Debate rumbles on as Newton Poppleford application deferred again

King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford. Ref shs 49 18TI 6523. Picture: Terry Ife

King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford. Ref shs 49 18TI 6523. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

A decision to build houses on land previously set aside for a new doctors’ surgery in Newton Poppleford has been deferred for a further 90 days for parties to ‘work out a solution’.

The controversial application in King Alfred Way for two houses was previously deferred from March to allow for evidence to be gathered about the need for a surgery.

East Devon District Council's development management committee met on Tuesday to discuss the plans, which had been recommended for approval by planning officers.

Residents and Newton Poppleford Parish Council object to the application due to the 'promise' from applicant Clinton Devon Estates, for the surgery after planning permission was granted back in 2013 for 40 dwellings and doctors practice.

Chris Burhop, chairman of the parish council, told the meeting the council carried out a parish-wide survey and tried to make contact with the applicant who either 'refused or was unavailable' to meet.

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He suggested an alternative to let the parish council run the building as surgeries in nearby parishes raised financial concerns for the site.

Mr Burhop said: "Both Sidmouth and Budleigh surgeries said they would not be interested in exploring the use of a new surgery. However Coleridge would if the rent stayed the same and they got permission from the Clinical Commissioning Group.

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"Let Newton Poppleford Parish Council run it. If Lord Clinton will not give the promised surgery to the people of Newton Poppelford then I will ask the people of Newton Poppleford if they will pay Lord Clinton's commercial rate."

Amy Roberts, on behalf of the applicant, said the estate's attempt to deliver the surgery are documented but were not required following a legal challenge.

She said: "Both the 2014 officers report and today's report to the committee are explicit that there has never been planning justification or requirement for a surgery on-site. Had residents not challenged that commitment the legal requirement to provide the surgery would still stand and the surgery would have been built by now.

"There are no planning grounds for this current planning application not to be approved."

Councillors were warned at the meeting they could face a planning appeal from the applicant if they deferred the decision again.

A vote to approve the proposals was thrown out by four votes to six before Councillor Geoff Pratt proposed a three month deferment to discuss a resolution.

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