North Devon Council’s planning committee approves development on Westaway Plain

PLANS for 42 new homes at Westaway Plain in Barnstaple have been approved by North Devon Council’s planning committee.

The new development, just to the west of North Devon District Hospital, is the latest in the Pilton area to be approved, with 80 houses set to be built at nearby Trayne Farm and a further 119 houses and 112 apartments on the hospital site.

Another 115 homes could be built at Northfield Lane after councillors deferred their decision last month to gain more information on proposed highway works in the area.

As at last month’s meeting, councillors aired concerns on Wednesday that the roads around the Pilton area would not be able to cope with the cumulative effects of so many developments – especially given that all three blue light services operate out of the area.

“This is localism gone mad,” said ward member Councillor Mair Manuel. “There’s no infrastructure in Pilton.”

Cllr Brian Greenslade also added: “A huge amount more traffic will be using the junctions at Pilton Bridge and the hospital.

“Devon Highways can’t suggest appropriate improvements and so you should be refusing this application.

“This is not something we can safely allow to go ahead without proper evidence.”

A number of local residents spoke against the plans, highlighting the loss of good agricultural land.

Jeremy Bishop of the Pilton residents group said: “it is not about housing need, it is about housing greed,” while Jeff Hugsley labelled Devon Highways ‘incompetent’.

Cllr Joe Tucker moved approval for the plans, saying: “I do think we have great difficulty turning this individual application down.

“It may not be popular, but somebody’s got to start building somewhere and we’ve got to think about our children and grandchildren and supply some houses for them.”

Speaking after the decision, Steve Russell, managing director of developer Devonshire Homes, said: “North Devon Council’s approval is extremely positive for the area. There is no doubt that there is a need for good quality new homes in North Devon, and we have held consultations to ensure that our plans at Pilton are appropriate for the village.

“We are supporting that need by ensuring all of our developments are focused on providing a good mix of properties that include two to four bedroom homes alongside affordable housing to meet these needs and varying budgets.”

The first homes are set to be completed next year.