PLANS for a sprawling new neighbourhood on the outskirts of Barnstaple have been given the go-ahead by North Devon Council. The outline application by Persimmon Homes and Elan Homes for up to 820 new homes at Larkbear was approved at a special planning meeting held yesterday (Thursday). Despite overwhelming objection from local people, councillors voted 10 to five in favour of the plans, which also include a 420-place primary school; footpath and cycle links; public open space; employment land; and a contribution to a new footbridge across the A361. Main access to the site will be via a new traffic light controlled junction along a section of the A361 Western Bypass. Secondary access will be from Old Torrington Road at Sticklepath and there will also be a road built at the southern boundary of Petroc for coaches and 100 cars. The 60-hectere greenfield site borders the A39, Sticklepath, Lake village, Petroc and the Larkbear Plantation. Planning officers had recommended the plans be approved subject to the completion of a Section 106 developer contributions agreement. Councillor Des Brailey, who voted against the proposal, said: Im sad that its been approved as it affects many of my parishioners. Around 360 people wrote in to object to the plans and not a single person wrote in favour of them. I think this is where the Localism Act is nonsense because residents havent been listened to. Mr Brailey said he thought fellow councillors were fearful of a fight with the government planning inspectors should they refuse the application. I dont believe the general feeling of the council was that it should go ahead but I can understand why it did. I think members believed that if they refused it then it would be won at appeal with the planning inspectorate. In effect this would have taken away any useful input the council could have had. We could have lost control over any say over reserved matters. A spokesperson for the developers said they welcomed the decision by the council but there was still much work to be done to Persimmon Homes and Elan Homes are very pleased at the councils decision. It is the culmination of many months of hard work by all concerned and establishes the principle that the site can be developed for residential use. The next step is to start focussing on the more detailed aspects of the project. Once again, these will be subject to widespread consultation with the District Council, statutory agencies and the community. We hope to complete the detailed matters by the spring of next year with a view to starting construction in the summer.