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'Stalled sites' group held up as example to other councils

By This is Devon  |  Posted: March 17, 2011

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ILFRACOMBE'S Stalled Sites Group has become so successful, it is being used as a benchmark for other councils on how to handle sites that have fallen into inaction or disrepair.

The shining example is now broadening its remit to include emerging development sites, and has changed its name to the Development Sites Group to reflect its expansion.

Members, who come from Ilfracombe Town Council, North Devon Council, The North Devon+ Joint Delivery Team and Transform, will be forward planning as well as continuing to press for stalled sites to be tidied up or redeveloped.

Town councillor Philip Webb explained: "We are not just looking at the sites that are eyesores, but will start to look at new sites, before planning permission is even granted.

"Killacleave is a prime example as the town council's strategy proposes more than 1,000 new homes there.

"We are in discussion with landowners and planners, to make sure we have input on what the town wants and needs, rather than having things imposed upon us.

"If we had been working with the bus station site owners from the beginning like this, we wouldn't have the current debacle."

Town council officer Andrea Beacham added: "The Ilfracombe group is now being held up as an example to other councils of how it should be done.

"We have had a request for an officer from Mid Devon District Council to sit in on the next meeting to see how it works."

Among the success of the former Stalled Sites Group were the re-starting of work at the McCarthy and Stone site of the old Cliffe Hydro Hotel and the redevelopment of the Berkeley Hotel.

They also talked to Wetherspoons to encourage movement on the Collingwood Hotel development.

The group is still in talks with owners of other eyesore sites, including the flattened Montebello Hotel.

"We haven't forgotten stalled sites though, and the good thing is that people are coming to us with sites they would like included on our list."

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