Fears new scheme is ‘too big’ for Ilfracombe and put too much strain on roads and services, while others welcome the employment and regeneration opportunities they say the 750 home scheme offers.
MIXED views were aired as councillors approved plans for a major development of 750 new homes on the outskirt of Ilfracombe today (Wednesday).
As widely expected, North Devon Council’s planning committee agreed in principle to give the go ahead for the ‘Southern Extension’ scheme, with a vote of 11 for and one abstention.
Detailed plans now have to be submitted and approved before the work can finally go ahead.
The committee earlier toured the huge 187 acre site by coach, before a public meeting at the Landmark Theatre in front of some 40-50 people.
The major mixed use development would include 10 per cent affordable housing, plus provision for community facilities such as a school, health centre and green space as well as shops and employment land.
The application has been submitted by Resign Ltd and has been associated with celebrity artist Damien Hirst, who owns some of the land.
Several members of the public spoke at the meeting, some saying the scheme was too big for the town and would put a huge strain on its roads and services.
There was grave concern at the effect of extra traffic on the roads, as far afield as Braunton and Marwood, though realigning the old Barnstaple road and improvements to the Lynton Cross and Two Pots junctions are proposed as part of the scheme.
Others feared the impact on wildlife and the visual effect of developing so much Greenfield land.
But some welcomed the plans, saying the town badly needed the regeneration and jobs the scheme would bring.
David Watts, a resident of Doone Way, which will be up against the northern boundary of the site, said: “The development is too large for a small town. Why build a new town anyway?”
Graham Parkhouse said the plans were ‘absolutely disgraceful’, adding “750 houses probably means 1,500 cars using our roads – that land should be producing food, not being built on and concreted over.
“If Mr Hirst wants houses, why does he not build them on his own farm?”
Peter Cresswell added: “They are trying to make as much money as possible with the minimum contribution they can.
“Where are those people going to go for their facilities? With all the cuts it’s not sustainable and there are a lot of buildings in Ilfracombe that could be revamped.”
But Ilfracombe district Councillor Mike Edmunds, who is not on the planning committee, said: “I have been involved with this for several years now and I don’t look at this as 750 houses, I look at it as the development of Ilfracombe.
“We are desperate for a new school, as ours are full to capacity. This is going to be part of Ilfracombe and it needs to be part of Ilfracombe.”
Cllr Paul Yabsley added: “As Mike Edmunds so clearly said, Ilfracombe needs to grow. We need those homes. Many of our people are living in sub-standard accommodation; we need those affordable homes – even on the developer’s lower figure of 10 per cent, that’s 75 houses.”
It is estimated the development could take up to 15 years to build, with around 60 houses constructed each year.