Ottery Convent bid set for 'ok'

THE controversial development of Ottery s Marist Convent grounds has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

THE controversial development of Ottery's Marist Convent grounds has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

Despite outrage from residents and Ottery officials, East Devon District Council (EDDC) experts have also said developers shouldn't have to stump up community cash to compensate for the project's impact on town infrastructure- as it will make too much of a dent on their profits.

While Ottery town councillors were this week incensed by the recommendation, a Sea Valley Properties representative defended the project, saying the firm has "bent over backwards" to address concerns, and any community money demand, known as a section 106 agreement, would render the bid "unaffordable."

EDDC development management committee members will decide tomorrow (Tuesday, October 20 ) if plans to build four townhouses, eight apartments, a shop and office on the acre of land will become a reality.

Members have been advised in a report by planning officers to give the bid the green-light and waive a Section 106 cash agreement, as, even without it the developer's profits will be "exceptionally low."

Education bosses wanted more than �60,000 from Sea Valley to cover the impact they felt the project would have on local schools. "Astonished" town councillors have vowed to write to local MP Angela Browning over the issue.

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However, Sea Valley representative Adam Strachan-Stephens has defended the bid, and told the Herald: "Developers are allowed to make a reasonable profit

"There is a real local housing shortage and this development would create attractive and affordable homes in the centre of the town, as well as creating employment opportunities.

"Because of the project's poor financial outlook, a section 106 agreement would make the development unaffordable.

"We have bent over backwards to take everything residents have said into consideration, made significant changes to buildings, and commissioned specialist reports."

Mr Strachan-Stephens also said concerns over the stability of the site, water run-off, fears from residents over a nearby cliff-face and worries over protected badgers and slow-worms have all be addressed.

Town councillor John Harding said he read the EDDC report in "absolute amazement". He added: "It has astonished everybody. I'm worried about the precedence this sets for future applications, It's awful. Anyone can claim they are making no money, the 106 agreement is a crucial extra piece of funding which is so important to us as a town and parish council

-THE Herald this week spoke in depth with a Sea Valley Properties representative, Mr Strachan Stephens, about the project's contentious. Read the interview in full at