“A neighbourhood plan focus group has apologised to the Budleigh Salterton community after a bid to save the entire hospital garden from development failed.
The former hospital garden, in Boucher Road, had been listed in the draft neighbourhood plan as one of the key green spaces to be protected from future development.
It had also previously been earmarked for health and wellbeing activities for a new hub being built on the site of the former hospital.
In February this year, landowner Clinton Devon Estates (CDE) put in a planning application to build two houses on half of the site, keeping the other half as a public-access garden.
An independent examiner assessing the town’s draft neighbourhood plan requested more information clarifying the importance of the hospital garden.
Chartered town planners Bell Cornwell, on behalf of CDE, wrote a letter to the examiner confirming that the planned public access garden would be “more than adequate” for hub activities.
One of the examiner’s alterations to the plan, ratified by the district council, was that the area of protected green space in the garden be reduced by half.
Nicola Daniel, on behalf of the Budleigh Neighbourhood Plan Built and Natural Environment Focus Group, has apologised for not being able to secure the whole garden for the town.
In a letter to the Journal (see page 20), she said: “By the time we saw this letter it was too late to challenge it. We were outmanoeuvred.
“Bell Cornwell was given more weight than the expert knowledge of the medical practitioners involved in setting up the hub, who know the full benefits of having the entire garden as a facility for the health and wellbeing hub and its success.”
In response, a CDE spokesman said: “CDE has for many years supported the NHS in Budleigh Salterton and, more recently, the Budleigh Salterton Hospital League of Friends, by making available the garden area off Boucher Road.
“We submitted proposals to East Devon District Council which include keeping half the garden, nearest the site of the new health hub, as a garden which would be open to the public for the first time.
“Our position has not changed since the application was submitted.”