Councillors asked to approve – and reject - major Barnstaple regeneration proposals.

NORTH Devon Councillors are being recommended to approve - and also reject - major plans for an Asda supermarket at a meeting today (Wednesday).

The unusual advice from planning officers is being offered to councillors who voted to defer a decision on the redevelopment of Barnstaple's Anchorwood Bank in April.

Developers have since appealed to Secretary of State to determine the proposal and should a public inquiry go ahead as expected this autumn, councillors are being asked to refuse the plans.

But in what is being seen as the last throw of the dice, councillors may yet retain some power to negotiate a £3m package of regeneration for the town should if they approve the application and trigger the withdrawal of the appeal by joint applicant Asda Store Ltd and DS Wessex.

North Devon Council planning officer Keith Bines said: "If members decide to approve the application - and the appeal is then withdrawn by the appellant - the council would retain greater control over refinements of the Section 106 agreement.

"As things stand at present, we are in discussion with the appellant and the Planning Inspectorate about and eight-day public inquiry in the late autumn."

Among the developer contributions being discussed are a £942,000 public open spaces contribution; a £1.1m education contribution; £1m for flood defences; a £50,000 heritage fund; a £50,000 town centre mitigation fund and up to 25 per cent affordable housing.

The Asda appeal was lodged after planning committee members voted to defer a decision to enable them to consider the plans in tandem with an application for a new Morrisons store at the Evans Transport yard.

But Mr Bines said Morrisons applicant Liberty Properties was still seeking to address highways issues with Devon County Council.

"We are not in a position to bring this application back to committee at this juncture," said Mr Bines.