The decision to approve almost 100 new homes for land at Chivenor Cross in Braunton has been condemned by campaigners.

On Wednesday, September 9, councillors of North Devon Council’s planning committee gave the green light for an application for 94 homes submitted by Stuart Maskell.

The old nursery and riding school site is across the A361 from a 150-home development recently built by Bovis Homes.

But with North Devon currently not holding a five-year land supply of deliverable housing sites as required by government, officers recommended the scheme be approved.

Councillors voted in favour of allowing the application, subject to details of improvements to the highway infrastructure.

Devon CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) had lobbied strongly for the proposal to be rejected, saying the development was on top-grade agricultural land previously used for crops and is outside the council’s development boundary.

Devon CPRE director Penny Mills said, “Because one planning inspector in Torrington drove a coach-and-horses through the Local Plan in February, North Devon and Torridge councils are now passing proposals which are completely at odds with their long-term policies.

“This site adds 94 more homes to an area where 155 were recently built and 240 more are planned, in a village which has critical congestion and air pollution issues.

“Braunton is effectively a traffic cul-de-sac – it’s hard enough trying to get thousands of extra cars through the A361 Braunton bottleneck in the holiday season, without adding hundreds of additional households in the vicinity.”

A planning officer’s report to the committee said: “The lack of housing supply is a significant matter in favour of the proposal and carries substantial weight.

“It is considered with appropriate landscaping secured at reserved matters stage the impacts will reduce throughout the lifetime of development.

“In highway terms the development would result in additional pressures to the highway network which can be mitigated through financial contributions towards upgrading the highway network. The design and location of the access proposed is considered to be acceptable.”

It added that the economic benefits of the proposal would be strong, including the creation of jobs, the addition of spending power to the local economy and the new homes bonus.

When the applicants submitted the scheme, they said that more than 400 jobs would be created with £15m of investment made.