The layout plan for a new school and houses at Thorne Farm, presented in October’s public consultation. Picture: Devon County Council
A planning application that ‘flies in the face of’ local democracy is to be debated by Ottery Town Council next week.
Devon County Council wants to build up to 150 homes on land that local people had voted to safeguard from development.
The site opposite Barrack Farm is allocated for educational and community use only in the Ottery and West Hill Neighbourhood Plan, and the application is also contrary to the Local Plan adopted by East Devon District Council.
Ottery Town Council is due to discuss its response on Thursday, September 3, with the final decision to be made by East Devon District Council.
The county council says the housing development is needed to pay for a new school to replace Tipton St John Primary, which would be built on another part of the site.
A spokesman for the council said: “We are well aware of the very complex issues surrounding this application and the difficult decision that planners will have to make.”
But he said there is a ‘clear and demonstrable need’ for Tipton St John primary school to be relocated, and for a new primary school in Ottery St Mary to tackle a shortage of places.
He added that nearly a third of the new houses would be affordable and a large part of the site would be set aside for public green space.
He said: “The agreed plan for the area allocates land for education and community use and it is our contention that all of these benefits should be taken into account in deciding the application.”
The application for the school and homes has attracted 131 objections and 17 expressions of support.
People in both camps agree that the existing school needs to be replaced, as it is housed in out-of-date buildings and has frequently flooded in the past.
But while there is some disagreement over whether a relocation to Ottery is right, the vast majority of the objectors are united against the housing development.
One person commented: “This plan flies in the face of the democratic District and Neighbourhood planning process.”
Another said: “The people of Ottery St Mary voted overwhelmingly to support and adopt a Local Plan which excluded the area in question from development. Therefore residential development cannot happen.”