Plan for 39 new homes in Northam refused due to impact on 'undeveloped coast'

Indicative layout of what the homes plan for Northam would have looked like

Indicative layout of what the homes plan for Northam would have looked like - Credit: TDC

Plans for 39 homes for the edge of Northam in the ‘undeveloped coast’ have been refused by councillors.

The scheme, for land at Bloody Corner, was rejected by six votes to three by Torridge District Council’s plans committee on Thursday, June 3.

Planning officers had recommended that the scheme be granted outline planning permission, but councillors went against their views and turned down the controversial plans.

There had been 77 objections to the application, with no letters of support from the public, and despite Torridge not having a five-year land supply, tilting the balance in favour of approval, the committee felt that the detrimental impact it would have was so large that the scheme should be refused.

Proposing refusal, councillor Dermot McGeough said that the development would alter the character of the site within the ‘Undeveloped Coast’, and this was the grounds for refusal, adding: “It would have demonstrable harm to the residential amenity, so I propose we refuse regardless of the fact that we don’t have a five-year land supply. I don’t think we should approve this.”

Committee chairman councillor Chris Leather added: “The key to this is the protection of the coast and estuary side zone and the detrimental impact to people in the area will be huge if it is developed and I am absolutely opposed to this development.

“We are not short of development sites in Northam. This is in the undeveloped coast and contrary to that, and I just cannot see how this can be recommended. For me, looking at the balance, I am strongly in favour it should be refused.”

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In their report which recommended approval, officers had said that the 39 dwellings proposed would make a valuable contribution to the housing stock within Northam at a time when the Local Planning Authority cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land, and significant weight must be given to this issue, and 30 per cent of these dwellings would be affordable homes, which would provide a social benefit.

It added: “The proposals would deliver economic benefits associated with the creation of employment opportunities during construction and to the local economy from 39 new households. Biodiversity net gain at the site would also be delivered by the proposal, which would also provide on-site green space provision to meet the needs of the future occupiers of the site and the surrounding area.

“The development would alter the character of the site within the Undeveloped Coast and would adversely affect the setting of the memorial stone at Bloody Corner, but it is considered that the harm to the memorial stone would be outweighed by the provision of affordable housing, which is a clear public benefit associated with the proposal, and the adverse impacts of granting planning permission do not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

But councillors decide that the fact the site was in the Undeveloped Coast and therefore against the coast and estuary strategy, the impact it would have on residential amenity, it was outside the development area, and that have a detrimental effect on the area, outweighed the benefits and voted for refusal by six votes to three.

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