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HONITON:Homes plan could still be scrapped

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

District councillors could yet make a U-turn on a controversial decision to allow a developer to build 300 homes on the edge of Honiton, after health and education bosses this week claimed key services may be at risk. Planning chiefs at East Devon District Council had previously approved the application from developer Welbeck Strategic Land to build the houses on land west of Hayne Lane, on the boundary between Honiton and Gittisham. And campaigners who fought the proposals had been resigned to defeat, after district councillors gave the green light in April. But a long list of comments submitted to the council this week by furious public bodies angry at the decision, persuaded planning bosses to reconsider. District councillors were due to discuss the application again in a meeting at Knowle, Sidmouth, on Friday (July 11th). But a decision was deferred to give planning chiefs enough time to reassess all the information. Councillor Helen Parr, chairman of the district council’s development management committee, said the late submissions from consultees were “unhelpful and regrettable”. But members agreed that it was “democratic” to defer the decision until a later date. Residents had previously raised concerns that the homes would be situated too far from key facilities in Honiton, and that the influx of families would lead to overcrowding at surgeries and schools. Since then, concerns have been raised by EDDC ward member, Councillor Susie Bond, and by Gittisham Parish Council, about the degree of consideration given to the possible impact on Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the run-up to the meeting, comments were received from a number of bodies that had been asked to assess the impact of the application. A letter from NHS bosses sent to the council revealed concern regarding the impact of the development on healthcare infrastructure in Honiton. And correspondence from Devon County Council’s education authority uncovered fears about the future provision of school places at Honiton Primary School, should the development go ahead. EDDC’s Development Manager Ed Freeman told councillors at the meeting: “The comments from the NHS raise new issues of which we were not previously aware. “It is regrettable that some of the consultees mentioned have waited until the eleventh hour before making us aware of the views on this case. However, we have a legal obligation to consider their comments regardless of when they were submitted. Further consideration and discussion needs to take place.” If councillors reject the application, the developer has already indicated that it will consider an appeal, which could delay the decision even further. Gittisham parish councillor David Valentine said the prospect of a reversal on the decision was still up in the air. He said: “In the interests of good planning, I would hope all the new representations are given proper consideration. Whether that will change the balance of opinion, I do not know.”


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