Ilfracombe bus station appeal turned down

Government inspector support council’s decision to refuse controversial scheme after developer’s appeal is dismissed.

UNPOPULAR plans to redevelop Ilfracombe bus station have been rejected at appeal.

A public inquiry in March heard the appeal of developer Omnium Ilfracombe Limited against North Devon Council’s decision to refuse permission for a controversial scheme to build 50 flats and four commercial units on the Ropery Road site.

Publishing his decision on Friday, inspector Mike Robbins of the Planning Inspectorate dismissed the developer’s appeal and its bid to reclaim costs against the council.

In a 14 page report Mr Robbins considered the scheme, including its design, appearance, effect on the harbour conservation area, noise, parking and traffic issues.

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Despite ‘positive elements’ and a design that ‘is in many ways well executed’ Mr Robbins said this did not outweigh his concerns about its ‘over-intensive nature’ that would not preserve the character and appearance of the harbour.

He said: “Rather than reflect the valued existing character, the development would be of such a scale as to impose its own character on the area.”

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Although praising several features of the scheme, he concluded on balance the proposal did not comply with local or national planning policies.

The district planning committee originally voted to reject the plans despite a recommendation of approval from officers.

Ilfracombe district Councillor Paul Crabb, who together with fellow ward member Paul Yabsley opposed the application, hailed the inspector’s verdict ‘a tremendous result for people power’.

“It is great when the council and the community work together to achieve a common goal,” he said.

“This gives us the chance to go back to the drawing board and produce a scheme that we can support. Hopefully this will be the catalyst for dialogue to resume between the community and the developer.”

Ilfracombe Mayor Lynda Courtnadge said as with most people in the town the decision was a great relief to her:

“It’s vindicated the planning committee and North Devon Council in refusing this application and fighting the appeal,” she said.

“The question still remains what becomes of the bus station, so we have to put some thoughts together to see what will happen now.”

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