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OTTERY: Councillors angry over use of developer’s community cash

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

AN OTTERY councillor has claimed the town is being “sold down the river”, as a dispute over a developer’s community contributions resurfaced last week. Councillor Roger Giles made the comments during a town council meeting last Monday, where members expressed their anger over Redrow Homes’ approach to cash donations. A recent request by the town council for a small percentage of the developer’s open space contributions to be spent on urgent repair work at Ottery St Mary Football Club had been rejected, councillors were told. The request - for just £5,000 to repair the club’s damaged kitchen roof - could not be granted because the terms of the agreement specified improvements only to the pitches themselves. Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Roger Giles said he was concerned that the majority of the community funds would be spent on preparing the town’s allotments for another planning application. He said: “It seems to me that Redrow is wanting to use that money, instead of providing facilities for the community. “They want to give us nothing at all and to use the whole amount to facilitate their next planning application. That is appalling.” In June, councillors were outraged to learn that the developer’s open space contribution of £230,000 had been halved, following renegotiation with district council planning bosses. The money had been earmarked for various sports and recreational projects in the town, but Ottery councillors were not told about changes to the agreement. Responding to the possibility of the remaining money being spent on the allotments, Mayor of Ottery Councillor Glyn Dobson said: “That is not how it was put to us. Surely there has to be a new section 106 [community funding] agreement for any new homes they want to build.” Councillors were unanimous in their anger over the developer’s actions, and concerns remain that Ottery needs more investment in its infrastructure and community facilities to keep up with the pace of development. Councillor Martin Thurgood said he was not “shocked or surprised, but merely disappointed” by the decision, and Councillor Jessica Bailey said it was “nonsense” that the money was “sitting there” but could not be used to fix the football club roof. Councillor Paul Carter, chair of the council’s planning committee, warned that members needed to be more “proactive” when dealing with developers in the future. He added: “We had the opportunity to work with them [Redrow] but we decided we did not want anything to do with them. There is no surprise to this.” Councillors are due to meet with representatives from Redrow to discuss the future of the allotments this week.


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