Row over housing site workshop

A residents association was labelled ‘misguided’ after it held a workshop to identify sites for possible housing development ahead of creating a village plan.

Councillor Claire Wright said West Hill Residents Association (WHRA) had been well meaning, but said the meeting’s results would be ‘misused’ by developers.

She criticised the association in her monthly newsletter to Ottery Town Council, and at Tuesday’s meeting several members of WHRA spoke out in defence of the workshop.

Dan Jelly, its chairman, said the workshop on April 17 was a pro-active and practical approach to tackling where the 35 new homes for West Hill allocated in the draft Local Plan will be accommodated.

A summary of its results, including the three potential housing sites which had come out on top, was posted on the WHRA website and sent to East Devon District Council (EDDC).

It said despite a variety a views, ‘a broad consensus emerged’, adding the conclusions did not imply support for any current or future proposals.

But Cllr Wright said: ““I believe that the exercise carried out by WHRA was well-meaning, but deeply misguided.

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“I do not believe that its results are sound or reliable. However, they are potentially damaging to the village.”

She called on the Town Council to ask EDDC to strike the document from their record, saying it could prejudice any future consultations on development.

Mayor Glyn Dobson agreed, saying WHRA had ‘jumped the gun’, and asked district councillor Tony Howard to speak with EDDC’s planning department.

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