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Controversial land earmarked as Torridge's first gypsy and traveller site is sold

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: September 06, 2012

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A CONTROVERSIAL piece of land on which Torridge District Council spent £100,000 has been sold – for £67,000.

Holsworthy's Derriton Quarry was once earmarked as Torridge's first gypsy and traveller site.

But it was put up for sale by the council after the idea was abandoned.

Dave Whitaker, 59, of Dave Whitaker and Son Tractor Ltd in Holsworthy, bought the land for £67,000 on August 21 at a public action held by Kivells.

The land, which had a guide price of £60,000, fetched more on auction day with about half a dozen people bidding.

Mr Whitaker, who will be clearing and tidying the site, said he was pleased to have won the auction.

He said: "I don't know what we will do with the land yet."

He revealed he had no plans to use it as a future yard for the firm's machinery."

Barry Parsons, leader of Torridge District Council said: "The good news is that the majority of the money raised by selling the site at Derriton will go into the housing pot for Torridge.

"It will be allocated in the form of loans made to potentially vulnerable households on low incomes to help make improvements to their housing standards.

"This is in accordance with the council's housing renewal policy.

"The £7,000 made above the reserve price will go into the capital funding programme."

Derriton Quarry was put on the market after Torridge District Council decided not to renew its planning permission, after having spent around £100,000 of taxpayers' money.

The council paid around £60,000 to buy the former quarry from Devon County Council and then a further £40,000 making improvements to it.

Previously, it received an £840,000 government grant to fund the project to turn it into a traveller site.

The money was handed back to the Homes and Communities Agency after the council abandoned the plans.

The quarry had been previously used by Devon County Council as a highways depot.

Richard Brown, former mayor of Holsworthy, was a district councillor who opposed the initial plans to create the gypsy and traveller site.

He said: "This is as good a result as could be expected. Dave has a sound reputation locally. I feel he will approach the quarry in a sensible manner.

"It doesn't reflect well on all the authorities concerned. Far too much public money was squandered.

"I am relieved it didn't go for the purpose it was originally intended."

"It doesn't reflect well on all the authorities concerned. Far too much public money was squandered."

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