‘Landmark’ Devon ruling could spark surge in affordable homes – N Devon

Council owned land in Bideford, Great Torrington and Northam are being considered for affordable or mixed housing developments after a “landmark” council decision.

[Independents form the largest grouping in Torridge, a District Council with no overall political control – owl]

Alex Davis www.devonlive.com

Torridge District Councillors voted overwhelmingly to support at a Full Council Meeting on Monday (October 31) after an evaluation of all council owned property by architectural consultants in July. In total, councillors voted to progress 11 of the 12 sites evaluated, which included a mixture of council owned garage units, vacant land, car parks, and offices spread across multiple parishes.

The full council decision does not mean that housing will be developed for each of the sites, with the studies only highlighting council land suitable for development. Before any planning applications are submitted, more detailed proposals and a business case will be presented to the full council. Proposals will also be drafted in consultation with elected ward members to allow residents to have their say on any upcoming applications.

The list of sites approved for further progression included:

  • Pynes Lane Garages, Bideford
  • Springfield Car Park, Chanters Road, Bideford
  • End of Ethelwynne Brown Close, Bideford
  • Land at Cliveden Road, Bideford East
  • Land at Cleave Wood, Bideford East
  • Bone Hill Car Park, Northam
  • Jackets Lane, Northam
  • Windmill Lane Offices and Car Park, Northam
  • Garages, Tuckers Park, Bradworthy
  • Land at The Crescent, Langtree
  • Part of South Street Car Park, Great Torrington

The development of affordable housing in Torridge aims to tackle the ongoing housing crisis in the region, with a lack in affordable housing “pricing out” residents from their communities. In November 2021, Devon County Council said the lack of affordable housing was leaving many key worker vacancies unfilled, with suitable candidates unable to find a home in a nearby area.

Councillor Ken James – Leader of Torridge District Council said: “This was an important exercise to look at sites owned by the council and to bring forward those that were suitable for housing, which Councillors have previously agreed is a key strategic priority. The reports were commissioned to include a strongly weighted balance in favour of affordable or social housing and this will be our goal in decisions regarding the final agreement of designs for each site.

“I appreciate that in some instances this has asked for a sacrifice of the current or partial use of some sites but this was carefully weighed in respect of the urgent need for housing in each area. I thank councillors for their support in bringing the chosen sites a step closer to delivery.”

Councillor Rachel Clarke – Lead Member for Housing Options and Homelessness said: “This is significant step towards delivering on our pledge to do everything we can as a council to alleviate the housing crisis affecting our residents in Torridge. The availability of affordable units seems to shrink with each passing quarter while prices have only increased. Anything we can do to reverse this trend is important and collectively we have taken a thoughtful approach to making a better use of some of our assets. I look forward to the final proposals being drawn up shortly and to see the plans implemented. In the meantime, we will also continue to look for other ways in which we can address this ongoing issue”

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