Council cannot abide tree loss in West Hill homes plan

Councillors said plans for a housing development including 10 affordable homes in West Hill put them in a tricky position but agreed to not support them after seeing the land.

The 15 house proposal at Westhayes went in front of Ottery Town Council’s planning committee on Wednesday night, which was moved to the village to allow residents to have their say on the plans.

And many of them did, mostly arguing West Hill was not the right place to build affordable homes, saying there wasn’t the need for them and there was a lack of infrastructure, despite agreeing on them in principle.

But not all were against, with a spokesman for the residents association saying it had no objections to the proposal.

Ottery Town Council unanimously agreed not to support the plans by Paul Hunt Investments, despite several members saying they were all geared up to support it.

Councillor Robin Mitchell said he was willing to support it ahead of reservations because of its large social housing percentage, but was swayed by the arguments from local people to not support it.

And several others said they were ready to finally support a large planning application in the parish after rejecting several others, until they went to visit the site and changed their mind.

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Planning chair Paul Carter and others said they were unwilling to see a number of trees be removed from the land to accommodate the plans.

Cllr Ian Holmes said: “It would be desecration to build there.”

Many residents also said they did not want to see building outside the village boundary, but were told the plan would still be within guidelines.

This is because of an exception in planning rules which say if a proposal has 66 per cent affordable homes, as the Westhayes plan does, then it could be acceptable to build outside the ‘Built Up Area Boundary’.

But Councillor Roger Giles said just because it fulfilled the ‘exceptions’ clause, did not mean they should support it, and argued the flooding risk to surrounding properties would be greatly increased by plans.

East Devon District Council will make the final decision on the application.