Cullompton homes rejected to preserve countryside character

Plans for 21 homes near Cullompton have been refused because of their impact on the countryside.

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk 

The application would have led to the properties being built at Westcott, a small community by the main road to Exeter which is home to The Merry Harriers Inn.

A report to the Mid Devon planning committee on Wednesday said the mix of single and two-storey homes, nine of which are classed as ‘affordable’, had been designed “to a high environmental standard” and included solar panels.

But it concluded the scheme was “located in the countryside and outside of a defined settlement within the local plan.”

It added: “The development will result in a market led housing scheme in an unsustainable location that fails to preserve the character and appearance of the countryside.”

Officers therefore recommended refusal, a sentiment shared by members of the committee.

Speaking at the meeting, applicant Mr Rowe claimed the council’s planning team had previously supported his application for Westcott, only to change their stance in January.

He said “like stupid sheep” he and his team had agreed to alter a previous application to the updated low-energy one, on the basis of having officers’ support.

Mr Rowe then warned that his appeal statement: “has been prepared and written” should his proposal be rejected, “and this time we will have no hesitation in claiming full costs. This is over a six-figure sum.”

However, members of the council were told the application was located outside a settlement boundary not included in the local plan, a decision unaltered by the location of a bus stop nearby.

A planning officer added that it was not considered to be an “exception site” to this rule, due to the majority of the homes being planned for sale on the open market.

Members refused the scheme by a margin of eight to none, with three abstentions.

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