Debate over ‘school site’
County council set to invite tenders for supported living flats for the elderly.
A DISUSED site on the edge of Barnstaple once earmarked for a new primary school looks set to become the home to a block of flats for elderly people.
The land behind the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Roundswell is now needed to help Devon County Council meet part of a 10-year strategy to provide supported housing in the county up to 2020.
Today (Wednesday), the council’s cabinet committee is being recommended to delegate authority to award development, management and care and support contracts for the site, as well as others in Tiverton, Totnes and Exeter following the satisfactory conclusion of a formal tendering process.
It is expected that the council-owned site will also accommodate an open market housing development alongside the 50-flat ‘extra care’ housing scheme.
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Developers have been asked to state whether they would wish to receive the land in one or two phases, with the extra care flats being completed as the first stage of any development.
But Devon County Councillor for Fremington Rural, Rodney Cann, labelled the plans a ‘slap in the face for the people of Roundswell’.
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He said: “The land was allocated for a Roundswell school and all of a sudden they want to free up the site for housing and use land at Tews Lane for a school instead.
“Strategically, plans for a school at Tews Lane are in the wrong place. Future development is going to be on the other side of Roundswell and parents and children are going to be trying to get to what is already one of the most congested areas of Barnstaple.
“I’ll be the first to admit that we need supported housing, but we will need a new school if we get any further development at Roundswell. Children living in the area are already scattered around the town in different schools.
“The site was earmarked for school in the master plan for Roundswell more than 20 years ago – before the first homes were even built. We were promised a school and there should have been a school there from the word go.”
Cllr Cann accused the council of putting money before the requirements of local people.
“They say that the school site isn’t safe because there is a mobile phone mast in the transport yard next door but it’s an enormous site well away from any alleged danger – I think that they are using it as an excuse to free up the site for residential development.
“This is so cynical – the council is putting the best interests of the community and good planning aside to maximise the profits of their landholding.”