Delay on Tews Lane homes decision


- Credit: Archant

Councillors will inspect site before voting on outline proposals for 350 houses and a primary school at Roundswell.

A DECISION on outline plans for 350 new homes and a primary school at Roundswell in Barnstaple has been delayed to enable councillors to inspect the site.

Members of North Devon Council’s planning committee felt they needed to see the site at Tews Lane before voting whether to accept or decline the ‘principle’ of the development.

Agent Peter Stacey, speaking on behalf of applicant Linden Homes, told members that the council could not demonstrate a five-year land supply for new homes and that the site would play a ‘key role in delivering ‘affordable housing in a sustainable location’.

He said: “There are clear socio-economic benefits to the scheme. We have completed a Section 106 package that provides in excess of £1 million towards a new primary school, £800,000 towards highway improvements at the Roundswell Roundabout, and £350,000 for off-site sports facilities.”

But a number of Roundswell residents also spoke at the meeting to air their opposition to the proposals.

Retired chartered surveyor Tony Cox said he had an issue with the density of housing being proposed, as well as the road structure.

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He said: “The parking facilities at Tews Lane are very restrictive and there are often up to a dozen vehicles parked on Tews Lane itself.

“A development there with a new primary school, could cause bottleneck conditions on Old Bideford Road.”

Tony Barstow raised safety concerns for pedestrians using Tews Lane, while Robert Jones said spoke about possible flooding problems.

He said: “Muddlebrook Stream is innocuous most of the time but can turn into a torrent in a matter of minutes. This is an unacceptable intrusion into open countryside.”

Local ward member Councillor Rodeny Cann said: “I believe any development here is premature to any infrastructure being put in place.

“Old Bideford Road is already totally congested and Larkbear is surely the natural place for a new primary school.”

He also warned against developing adjacent to clay pits: “One day that is going to be a relatively important resource. I can’t see clay working next to a residential development.”

Cllr Chris Turner said the infrastructure was ‘not man enough for the job’.

He said: “For the amount of houses and number of traffic movements that would occur, the infrastructure is not in place and I cannot see how it can be put in place for development of this size in this area.”

Cllr Turner also raised concerns about the clay pits: “Fremington clay is quite famous and renowned; there are many potters who would very much like to source clay from the clay pits due to the value of the mineral.”

Cllr Jasime Chesters said: “I know we need new homes but I really worry about this site.”

Council planning officer Mike Kelly said that flooding concerns were ‘prominent’ in the development of the plans.

He said: “The Environment Agency is convinced that flooding concerns could be overcome with the right design.”

He also said that although the clay pits were originally a standing objection, the developer had negotiated a planning permission to safeguard the concern.

Mr Kelly told councillors that 350 dwellings, with relatively early delivery, would go some way towards addressing the authority’s housing deficit.

“We can’t wait until the local plan has been adopted because that is a long way away.

“We are short of a five-year land supply and when all is said and done, our development plan can be given little weight.

“In the light of clear advice from the National Planning Policy Framework we do not have an objection.”

Cllr Joe Tucker, who proposed a site visit, said: “No greenfield site is perfect but it appears to me that there are an awful lot of issues that have not been resolved.

“I appreciate that these are only outline plans but if we give permission today it would be impossible to stop some of the problems that have come to our attention.”

Members resolved to hold a site visit at the earliest opportunity.

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