Ilfracombe Bus Station plans unpopular at public meeting
THE latest plans to build flats at Ilfracombe Bus Station were recommended for refusal by town councillors at a packed public meeting on Monday. It was standing room only in the council chamber as people listened to project architects Woodward Smith outli
THE latest plans to build flats at Ilfracombe Bus Station were recommended for refusal by town councillors at a packed public meeting on Monday.
It was standing room only in the council chamber as people listened to project architects Woodward Smith outline their revised plans for 51 apartments and four commercial units on the harbour site.
The plans detail 37 two-bedroom and 14 one-bedroom flats, divided into four blocks, with some parking to the rear plus a residents' "pool car" scheme.
A previous scheme had been rejected as too high, over intensive and inappropriate for the site. Architects John Woodward and Alastair Green said the new design for the four block development was a storey lower, more sympathetic to its surroundings, using traditional Ilfracombe build features plus timber cladding to give it a maritime feel and make it more in keeping with the town.
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Councillor Rod Donovan said the council had not agreed with the North Devon Council development brief for the site in the first place and would have preferred to see it used to regenerate the harbour.
"But it's probably wishful thinking that is going to happen," he said.
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"If we are going to have a development on the site this is certainly better than what we had before us as a proposal last year."
Cllr Mike Dymond said it was a lost opportunity and the site should have been bought several years ago to provide much-needed parking.
"It should have been a multi storey car work with a small development. This is too many on too small a site," he said.
Cllr John Swan said the architects had "done a fantastic job" in designing something to fit the development brief.
"But as far as I know, nobody supports the development brief," he said.
"I don't think I've met anyone who wants this on the site but we lost that argument four years ago and there's no point revisiting it."
The public were equally unimpressed: Clive Welford, who lives in Ropery Road, said he was not necessarily against development but had concerns and wondered why he had to rigidly adhere to roof height restrictions when building his own three units, while the new Ropery block would now tower over his own roof.
"This is smack bang in the middle of a conservation area," he said.
"If you put retail there, within six months they will be for sale or to let. If you go ahead half the units will be empty and unsalable."
Pete French said the public had given no mandate for the creation of such a development.
"The infrastructure will struggle with an extra 31 cars. No body wants this development and without a suitable development on that site it's the death of the vision for the harbour - you can kiss goodbye to the pedestrianisation of the Quay.
"I think a decision of this magnitude for the town has to be taken by local people."
Other speakers were concerned about the buildings overlooking others, the safety aspects of creating narrow walkways through the area, the effect of more cars and it was suggested the commercial units be twinned with accommodation to give local business people a place to live and work.
After the debate 10 councillors voted to refuse the scheme, with one abstention, following a motion by Cllr Dymond.
They said it was still over intensive, with too many flats and still blocking the view of other properties and the development was still not in keeping with the harbour area.
Ilfracombe district councillor Paul Yabsley told the meeting the proposal would go before its planning committee in September. He said there was still time for people to submit comments to the planning department and said anyone who wished would have the opportunity o speak at the planning meeting.