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HONITON: Mixed response to latest housing plans

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Members of Honiton Town Council’s planning committee have urged a housing developer to ensure its proposed new homes at Ottery Moor Lane are more affordable for first-time buyers. Spen Hill Developments is looking to build 150 new properties on land at Ottery Moor Lane, which could mean some businesses currently based at the site will have to relocate. Town councillors met to discuss the outline application last week, agreeing to support the proposals at this stage. But they raised initial concerns about potential traffic congestion, access problems and, in particular, the proportion of social housing at the site. Commenting on the proposals, which will be scrutinised by district council planning bosses before any decision is made, Councillor Les Bayliss said it was vital that any new homes should be available to younger buyers looking to enter the market. He said: “This is an important aspect [of the application], especially in light of the current situation with mortgages. “We have to look further ahead than four or five years for younger people who want housing. We already have a chronic shortage now. “They are suggesting less than 40 per cent affordable housing, but that needs to be higher.” Councillors also recommended the developer contribute to the cost of improvement works at the Turk’s Head junction, as part of the application. Work at the often-congested entrance point to the town is due to be carried out in line with construction of the new Premier Inn hotel, but the committee called for Spenhill to help fund the improvements. There is further uncertainty about the impact of the application on sports provision at the nearby Mountbatten Park, as well as concern that businesses will be forced to relocate. Andy Norman-Pawley, from the Car Maintenance Centre, currently based in Ottery Moor Lane, warned that the development could cause serious problems for some employees. He said: “[The development would] take away employment opportunities with nowhere to relocate causing unrest and possible poverty for five employees of one business alone.” Another commentator, John Opie of Goonvean Fibres, warned that the application threatened his company’s investment in training, employment and equipment. Residents who spoke in favour of the proposals during the meeting last week pointed to the site’s close proximity to town centre facilities, which they argued would support a “healthy community”.

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