Controversial plans for 53 homes in Yelland, which developers have been trying to build for the last 39 years, have been approved subject to conditions by North Devon Council’s planning committee.
The proposed development, on land just off Allenstyle, has been contentious for nearly four decades, with seven different planning applications being submitted for the site since 1974.
More than 20 residents attended the plans committee at North Devon Council yesterday afternoon to raise objections to the application.
Charles Rhodes, a resident and member of the Allenstyle Action Group, addressed the committee by describing the development as “wrong” and suggesting it would have an “adverse effect on the countryside”.
He said: “We feel strongly that this is the wrong place for this development especially when you take into account the recently approved plans for the former Fremington Army Camp and Tews Lane.
“The houses are not in-keeping with both the demographic and landscape and it would have a negative impact on the landscape.
“We hope you will show localism is still alive in North Devon by refusing this application.”
Developers have been trying to build on the land for the last 39 years, with applications being submitted to the council in 1974, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1985, 1986 and 2012.
The most recent plan was initially turned down by North Devon Council late last year before going to the planning inspectorate on appeal.
A planning inspector decided the council had been right to refuse the plan, on grounds the benefits of the scheme didn’t outweigh the harm caused to the area. Specifically, the inspector said the plan didn’t provide enough affordable homes.
The latest application is identical to the last, but with an increased percentage of affordable homes.
A decision on the application was put off last month to enable members of the committee to attend a visit to the site, which protestors made their feelings known at last night.
During yesterday's meeting planning officer Keith Bines outlined the history of the site and said he would recommend it for approval given that there is “a need to supply affordable homes in this district”.
The most recent plan offers 30% affordable housing, of which 75% will be socially rented.
North Devon Council has received 80 letters objecting to the development, which has been legally challenged by residents on the grounds it didn’t have to be determined if it has been refused at appeal within the last two years.
However, despite passionate representations from the residents, the committee voted in favour of approving the application subject to several planning conditions.
The conditions outlined by the committee include that the affordable housing is primarily bungalows, with some one and a half story homes to the rear of the site, and that the development is constructed with sufficient drainage and that the plans are tied to a 106 agreement and conditions and contributions are to be agreed by the planning manager and the ward members.
Eight people voted in favour of the approval and three voted against.
Allenstyle resident Mary Pickering, 76, described the decision as “shambolic”.
She said: “I’m not happy with it at all. Do we as residents not have a say at all? The road is a disgrace and if they start building there will be lorries coming up and down all day long. By the time this development is finished Yelland Road will be like the A39.”
Councillor Frank Biederman, ward member for Fremington Rural, said the decision was “disappointing” for residents.
He said: “It’s not what local people wanted but life is full of compromise. If there are bungalows I think it will be in-keeping with the local area, have less impact on the landscape and will attract older residents which will free up family homes in the town centre.”