant "all the luck in the world" adding: "Each application should be dealt with on its merits. The council has a job to do. It should be balanced and fair. Unfortunately I think with us it was unfair and unbalanced."

He said there could be no blanket rule for developing in an AONB because people coming to see its beauty needed somewhere "to be watered and fed and to stay.

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