Hundreds of people turned up to parish council AGM to demand proper consultation be held on the Bishops Tawton neighbourhood plan.

HUNDREDS of Bishops Tawton residents packed into the parish council’s AGM on Thursday to voice concerns over the neighbourhood plan.

Around 200 people were spilling out of the door, claiming the council had not properly consulted the village when proposing to extend the development boundary as part of North Devon and Torridge’s draft local plan.

Flyers handed out around the village by residents in the weeks leading up to the meeting showed the parish council had submitted plans with room for up to 800 new houses.

The plans, which showed the village’s boundary increase by around 30 hectares, also illustrated a new village hall, new playing field, and high speed internet businesses.

The land in question is owned by a number of different people, including parish council chairman John Taylor.

Residents at Thursday’s meeting claimed they had not been properly consulted on the plans and they did not want to see the boundaries extended.

“We enjoy our closeness to Barnstaple but we do not want to become the southern tentacle of the town,” said resident Richard Vain.

“In short, the council hasn’t involved itself in the spirit of consultation.

“It’s inevitable we’ll evolve and develop and we must provide for the future, but at an acceptable pace we can live with.”

In March, the Bishops Tawton Neighbourhood Development Plan was posted on the portal days before it closed on March 15, stating the council supported the new boundaries.

But an open day on the plans, which residents said was not advertised enough, was held on April 20 – more than a month after the portal had closed.

Parish council vice chairman, Rupert Hambley, admitted the council had ‘made a mistake’ in the handling of the plan.

He said: “Clearly the open day has failed, we realise that now.

“We made a mistake this time, but we are all volunteers giving our time up for the parish.”

But despite being asked repeatedly by residents, councillors refused to comment on why the decision had been taken without proper consultation.

Resident Peter Leaver said he had already spoken to North Devon Council to see if an extension of time would be possible, and had booked the village hall on June 5.

He proposed a public consultation be held there during the afternoon and evening to give residents a chance to comment on the plans.

Councillors voted to immediately withdraw the plans and request an extension of time for consultation, which ends on June 1, from North Devon Council

But county councillor Richard Edgell warned the parish council they should have a back up plan.

“There is no guarantee the district council will allow a further period of time for discussion,” he said.

A second motion was put forward that in the event an extension was not granted, the council should express it wished the development boundaries remain as they were in the 2006 plan.

Councillors also voted to request the amount of additional houses in the next 20 years should not exceed five per cent of the current dwellings in the village.