Planning inspector has given developers permission to build 200 new homes despite residents’ battle against proposals.

Controversial plans for up to 200 homes at Heywood Road have been given the green light by the planning inspector.

Following an inquiry in June, planning inspector Philip Major ruled yesterday (Monday) the appeal should be allowed.

The re-submitted application for the site in Northam was prompted after Torridge District Council (TDC) said following legal advice it would not defend its original decision to refuse the application when it went to appeal.

This, the council said, was because the chance of winning was low and it could cost £50,000.

But in April 2016 the plans were refused by TDC for a second time, against the advice of planning officers, in a decision Mr Major called ‘unusual’.

The plans sought to demolish Phayre House and build up to 200 homes, as well as creating parking facilities, public open space, and an extension to Rosehill care home.

Mr Major allowed the appeal on the grounds there was a ‘serious and significant’ lack of housing land in the district, and the site was ‘encompassed by an allocation of housing land’ in the emerging local plan.

Mr Major said he felt the development would have a ‘locally significant’ impact on the appearance of the area but this could be mitigated.

He also addressed worries from councillors and residents about the site access.

He said: “Although the concerns of local residents are understandable and I have given them much attention, I cannot conclude that the defects in the work carried out on behalf of the appellants are such that it can be solely disregarded.

“Nor do I accept that the likely traffic flows from the appeal site would exacerbate highway conditions to the extent suggested.”

Councillor Peter Watson, lead member for planning, said: “Councillors refused this application at plans committee in September 2015 with a majority vote of five to two.

“It was felt that the proposal would detract from the character and appearance of the area and would impact too greatly on the current ecology of the site.

“There were also concerns regarding traffic volumes, vehicle access, and drainage and flood risks.

“It is accepted that this was against the advice of officers who recommended approval in their report.

“However members are entitled to form their own opinions as part of the democratic process and a significant number felt that the adverse impact of the development outweighed the benefits.

“The inspector has determined otherwise and found enough merit in the proposals to grant the application on appeal subject to 23 conditions attached to their decision.

“Some of these conditions address some of the concerns members expressed at the time of refusal and we hope that this will mitigate some of the issues.”

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