Blueprint for Ottery’s future revealed

HUNDREDS of homes, scores of jobs and a bid to breathe life back into an ailing town-centre are at the heart of a vision for Ottery’s future.

Tackling traffic congestion and providing parish-folk with better community facilities, including a new library, have also been earmarked to enhance the area over the next 16 years.

That is the view of East Devon District Council - but growth cannot come at the cost of Ottery’s historic heritage and architectural value, says the authority.

A “modest” increase of up to 250 dwellings and locating seven-and-a-half acres of employment land have been mooted for the town as part of EDDC’s strategy for the region from 2011 to 2026.

A report containing preliminary blueprint suggestions will be considered at special meeting on Tuesday, where councillors will decide whether to embark on a three-month consultation exercise.

On Ottery, the report reveals: “A focus will be placed on town-centre regeneration and enhancing the retail and commercial vitality, while conserving and enhancing the fine built heritage of Ottery.”

The town is described as “attractive”, with a “historic core and great architectural value.”

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“Modest development” is emphasised in the report, which states Ottery lacks community and sports facilities, and could boost its currently “small” tourist appeal as the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

A mixed use redevelopment of the “redundant” Cutler Hammer factory site with community uses- including a potential library- is also mentioned.

It is noted the town could be “appropriate for substantial development in the longer term”, which could see potential options for new, improved and expanded education facilities at The King’s School.

Tuesday’s meeting has been called to seek development management committee members’ approval for the process of consulting with the public and interested parties on Local Development Framework (LDF) Core Strategy proposals for the district.

Ottery district councillor David Cox told the Herald it’s a case of “easy does it” and “slow growth” for Ottery in development terms.

“Signs of prosperity are there, but it’s not a short term issue,” he said.

“I’m sure there will be high street casualties from Sainsbury’s coming in, but it will bring people into town.

“We are in the lap of the gods in terms of employment. It will be a long hard haul to get to the point where Ottery is booming.”

District council colleague Roger Giles is pleased a dramatic homes increase has not been earmarked.

“A large number of houses could be disastrous,” he said.

Mr Giles is keen to see long-awaited projects such as a pedestrian and cycle link to The King’s School, a skate and BMX park for youngsters and development of facilities at Strawberry Lane happen in the near future.