Massive 820 homes plan for Devon approved

The tyranny of the five-year land supply, land-banking and outline planning permissions  – Owl

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

Plans for 820 new homes to be built on the outskirts of Barnstaple have been given the go-ahead by planners.

North Devon Council’s planning committee on Wednesday morning unanimously backed the outline scheme for Landkey, with planning officer Jean Watkins telling the committee that the potential ramifications of denying planning permission were “catastrophic.”

Officers had recommended that the scheme, which could eventually take 11 years to complete, be given the go-ahead, and councillors at the meeting backed the recommendation despite concerns over how the site would be accessed, and the low level of affordable housing, described as ‘disappointing’.

Access into the site is set to be from a roundabout at the Landkey junction on the A361, but a planned secondary access through neighbouring Westacott Park was stopped by the council last month following an outcry from local residents, and the council voting not to sell the land.

Some nearby residents fear a build up of traffic in the area that will lead to the 820 new home becoming a cul-de-sac, but the council decided to approve the project despite being unsure of what, if any, secondary access road can be delivered.

Artist impression of the completed project and the new roundabout at Landkey. Credit: North Devon Council

Artist impression of the completed project and the new roundabout at Landkey. Credit: North Devon Council

Cllr Malcolm Prowse had described the lack of a link road as a “tragedy.” He said: It ain’t gonna work – we have got to sort out sustainable links for this site to the rest of Barnstaple.”

He argued the public would criticise the council for not insisting on more affordable housing in the plans, a concern shared by several members of the planning committee.

But officers had recommended the plans be approved, and the councillors voting in favour, as without the scheme, the council would not be able to demonstrate a five year land supply, and thus would be at risk of hostile and unwelcome applications on sites not allocated or wanted for development.

The development by East Midlands company Barwood Land will include at least 82 affordable homes, with a potential for up to 25 more. It will include a new primary school and community hub and is believed it could create between 600 to 650 new jobs around Barnstaple.

The report of officers, recommending approval, said: “The scheme will deliver much needed housing including affordable housing in the form of a new community with a school and neighbourhood hub at its heart. There is a new employment zone planned with good access to the A361.

“Cycle and pedestrian links will connect the site back to the Whiddon Valley area and onwards to the links to the town centre and the Community Hub has been planned to contain recreational, social and business facilities and is at the heart of this new development.”

It added: “The key issue is how to deliver the Local Plan’s aspiration of a secondary access back into Whiddon Valley. It is not within this applicant’s control to deliver this link but routes to the site boundary will be provided to allow for onward connection should this link be agreed in time. It is also recognised that it will take between 500-600 units to be constructed before such a link is feasible for safety reasons and to ensure that frontage development is planned.

“The link to Westacott road in whatever form will not be an instant requirement which will allow other options, and if a secondary access is not agreed, then in highway terms the use of a sole point of access from the A361 does not result in safety issues, but in sustainability terms the layout does not connect one community well to another.

“It is not considered to be good place making without such a link, but this application is not considered to fail without a link, particularly as Devon County Council now advise that a bus service can be provided which will support the Park and Change.”

Artist impression of a bird\'s-eye view of the completed project. Credit: North Devon Council

Artist impression of a bird\’s-eye view of the completed project. Credit: North Devon Council

It concluded: “On balance, it is considered that the outline application is acceptable and will provide sustainable development, deliver much needed housing using a well-conceived Masterplan which emphases green infrastructure and a balance of facilities.”

Planning officer Jean Watkins described the potential ramifications of denying planning permission in one word: “catastrophic.”

Councillors voted in favour of the scheme, with a reserved matters application of the detail of the application needed to be submitted and approved before construction can begin.

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