After being a builder’s site agent for 25 years in the Midlands and the North East of England, I moved to the South West and became a self-employed builder.
The last nine and a half years of my working life was spent as a lecturer in construction at the North Devon College before retiring.
I have lived in Laurel Avenue, Bideford, for over 14 years and have seen hundreds of dwellings built west and east of the river.
West of the River Torridge we have seen Londonderry Estate turn into the biggest housing estate in Bideford, and also quite a large development at the Kenwith Valley Estate.
Other smaller estates have been built down by the river and at intervals up Clovelly Road and lots of other smaller developments.
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None of these estates have any sign of an increase in infrastructure such as shops, schools, medical centres, hospitals and other amenities – and now we have the prospect of yet another housing estate on land at Moreton Park, Abbotsham Road, Bideford.
After attending the last two Torridge district planning meetings at Bideford Town Hall I am beginning to see how they work.
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A developer puts in a planning application with plenty of promises and a bit of cash for the council, build only what they can make money on, then move on as quickly as possible and leave us all to suffer in silence.
The motto I think they have is “They will never miss what they have never had” – and, believe me, this is how it works.
At the two meetings I attended, our local councillors were not in attendance to fight our corner and this was left to other Bideford councillors to object, only to be outvoted by others on the planning committee – members not from the Bideford area – to push through the applications which do not personally affect them.
Over the years the planning has gone mad in Bideford due to greed and a lack of thought for existing residents – and you only need to have a look at Westward Ho! to see another good example of “planning gone mad”.
Why are we sitting back and letting this happen to our town, which we should be proud of? The problem is that unless someone makes a stand it is going to be more of the same for us.
Not all the councillors are bad and uncaring, but the current policy making is wrong and needs to be drastically changed so we can all enjoy what we should be getting.
It will not happen unless we make it happen, so let us have more people complaining and seek a better future for our children and grandchildren.
If no one complains then the powers-that-be will think we are all happy and will continue to carry on as before.
If like me you are unhappy with this development planning madness in Bideford then what are we going to do about it – and do we even care?