Queens Avenue residents dismayed at North Devon Homes plans to build on green space

Worried residents are fighting to prevent the loss of the Queens Avenue play area after plans were lodged to build on it.

North Devon Homes is bidding to demolish a row of garages and put a trio of three storey houses on the play park site behind them.

People nearby say there is nowhere else close by for younger children to play safely.

Parent Adam Aston told the Gazette play equipment on the site had been taken away 18 months ago because it was damaged, but they had been told it would be replaced – instead they will lose the area altogether.

“It’s the only bit of green space we’ve got. Children can come here and not have to cross a main road,” he said.

“The houses here have been bought by young families and the amount of children up here has quadrupled.”

There is concern the loss of the garages and introduction of more cars will lead to parking chaos for the road.

Residents also worry the three storey buildings will be far too high and overlook existing homes.

Adam said the plans were lodged on June 3 and residents knew nothing about it until June 17.

The public consultation period runs until July 16 and at present the application is scheduled for a delegated decision by planning officers rather than a public meeting.

Upheaval and upset

Derek Hobman, whose home is next to the site, said there were no other houses nearby is three storeys: “It’s just so out of keeping,” he said.

“You would be able to see into my house and obviously I will lose my view. No one is entitled to a view but we are entitled to privacy.”

Stephanie Hancock added: “I think it is a lot of upheaval and upset just to accommodate three new families.”

Many residents questioned why Ilfracombe needed three homes squeezed into a small space when 750 new homes had been approved for the ‘southern extension’ plans on the outskirts of town.

Jess Clark, aged nine, said losing the play area would be a disappointment to a lot of people and it was somewhere she felt she could come safely. Her friend, Kaia Bond, 10, added: “People have learned to ride their bikes up here and we are losing our freedom if houses are built on it, so I don’t think it would be very fair.”

‘Poorly situated’

In a statement, North Devon Home said: ‘The play area at Queens Avenue is poorly situated via a steep path, in a secluded area with very few homes overlooking it.

‘It has never provided easy access for residents with limited mobility and had little equipment available to use.

‘There is much bigger and newer play park about 200 meters away which meets the needs of the local area.

Chief executive Martyn Gimber added: ““The planning application for land at Queens Avenue is for an area that was underused as public amenity space due to its steepness and location.

“As there is a chronic housing supply crisis we are looking to convert any underused land we own back into use for the provision of brand new affordable homes for local people.

“The land is subject to the normal planning and consultation process and we will work with the community to discuss any issues or concerns people may have.”