Ilfracombe Bus Station plans go before council today

Joseph Bulmer

Scheme for 50 flats is recommended for approval

AN alternative scheme for Ilfracombe Bus Station site might not bear fruit as North Devon Council meets today (Wednesday) to decide the current application for 50 flats – with a recommendation for approval.

The existing bid to demolish the old bus station buildings and create four blocks of flats plus four commercial units has proved deeply unpopular with locals, generating 46 objection letters and a 1,109 signature petition.

Many said it was too intensive for the harbour area and that the site should be used for something else, such as car parking or leisure facilities. They said it would also lead to increased traffic problems.

New designs for a viable alternative were the subject of a recent public consultation but a report to tomorrow’s 2pm planning meeting at the Civic Centre now says applicant Omnium Ilfracombe Ltd has made it clear the proposal already on the table should be determined.

The officer’s report makes a recommendation for approval and said the application – revised following an original submission in 2008 – had a contemporary design which complimented its location and lessened the impact on surrounding properties.

Ilfracombe Town Councillor Rod Donovan, engineer Peter French and resident Bert Gear put together a more sympathetic design proposal which they hoped would still prove viable for developers but meet with more approval from the community.

It suggested a mix of town houses and maisonettes, plus three cottages, two commercial units and four flats, totalling around 30 dwellings.

Mr Donovan said a fair number of people were expected to attend tomorrow’s meeting:

“We have to try and persuade the committee to go against the recommendation,” he said.

“We were asked by the architects to come up with an alternative, which we have, but at the same time the original goes to planning tomorrow. The planners are out of time and have to determine it by law.”

To heap more problems on the fledgling alternative, Mr Donovan and they other designers were set to meet with the Environment Agency yesterday (Thursday) to see if their scheme was viable, since it was stipulated the original had to be built above ground level due to flood risk.