CONTROVERSIAL plans for up to 820 homes on the outskirts of Barnstaple have moved a step closer to becoming reality this week.
The outline planning application for Larkbear, between Sticklepath and Lake, was recommended for approval by Barnstaple Town Council on Thursday night, when its planning committee met to discuss the plans.
And with the council having already discussed the plans in depth at a full meeting, there was limited discussion as councillors voted to recommend approval for the scheme, subject to the condition it is again consulted when the full application is put forward.
The news has disappointed members of the Larkbear Action Group, which counts hundreds of Lake and Sticklepath residents among its members.
A spokesman for the group said the decision had not come as a surprise.
But they pointed out how the town council was simply a consultee in the planning process, not the determining authority, and said that meant the group remained upbeat about the prospects of fighting the application.
“Barnstaple Town Council would have needed to put forward valid planning considerations to have recommended refusal,” said the spokesman.
“Surprisingly these do not include an increase in traffic congestion, pollution, lack of infrastructure, loss of agricultural land and green fields or harm to wildlife.”
They also said the group understood the town council must consider the plan in isolation, not alongside a number of other proposed developments in and around Barnstaple, which the group claimed would have a “cumulative and catastrophic effect on North Devon”.
The group spokesman also said it had received a good response in the wake of an appeal in the Journal for residents opposed to development across North Devon to join forces with the group.
“We’ve made contact with many, if not all, like-minded action groups in and around Barnstaple and Torridge, representing at least 2,000 plus people,” they said.
“A joint strategy is being planned with a view to endeavouring to protect the idyllic green fields and market town status of North Devon as opposed to it becoming an urban sprawl.”
North Devon Council planning officer Keith Bines said: “Barnstaple Town Council, as an adjoining parish, is a consultee and its views will be given due weight in arriving at a recommendation for the planning committee.”