Plans for 181-home housing development in Torrington have been provisionally refused.

The application from Beechcroft Land Ltd was discussed at Torridge District Councils plans committee on Thursday.

The proposal would see houses built in three fields to the south of the town off Burwood Lane. The eastern field of the plan already has planning permission for 60 homes.

Councillors unanimously rejected the plans, citing the building on open countryside and the impact on the town’s sewage system.

The decision led to clapping and cheers from visitors at the meeting – who were vocal in their opposition to the plans, and brought their own ‘Safety at Burwood’ banner to the meeting.

Because the recommendation from officers was one of approval, an implications report will be brought back to the plans committee at its next meeting before councillors have a final say.

Local ward member Councillor Cathrine Simmons, said the land was a natural boundary for the town.

She said: “For my own part I am concerned about the fact Burwood Lane creates a natural division between the town and open countryside and I feel we are going to upset that.

“I know 60 houses have permission, but the other two fields act as a natural boundary to the town of Torrington.”

Fellow ward member, Councillor Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin had concerns for safety.

“This is not a case of ‘not in my back yard’ – no-one in Torrington who I have spoken to wants this planning application to go ahead.

“They are angry for many reasons, not least because they do not want to see safety being compromised.”

“If we are to see a significant increase in housing then a new strategic highway plan should be considered.

“These residential areas were not meant for such a high volume of traffic.

“Many young families live on these roads and the safety of our children is definitely a worry with such a rise in traffic numbers, along with problems of access for emergency services.”

Prior to discussing the application, councillors had refused an application, also from Beechcroft Land, for a 50-space car park off Caddywell Lane.

That application will also go back to committee following an implications report.