The first phase of an 820-home urban extension to Barnstaple has finally been given the full go-ahead – almost five years after it received outline planning permission.

Plans for the full 820-home development at Larkbear in Barnstaple.Plans for the full 820-home development at Larkbear in Barnstaple.

North Devon Council approved the full application from Persimmon Homes to build 236 dwellings at Larkbear at a planning meeting this morning (Wednesday).

The scheme is billed as an important part of the town’s growth. The first phase will include 71 affordable homes, a play area and a cycle and footpath link.

The development was given full permission, albeit with a number of conditions including to relocate the bus gate which currently sits between Gratton Way and Old Torrington Road within nine months – three months earlier than initially proposed.

The bus gate was the sticking point for much of a lengthy debate on the development, with local residents, ward and committee members all raising concerns.

Councillors eventually voted the application through, voting 13 to one in favour of the plans, with the concern that another deferral would result in a planning appeal.

Approval was eventually moved by ward member, Councillor Glyn Lane, who said: “I think personally there’s no point going around in circles. Unless we support the application they will appeal.

“Let’s move it forward and move it in the right direction.”

When the application was initially deferred in September last year, councillors requested the bus gate to be moved before development started.

The developer said it would not accept the proposal as it had no control over whether it could successfully obtain a traffic regulation order.

Speaking at the meeting before the decision, Persimmon’s Andy West said: “I’m aware there are a number of representations regarding the proposed relocation of the bus gate and the timing of the operation.

“We do not object in any way to the proposal and will carry out all the work necessary.

“There is strong feeling that work should be carried out before work on the development takes place but there are several issues with this.

“The bus gate will be completed within 12 months of commencement of the development. It’s unlikely that any more than 10 to 12 dwellings will be completed by then.”