Council’s private meeting notes published

Plans for new homes have been submitted to the council.

Plans for new homes have been submitted to the council. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Details of a controversial behind-closed-doors meeting between Ottery Town Council and a major developer have been made public by the mayor.

Notes from the meeting with representatives of Persimmon Homes include information about access, plans for trees and questions councillors asked the developer - but the number of homes and possible layout remain confidential.

Councillor Glyn Dobson said that notes from the private talks were being made available because councillors were concerned people had ‘got the wrong idea’ about their intentions.

Nine members of the town council attended the meeting on December 11 to discuss an up-coming application from the developer to build new houses in West Hill.

“There has been a lot of interest in this meeting from members of the public,” said Cllr Dobson.

“The application is still at an early stage – the developer hasn’t finalised all of the details yet - so they wanted details on the number of houses and the possible layout of the site to remain confidential.”

During the meeting, Shaun Pettitt, land manager for Persimmon South West, said he felt that West Hill ‘needed some level of growth’ and that a site north of Oak Road was ‘right for development’.

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He added that the new homes ‘would add no burden to the centre of the village’ and that the trees in the perimeter of the field – in particular the oak in the centre - would not be felled.

Councillors asked Mr Pettitt on the access to the site, if the plans would adhere to the village’s design statement and how residents and services in West Hill might benefit from the development.

He added: “We will be engaging with the local residents of West Hill with a beneficial public exhibition and leaflet drops, but there is still a lot of technical work to do before consultation.

“There is no fixed time scale at the moment but it will be next year.”

None of the town council’s four West Hill representatives attended the meeting, but two live close to the site and said they had stayed away because they were concerned about a possible conflict of interest.

West Hill councillor Jessica Bailey said she had not attended because she did not feel comfortable entering into a confidentiality agreement with a developer.

“And I thought it was a pointless exercise if I couldn’t tell residents living near the site about what was being planned,” she added.

A copy of the notes taken at the meeting is available to view at the town council office.