‘Once in a lifetime’ opportunity hopes dashed after proposals for new community centre are shelved.

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A BIDEFORD councillor has slammed Torridge District Council for how it has handled proposals for a ‘groundbreaking’ community centre that were scrapped last week.

Cllr Tony Inch contacted the Gazette after reading our report last week that housing giant Redrow had removed proposals for The Bridge Centre from its planning application at Moreton Park playing fields after discussions with Torridge planning officers.

Cllr Inch, who is ward member for Bideford South and sits on Bideford Town Council, said he believed the proposal was shelved due to a breakdown in communications.

He said: “It is a big shame; this would be wonderful for Torridge and North Devon.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity but if we don’t watch out it is going to be missed.

“Torridge ought to be told there is a need for it and we ought to be standing up now and shouting about it.”

His views are echoed by chairman of the Devon Community Foundation Mike Bull, who recently visited Wings South West, the charity behind the proposals.

Mr Bull said: “The Bridge Centre is the most fantastic opportunity for Bideford and for the whole of Torridge.

“The plans have potential to bring huge facilities to the area at no cost to the public sector at all.

“I just cannot understand people not jumping at this opportunity.”

A Redrow spokesman said the developers were always keen to include the Bridge Centre as part of the proposals.

The spokesman said: “It has been made clear to us that Torridge District Council do not believe the proposal would be viable.

“There would need to be a change in the stance of the council which would have to be progressed immediately.”

Cllr Inch, who called the application in to the planning committee in March, is now urging residents to write to the council and outline the need for the Bridge Centre.

“The officers don’t believe there is a need for it but I think there really is,” he said.

“The council have got to listen and if we can get everyone to shout about this they will have no choice.”

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