Controversial decision will not be ‘called in’ by the Secretary of State.

A CONTROVERSIAL decision to approve a large-scale expansion of Atlantic Village will not be “called in” by the Secretary of State.

Last month’s resolution by Torridge District Council’s planning committee was referred to the National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) because councillors voted against the recommendations of officers.

On Friday, the NPCU said it would not be reviewing the decision, meaning the district council now has the final say on whether redevelopment of the out-of-town Bideford shopping mall goes ahead.

As part of the £11 million proposal, applicant Drake Bideford Ltd intends to build eight new shops in a new 5,405sqm retail sales area on the site of the Atlantis Adventure Park, which is to be demolished.

The council’s own planning department raised concerns that the expansion would have an adverse impact on town centres in Bideford and Barnstaple.

The decision now hinges on an “implications report” that will go to before the planning committee on Thursday.

The news has come as a biter blow to business organisations in Barnstaple, who were preparing to appeal Torridge’s decision should the NPCU intervene.

Barnstaple Town Centre Management, BID Barnstaple and Green Lanes Shopping Centre owners British Land were all set to make representations, the Gazette understands.

All had previously raised concerns about the impact the expansion could have on Barnstaple town centre traders.

A spokesperson for British Land said: “We are disappointed that this decision has not been called in as there is now no further course of action we are able to take.”

Final planning approval is also subject to completion of a package of financial proposals to support Bideford town centre and local public transport links.