Ottery 'Legoland' development hangs in balance

THE fate of a proposed �2.5million town centre Ottery development, labelled as looking like 'Legoland' , is hanging in the balance.

THE fate of a proposed �2.5million town centre Ottery development, labelled as looking like "Legoland", is hanging in the balance.

Planning chiefs will visit the Marist Convent grounds next Friday (October 30), before deciding if a controversial bid to build townhouses, apartments, a shop and office there becomes a reality.

Scores of passionate residents joined town officials on Tuesday in urging East Devon District Council (EDDC) Development Management Committee members to reject the proposals, saying it would be a "scandal" to give them the go-ahead.

Experts last week recommended the committee should approve the bid.

"Ottery deserves better than this," said county and district councillor Roger Giles, who urged members to see the land for themselves.

"This is the most important site in the town, it is so visually prominent. It would be a scandal to allow this development in this way," he added.

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"These plans would destroy our most important and attractive outlook."

Resident Linda White said her family's Franklea Close home of 30 years would be "imprisoned" by the development.

"The impact would be absolutely devastating and have a serious affect on our quality of life," she said.

Mrs White added the development would have a detrimental affect on "the jewel in Ottery's crown", views from its historic church, and would "overshadow" the Old Convent building.

Residents who helped build Franklea Close raised concerns over stability of the land, saying it was "unpredictable."

"I don't want a JCB going through my kitchen window," said Tip Hill homeowner Peter Faithfull, whose property is directly below a 20ft vertical cliff on top of which the Convent land lies.

"The cliff face needs stabilising," said Mr Faithfull, "I've removed around 56 tonnes of landfill from my garden in 15 years, without development work going on up there."

A planning consultant representing Sea Valley Properties argued the developer's case, saying "detailed" changes had been made to address concerns.

There was also outrage that the developer has asked EDDC to waive a community cash demand (a section 106 agreement), normally demanded to compensate for a project's impact on town infrastructure.

Town councillor John Harding said this was "completely unacceptable", and warned members over setting a precedence for other developers to "plead poverty".

Ottery district councillor David Cox said: "What we are faced with here is a developer who has bought land at the top of the market and is now trying to squeeze out as much as possible."

"These designs simply aren't good enough.