Developer appeals after approval for Sidmouth plans come too late

How the redeveloped Green Close could look

How the redeveloped Green Close could look - Credit: Archant

A developer has lodged an appeal after council bosses failed to secure a legal agreement over its plans to build 36 sheltered housing apartments in Sidmouth.

Churchill Retirement Living said East Devon District Council (EDDC) had failed to reach a decision within the allotted time, so the application should now go before a government planning inspector. Its plans, on the site of the closed 23-bed former Green Close care home, were approved in November subject to a £41,000 contribution towards ‘affordable’ housing.

EDDC also tried to impose an ‘overage’ clause that would see it share half the additional profits, if it exceeds current forecasts – but it has been unable to secure the legal agreement necessary to release the planning permission.

In its appeal statement, Churchill said: “This will be an important case relating to the council’s policies and will have implications elsewhere.

“It is also an appeal for non-determination of a planning application, due to the failure of the local planning authority to make a decision within the allotted time – therefore the planning application needs to be considered in full by the planning inspector against national and local planning policy.”

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Town councillors slammed Churchill’s £41,000 offer for ‘affordable’ housing as ‘insulting’ to Sidmouth – claiming the developer stands to ‘make millions’ from the development.

But an EDDC spokeswoman said detailed viability work, which had been independently assessed and verified, showed the ‘relatively modest contribution’ was all the development could afford to provide. She said the council’s development management committee approved the application, subject to a ‘section 106’ agreement to secure the cash, plus the overage clause, adding: “Such clauses are normal practice in East Devon for when a scheme appears unviable and does not meet our policy requirements for infrastructure contributions.

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“Since the resolution, we have been unable to secure an appropriate legal agreement with the developers and therefore have not released the planning permission.

“As a result, the developers have, regrettably, chosen to appeal for non-determination.

“This will result in an independent appeal inspector now considering the proposal and, in particular, considering the issue of overage.”

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