A PLAN for 92 homes and 1,400 square metres of employment land at Glenwood Farm in Roundswell has been given approval, in principle, by North Devon Council.
The plan will see the homes built between the A39 and Roundswell estate, on the edge of Roundswell Business Park, and near to the Tews Lane site, where there is existing planning permission for more than 300 homes.
Debate over the plan centred on whether the road network around the site would be able to cope with the inevitable increase in traffic once the two estates are built.
Some members of North Devon Council’s planning committee registered concern about traffic increases and attempted to refuse permission for the plan.
But they were outvoted by members who thought the plan represented good use of land that was allocated as employment land 13 years ago, but which has never attracted any interest from employers.
Ward member for the area Rodney Cann objected. “It was suggested this land would be for employment and I’m sceptical about the county council’s backing of the plan,” he said.
“With the development at Tews Lane and this one I think it’s a recipe for disaster.”
Chris Turner said: “There is insufficient highway capacity. I have a great deal of local knowledge and this proposal will cause Old Bideford Road to fail and become gridlocked.”
Planning officer Keith Bines said the plan included provision for an access directly on to the A39, but Mr Turner was unimpressed.
“The planning manager’s job is to facilitate development,” he said. “So we will always be told any problems can be overcome.”
But Paul Yabsley said: “Once Tews Lane is built the prospect of industrial use of this land becomes less appealing,” he said. “I think we need to approve this.”
And seven other members of the council agreed, voting for approval of the plan.
Joe Tucker said: “We’re in a position where highways are OK with the plan. If it goes to appeal that wouldn’t stand up very well against our decision to refuse.
“In the recommendation of our officers to approve there’s enough leeway for the plan to come back to us if there are problems.”
‘The developers are dictating to us’
DEVELOPERS are riding roughshod over North Devon Council and its planning department.
That’s the view of one North Devon councillor, who says the time has come to stand up to developers who have inundated the council’s planning offices with schemes for sites across the district.
Deputy leader of the executive Rodney Cann said the time had come to take a stand.
He is particularly upset that many of the schemes seem to be concentrated in small areas.
“I think Fremington is under attack,” he said. “With the schemes currently approved and proposed I quite honestly think the whole south bank of the river Taw will be developed. North Devon is a community under siege.”
Mr Cann’s fears centre on highways issues.
“Devon County Council rather loosely says the road network will be improved but the improvements won’t even address current problems,” he said. “Quality of life will suffer if all these plans go ahead.”
Mr Cann is angered by the fact developers have used the National Planning Policy Framework to force through plans.
The framework tells councils they must supply enough homes to match demand over a five-year period.
And with North Devon not having a local plan in force at the moment, developers have argued repeatedly that the council must approve plans to meet demand.
“We keep being told we don’t have a five-year land supply, but the reality is with all the development planned we have more than enough homes being built to meet demand,” said Mr Cann.
“I think we’ve got to call a halt and stick by what’s in the emerging local plan.
“As things are the tail is wagging the dog and developers are dictating to us.”