Up to 30 new homes will be built on the outskirts of Topsham, despite concerns about road safety. Heritage Developments’ outline application for a green field site along Newcourt Road was approved by Exeter City Council’s planning committee on Monday, which will see the Topsham Gap get even smaller.
Ollie Heptinstall www.devonlive.com
35 per cent of the properties will be classed as ‘affordable,’ while the meeting was told the homes will be ‘net zero.’ This includes triple glazing throughout, air source heat pumps, solar panels and electric car charging points.
Located between the M5 and the Avocet railway line, Newcourt Road is currently the location of a number of new developments and recently-granted planning applications, leading local resident Ben Fitzpatrick to raise concerns about safety.
“Newcourt Road is a narrow, single track, country-style lane, with extremely restricted blind corners,” he said. “Worse than this – [there are] no footways along the majority of it, including at the worst end.”
Mr Fitzpatrick said the road was “dangerous” and “clogged at peak times.” He criticised the use of 2018 traffic data – before the recent housing developments were built – to help to assess road safety.
Councillors were told another survey had been carried out by an objector, showing significantly higher levels of traffic along the road, less than a week before the meeting. It came with a request to defer the application.
However, an officer for Devon County Council, which concluded it was “satisfied that safe and suitable access can be achieved to the site,” said the 2018 traffic survey was “perfectly applicable” given it had “taken into account future developments.”
Applicant David Lovell, from Heritage Developments, questioned the veracity of the objector’s survey, adding: “After allowing for this development and all other existing planning permissions, traffic movements on Newcourt Road will still be less than half the maximum threshold set out in national guidance.”
But he committed to adding pavements around the front of the site “to futureproof Newcourt Road for any future further developments.”
Mr Lovell also reminded councillors that the properties will be net zero homes and said he had no problem with including a play park in the development’s open space.
Council leader Phil Bialyk (Labour, Exwick) suggested the principle of housing at the location was broadly accepted, but called on the county council to “step up” and put in a “proper traffic management plan” as a condition for outline planning approval. However, he was told this was outside of the committee’s powers.
Councillor Rob Hannaford (Labour, St Thomas) said he would raise the issue of road safety at a future meeting of the Exeter highways and traffic orders committee (HATOC), on which he also sits.
Backing the scheme, Cllr Hannaford concluded: “We have a housing shortage. We need more housing across the board. These are family homes and there’s good provision of affordable and social housing.”
The application was approved by 11 votes to three. A final stage ‘reserved matters’ application containing the finer details will be brought back to the committee at a later date.