Approve it or lose it, councillors warned

The Mount Sandford Green site on the outskirts of Barnstaple.

The Mount Sandford Green site on the outskirts of Barnstaple. - Credit: Archant

Barnstaple would lose out on massive economic opportunities if Mount sandford Green scheme for 250 homes and business park was turned down today.

The launch of the 'eco house' by Loosemore at the Petroc Sticklepath campus in June 2009.

The launch of the 'eco house' by Loosemore at the Petroc Sticklepath campus in June 2009. - Credit: Archant

COUNCILLORS have approved a £280million scheme for 250 ‘eco friendly’ homes plus a business park after being told the town would lose out on hundreds of new jobs and investment if they did not agree today (Wednesday).

Outline plans for the proposed Mount Sandford Green development were agreed ‘in principle’ by members of North Devon Council’s planning committee this lunchtime.

They were told a mystery manufacturer had already been in negotiations with the developer, with a view to relocating to North Devon, bringing 180 jobs with it.

What is more, if they refused planning today, the development would lose out on £3million in grant aid from the government-sponsored Growing Places Fund.

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Developer Loosemore is seeking to create one of the largest ‘Passivhaus’ sites in Europe, filled with the German-made ‘green’ homes, approximately a third of which would be affordable.

The 12-hectare site between the Link Road and Portmore Golf Club would also be home to ‘Mount Sandford Green Innovation Park’, which it has been estimated could provide 800 jobs.

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Ellen Vernon, the council’s economic development officer, told the meeting the project had been given a conditional offer of grant funding, subject to planning being secured.

“If it is not achieved today the offer is going to be withdrawn,” she said.

“We will lose that investor and 180 jobs our economy desperately needs.”

Several spoke against the development. Bishops Tawton parish councillor Chris Verney said he was concerned additional development could lead to flooding in the village or overload the local sewer system.

Landkey Road resident Laura Wallis said the site was not even part of the current development plan and asked why it was even being entertained.

“This in my opinion will be a blot on the landscape and ruin a lovely site,” she said.

“This application has had special treatment, with the council’s executive being asked to comment on this proposal before it was submitted.”

Several councillors were concerned about traffic access to the site. Cllr Glyn Lane said he was not at all happy with the current suggestions: “Whatever we do with this access, it’s got to be right,” he said.

“In principle I accept it’s got to be developed and is moving forward, but we need to make sure it is safe.”

Cllr Jasmine Chesters said she would like to ensure the business element was built in tandem with the housing, while David Worden said he was also concerned by the access and flooding issues, but recognised a prompt decision was needed.

Councillors voted to approve Mr Lane’s motion to grant outline planning permission, subject to issues such as highways access and flooding being resolved in detail at a later date.

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