Planning officers say residents’ anger on doctors’ surgery fiasco in Newton Poppleford is ‘understandable’ - but still recommend plans for approval

The anger of residents is ‘understandable’, planning officers admit, after developers look set to break their promise of building a new doctors’ in Newton Poppleford.

Clinton Devon Estates were granted planning permission to build 40 new homes off King Alfred Way in Newton Poppleford in 2013.

The scheme included setting aside land for a new doctors' surgery.

But the developer has now asked for permission to two build additional homes on the land where the surgery was due to be built.

It comes after the Coleridge Medical Centre, which was due to take over the new surgery, withdrew last year after NHS funding fell through.

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Newton Poppleford and Harpford Parish Council objected to the revised application, saying: "We feel that it is disingenuous of the applicant, having been granted planning permission on the basis of the pledge of a doctor's surgery, to now seek to walk away from their promise.

"On the face of it this now appears to be yet another example of a developer saying anything in order to win the case for development, only to go back on their word when it comes to providing a valuable societal facility."

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Despite the comments, the plans have been recommended for approval by East Devon District Council's development management committee, which will decide on the application when it meets next Tuesday.

The planning officer's report says that while the anger of residents is 'understandable', the change in position of the applicant from promising the provision of a doctor's surgery, to now proposing two homes, is not a matter that could justify a refusal in planning terms.

The report adds its disappointment that Clinton Devon Estates chose not to expand on the justification for their application or to engage further with the parish council in discussions following the deferral of the application from the March meeting of the planning committee.

It added: "In itself however, these are not reasons that can be used to justify a refusal of planning permission.

"The planning merits of the proposal being that a doctor's surgery on the site was never justified or required in planning terms, as such there is no planning justification to resist the loss of the provision of a doctor's that was never required or justified in planning terms."

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