Proposals to build nearly 250 new homes in Ottery St Mary are being opposed by the town council.
Philippa Davies www.sidmouthherald.co.uk
Councillors argue that Ottery cannot possibly absorb such a large population increase without the necessary infrastructure – schools, doctors’ surgeries and public amenities.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has identified five sites in Ottery as suitable for a total of 248 homes, as part of its proposals to meet Government housing provision targets across the district. They are Barrack Farm, Thorne Farm, land north and south of Salston Barton, land at Bylands, Slade Road and land at Strawberry Lane. Potential development sites in Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Seaton and Sidmouth have also been identified.
But at an extraordinary meeting of the town council on Tuesday, August 30, councillors rejected all five, and questioned why Ottery was being earmarked for a disproportionately large number of new homes, compared to the other towns.
Cllr Roger Giles said: “Honiton, which is two and a half times larger than Ottery, and has a railway station from which it is possible to reach the heart of Exeter in less than half an hour, is scheduled to receive a smaller number of dwellings – 182 compared to 248.”
He pointed out that the plans would see Exmouth, almost 10 times the size of Ottery, having only 302 homes built.
He said it is also ‘distinctly odd’ that greenfield sites in Ottery have been chosen, when brownfield sites in Honiton are available.
Speaking to the Herald after the meeting, he described the proposals as ‘absurd’ and ‘of very great concern’.
Ottery Town Council has already written to the leader of EDDC, Cllr Paul Arnott, pointing out that both the local primary school and The King’s School are already at capacity and the Coleridge Medical Centre is struggling. The council says Ottery is not against new housing, but wants a modest amount of it, and time for the necessary infrastructure to be put in place.
The letter was read out at Monday’s meeting, which was attended by several members of the public who said they supported the council’s position.
The housing proposals are part of EDDC’s Local Plan for the period 2020 to 2040. Ottery councillors want EDDC to amend the housing proposals for their town before the plan goes out for public consultation in mid-October.